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The Facts?


To the Editor of The Independent,

This letter is being written in response to your editorial "It's Not What You Know, But Is It Who You Know?" regarding the property tax relief granted to Paul Robinson by the Southampton Village Board of Assessment Review. What should outrage readers who read both your article and the editorial is your paper's defamatory manipulation of scantily reported facts.

I am the Southampton Village Tax Assessor and I know "the facts" far better than you will ever be able to understand and report. You didn't do your homework and you should be ashamed of your editorial commentary. It was one of the worst examples of sensationalized reporting I have ever read.

I attended the February 21, 2006 Southampton Village Grievance Day tax relief hearings in my official capacity as tax assessor. New York State Law allows me to reduce a property owner's assessment if the property owner can demonstrate that his original assessment, as it appears on the tentative assessment roll, is unequal or excessive.

Mr. Robinson presented a compelling argument that his property was over-assessed and the reduction he received was justified. Two Village Trustees from opposing political parties concurred. It was bi-partisan in all respects — thorough, honest and fair. Any other property owner with similar circumstances would have been treated exactly the same, without exception. For you to suggest that a government official should not receive the same rights as any other citizen is grossly unfair.

For the scant salary of $7,200 annually, the Southampton Village Trustees devote endless hours to work for the Village they love. Frankly, for you to suggest impropriety and write such trash in a local paper is simply disrespectful of everyone who devotes such time to such causes.

You may not agree with the decisions of every public official, but to smear good people like Paul Robinson and his colleagues, without truth and justification, is poor reporting and irresponsible of you as The Independent's editor.

WILLIAM McCOY,

Southampton Village Tax Assessor

Village of Southampton

Editor's Note: Ooooh, Southampton Village Tax Assessor. Is that like, Dean of the Quantum Physics Department at Yale? Your job requires that you take a course up in Albany and have a "high school diploma or equivalent," as state law dictates. We're confident our college and graduate school educated editorial staff is capable of understanding the nuances of your little job. That said, as a village employee you write a letter defending the guy who votes on your salary increases. That's called Brown Nosing where we come from.

Here are the facts: One hundred and two people sought relief that day; five were granted. One was a village trustee. We reported some folks think an appearance of impropriety exists when trustees can vote to reduce each other's property taxes. That's what outrages readers. By the way, the article wasn't defamatory because it was the truth — do you have a law degree, too?

WILLIAM McCOY
January 16, 2007

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