Southampton Town Board members have earned their reputation for being arrogant -- now we can add "clueless" to the list. When town attorney Michael Sordi resigned last week, all concerned refused to reveal the terms to the public, even though it obviously contained financial arrangements. Deputy town attorney Kathleen Murray claimed the matter was confidential. After we called Bob Freeman from the NYS Committee On Open Government, officials said Murray would call him, as if his directive wasn't perfectly clear: all expenditures of public funds are public information, regardless of the wording entered into any given contract, and regardless of whether there is litigation pending or not. Memo to Murray: veteran journalists interact with Freeman regularly; We are more well-versed in the nuances of the Freedom of Information Law than the average town attorney. This is a predominantly veteran board: it shouldn't be necessary for reporters to brief members about the Sunshine Laws – they should already know them.
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We received several calls from citizens concerned that a 7-Eleven may go into a vacant restaurant by the IGA in Amagansett. Predictably, the callers blamed the town board -- one insinuating the Republican majority wants to promote business at the expense of the environment.
This is a recurring complaint, dating back three decades. It's kind of silly, given the fact the three greatest environmentalists in East End history -- Perry Duryea Jr., Fred Thiele, and Ken LaValle -- were all Republicans, though our pal Fred has now morphed into an Indycrat.
This isn't about 7-Eleven, and whether it is appropriate for that particular site. Commercial property owners have inherent rights, just as residential property owners do. Not only does the town board have no say in the matter, but it would also expose East Hampton to lawsuits if board members interjected themselves into the fray. It is not a matter open to debate or dependent on the wishes of the neighbors – the old truism "you didn't buy the whole block" comes into play here.
Citizens need to grasp the restrictions placed on our planning and zoning boards, and our building inspectors. They are not judges or juries; they do not decide if a store can be opened. Their sole job is to assure the proposed store meets town code. If it does, they MUST issue the necessary permits. There is no wiggle room.
This is America. The idea that people have a right to render someone's investment worthless by opposing development is against everything this country stands for.
That's the way it is, even in the Land Of No. Even in "I'm Against It."
One letter writer called for a building moratorium. Why? The economy is struggling. Stores along Main Street are shuttered. New businesses bring jobs and tax revenue. Why on earth would we want to discourage anyone willing to bring jobs into town?
The Mess in Egypt
We don't normally comment on world affairs but we have to express our concern about what is happening in Egypt, specifically our government's role. News reports, and reports out of The White House, indicate a steady stream of back and forth between our government officials and the now-ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. President Obama on several occasions urged Mubarek to take an all-inclusive approach to the rioters, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood.
One columnist, Nile Gardiner, accused the Obama administration of giving the Brotherhood "a PR makeover." In fact, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said the group was "a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda. . ."
Sounds peaceful enough, but perhaps the very name of the group tells the true tale: Muslim by definition IS secular: Brotherhood is exclusionary, meaning, where are the sisters?
Muhammad Badi, a Brotherhood leader, said it was his hope and plan to raise "a Jihadi generation that pursues death."
The Brotherhood openly advocates violence against Israel and once suggested the Suez Canal be blocked to stop the flow of oil to Israel. This is not the first time Obama has embraced radical Palestinian, Hamas, and Muslim fringe groups at the expense of Israel. Huge amounts of money from Jewish-Americans swelled Obama's campaign coffers – hopefully the donors are getting the not too subtle message: you've been had.
Obama, Biden and Hillary Clinton were quick to throw a longtime ally under the bus: worse, they are meddling in another country's affairs. The funny thing is, they can't even run their own country effectively.