Tag Archive | "linda kabot"

Conservative Party Opts Out of Supporting Kabot

Tags: , , , ,


In a stunning turn of events, the Southampton Town Conservative Committee announced on Friday, July 24, that it wouldn’t back current town surpervisor Linda Kabot in her bid for reelection. The group had previously supported Jim Malone as their pick for supervisor, but last week Malone opted to run for a town council seat instead.
“After careful consideration we concluded we did not have a viable second choice after Jim [Malone] decided to step aside. Unlike the GOP who had a back up with Republican Supervisor Linda Kabot, we did not have another Conservative in the wings that we could put forward. Looking across the political spectrum we did not see another candidate we were comfortable extending the privilege of our Wilson Pikula to,” said Susan Heckman, the party treasurer, in a press release distributed on Friday.
Kabot will still have the nod of the town’s GOP, but of the loss of the Conservative Committee nod she said in a release on Sunday, July 26, “I do not know who is calling the shots behind the scenes, but I know it is not the Suffolk County Conservative Chair Ed Walsh in this instance. I have my suspicions that Republican Committee Chairman Marcus Stinchi and former Town Supervisor Skip Heaney have a hand in this high stakes poker game and the obvious delay tactics. This is disappointing and very telling. In politics, one must always watch one’s back and also be prepared to counter-act such political maneuvers.”
Only last Monday, Kabot announced securing both the Republican and Conservative nominations for the general elections in November. It appeared the parties reshuffled their ballots in order to circumvent a primary between Malone and Kabot. In a recent statement released by Kabot, she asserts that Malone failed to file the necessary paperwork with the Suffolk County Board of Elections in time for Kabot to receive the supervisor nomination of the Conservative Party.
“I began smelling a rat when there were several unanswered phone calls and emails to Jim Malone over the course of July 22 and 23,” stated Kabot in the release.

Heckman noted that Jim Malone is the Chairman of the party, but took a leave of absence from the position when he first announced his intent to run for the supervisor position.
“As such [Malone] was neither part of these deliberations or the vote of the executive committee to not fill this vacancy,” contended Heckman.
“We are happy to see that a needless and costly Republican primary has been avoided. Most importantly we are thrilled to see that Councilman Chris Nuzzi and now Council candidate Jim Malone will have the opportunity to run on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines,” reported Heckman.
Kabot, however, called the move a “betrayal of trust” and said, “Trust, honesty and communication are key to ensure teamwork and a united front.”

GOP Flips: Kabot Will Face Throne-Holst After All

Tags: , , , ,


web ath-kabot

The Southampton Town Republican Committee is poised to formally announce that Linda Kabot will head up their ticket this November. At its convention last month, Kabot, the incumbent town supervisor, was put aside by the local GOP in favor of James Malone.

But in an effort to avoid a primary Kabot had threatened to wage, the GOP hierarchy this week instead reached an agreement with the incumbent’s campaign to move Malone into the town council race, opening up the supervisor’s nomination to Kabot.

The move put newcomer Bill Wright — the party’s original choice for one of two available council seats — out of the running. Malone will be joined in the race by incumbent councilman Chris Nuzzi.

“History has shown it has not typically been the Democrats that have defeated local Republican campaigns for town office”, said Southampton Republican Committee Chairman Marcus Stinchi, “rather we have defeated ourselves with costly primary fights that have left our party divided in the November elections and more often than not with multiple Republican candidates on different lines dividing the electorate. We saw most recently in 2007 that two Republican candidates for supervisor garnered over 65% of the vote with similar results at the town board level only to lose a town board seat. A similar situation occurred in 1999.”

“At the end of the day”, continued Stinchi, “between the two potential campaigns we collected over 2,000 signatures and this agreement to allow Supervisor Kabot to seek re-election on the Republican line and Jim Malone moving over to run with Chris Nuzzi for the two town council seats, allows for all of these Republican signatories to not be disenfranchised and gives us the best chance to retain a majority on the town board which would be consistent with what has been typically expressed at the polls in the general elections.”

 “I was excited to learn yesterday that political leaders have come to realize that greater success can be achieved by joining forces and coming together,” said Kabot in a press release issued today, Tuesday, July 21. “Along my journey in politics, I have learned that it is necessary to re-adapt to changes and to embrace opportunities to move forward towards a brighter future.”

The three, all running on the Republican and Conservative party lines, will face a challenge by the Democratic-endorsed Anna Throne-Holst for supervisor, presently an independent town council member, and Sally Pope and Brigid Fleming for the two available town council seats. Pope is currently filling a seat on the council that had been vacated by Kabot in 2007 when she was elected supervisor. The seat was originally given to Dan Russo, a Republican, by Kabot. Russo, however, lost the seat to Pope in an election last year.

“Everyone took the long road home,” said Kabot, “but we finally got here.” The incumbent supervisor had approached Malone on a prior occasion in April with the proposition of building a 2009 “Dream Team” with her and Councilman Chris Nuzzi, according to the release. However, in what Kabot’s release characterized as a power play, the local Republican Committee nominated Malone, who also serves as Southampton Town Conservative Party chairman. Kabot responded by gathering 825 Republican signatures to force a primary. She also filed an additional 119 signatures of Republican voters in order to challenge the party positions of top leaders, including that of GOP Chairman Marcus Stinchi, said the release.

Kabot credited Suffolk County Conservative Party Chairman Ed Walsh for making it happen. “He recognized Jim’s potential as a candidate to strengthen the ticket, as well as the qualities that would make him an asset to the Town Board.”

In addition to the change in town endorsements. it was announced that Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman would be re-nominated as the Republican and Conservative candidate, adding to endorsements by his own Independence Party, and the Working Families Party.

 “It has been said that it is best to unite and lead and those are the watchwords to the wise,” concluded Kabot.

A news conference detailing the day’s changes is expected to occur later this week. 

Top: Linda Kabot (right) will face Anna Throne-Holst (left) in November’s election for Southampton Town supervisor.

Town Police Audit Unroots Cause of $4.6 Million Deficit

Tags: , , , , ,


FTI Consultants, a firm hired by Southampton Town, has finally completed a forensic audit of the town’s police fund and the firm presented their astonishing findings at a town work session on Friday, July 17. Brian Ong, speaking on behalf of FTI, enumerated the myriad ways mismanagement of the town’s police fund monies lead to a near $4.6 million dollar deficit at the close of 2007. However, the silver lining to the team’s audit was a list of recommendations for the town moving forward, many of which have already been undertaken by the town to clean up their accounting practices.

FTI’s forensic audit analyzed the police fund from January 1, 2003 through December 31, 2007. Ong and his team spent several months interviewing town employees and wading through electronic records of the town’s financial documents. FTI hoped to piece together the town’s complicated accounting practices from this time period and unearth the cause of the fund’s staggering deficit.

At the start of 2003, the town’s police fund was enjoying a healthy fund balance of a little over $3 million. Due to unexpected and unbudgeted Patrolman Benevolent Association (PBA) settlements, normal and disability retirements, over allocation of police expenditures and other budgetary variances the fund balance was not only whittled away to nothing, but by the close of 2007 the police fund was in the red. Between 2003 and 2007, the town’s police fund overspent by around $8 million, though the fund’s surplus was used to augment this figure. In 2003 and again in 2005, the town paid around $2.5 million, in total, for retroactive PBA contract settlements, which Ong pointed out contributed to a substantial amount of the overspending in the police fund.

“Additionally, we noted issues caused by unanticipated retirements, unanticipated normal retirements as well as disability retirements. Each of which resulted in lump sum distributions of severance which were not budgeted for at adequate levels,” added Ong.

Beginning in 2003, the police fund operated at a deficit, yet taxes in the town’s police districts weren’t levied to pay off these responsibilities. According to Wright, the town raised taxes just enough to maintain operations, though not to address the fund’s indebtedness. Furthermore, new tax monies, added supervisor Linda Kabot, were sometimes used for the incorrect budgetary year, consequently masking the actual deficit of the fund.

“Money was coming in from property taxes and so forth, and it was really earmarked for next year’s budget but was being used for the current budget in order to make payroll, etc.,” explained Kabot.

Ong added that over-allocation of police expenditures further exacerbated the police fund’s predicament. According to Wright, certain expenses, such as dental insurance, optical insurance, and workman’s compensation was erroneously charged to the police fund, when it should have been charged to other town funds. Another facet of the over-allocations were certain expenses that were charged in 2007, when they should have been charged in 2008.

However, between 2003 to 2007, to help make the police fund whole at year’s end and continue operations, the town often loaned money from one fund, primarily the general fund, to the police fund which the town refers to as an interfund loan. Under state law, interfund loans must be paid back to the lending fund within a year’s time, and if the loan isn’t paid back after a year the loan begins to accrue interest.

“Some years these loans would be paid back with the new tax money, so technically the loans weren’t outstanding. However, the taxes weren’t budgeted for that,” pointed out Wright, who added that during her research she found that once the police fund was low on money a loan would often be given.

The previous town board, however, didn’t sign off on these interfund loans. Instead, noted Kabot, the function of giving out interfund loans was under the purview of the comptroller’s office. Ong said he wasn’t aware of a law, which prohibits this practice, but said it is a good management policy to make town board members aware of interfund loans.

Going forward, Kabot said it was necessary for the town to draft a repayment schedule for the police fund.

According to Wright, the town has already implemented procedural changes to circumvent a deficit of the police fund in the future. Wright said the town has improved digital financial accounting and enacted a new system by which to manage separate accounts for a particular fund. Earlier this week, Kabot presented a draft law mandating the town board to pass interfund loans by way of resolutions.

In Midst of Financial Debacle, Town to Adopt New Finance Policies

Tags: , , , , ,


In the wake of discovering numerous accounting blunders dating back several years, the current Southampton Town Board hopes to wipe the slate clean for the town by tightening accounting controls and procedures for the future. The town’s present financial predicament stems from two main procedural oversights. Firstly, beginning in 2003, the town doled out a number of interfund loans from the general fund to other funds, like the police, waste management and highway fund, making sure these departments wouldn’t end up in the red at year’s end.

However, at a work session on Tuesday, July 21, comptroller Tamara Wright explained state law dictates an interfund loan cannot be extended for more than a year, meaning the loan must be paid back to the lending fund within a year’s time. In the instance where an interfund loan isn’t repaid within a year, the loan begins to accrue interest. The town’s failure to rectify these interfund loans resulted in several million dollars worth of indebtedness to the general fund.

The second major accounting error on the part of the town was the incomplete transfers from the general fund to the capital fund. A transfer, Wright pointed out at the work session, isn’t a loan and is simply a transference of money from one fund to another. However, beginning in 2004, previous town boards resolved to give a certain amount of money by way of direct appropriations, or direct cash transfers, from the general fund to the capital fund for various capital projects. Several of these transfers, however, were posted to have taken place on the town’s accounting database, but in fact the money wasn’t moved and remained in the general fund.

In order to prevent future town boards from repeating the mistakes of the past, supervisor Linda Kabot presented a draft law directly targeting these kinds of accounting errors.

“It is my belief that interfund loans should be done by town board resolution,” declared Kabot at the work session, detailing the first provision of her proposed law. In 2008, the town first implemented this policy, however, Kabot wishes to make this policy a law on the town books.

“This is an example of administrative policy, but I want to take it from policy to code amendment,” she said.

In addition, the comptroller would need to provide the town board with an annual or semi-annual report on all interfund loans throughout the town, specifying the lending fund and the receiving fund, the original loan amount, and the amount still owed on the loan at the close of the year.

To combat the second accounting problem revealed by the current town board, Kabot seeks to create an annual interfund transfer report. The comptroller would compile the report and distribute it to the town board.

Similar to the interfund loans report, the interfund transfer report indicates “the revenue source district/fund and receiving district/fund and the town board resolution authorizing the transaction.” Interfund transfers will also appear on the town’s annual operating budget and the funding source for each project will be specified.

Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst, however, wished to take the tracking of available balances and spending for capital projects one step further.

“I want that level of recording and tracking as the project or funding is allocated and as that project proceeds forward, so the town board can always refer back to that to see where the cash lies,” said Throne-Holst. She would like to see information dispersed to the board on the cash available for the projects, how much has already been spent on them and if the full amount allocated for the project wasn’t used in its entirety.

Kabot suggested the town publish an additional report to include this information and said it would give the town an easy “opportunity to recoup money” that wasn’t spent.

In addition to these measures, under the draft law the comptroller would release a report on the “Authorized, Unissued Bonds.” Currently, the town has approximately $19 million in authorized, but as of yet, unissued bonds.

The draft law is still pending validation from the town attorney and it will also be put through the ringer of public hearings.

“I want to show that the board is moving proactively to manage our financial turmoil,” maintained Kabot. “This will lead to greater town board oversight.”

Trash Talks Sour at Town Hall

Tags: , , , , , ,


To the average Southampton Town resident, trash is a topic given little thought. Many locals choose to bag their household waste and leave it on the corner of their properties for a private waste hauling company to pick up and cart away. Others participate in the town’s “green bag” system and bring their trash to one of the town’s four dumps, or waste stations. Once those trash bags travel down the chute or are thrown into the back of a truck, the Southampton Town resident’s role in disposing of their household waste is done.

For members of the town board, however, how best to manage the town’s waste is a subject of lively debate. Since last year, the board has explored the idea of privatizing waste management operations, or in other words hiring a private company to run the town’s trash disposal service. Privatization could be the key to lowering costs associated with the town program and ease its deficit. However, some members of the board are weary of the plan and believe privatization might fail to accomplish this goal.

In December of 2008, the town hired Cashin Associates, a business consulting firm, to conduct a comprehensive study on current operations of the town’s waste management system and the viability of hiring a private company to take over the reigns of this town service.

“Historically, the town has run its [waste management] operations as a traditional governmental service rather than as a business that must balance its costs and revenues. This approach, in conjunction with providing a high level of service for a relatively limited number of users, has contributed to operational inefficiencies and a general imbalance of income and expenditures within the Department,” wrote the consulting firm in its opening comments. At a work session held Friday, July 10, members of the board estimated the department’s deficit at around $2.8 million, but comptroller Tamara Wright added that this figure was based on unaudited financials. Kabot added that the town is waiting for the year end 2008 numbers, but said “waste management is in deficit condition.”

Based on Cashin’s analysis, around 11 to 14 percent of the town population use the town’s waste stations, however, councilman Chris Nuzzi argued these figures were debatable. Although the number of participating locals may be small, the costs savings are substantial for residents who take advantage of the program. Cashin estimated the average household paid $215 annually for disposal of their household trash at the town waste site. The average annual price for a private trash hauling company was estimated at $521. However, larger families who live farther from waste stations see only 17 percent savings compared to private hauling services.

In recent years, the town has experienced success with its green bag and bulk waste program. Cashin estimated this leg of the waste management program garners an annual revenue of around $819,000, while the expenditure for the green bag and bulk waste service is approximately $790,000. In addition to positive revenues for these particular services, the waste management department has also worked to cut down on expenses. Closing the Westhampton and Sag Harbor stations one day per week has helped lessen costs.

However, Cashin claims the amount of waste disposed at a town facility steadily decreased from 2004 through 2008. They pointed out that the department has almost 25 employees and over the next eight years will need to pay around $4,000,000 for new equipment and vehicles.

Based on their findings, Cashin advised the town to issue request for proposals, or RFPs, “to gauge vendor interest in taking over transfer station operations, handling transport and disposal of most of its solid waste stream.”

Cashin theorized the town could potentially save money by leasing or selling their equipment. The report added that based on prevailing New York State wages, a private contractor could potentially pay around 10 percent less than the town for labor and staffing.

“In recent years, Southampton had experienced a marked improvement in its overall solid waste management operations, including and especially control of labor costs, better tracking of expenses and interdepartmental charges, and phased upgrades to the North Sea Transfer station …,” the report determined. “[T]his study found that the town-run transport and private disposal of green bag and bulk waste currently costs the town approximately $141 [per ton]. This number is substantially higher than what most other Long Island municipalities pay for similar service. Therefore the major recommendation of this Privatization Study is the town of Southampton issue a request for proposals RFP.”

Both Nuzzi and town councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst were reluctant to entertain bids from private companies before the town receives fully completed and solid figures on the waste management’s financial status.

“I still have a lot of analysis to do,” contended comptroller Wright.

Throne-Holst held firm on waiting for the financials before deciding to privatize the waste management program.

“We are having this discussion without the numbers,” argued Throne-Holst, and it appeared the board was at an impasse again on the viability of privatization.

Town Presents Police Audit Findings

Tags: , , , , , , ,


FTI Consultants, a firm hired by Southampton Town, has finally completed a forensic audit of the town’s police fund and the firm presented their astonishing findings at a town work session on Friday, July 17. Brian Ong, speaking on behalf of FTI, enumerated the myriad ways mismanagement of the town’s police fund monies lead to a near $4.6 million dollar deficit at the close of 2007. However, the silver lining to the team’s audit was a list of recommendations for the town moving forward, many of which have already been undertaken by the town to clean up their accounting practices.

FTI’s forensic audit analyzed the police fund from January 1, 2003 through December 31, 2007. Ong and his team spent several months interviewing town employees and wading through electronic records of the town’s financial documents. FTI hoped to piece together the town’s complicated accounting practices from this time period and unearth the cause of the fund’s staggering deficit.

At the start of 2003, the town’s police fund was enjoying a healthy fund balance of a little over $3 million. Due to unexpected and unbudgeted Patrolman Benevolent Association (PBA) settlements, normal and disability retirements, over allocation of police expenditures and other budgetary variances the fund balance was not only whittled away to nothing, but by the close of 2007 the police fund was in the red. Between 2003 and 2007, the town’s police fund overspent by around $8 million, though the fund’s surplus was used to augment this figure. In 2003 and again in 2005, the town paid around $2.5 million, in total, for retroactive PBA contract settlements, which Ong pointed out contributed to a substantial amount of the overspending in the police fund.

“Additionally, we noted issues caused by unanticipated retirements, unanticipated normal retirements as well as disability retirements. Each of which resulted in lump sum distributions of severance which were not budgeted for at adequate levels,” added Ong.

Beginning in 2003, the police fund operated at a deficit, yet taxes in the town’s police districts weren’t levied to pay off these responsibilities. According to Wright, the town raised taxes just enough to maintain operations, though not to address the fund’s indebtedness. Furthermore, new tax monies, added supervisor Linda Kabot, were sometimes used for the incorrect budgetary year, consequently masking the actual deficit of the fund.

“Money was coming in from property taxes and so forth, and it was really earmarked for next year’s budget but was being used for the current budget in order to make payroll, etc.,” explained Kabot.

Ong added that over-allocation of police expenditures further exacerbated the police fund’s predicament. According to Wright, certain expenses, such as dental insurance, optical insurance, and workman’s compensation was erroneously charged to the police fund, when it should have been charged to other town funds. Another facet of the over-allocations were certain expenses that were charged in 2007, when they should have been charged in 2008.

However, between 2003 to 2007, to help make the police fund whole at year’s end and continue operations, the town often loaned money from one fund, primarily the general fund, to the police fund which the town refers to as an interfund loan. Under state law, interfund loans must be paid back to the lending fund within a year’s time, and if the loan isn’t paid back after a year the loan begins to accrue interest.

“Some years these loans would be paid back with the new tax money, so technically the loans weren’t outstanding. However, the taxes weren’t budgeted for that,” pointed out Wright, who added that during her research she found that once the police fund was low on money a loan would often be given.

The previous town board, however, didn’t sign off on these interfund loans. Instead, noted Kabot, the function of giving out interfund loans was under the purview of the comptroller’s office. Ong said he wasn’t aware of a law, which prohibits this practice, but said it is a good management policy to make town board members aware of interfund loans.

Going forward, Kabot said it was necessary for the town to draft a repayment schedule for the police fund.

According to Wright, the town has already implemented procedural changes to circumvent a deficit of the police fund in the future. Wright said the town has improved digital financial accounting and enacted a new system by which to manage separate accounts for a particular fund. Earlier this week, Kabot presented a draft law mandating the town board to pass interfund loans by way of resolutions.

Mid Term Cuts Shake It Up at Town Hall

Tags: ,


By Andrew Rudansky

“Cost Cutting Mode,” is how Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot describes the current state of the town, and cost cutting is just what was happening at Southampton Town Hall this past Tuesday, July 14.

“There is more work to be done, everyone has to tighten up the belt,” said Kabot. The board passed a resolution to amend the 2009 budget by a vote of five to zero. In total the board cut $1 million from their 2009 operating budget.

Across the board the town was looking to slash operating costs. Some of the budget cuts include a $2,500 decrease in microfilming from $5,000 to $2,500; a $50,000 decrease in legal fees from $1,050,000 to $1 million; a $27,000 decrease in vehicle purchase from $27,000 to $0; and a $100 decrease in land management photography from $100 to $0. However much of the money comes from the reduction, or in some cases freezing, of overtime pay, which may total over $500,000.

These cuts were the result of an operating budget that was structurally balanced on the assumption that mortgage tax revenues coming into the town would total in the neighborhood of around $7.5 million. This assumption was made on November 20, 2008 before the full gravity of the recent economic recession was fully realized.

House prices have fallen, which in turn has decreased the revenue from the mortgage tax. In the first half of the fiscal year only $2.5 million has come in from mortgage tax revenues, over $1 million less than projected. If this trend continues, which the town board believes it will, it would leave a $2 million shortfall in the general fund.

“We expected $7.5 million in mortgage tax,” said Kabot. “We are going to get $5.5 [million] if we are lucky,” she further explained that the Community Preservation Fund was hoping for $30 million in revenue from the two percent real estate transfer tax and would be “lucky to get $14 million.”

The amended 2009 budget includes a $342,265 cut from the general fund, $237,921 cut from the police fund and a $72,161 cut from the highway fund, among others. The board said the decision on budget cuts was made with input from various members of the different departments.

Councilwoman Sally Pope said “I appreciate having the extra time to consult with people in town hall.”

“I know for myself and most of my colleagues, we spent the last two weeks, if not longer, spending time with various department heads working on this,” added councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst.

“This is one small step in the right direction,” Kabot said. “We need to move forward in 2010 with $2 million of further cuts…with personnel changes if need be.”

The budget cuts were followed by a slew of grant applications from various community organizations. Kabot believes these relatively small grant applications, while serving good causes, are part of the fiscal problem Southampton Town faces. Despite her concerns most of these grants, including a $1,000 human services grant for a basketball program and a $1,000 special events interfund transfer for a church block party in Riverside, were passed unanimously. Kabot said that in 2010 the town would consider putting a hold on these small grant applications.

“Every year [grant seekers] ask for more pie, and there is no more pie,” said Kabot.

Out with the Old and In with the New: Southampton Town Hires New Auditing Firm

Tags: , , , , ,


Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot announced on Friday, June 19, that the town will hire a new external auditing firm, Nawrocki Smith, LLP, and is ending a five-year relationship with AVZ, or Albrecht, Viggiano and Zureck.
“I and other members of the town board have been calling for a second opinion . . . but what we really meant was a transitioning to a new auditing team,” explained Kabot of the new hire.
AVZ worked as the town’s external auditors during the years, from 2004 to 2007, when several errors occurred within the town’s capital fund, causing an overstatement of the town’s general fund by around $8 million. When completing their audits for the town, AVZ failed to notice discrepancies in the general fund and the capitol fund.
Last week, FTI consulting was brought in to begin a forensic audit of the town’s reconciliation of the capital fund. According to Kabot, FTI was hired to validate the information already gathered by the town’s financial team.
Nawrocki Smith, a Melville based firm, first interviewed with the town regarding the reconciliation of the capital fund. Both Kabot and town comptroller Tamara Wright said they were impressed with Nawrocki Smith’s qualifications, but opted to hire Manhattan based FTI consulting for the forensic audit of the capital fund. FTI consulting, however, isn’t an auditing firm and cannot certify financial statements for the town.
This Monday, Nawrocki and Smith started the audits for the 2008 financial statements with AVZ helping during the transitional period. One of Nawrocki Smith’s chief duties at the moment is to restate the 2008 year end financial conditions – to reflect the reconciliation of the capital fund.
Wright said Nawrocki Smith and FTI consulting predict they will finish the restatement of the 2008 financial reports and the certification of the capital fund database by July. She added that it is imperative for the two firms to work cooperatively in order to finish these projects.
Kabot added that East Hampton Town recently retained the services of Nawrocki Smith as their transitional external auditor. She said the transition to a new auditing firm was based on recommendations made by Wright, the town services administrator Richard Blowes and the town attorney Dan Adams.
The town is also in the midst of wrapping up an audit of the Community Preservation Fund, but because of state law the town was required to hire an additional auditing firm – BST advisers – to complete this audit.
Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst thanked Wright for her part in bringing in the new auditing firm.
“It hasn’t been easy piecing together this puzzle and trying to keep everyone doing what they are supposed to be doing . . . There is a real thought process here that will bring the history in order and certify this history,” said Throne-Holst.

East End Digest: June 11 through June 18

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


“Landscape Pleasures,” the Parrish Art Museum’s annual two-day horticulture event and fund-raiser, will explore the use of color in the garden, fashion and the world around you. Scheduled for Saturday, June 13, and Sunday, June 14, the program will kick off with a morning symposium, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring a conversation between renowned designers Isaac Mizrahi and Charlotte Moss, as well as talks by landscape historian and author Judith B. Tankard and garden designer Dan Pearson.

Self-guided tours of six private Southampton village gardens — those of Bruce and Maria Bockmann, Mr. and Mrs. Brownlee Currey, Juergen and Anke Friedrich, Parker and Gail Gilbert, David and Simone Levinson, and Betty and Virgil Sherrill—will round out the program on Sunday.

Judith Tankard will start off the symposium with a lecture on the color theories of influential female gardeners including Gertrude Jekyll, Beatrix Farrand and Ellen Biddle Shipman. Tankard received her M.A. in art history from New York University and has been teaching at the Landscape Institute, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University since 1987.

Dan Pearson will discuss the importance of color in his extensive garden designs, which include an Italian garden where white is the predominant color, and his own London garden. One of Britain’s foremost garden experts, Pearson has created and starred in several popular British television series on gardening. He is on the editorial board of Gardens Illustrated magazine and is a weekly gardening columnist for The Observer.

Keynote Speaker Isaac Mizrahi will take the stage with celebrated interior designer Charlotte Moss for a lively conversation about color. A leader in the fashion business for almost twenty years, Isaac Mizrahi is Creative Director for the Liz Claiborne brand, has been awarded four CFDA awards, written the book “How to Have Style,” created costumes for movies, theater, dance, and opera. A Parrish trustee since 2002 and co-chair of Landscape Pleasures, Charlotte Moss is founder of Charlotte Moss Interior Design, the author of six books, and the designer of houses throughout the United States and Canada. Her design work has been featured in numerous publications.

Sag Harbor

Candidates Lobby for Support

With elections for Sag Harbor Village mayor just around the corner, on Tuesday, June 16, this week candidates Michael Bromberg, Brian Gilbride and Jim Henry worked the campaign trail, visiting constituent groups, talking to residents, announcing endorsements and hosting a press conference in an effort to take the helm of Sag Harbor’s Board of Trustees.

Bromberg, the current chairman of the zoning board of appeals, was a guest at Friday’s Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, talking to the group about some of the issues he sees the village coming in the next two years.

Bromberg sees himself as representative of both the old and new Sag Harbor, and said he would like to see a village government elected that is interested in reaching out to the myriad of people in Sag Harbor who can aid government in accomplishing their goals. He said he was also concerned that an affordable housing trust, created during the approval process for luxury condos at the former Bulova Watchcase Factory, had yet to get off the ground, something he would like to see changed. Bromberg has also suggested the village could consider building both additional parking and affordable housing over the current village lot behind Main Street.

On Saturday morning, with roughly half a dozen residents in attendance, Henry threw a press conference at Havens Beach, stating a need for a village government willing to address a storm water runoff issue at the bathing beach and calling for the creation of a dog park. Henry, an attorney and economist, said while village officials “may be proud of a tight budget” projects like the $500,000 Cashin plan, proposed years ago to create a bio-filtration system for the Havens Beach drainage ditch have gone unfunded.

Henry also announced the endorsement of Congressman Tim Bishop, who on Tuesday withdrew his endorsement.

“As a Southampton Village resident, I understand that village politics occupy a special place, free of outside interests,” said Bishop in a statement. “As a rule, I do not insert myself into village politics. I recently made a snap decision and broke that longstanding rule. Upon reflection and with apologies, I withdraw any endorsements I have made in village races and I look forward to working with Sag Harbor’s next mayor.”

On Tuesday, Henry did pick up the endorsement of Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley, who called Henry a “person who puts community first and exhibits sound decision making.”

On Monday, Brian Gilbride said he had been sticking to a basic campaign strategy of knocking on doors and visiting with residents to share his goals for the village, which center around maintaining a fiscally conservative budget, he said. In addition to residents, Gilbride hoped to reach out to members of the business community as well as local not-for-profits.
Sag Harbor

Column Award
A column by Karl Grossman, published in the Sag Harbor Express last June, was chosen last week in the annual competition of the Press Club of Long Island as the best general interest column published in a weekly newspaper on Long Island in 2008.

The column — titled “Legally Corrupt” — concerned the selection of “official” county newspapers. It noted how each year the Suffolk County Legislature — and because of New York State law, governing bodies throughout the state — pick two “official” newspapers, one “representing the principles of the Democratic Party,” the other “representing the principles of the Republican Party.” These are then paid to publish legal advertising.

This “selection explicitly based on politics is a throwback to an era in American journalism when newspapers were avidly partisan, indeed many declared that in their names,” the column noted. It pointed to such “newspapers (still) called the Tallahassee Democrat (in Florida), Democrat and Chronicle (in upstate Rochester), Star-Democrat (in Easton, Maryland), The Republican (in Springfield, Massachusetts).”

It continued: “Change came to journalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as many and then most newspapers sought to report the news objectively.”

The column stated that this selection of “official” newspapers “based on their ‘representing the principles’ of the major parties is antiquated—and corrupting to journalism.” It questioned whether a paper “would get such a designation if it offended” the politicians who do the choosing and declared: “Independent journalism is sacrificed by this system.”

In an acceptance speech upon receiving the award Thursday in Woodbury, Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, said the system should be changed.

Sagaponack

Road Repairs
After years of drainage issues, Sagg Dune Court is creeping into a disheveled state, said members of the Sagaponack Village Board of Trustees, and is in need of repair. Mayor Don Louchheim reported driving on the road last week and said it was in a “horrendous” condition. However, Louchheim added that the village wasn’t looking to invest in a major road construction project, but did want to solve the underlying drainage issues at the site. Drew Bennett, a consulting engineer for the village, presented the board with three separate plans varying in cost and construction intensity. Bennett also noted that only 26 percent of the road was in fair condition, with the rest of it being in poor to very poor condition.

Trustee Lisa Duryea Thayer suggested the board explore going out for a bond for general road construction throughout the town not just at Sagg Dune Court.

“We could get some kind of statement from [village attorney] Anthony Tohill on if we can acquire performance bonds for not just here but for the whole village,” said Louchheim.

East Hampton

Muskets, Militia and More

History lovers of all ages are invited to experience an historic reenactment with the 3rd New York Regiment or the Brigade of the American Revolution and revolutionary encampment at Mulford Farm on James Lane in East Hampton Village.

Visitors will have the chance to meet the “Colonial Kids” between 10 a.m. and Noon, try on 18th century costumes, take part in butter-churning and play colonial games.

Free, half-hour guided tours of the Mulford Farm House restoration will be given at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and will offer clues to the 350-year history of the house. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again between 3 and 5 p.m., costumed interpreters will demonstrate traditional methods of spinning yarn with a drop spindle, weaving on the historic barn beam loom and basket making using age-old techniques.

The farm will reopen for a candlelight tour of the Revolutionary encampment at 7:30 p.m., and contra dance and refreshments in the colonial barn. Music will be provided by “Dance All Night.” The group features Larry Moser on hammered dulcimer, Mary Nagin and Jack Dillon on fiddle, and dance caller Chart Guthrie. All are members of the Long Island Traditional Music Association and have a wide repertoire of fun and easy dances for all ages.

For more information, please call 324-6850.

Shinnecock

D.C. Meeting

Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot and leaders of the Shinnecock Indian Nation met in Washington, D.C., on June 3 with representatives from the Office of Federal Acknowledgment (OFA) to participate in the process to secure recognition from the federal government for the tribe. The session was an integral part of the time line agreed to in a court-ordered settlement arising from litigation the tribe launched against the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The forum was hosted by the Department of the Interior in order to provide an opportunity for the Shinnecocks and other interested parties to present additional background on the documents submitted in response to OFA’s March 16 letter to the Shinnecocks. The letter, which was circulated to interested parties, identified records known to OFA that were not part of the information submitted with the Shinnecock petition. The petition seeking federal acknowledgment comprises over 500 pages, with 40,000 pages of additional documentation.

The settlement reached between the Shinnecocks and the federal government provides for expeditious review of the tribe’s original petition and its more recent submissions, as well as that provided by the interested parties. OFA sought materials from Southampton Town and New York State that were used in the earlier lawsuit over the Westwoods property, a 79-acre parcel in Hampton Bays which the tribe had began clearing for a casino. Additional records sought included expert reports from New York State’s genealogical researchers and a trove of historical documents from town clerk Sundy Schermeyer containing Indian lands, deeds and statistics.

Since first applying for recognition in 1978 and more formally in 1998, the Shinnecocks have litigated over what the tribe has called the Bureau of Indian Affairs “unreasonable delay.” With the agreement reached May 26 that led to the June 3 gathering, the Department of Interior must issue a preliminary decision on recognition by December 15.

“As town supervisor, I attended in order to represent the town board and show our support for the settlement with the Department of Interior, and to obtain a better understanding of the rigorous standards the Shinnecocks must meet to become federally acknowledged,” said Kabot, who was accompanied by the town’s legal adviser, Michael Cohen.

The meeting was moderated by OFA Specialist George Roth and attended by representatives of the U.S. Solicitor and U.S. Attorney General. Several representatives of the Shinnecock Indian Nation were also present, including Tribal Trustees Randall King, Gordell Wright and Frederick Bess, as well as their attorneys and research team.

Another purpose of the meeting was for federal researchers to explain the process, methodology, and general status of evaluating a petition. The OFA research team is comprised of historian Francis Flavin, anthropologist Holly Reckord and genealogist Alycon Pierce. There are seven mandatory criteria that must be met under federal regulations to establish that an American Indian group exists as a tribe. Questions posed to the Shinnecocks focused on membership lists, their functioning as a single autonomous political entity, while explaining how evidence is reviewed to determine parentage and descent to establish family histories.

“The Town of Southampton appreciates that the OFA will be completing a thorough, objective review of current and historic documents,” said Kabot. “We have fully cooperated with the requests of OFA for town documents. The Town of Southampton did not engage any researchers as part of this federal acknowledgment process sought by the Shinnecocks, nor do we intend to do so, and therefore we did not pose any questions on the submissions made by the Shinnecocks. Our relationship with the Shinnecocks is not an adversarial one. We are friends and neighbors.”

According to Kabot, Shinnecock Tribal Chairman Randall King requested an opportunity to convey remarks and “spoke eloquently about the need for the federal government to humanize the process, rather than making repeated requests for more documentation.” She also described the meeting as “exciting and interesting, but highly technical,” as it focused on federal criteria mandating extensive research, a peer review process and lengthy comment periods to raise inquiries and objections.

“At the end of the day, the Shinnecocks have long-awaited a decision on federal recognition,” concluded Kabot. “This meeting brings them one step closer to realizing their vision of sustaining their culture and enhancing the prosperity of their people.”

Shinnecock Trustees Gordell Wright and Frederick Bess

Tags: , , , , , ,


Last Wednesday, officials from the Shinnecock Indian Nation and Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot sat down with members of the Office of Federal Acknowledgement for preliminary proceedings regarding the Nation’s application for federal recognition. For nearly three decades, the Shinnecock Nation has lobbied the federal government for official recognition, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs is expected to reach a preliminary verdict on their application by December. Shinnecock trustees Gordell Wright and Frederick Bess discussed the case, the tribe’s history and what this verdict means to the Shinnecock people.

How long have the Shinnecock people lived on the East End?
G: Basically, we have been here for 10,000 years or more. This gives you a time span of how far back our people go.
F: Archaeologists have used carbon dating of pottery and other Indian artifacts dug up in Southampton to show how old our tribe is. The Old Fort Site dates back almost a thousand years. Sugar Loaf Hill is just as ancient. There is a well-documented ancient Shinnecock village on or near Bullhead Bay as well. The history of our tribe is very well documented.

How large is the land owned and controlled by the Shinnecock Nation?
G: At present, we have title to approximately 1,000 acres of land, in two parcels.
F: We have 80 acres in Hampton Bays and more than 800 acres south of Hill Street, but our aboriginal land stretched at least from what is now the Brookhaven Town line to what is now the East Hampton Town line – essentially, we had aboriginal title to the entire area of what is now the Town of Southampton. As the years passed, our land holdings became smaller and smaller, through theft and misappropriation by English settlers.

How does it feel to be a part of a group of people who can trace their roots back thousands of years, in a time when many have very little knowledge of their ancestry?
G: To be part of such a group … such a people … It is a hard feeling to put into words. Our culture is so tied to the land and the land is us. There is a strong sense of pride and cultural identity among our people, which helps us carry on the tradition. It can bring you to tears sometimes.
F: We are the caretakers of this land. We were here before the English settlers. But it can be hard to hold onto our land and our traditions when we are smack dab in Main Street America.

How do you continue passing down your traditions and continuing your way of life?
F: We have a word of mouth tradition. The old stories are passed down from grandparent to grandchild and then they pass them down to their grandchildren
G: Every Wednesday, we hold social classes. Sometimes we teach regalia or dances. It takes a lot to make sure our stories continue. It is a community effort. Hunting, fishing and clamming is also a part of our tradition, though most people wouldn’t say that that is culture.
F: In the last few years, we have brought back the making of our famous Wampum. Wampum used to be traded amongst the tribes. It is made from clam shells and slowly we have been bringing it back. Wampum signified coming together and would seal deals and treaties. It is a very common thing for tribes on the Eastern Coast.

How long has the Shinnecock Nation been petitioning for federal recognition?
F: The first petition was filed back in 1978 … But you really need to understand the history of how we got this land. Back in 1703, the settlers took our land illegally and then leased part of it back to us for a term of 1,000 years. But in 1859, the New York Legislature illegally approved a termination of that lease in return for ‘giving’ us a deed for some 800 plus acres south of Hill Street we already had the right to use for 1,000 years. We are trying to undo that illegal land grab in court right now.
G: Most of our land was basically stolen because New York State made the land swap using a forged petition, which was illegal according to the laws at the time. We had 3,600 acres, but we had to settle for much less because the tribe’s petition that led to the state legislature [approving the 1859 transaction] was forged … the signatures of long dead and under age tribe members appeared on the petition.
F: In 1978, we said that we wanted this land back and tried to have the federal government help us to do so, but they said we had to file for federal recognition which should have taken only a couple years. That was 31 years ago. When a tribe is federally recognized it means that they are under the jurisdiction of the federal government. This would bring a big change, from a practical point of view, in our relationship with the state and the town and make our people eligible for significant federal aid and assistance that only tribes recognized by the Department of the Interior may receive.

Why has it taken so long for the federal government to recognize the Shinnecock Nation?
F: We already have been federally recognized by a federal court – in 2005. Recognition by the Department of the Interior is a tangled bureaucratic process that takes a lot of time and research. To become federally recognized by the Department of the Interior, a tribe needs extensive documentation like birth certificates and lists. You have to prove that you are a community and have a working government. We have done that.
G: You have to prove these things going back to the founding of the United States [in the late 1700s], but we have filed all of the required historical documents, many of them from the records of Southampton Town.
F: I believe that we are one of the most well documented tribes. Most tribes who apply for federal recognition by the Department of the Interior have only a few thousand pages of documentation, but we have submitted around 40,000 pages of documents. And in 2005 a federal judge said we were a federal tribe as a matter of federal law. That should have been enough for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs [who creates the list of federally recognized tribes and decides which tribes are added to the list]. In 2007, we sued the Department of the Interior to be added to the federal list. That lawsuit is pending.

Is that why your application for federally recognition has been expedited?
G: Basically, if we hadn’t sued them they would have taken their sweet time. Carl Artman [the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs] was the one who put together a waiver so that we could be expeditiously put on the active list of federally recognized tribes. That saved us about five to 10 years in the process of being federally recognized.

When will the BIA tell you if you have made the list?
G: We hope they will issue a proposed decision in December, with the final determination coming as early as 2010.
F: [This timeline] came out of our settlement of a part of our lawsuit against the Department of the Interior.

What are some of the benefits of being federally recognized?
G: You become eligible for certain federal grants and funds.
F: There is increased funding through the BIA for housing, education and health programs.
G: Right now, the way we run our operations is through grants. Everything we do is grant based. So if we don’t get a grant for an Indian Education Program, then there is no program.
F: It is also very hard to generate money here, because we have basically no tax base. We don’t have property or income tax here for our people. Our people also can’t take out mortgages because banks cannot foreclose on reservation land, which is held by the tribe in community ownership. There is very little that we can do to generate housing, so we have a lot of generational housing. A grandchild might move in with their grandparents when they are just starting their family. Instead of building a house, people will often add additional rooms when a child is born. We are a very modest community and we do the best we can. One of our biggest money makers is the PowWow that we hold over Labor Day Weekend.

Your community could be federally recognized by next summer. After fighting for decades for this, how do you feel?
F: We are very confident that it is going to go well because we are so well documented. The fact that we aren’t on that federal list is almost criminal.
G: But I think there is a mixed feeling in the community. People are excited that it is finally going to be done, but some are downright angry that we had to jump through all of these hoops to prove who we are.
F: The state has recognized us as a tribe since its inception and in 1974 the state legislature unanimously petitioned the federal government to recognize us, based on our long history of state recognition. Why should we have to prove we are Indians when we have had a documented board of trustees, governing us as an Indian tribe, since 1792?
G: At present, we have a board of trustees and a 13 member tribal council and dozens of other subcommittees.

In the past, the Shinnecock Nation has explored establishing a casino. If you become federally recognized, will the Shinnecock construct a casino?
G: That is one idea that is at the forefront of our ideas for economic development.
F: Gaming is one tool offered by the federal government to become self-sufficient and self-determining, but gaming is also highly regulated. We would probably pursue a Class 3 Casino, but in order to establish this we have to go into a compact with the state. The state would get a certain amount of the money made.
G: But a casino would also create jobs and infrastructure.
F: We would plan to establish a relationship with local unions and this project could be a significant employer and generate significant income for the state and the county in which it is located. Once a compact is made, it takes on average two years to build the casino. We still have to sit down with the governor to find a location for a casino that works from a practical business sense . . . Supervisor Kabot did say she was in full support of us being federally recognized, so is our local representatives and our congressman. In fact, Congressman Tim Bishop was here today in support of one of our other programs. We hope and expect to work with the state, county and town to reach a decision for casino location that all constituencies support.