August 7, 2014: New Protocol

By:  Progress for WHB

New Protocol Adopted

Mayor Moore has adopted a new and welcome protocol for meetings of the Board of Trustees.  As in the past, the prepared agenda is available on the village website and is also distributed at the meeting.  The difference is that this agenda is now complete with the language of the resolutions to be acted upon.    Until now the village agenda had been mostly cryptic shorthand.  This is a good step in the direction of more transparent governance.  (Something that has been in every piece of campaign literature since time out of mind.)

Appointments

Under the administration of Mayor Moore, the village will have the entire law firm of Esseks, Hefter & Angel, LLP to provide legal counsel.  The legal services will be provided to the village at the same cost as had been provided by solo practitioners in the past.  With an entire firm serving as counsel, the village will have a depth and breadth of the firm’s experience to draw upon as the village meets varied legal challenges, those that are expected as well as the unexpected.  The primary attorneys to serve the village from the firm will be Stephen R. Angel, Esq. and Anthony C. Pasca, Esq.  

Richard Haefeli will continue as counsel on current litigation that he has been handling for the village.  The Mayor expressed thanks for Mr. Haefeli’s service to the village over the years.

Elizabeth Lindvit was appointed to another two year term as the Village Clerk  / Treasurer.  Ms. Lindvit, with her long experience in village hall, will provide important continuity for both village employees and our residents.

Jeannine Conte was reappointed as Deputy Village Clerk / Treasurer and is expected to provide the excellent service to the village she has in the past.

Victor Levy is currently serving as the chairman of the Planning Board, but between the busy schedules of both Mr. Levy and the Mayor, they have traded telephone calls, but have not been able to meet.  Mr. Levy will continue as chairman as a holdover pending reappointment.  Mr. Levy spoke with the Mayor after the meeting to arrange a time to meet with her in the coming week.

Ralph Neubauer was appointed to serve a five year term as a member of the Planning Board.  Ralph has served on the Planning Board previously and is ready to serve again.  Ralph will fill the seat of George Lawrence who has served the village with distinction.  We wish George and his wife Maureen well.

Gerard Piering was reappointed to serve as chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals.  Mr. Piering conducts meetings with a temperament that is respectful of applicants before the ZBA and his continued chairmanship is welcome.

John Musnicki was reappointed to another five year term as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.  Mr. Musnicki enjoys the support of his colleagues on the ZBA and will continue to be part of a strong team.

Gregory Minasian was reappointed as chairman of the Architectural Review Board.  Mr. Minasian has led the ARB successfully and he has agreed to continue to serve.

Andrea Kaloustian was reappointed to another five year term as a member of the Architectural Review Board.  Ms. Kaloustian has agreed to continue to serve the village and we are thankful to have her talents at our disposal.

Anthony Rattoballi, Esq. was re-appointed as Special Assistant District Attorney for the purposes of prosecuting village code violations.  Mr. Rattoballi is expected to provide excellent service in the prosecution of village code violations under a policy that is directed towards obtaining compliance with village laws, while fostering a cooperative relationship between  village government and both merchants and residents.

Public Hearings

A Public Hearing was held on the proposed amendment to the village code which provides for the reduction of all code violations from misdemeanors punishable by up to six months jail, to violations not punishable by jail.  The hearing was closed and the measure unanimously adopted by the Board of Trustees.

A Public Hearing was held on the Repeal of Village Law Chapter 35 which limited the Mayor’s salary to $11,000 since 1986.  The hearing was closed  and the Trustees voted 4-0 in favor of the repeal.

Resolutions

Severance Pay

The Board of Trustees authorized the severance payment to former police chief Raymond Dean of $403,714.28.  This payment was based upon submitted time and leave sheets that had been approved by Mayor Teller, and a review of the calculations and the contract of employment by labor counsel.

Village residents are sure to have significant reservations about this payment.  This is a liability that has already occurred and it can not be corrected now.  If payment were to be improperly denied it would result in a law suit with the attendant attorneys fees to defend that action.   If Mr. Dean were to be successful in such legal action he would be paid both the amount owed and interest at the statutory rate of interest of 9%.

There is nothing to indicate that this payout is improper.  It would be unwise to refuse to pay the claim based upon a grievance of how his contract had been negotiated, or based upon a dissatisfaction with how the performance of the contract was supervised by the prior administration.  We can now put this all in the past.

Mayor Salary Restored

The Trustees voted to restore the Mayor’s salary to $25,124.00 as had been paid to both Mayor Teller and before him Mayor Strebel.  Mayor Moore urged that this resolution be made subject to a permissive referendum under Article 9 of the Village Law.

According to Mr. Haefeli no referendum is required.  However, by making the restoration of the salary subject to a permissive referendum, Mayor Moore has allowed our residents to have the opportunity to overturn the Trustee’s resolution if they choose.

If a petition contesting the resolution is filed with the Clerk, the matter will be put to a vote at the next General Election.  Such a challenge is doubtful as even the most intransigent of Mayor Moore’s opposition (yes there are still a few left) agree that it is proper for there to be salary equalization.

Public Comment

A neighbor of the former Guldi home on Griffing Avenue asked when the community could expect the burned out structure to be demolished.  Mr. Haefeli has advised the Board of Trustees that Mr. Guldi had made a motion challenging the village’s effort to demolish what remains of the home.

Earlier this year the Hon. Arthur Pitts granted the village’s motion for an Order permitting the village to demolish the residence located at 9 Griffing Avenue, Westhampton Beach.  At this point it is nearly all over but the shouting.  But George does know how to shout.

One resident persisted in repeatedly asking whether George Guldi had “standing” to contest the demolition, but this resident did not know whether the foreclosure action on the Guldi residence had been completed.  The Order issued by Justice Pitts named George Guldi as a defendant in the action.  (Apparently both Judge Pitts, and Richard Haefeli, Esq. think George still owns the property). Everyone’s patience is being tested.

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