Credit the Southampton Town Board for realizing crafting a sustainability plank for the Comprehensive Plan required a lot more pubic input than it originally was going to get.
What on the surface seems a rather mundane matter –- assuring the long-term health of the planet -- has for good or bad been politicized. The UN Agenda 21, which has been embraced by municipalities worldwide, does have some wording that if taken literally could trump our personal property rights. Worse, in its zeal to nurture those who can't help themselves – the poor, children, and minorities, for example – there seems to be some sentiment that the cost of doing so will fall on the Middle Class, and that is cause enough for concern. Let's keep it local, and keep politics out of sustainability.
When A Board Member Crosses The Line
There can be no gray area. A public servant most hold himself or herself to the strictest of standards, and even the appearance of favoritism or impropriety must be avoided at all costs.
In the case of East Hampton Town Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, it's not even close. She has too often participated in discussions that could benefit her friends, business associates, and in this latest case, her family.
The fact that she is an attorney makes the fact that she refuses to acknowledge that she crosses the line even more glaring.
The latest indiscretion is voting on a party permit for the Montauk Beach House that was turned in late and brought to the table without any public input. Quigley's "Yes" vote came just as the news that her daughter had taken a job at the club.
Yes, in itself it is mundane news that a teenager gets a summer job.
But this isn't the first time Quigley has championed the Beach House. One of its owners, Larry Siedlick, has long ties with the law firm that employed Quigley, and a significant amount of money changed hands over the years. Clearly, Quigley needed to recuse herself from any discussions about the Beach House. She never has.
The Town Ethics Code has several sections that deal with the matter: One prohibits "A direct or indirect pecuniary or material benefit accruing to a Town officer or employee as the result of a contract with the Town which such officer or employee serves." The code specifically mentions children of the board members.
The rule is clear-cut – when in doubt, sit it out. Quigley should never involve herself in discussions about any individual or firm that does business with her law firm, period, and she obviously should recuse herself when discussing an establishment that just hired her daughter.