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Oct 27, 2009 5:26 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Town Board members walk out on budget talks

Oct 27, 2009 5:26 PM

Two members of the East Hampton Town Board walked out on a special meeting on the 2010 town budget on Friday, October 23, stating that they did not agree to a series of layoffs that the board had been discussing for two weeks in closed sessions.

Board members Brad Loewen and Pat Mansir effectively caused the cancellation of the meeting by leaving because the remaining two members, Deputy Town Supervisor Pete Hammerle and Julia Prince, did not constitute a quorum. Former Supervisor Bill McGintee resigned three weeks ago after filing the budget that the board had been discussing.

Tempers flared between board members after Mr. Hammerle called the meeting to order and prepared to read a list of positions cut from the 2010 budget. When he asked if he had a consensus among board members that the positions needed to be cut, Ms. Mansir and Mr. Loewen both said no.

“I think we need to talk to the union first,” said Ms. Mansir. The town’s Civil Service Employee Association president, Heath Liebman, was at the meeting, but he said that he could not give the board a counter-offer if board members wouldn’t tell him what their proposal was.

Ms. Mansir added that the proposed cuts would hurt some of the best workers in town, while not punishing lesser workers—including, she said, some who might potentially be showing up for work drunk. “Some of the best people are on this list, and the worst people are not on this list,” she said.

“I reserve the right to consider what’s in the best interest of the town,” said Mr. Loewen, adding that he thought cutting jobs first was “backward” and that the town should have worked to trim other waste in the budget first.

Mr. Hammerle seemed shocked at the board members’ pronouncements, stating that he believed he had consensus to go forward with the staff cuts.

“I don’t know that you ever had an honest consensus,” said Ms. Mansir. “This is not the way to lay off.”

“Where have you been, Pat? This was a complete waste of time,” said Mr. Hammerle. “You have a very paranoid outlook about what’s going on ... You said ‘yes’ during the process. Now you don’t have the guts to go through with it?”

“The titles and positions are excess,” said Ms. Prince, who was shaking her head throughout the exchange and left the room as tempers began to flare among the remaining board members.

Ms. Mansir got up. “Goodbye. Have a good day. See what you can accomplish,” she said as she got up to leave the room.

Mr. Hammerle threw up his hands and said that the meeting would be cancelled. “That looks like the road we’re taking, and it’s very unfortunate,” he said. “You people are taking a nice little stand on how nice people we are, and you’re gonna have to live with it.”

“We’re damn well gonna live with it, because it’s right,” said Mr. Loewen.

Both Ms. Mansir and Mr. Loewen’s terms expire at the end of this year, and neither is seeking reelection. Ms. Mansir has said she chose not to run because of the constant pressures of the town’s financial crisis, while Mr. Loewen was not selected to run by the town’s Democratic Committee after Democratic supervisor candidate Ben Zwirn insisted that he not share the ballot with anyone currently sitting on the Town Board. Both Ms. Prince and Mr. Hammerle will continue to serve the town for two more years.

Mr. Loewen put his coat on to leave as members of the Town Board paced between their offices and exchanged angry comments.

“You’re a moron!” Mr. Hammerle could be heard shouting at Mr. Loewen at one point.

“You always thought that I was a moron—I’m glad to finally hear it,” said Mr. Loewen, before leaving.

Mr. Loewen and Ms. Mansir described the reason for their walkout in detail in a letter to The East Hampton Press this week.

“This breakdown was over earlier discussions concerning staffing the board held in executive session out of public scrutiny. Councilman Brad Loewen and Councilwoman Pat Mansir participated in the discussions and even debated them but in the end disagreed, in whole, with the conclusions and the demand for consensus of Councilman Pete Hammerle and Councilwoman Julia Prince,” read the letter. “Indeed, Mr. Hammerle was warned he would not have a consensus on this issue and yet moved for a consensus vote.

“We disagree this was merely a reshuffle of people and the elimination of jobs not already filled. We felt this to be a predetermined list of people to lose their jobs. We felt Mr. Hammerle and Ms. Prince were vindictive toward our work in their attempt to remove them. We didn’t take this no vote lightly but felt we had no choice.”

Mr. Hammerle, Ms. Prince and Town Comptroller Janet Verneuille, as well as Mr. Liebman, stayed to talk with reporters for nearly an hour after the other board members left.

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ha ha what a circus. Hopefully the new blood will help to clean this mess up.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Oct 23, 09 10:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Could a better case have been made for three fresh faces and intelligent minds on the town board than was made today at 159 Pantigo Road? And I mean three fresh faces that are not brought to us by the Democrat Committee that brought you the current cast of characters we have on the town board and the one who quit. They now have put forward this new "team" that is already at odds with those who will remain on the board. Zwirn has already said he could not work with Hammerle. Something to look forward ...more
By eastend09 (43), east hampton on Oct 23, 09 10:45 PM
a circus indeed!! "drunks", morons" what else can this stunning and stellar group come up with??? close the doors now and don't let it hit any of you board memebers on the ass on the way OUT!!! what an embarrasment!!
By gansetteer (125), East Hampton on Oct 24, 09 10:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
This is sort of frightening. A budget has to be passed...by these people...who represent the good citizens of East Hampton. We need to get these board members together and put the politics aside. If any of them trully care about what they are responsible for they will realize that this is important. I can only hope that the 2010 budget can be managed by the next administration.
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Oct 24, 09 12:20 PM
Your tax dollars at work.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Oct 24, 09 1:24 PM
The more I think about this it really bothers me. Evreybody get back in the room. If there is a concern that someone is showing up drunk, you don't deal with it like this. You deal with it though, you don't walk out. Job cuts suck. I think they are TALKING about vaccant posistions first, they never got that far. If I am starting to blame one side more than the other, I should not. The fact is they all need to be held accountable. They are now against the clock and need to work hard to get ...more
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Oct 24, 09 1:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
The spotlight is shining on East Hampton in the media, at the State Comptroller's office and with the voters, the Town's finances are in ruin and East Hampton employees have an axe hanging over their heads, and what does the Democrat controlled Town Board do? They act like the unprofessional, incompetents that they are. I mean, they can't even fake it for a few weeks. This toddler like tantrum coupled with Board member Loewen trying to write into the projected FY 2010 budget a job for himself ...more
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Oct 24, 09 3:56 PM
Ben Zwirn has been described as a maverick, a political spoiler, and an angry man in all sorts of quotes from all sorts of sources. Just google his name. Steve Levy appointed him and said Zwirn would ride into Town and "shake things up" and "turn things around" or some other such nonesense (Steve Levy also said Bill McGintee would make a "fine" candidate for the County Legislater against Scneiderman in 2008 when McGintee was being harangued by Republicans about the budget crisis). I wonder ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Oct 24, 09 11:07 PM
Please take the time to watch this meeting. From the East Hampton Town website choose the link townclerk.com. and select the October 23 meeting. You really have to see it to believe it.
By Gabrielle Brady (9), East Hampton on Oct 25, 09 10:54 AM
Loewen never left the room until Hammerle cancelled the meeting. Mansir did leave. Prince walked out for a short while, I'm sure to compose herself so she wasn't part of the scene. Loewen & Mansir were right the Board should have talked to the union 1st to see if they could help save enough money to avoid layoffs. Hammerle was right Loewen & Mansir should have let him know earlier they had changed their minds. Like it or not they are all human, lost their tempers and did not act professional. ...more
By disappointed (96), wainscott on Oct 25, 09 2:05 PM
Nobody has to vote a clean slate of Republicans, because then we will have exactly what we have with the Dems,a dysfunctural crowd of angry people, three of who want to push through whatever, with two sulking all the time. I am an independent write-in candidate who routinely builds consensus in all that I do... work, non-profits, family, etc. and I have the temperment for working constructively with angry people. Write-in my name and watch the Independent massage the dsyfunction out of the room.
By Prudence Carabine (2), East Hampton on Oct 25, 09 5:43 PM
Prudence is insulting and sounds a bit dysfunctional herself. She can't win as a write-in and will be a spoiler. She has her own agenda and we don't need any more people who can't follow rules. The democrats have run a nasty campaign while the repulicans have held back from the slime. We need a team who will work together and I belileve that will be Mr. Wilkinson, Mr. Stanzione and Theres Quigley. The infighting for power will stop.
By housewife (79), east hampton on Oct 27, 09 11:33 PM
The Republican slate of candidates is neither dysfunctional nor angry. To describe Bill Wilkinson, Dominic Stanzione and Theresa Quigley as angry is not only inaccurate and unfair, it is extremely irresponsible. None ot the three have ever done or said anything during this campaign to indicate they have nothing other than the very best intentions for the town. Today Newsday in its endorsement of Bill Wilkinson said he has the temperament needed to"wisely tackle the crisis and restore civility ...more
By eastend09 (43), east hampton on Oct 25, 09 7:20 PM
Ms. Carabine, while the Wilkinson Team has the Republican line, it also has the Independence and Conservative lines and Mr. Wilkinson also has the endorsement of the Liberal Party and several large unions and as of today Newsday. Their demeanor during this election has been exemplary and to say that voting this team in would be to vote in a dysfunctional crowd really slanders them. You as a candidate and your Bonac Beach party petitions were vetted by all of the electoral processes that affords ...more
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Oct 25, 09 7:31 PM
I refer to the five Town Board members who must find a way to work together. If you have a TEAM of three who have no need to listen to other ideas, and chose to run the Town alone, as they could, this does not bode well for the future. We are simply exchanging one group of dysfunctional, unprofessional folks, for a team of professional bullies, some of whom may be absent from time to time, as they have real careers to forward and may not be satisfied with Town salaries. Unfortunatly, I am rather ...more
By Prudence Carabine (2), East Hampton on Oct 25, 09 8:59 PM
Now you demean those who write on this thread by saying "perhaps you who disagree should come out and put yourselves in the arena." I would guess that many of those who write comments on this site have been in the arena many times.

You label civic minded people who are willing to offer their vast knowlege and experience to help the town "professional bullies" ? And then you speculate whether they will be happy with their pay? You are not only irresponsble you are flat out dangerous.

iMs. ...more
By eastend09 (43), east hampton on Oct 25, 09 9:20 PM
is anyone surprised this group has now turned on each other?if we were'nt all so screwed it might be laughable.
By montauk resident (41), montauk on Oct 26, 09 12:31 PM
Both Hammerle and Mansir have each been on the Town Board for OVER 12 YEARS! Now they finally decided to pay attention? I watched the video on the Town website. Everyone should watch to see how dysfunctional and stupid these people are. Always playing to the cameras. They have been collecting a taxpayer-funded pay check for all these years and obviously never did a lick of work. At least not any work that did the taxpayers any good, like watching out for our tax dollars.
By Waincott Resident (42), Wainscott on Oct 26, 09 2:16 PM
Dear Dissappointed - vote the Independence line or for the people who make the most sense given all that has happened in the last six years. It doesn't have to be "Dems against us" or "Us against Dems", which are exteremely narrow-minded positions in my opinion. Point in fact - I was speaking with a lovely, hard working young man in the restaurant business (from the UK, I believe) who hasn't lived in East Hampton for very long - two years maybe? - although he worked in the city for many, many ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Oct 26, 09 8:34 PM
It will be interesting to see how the local papers report this Democrat meltdown in their print editions starting Wednesday. The Press will be particularly interesting in that they have to report a Democrat implosion on the town board, a Democrat candidate who was arrested in April who happens to be the brother in law of the editor, and the fact Newsday in their Sunday endorsement of Bill Wilkinson said they made a mistake two years ago about not listening to Mr. Wilkinson on the state of the town ...more
By eastend09 (43), east hampton on Oct 27, 09 6:34 PM
One more comment. Prudence Carabine stated at a union meeting last night that not only should East Hampton Town employees take a 5% paycut, but there should be layoffs.
By housewife (79), east hampton on Oct 27, 09 11:40 PM
Kudos to the editor of the East Hampton Press who put personal, political and pressure from party power brokers aside and did the right thing for the people of East Hampton and the readers of his publication and this thread by endorsing the people he thought are best suited to sit on the Town Board.
By eastend09 (43), east hampton on Oct 28, 09 5:50 PM
Dear eastend09,
I think, in the interest of full disclosure, it is important to note that in addition to Mr. Whelan being our editor's brother-in-law, GOP candidate Theresa Quigley is his cousin through marriage. Mr. Kotz is well aware of this potential for the appearance of conflict, and this newspaper's endorsement decisions were made by the paper's full editorial board in the interest of fairness. It was an ethical decision that was taken very seriously by all here.
By Beth Young (7), Sag Harbor on Oct 28, 09 6:48 PM
I always knew Loewen was a moron also!
By Hummer (13), East Hampton on Oct 28, 09 9:40 PM
Hey Loewen hows the dog park behind your house working out for you?
By Hummer (13), East Hampton on Oct 28, 09 9:45 PM
What is going on with this situation. I took the time to check the towns website before commenting and found that a special meeting was scheduled for both tuesday and wednesday of this week. Unless I am wrong these meetings seem to have not taken place.
I saw Mr. Loewen in the news this week with his fishing industry concerns and he seems to be well. Is everybody else ok?
I imagine payroll had to be processed this week. Town board must have got togetherr to shift funds ...more
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Oct 29, 09 6:30 PM
Beth, although this is not your issue, it would have been professional and transparent for Mr. Kotz to have disclosed the fact that he was John Whelan's brother-in-law when he was a panelist questioning the candidates at the League of Women Voters debate. I am sorry that I didn't know their relationship at the at the time of the debate because I would have demanded of the League's "moderator" that fact be disclosed. I just wonder why Mr. Kotz didn't disclose that to the potential voters. Indeed, ...more
By Carole Campolo (46), East Hampton on Oct 29, 09 9:31 PM
Again, I will give Steve Kotz great credit for doing what he thought was the right thing. Steve is in his first year as editor and he showed how much better a journalist he is than David Rattray. Not just because of Rattray'sridiculously written endorsement of Zwirn -- which was just really a libelous smear of Wilkinson, but overall the way Steve wrote his endorsemnents of Republican and Democrat candidates alike. He was professional, he did not fabricate information like Rattray did to make ...more
By eastend09 (43), east hampton on Oct 30, 09 5:10 PM