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4 Comments by Lawrence Kelly

Investment Banker Sues Southampton Town Planning Board, Farmers Over Barn Denial

Over ten years ago I met a man who was still suffering the effects of witnessing the murder of his brother and hundreds of his colleagues, all casualties in our new war. On the day I met him, Howard Lutnick was functioning as a guide for some attorneys at Skadden Arps who had volunteered to help the Cantor families decide between the courts and the Victim Compensation Fund. I was the exception, a Long Island attorney with a different perspective. I went through with Howard my concepts on the Lead High income cases, invited his staff to sit in on my hearings with the Special Master, and came to know the steel fiber of Howard Lutnick. I can assure the readers it was not "high priced attorneys"(we were all volunteers) or the cash resources which are common place around Wall Street, (Howard was virtually penniless that morning) which allowed Cantor to survive, It was the character of a singular man who would ceaselessly stand up for his people and the families many of them left behind through the worst that our modern world could throw at him. I later saw these traits in the work of my colleagues in Iraq and the Soldier Ride efforts of Carney, Honerkamp, Krauss and countless riders. Southampton Town has picked a fight with with an unusual foe in the world of the East End. A mensch. An American hero. And he wants to have a barn? My money is on him getting a barn. " Mar 7, 14 6:06 PM

Highhat would like to think that public actors are competent individuals devoted to the public good as constrained by the Rule of Law. That has not been my universal experience with various government units in the East End. In the East Hampton Town government I first came to know from the McGintee years, politics, cover up and retaliation came first, second and third. I don't know Southampton as well, but if local political intrigue did not control the action of the boards, I doubt a recent request to limit politically affiliated members would have been introduced. If the reader would like a point of reference to determine a proper starting point for balancing between the parties of Lutnick v The Town of Southampton, , I would point the readers back to the sealed federal settlement involving Southampton Town Board members Halsey and others involving alleged bribes with regard to Southampton Planning Board, ZBA and Town Board actions involving a specific private company. The town agencies had so perverted the Rule of Law in denying the applicant due process that when the town board members requested the initiation of a criminal process by the US Attorney against the owner of the cell tower company for actual cash payments, the criminal defendant was not only acquitted by a federal criminal jury (with viewers of the trial quoted in the news as indicating it was hard not to believe the wrong people were on trial), but also obtained a settlement from Southampton Town in a federal civil action which the town requested be sealed by the federal judge. Since the sealing of such a federal settlement was an unconstitutional gift of public funds, and deprived the public of the knowledge of just how much misconduct the plaintiff had proven, one can be fairly certain the details would include an intriguing pattern of overreaching and denial of constitutional rights by government actors. Alas, The Town of Southampton learned nothing by that settlement. What they should have learned is that the people from outside the South Fork who populate jury panels and Judicial seats outside the East End do not accept that one's constitutional rights to utilize private property under the Rule of Law are forfeited once one passes the golden gates some of the locals envision erected at the Shinnecock Canal. In fact, they don't see the gates at all. All we see is another part of America. And when you are dealing with an American like Howard Lutnick, you would do well to ask yourself how it is that that the people you instinctively assume (and want to believe) were doing the right thing got on his wrong side. You might start by looking to unseal that old Halsey case, and learn the lessons that settlement has to offer the taxpayers of Southampton Town who funded it. " Mar 8, 14 6:20 PM

Sure. That is why I caution you on your attack on a citizen for pursuing that goal. I am all for sunlight being the best disinfectant when a citizen has cause to question the motivation and conclusions of certain government actors. In addition, the taxpayers should insist on actual disclosure by the government rather than resistance to disclosure of government documents and government demands for sealed settlements. If the town had followed that rule of transparency in the last ten years, the comments herein would not be detailing questionable ZBA and Planning Board decisions which had not been explained to their satisfaction over that period of time. Politics is sausage making, and to think close review of the local ZBA or Planning Board will not from time to time disclose arbitrary and capricious political decisions is a delusion. The courts give these boards great deference because they simply do not want to inherit the function. When you see a local board telling a landowner to get rid of a makeshift baseball field on a 40 acre lot, however, you have a decent argument on establishing the arbitrary and capricious standard. The public has very little chance of learning the truth on this or any case, as the self interest of those paying the bills usually trumps public disclosure. It is one guy against big government, and big government, by its nature, is on its own side, not yours. " Mar 9, 14 8:50 AM

New Taxi Laws May Increase Financial Burden On Taxi Companies

In that the town taxi committee under Peter Van Scoyac did an admirable job of outreach, it is disappointing to see it fail near the goal line. In imposing a government program with a ten to twenty day processing delay (that is their rose colored glasses estimate before the program starts) , there is no excuse for not providing a pending status to licensed drivers sponsored by a local private taxi company who have submitted all the paperwork to the government for processing under the new program. The town is now imposing a new burden on the taxi companies. The timetable for turnaround on processing is completely uncertain. The town is not undertaking a legal duty to safeguard passengers, as that is the responsibility of the taxi company under state and federal law. If the ultimate plan is for the town to take over taxi service in the town (Amtrak taxi), hold a public referendum and create the public authority which will take on the legal obligation of a common carrier. The lack of a pending status for taxi companies means the town will take away the utility of an average of one car from each of the small businesses investing in the taxi business in town. That is a tax, and it will bring ruin to smaller taxi companies, eliminating them from the market, reduce competition, and, inevitably, raise the cost of the service. The proper balance here is to allow for a pending status driver sponsored by a taxi company to drive in East Hampton Town. " May 8, 14 7:24 AM