Whomever Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot chooses to blame in the controversy over a proposal that would allow Southampton Town Police Chief James Overton to “retire” six town officers after 20 years of service, is beside the point. In reality, the blame lies solely with her.
While Kabot asserted this week, amid police protesting on the steps of town hall, their young families in tow, that former Supervisor Skip Heaney originally proposed this measure, or that the recommendation came from the police chief himself, as Supervisor of the Town of Southampton she made a choice to place the despicable resolution on the agenda. As Supervisor of the Town of Southampton she stood behind the concept enough to decide to vet it at a public meeting, and as Supervisor of the Town of Southampton she chose to table it, rather than withdraw the item in the face of being unable to carry the votes for its passage.
Her refusal to take full responsibility for the resolution’s appearance makes us wonder if Kabot had faith in this proposal in the first place, or if she simply could not stand beside it in the face of such public protest. Either way, as supervisor she should have the complete courage of her convictions.Â
Further frustrating us was the semantic debate that emerged in trying to explain what this meant for the six officers – some in their mid-40s – whether they were being fired or not. We have no choice but to agree with many of the officers who noted being forced into retirement is quite similar to being fired. If one does not have a choice on whether or not they keep a decade’s long job, they are being let go by their employer, period.
We understand that a $4.5 million deficit in the police budget is a situation the Supervisor of the Town of Southampton must deal with as the town’s chief fiscal officer, but it is how Kabot handled this situation, rather than simply the situation itself, that leaves us disappointed.
In owning up to her mistake this week, it would have been a gesture of good faith on Kabot’s part to withdraw this resolution, rather than table it, and go back to the drawing board in executive session with the PBA and legal counsel to see if a more amenable solution can be reached.