June 07, 2006

Cardinale Denies Rumors

She's back. The mystery e-mailer, known as Kayla Johnston is at it again. She sent out a mass e-mail to the media over the weekend, saying Riverhead Supervisor Phil Cardinale has been put on notice by the parking district and his fellow town board members.

According to "Johnston," the members of the parking district committee "stormed" the supervisor's office and told him "in very strong terms" that if he is going to sell parking district property to Apollo Real Estate for a parking garage without their permission, they will take the supervisor and the town board to court.

The e-mail further stated that upon hearing the news, "the members of the town board told the supervisor they would not vote with him on the parking aspects of Apollo's plan."

As part of its effort to help revitalize downtown, Apollo has been selected by the town to develop projects on Main Street, including a parking garage, multiplex, hotel, restaurants, and shops.

Cardinale flatly denied everything in the e-mail: "No one came to my office."

The supervisor further stated that when the time comes to discuss parking with Apollo, the parking district will be asked to participate.

The parking district committee is made up of downtown business owners, who pay a tax for parking privileges. The town board oversees the committee and has final say on all parking projects proposed.

This is not the first time Cardinale or his staffers have had to deny Johnston's tall tales.

In the past, the mysterious Kayla Johnston launched an attack on former Riverhead Republican campaign manager Tony Coates by e-mailing the local news media via a cryptic yahoo e-mail address. In her e-mail, she announced that the Riverhead GOP hired "a thug" to run the 2005 campaign and urged reporters to call Rex Farr, chairman of the United Riverhead Party, for more information.

Farr, whose political party was supporting Cardinale, a Democrat, denied that he had anything to do with it, saying he doesn't even have an e-mail address.

Cardinale says his office has attempted to find out just who Kayla Johnston really is, but he said efforts were fruitless.

The supervisor is most curious since the last correspondence from Johnson's e-mail address pertained to three of Cardinale's staffers, two of which have since left the employment of Town Hall.

The e-mail warned that three of the supervisor's appointed staff members would soon be leaving their posts over a controversy involving the supervisor's special projects manager, Dave Cullen.

In April 2005, Cullen screened with the Riverhead Republican Party for a seat on the town board, sending a shock wave through the administration since he was appointed to his seat by the Democratic supervisor.

An e-mail from Johnston followed, stating that Cullen, who ran Cardinale's campaign in 2003, decided to run for a town board seat because of "philosophical differences between himself and the Democratic supervisor."

Cullen admitted he screened for a seat, but said his reason had nothing to do with a difference of opinion with the supervisor. He soon withdrew his name from the race.

Soon after and just as Johnson's e-mail warned, Cardinale's executive assistant, Jill Lewis, stepped down to pursue other work, and shortly thereafter John Stefans, the supervisor's aide, resigned, saying he was no longer interested in town politics.

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