September 26, 2012

The County Versus The Town

Usually Suffolk County works in tandem with its municipalities, and its farm preservation effort is an excellent example. This time, though, something has gone terribly awry.

The county is threatening to sue East Hampton Town because, during a project designed to ease flooding, the town inadvertently removed topsoil from a farm the county "owns" – that is, it purchased the development rights to the property, assuring it will always be used for farming (See our story elsewhere in this issue.).

There are no winners here. The county is talking about "the precious soil" removed by the town as if it were gold. Let's put things in perspective – it's dirt.

Then there is the matter of the project itself. We know the houses in Hansom Hills frequently flood. Who is responsible, though? If it is the water running off the farm, a case could be made that Suffolk County should share the cost of diverting it.

Should taxpayers have to foot the bill? Wouldn't a fairer thing be to form a special tax district comprised of the affected homeowners? And what of the developer (or developers) and builders who originally built the houses? Shouldn't they have known the area was in essence a flood zone?

Town officials who acknowledge they made a mistake have managed to alienate county officials who claim to be willing to negotiate a mutually beneficial solution. Since the town is clearly in the wrong – and since the cost of defending a lawsuit will be borne by taxpayers – the prudent thing would be to make nice.

As for all the name-calling, crazy charges and countercharges, and smarmy innuendo – let's keep in mind there are no local elections this year. Save the childish behavior for next year's Silly Season.

Silver's Blogger

When State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was caught using taxpayers' money to hush up a colleague's sex scandal, he drew the ire of a number of women's groups. Enter "Sophia Walker," a blogger who defends Silver at every turn. According to the New York Post, the she is a he -- Bill Eggler, 48, a longtime legislative writer for Silver.

It reminds us anew that bloggers who hide behind phony names are dangerous animals. Locally, the same clowns monopolize blogspots with worthless prattle. Here's a suggestion: get a life. Walk away from the computer.

Legislation is being discussed that would prevent bloggers from posting damaging comments that are not true. Though we are all for freedom of the press, more than a few lives have been ruined by anonymous bloggers who are posting libelous comments without fear of repercussions. Perhaps it is time to hold everyone accountable for what they write on the Internet.

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