Letters July 1, 2010


War is a Delusion

To the Editor:

My last letter about men in power going stark raving mad may have been misunderstood, but the evidence is getting clearer every day. Now they found still another enemy as they fight among themselves and call it unity. We also have become victims of this war without end.

Finally, it should be noted the United States has not won a war since WWII. War is not a solution but a delusion.

In peace,

Larry Darcey

Sag Harbor

Erroneous Assumption

Dear Bryan,

In the interest of accuracy I would like to correct an erroneous assumption that appeared in Kathryn G. Menu’s article about the East Hampton financial scandal in last week’s Express.

Ms.Menu wrote, “The grand jury found that tax cuts without spending cuts under the Schneiderman administration in the 2003-2004 budgets left the town in need of a 25 percent tax increase.” The Grand Jury reached no such conclusion.

This is what the report said: “The Grand Jury heard testimony that an analysis was performed in 2004 calculating the 2005 budget and what adjustment to the tax rate was needed to meet that budget. It was determined that a tax increase of over 25 percent was needed.” Those are two drastically different things.

Here are the facts, as originally reported in the October 6, 2004 edition of The Independent (another article on the matter was published yesterday). McGintee took office in January of 2004 and immediately began spending wildly, blowing through not only the $4.3 million in general fund surplus but millions more in mortgage tax revenue and overages in other dedicated accounts.

The “testimony” the Grand Jury refers to doubtless came from McGintee himself. But the “analysis” referred to never existed — if it did, Ted Hults would have had to do it, and there was overwhelming testimony he was incompetent.

The document referred to was McGintee’s preliminary proposed budget for 2005 released the first week in October in 2004, which was released and withdrawn within hours. It was a template from the previous year — the bookkeeper need only plug in the proposed numbers for the next year and push a button on the computer. But Ted plugged in 2003 numbers rather than 2004 numbers and made a number of other transcription errors (actually, hundreds) — those errors resulted in the calculation of a 25 percent tax increase. The Independent obtained that document from the town clerk. Councilman Pete Hammerle was the only other person to get one before it was withdrawn. The next business day McGintee released another “proposed” budget calling for a 10 percent tax hike. It was marked “corrected version.” Only after his insane spending spree was discovered in 2008 did McGintee refer to the original proposed budget, telling the board in essence, “I tried to raise taxes in 2004 but you wouldn’t let me.” It was a lie. There was no analysis, just a couple of bungling fools in way over their heads.

In six years McGintee turned a surplus of over $11 million into a deficit of over $30 million. He did this by resolutely overspending by approximately $7 million per year. In other words, Schneiderman didn’t underestimate 2004 spending; Bill spent more than was budgeted. In fact, Schneiderman’s budget officer, Len Bernard prepared the budget, and he ran against McGintee, thinking he would win, so he packed plenty of surplus into the budget for uncertain expenditures like the PBA pay raise, rising health costs, and rising retirement benefits. These things always go up, as Bernard, a veteran budget officer, well knew.

The most dramatic quote of this whole affair was missing from The Express. District Attorney Tom Spota said: “This report is the former town supervisor’s legacy — a record of fiscal malfeasance rivaling any other town government in the history of New York state.”

Rick Murphy

East Hampton

The author is editor of The Independent – ed.