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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

“The level of unprofessionalism is absolutely embarrassing,” said Ms. Prince. “For them to take a personal stand is wrong. That’s criminal to the taxpayers.”

In their letter, the two other council members decried “the astonishing degree of arrogance displayed toward us and the frightening lack of compassion for most everyone held by Ms. Prince.”

Mr. Liebman, who had stated at the beginning of the meeting that the union was willing to work with the Town Board on a compromise, said he didn’t know what to do if the board would give him no guidance about what it needed in terms of budget cuts.

Mr. Hammerle said that the dollar amounts that would be saved did not enter into the board’s thinking as it worked on the staffing cuts.

“If you never tell me what you need, I don’t know what the need is,” said Mr. Liebman, who was seen speaking at length with Mr. Hammerle in his office as reporters left Town Hall.

Mr. Liebman said later that he was not optimistic that he could reach a consensus with Mr. Hammerle.

“It seemed obvious that he has his agenda. It’s sad,” Mr. Liebman said. “He’s perceiving people as not being busy. The focus was on a body count. You can call it whatever you want to call it, but it’s still firing people.”

He later e-mailed a statement from the union that said that the workers “commend Ms. Mansir and Mr. Loewen for their courage and acting when they felt something isn’t right.”

Ms. Prince said that Friday’s meeting had been designed to allow for Mr. Liebman to hear the town’s offer and give a counterproposal. “That’s the way it’s supposed to work,” she said. “But instead of caring about 20,000 people, they cared about two.”

The board has only until Thursday, October 29, to adopt a budget before a public hearing scheduled for November 5, and initially had no meeting scheduled before that time. Since the board held the two closed sessions to discuss staffing over the past two weeks, it had not held a single open discussion on other sections of the budget.

Late Friday afternoon, the press received notice that the Town Board would spend Tuesday, October 27, and Wednesday, October 28, discussing the budget in open session. The content of those discussions will be available online on 27east.com later this week.

Whether those talks will bear fruit remains to be seen. Mr. Loewen and Ms. Mansir wrote in their letter that they “urge Mr. Hammerle to stop any further attempt to change the tentative budget as presented and avoid the possibility of confrontations like those that took place last Friday.” Ms. Prince, who still seemed in disbelief nearly an hour after the other board members left on Friday, said that she’d hoped to be well into discussions of big-ticket items in the town budget by that hour of the morning.

The New York State comptroller’s office is currently poring over the 2010 budget document. Ms. Verneuille said they have only looked at the town’s revenues so far and may have more suggestions that will affect the budget that is eventually adopted. The state comptroller has already insisted that the town add $400,000 in payments to the state pension fund for town employees, due to the downturn in the performance of the fund due to last year’s stock market decline, which was not included in Mr. McGintee’s budget.

Mr. Hammerle did say that the board had considered eliminating a handful of currently vacant positions that are currently funded in the 2010 budget during their closed sessions, but he added that he has no idea whether the board will come to a consensus to eliminate those jobs before the budget goes to public hearing.

“Maybe I reacted very harshly. The tone of the board has to come together here,” he said, cooling off after some time. “I need to take a step back and think about where we go from here.”

He added that the actions of the other members of the board “gives me the indication that I have no support for anything.”

“I quite frankly thought I was doing a good job,” he said.

Ms. Prince said later that a proposal by Democratic supervisor candidate Ben Zwirn that the board install the winner of the November 3 town supervisor election right after the election is certified did not have the support of the Town Board.

“This does not bode well for the next two months,” said Prudence Carabine, a write-in candidate for Town Board who was at the meeting.

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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