Muzzling the Mayor

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Muzzling the Mayor

The current Westhampton Beach Village Board is, en toto, a cheeky lot who clearly do not "know their place" as spelled out in New York State Code.

It's also apparent that they are obtaining legal counsel from a source other than duly appoint­ed Village Attorney, Hermon Bishop.

At the October Village Board meeting, there was an add-on resolution offered by deposed Deputy Mayor James Kametler at 0:11:58:

"As police liaison, police commissioner and labor negotiator, I make a motion to make Trustee Tucker in charge of all interactions with the Village Labor Attorney."

This was quickly seconded by Trustee Joan Levan, and carried 3-2 with Mayor Conrad Teller and Deputy Mayor Toni Jo Birk voting "Nay."

(Then, ever the cement-head, Kametler called for "an official count," blithely un­aware that they'd just had one.)

In essence, Trustees Kametler, Levan and Hank Tucker, had voted to prevent the Mayor from discharging his duties and obligations as specified under §4-400 of NY State Code.

Attorney Bishop attempted to gently inform the Board that they had over-reached their authority, but they were not inclined to heed his advice... again.

(See "August Village Board Meeting.")

They don't want Mayor Teller to engage dir­ectly with the Village's Labor Attorney or any department (police and highway, et al) heads.

The troika is openly bent on controlling every­thing that happens in the Village, the Mayor be damned.

(As for Mrs. Birk, as far as the Empress of Oneck is concerned, she's been damned for going on two years now.)

A review of the salient elements of the Mayor's duties and obligations under §4-400 finds:

It shall be the responsibility of the mayor:
  1. to provide for the enforcement of all laws, local laws, rules and regu­lations and to cause all violations thereof to be prosecuted;
  1. to exercise supervision over the conduct of the police and other subordinate officers of the village;
  1. to intervene in any and all actions, at the direction of the board of trustees, where deemed necessary to protect the rights of the village and its inhabitants;
  1. to execute all contracts in the name of the village;

By way of comparison, see also the General Powers of the Board of Trustees. Absent is the authority to impose a gag upon the Mayor.

As should be apparent to any who care a whit about the municipality, this is all a continua­tion of the troika's grand plan... which began with the Planning Board putsch of 2007... to commandeer the Village.

(It must be noted that it's only tempor­arily a troika, as Mr. Kametler's sole function is as an ally providing the majority vote... he just hasn't figured it out yet.)

Trustees Levan and Tucker won't be satisfied until they have in place their own Village At­torney, Police Chief, Building Department Ad­ministrator and Village Clerk.

And given the quality of their first major ap­pointment, Ralph Neubauer as Planning Board Chairman, Villagers have cause for concern.

A watershed moment for this Administration could occur at tomorrow evening's Village Board meeting1 if action is taken on the future of the two suspended police officers.

The first shoe dropped on October 23rd when Mayor Teller placed the officers on paid admin­istrative leave following receipt of the Suffolk County Police Internal Affairs report.

The next step should be to convert the suspen­sions to ones without pay, set a disciplinary hearing date and name a hearing officer.

(By the time of Wednesday's meeting the accus­ed officers, at between $700 and $800 per day, will have cost the Village in excess of $30,000 in salary and bene­fits over the past six weeks.)

The question is whether Mayor Teller is pre­pared to do this... over the likely objections of Mr. Tucker (with Mrs. Levan's support).

And while Mrs. Birk's vote is never a sure thing, Mr. Kametler would almost certainly vote to let the suspended officers off the hook... except that the deposed Deputy Mayor has been among the missing around Six Corners since about the time of OtBB's entry concerning "Personal Liability."

Something's got to be done, and it's probably time to just rip the damned band-aid off!

  1. December's Village Board meeting will be held Wednesday, December 2nd at 7:00 pm for some reason.


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