Campaign Blog

Thank you! Now we get to work!

posted Mar 19, 2015, 6:48 AM by Doug Roberts   [ updated Mar 21, 2015, 9:30 AM ]

So I've had the words for this blog post bouncing around in my head for months, assuming it was mere folly. I couldn't possibly win an election against an incumbent Trustee and one of the most recognized names in Greenport- politics or otherwise- could I?  The fact is: I didn't do this.  You did this.  We did this.  Greenport did this.  

Many people who saw us on the street or walking around neighborhoods commented that we were working really hard and they appreciated that. I say- thanks for noticing.  But to be honest, the deeper we got into the campaign, the clearer it became that we were not just running against an incumbent and Bill Swiskey- we were running against the Village Board itself.  Between the sketchy business around voter registration and people being turned away at the polls, to half of the sitting Village Board not running in this election coming out forcefully and publicly against me- 2 of whom went as far as to imply I don't have the competence to be a Trustee- the deck was stacked against us. Jack and I are the kind of people who get motivated by adversity and I think you'll see that these next 4 years as we work for you on The Board. What did we do? We put on comfortable shoes and warm coats and we hit the streets. The results were clear: Almost 2:1, Greenport believes that it's time for a new approach.  That said, we need to let the wounds heal and build relationships with those who opposed us in the campaign so we move Greenport forward together and I promise to do this as best I know how.

This was far from easy and it was a product of the hard work of many people from November through late last night.  So I am going to attempt to list everybody here who helped out with this campaign in one way or another.  If I miss somebody I'll just come back and add them and ask for forgiveness given how little sleep I've had. We are honored to stand on all of your shoulders! Thank you to:

- My wife, Mary, and my daughter, Sarah Kelsey. Daddy will be home on the weekends again!

- My family, especially my sister, Liz and her husband, John, who did the yeoman's work on the mailing the lat week before the election.  My parents, Paul and Frances, who came out to be with us on election day.  

- Sergeant First Class, Coach, and Mr. Jack Martilotta, Jaime Martilotta, and their three kids Jackie, Sophia, and Emma.  Aside from being a great friend, Jack is going to be a great Trustee and I will never hear the end of it from him that he beat me by 22 votes.

- Trustee Dave Murray for 4 years of service to our village. We may disagree on some things but he will always have my respect as a leader in the community and as a neighbor.  I hope he might consider staying involved in some capacity- official or otherwise- and I will call him for advice if he'll let me.  

- Bill Swiskey for his undying service to this village and the commitment we share to open and transparent government. I have said many times I want to give him a prominent role in our utility work going forward and I look forward to affording him the opportunity to speak from the podium a maximum of two times for 3 minutes each at every VB meeting for the next 4 years.

- Mayor-Elect George Hubbard, Jr. for his tireless efforts for the village.  I look forward to working with him.

- Rena Casey-Wilhelm for stepping up to the plate big time and providing voters a huge service by organizing and hosting the Trustee candidate debate, with an assist to Michelle Schott.  Thanks also to both for fostering productive and respectful ongoing dialogue online that I hope will continue.

- Ted Schroeder, Teresa Taylor, Cindy and Ellen Cecaida, Imran Khan, The Whittle Family, Bob McInnis, Fred Schultz, Perry Angelson, Joe Pagano, Marta Thomas and Tom Cornell for letting me put up signs outside your house or business.

- Noah Thomas and Liz Smith, who were helpful in immeasurable ways. Noah is responsible for the signs, t-shirts, buttons, etc.  Both watched polls and helped with so many things, including ensuring that Greenporters were able to get in to Village Hall to register on the second registration day.

- Poll watchers and election day volunteers Bob McInnis, Dinni Gordon, Michael Keating, Sterling Smiley, and Val Shelby who were essential to this victory with their time and energy.

- Ray and Vicki Chute, who are so important to our family as former neighbors, friends, and Sarah Kelsey's favorite babysitters.  They also helped us on election day big time!

- The Greenport Zion AME Church for hosting fundraisers with delicious food. Mary and I will keep coming out even though the campaign is over!

- The Greenport Rotary Club for having me in to speak early on in the campaign

- The North Fork Chamber of Commerce for hosting our first formal debate

- Lisa Finn and Southold Local for hosting our final debate.

- Suffolk Times editors Grant Parpan and Mike White for braving the snowstorm to come out and host their editorial board forum in Greenport.

- Chatty Allen for all the great ideas and effort on behalf of Greenport. Please stay involved!

- Caroline Waloski for faithful attendance at Meet and Greets and participating in the campaign

- Beth Allen for letting me bend her ear on a Saturday morning in February

- Lynn Decker, Carol Mayavec, and Ann Heller for letting me pop by the Sunday before the election and for offering me tea

- Jill Wood and Julia Dickey for your passion for Greenport politics and also for offering us tea

- The Jimenez family for letting me interrupt your pizza dinner to chat about the village

- The Angevine family for letting me interrupt watching a movie to talk about village government

- Doug Moore for his support and wisdom

- Dinni Gordon for convincing me to run and providing steady feedback the whole way

- Ian Wile, Rosalie Rung, and their son, Jackson, for not only serving up delicious eats at Little Creek Oysters but for your great ideas and keen interest in Greenport's future. Look forward to working together. 

- Everybody whose parties, meals, and social gatherings we interrupted when we knocked on your doors- thanks for opening and sorry to have bothered you!

- Marc LaMaina for being my social media guru and for all the support- thanks also to everyone at Luchas and good luck with the expansion

- Chris Dowling for the long chats on winter weekdays when nobody wanted to buy any beach gear

- Freddy Schultz and Sterlington Deli for hosting our election night operation and subsequent celebration

- Dave Kapell for wisdom on village elections and the village government in general

- John Saladino, Lucille Naar-Saladino, Gary Charters, and John and Maritza Winkler for all the ideas and critiques that I fully expect will keep coming my way now that I am elected.  Thank you all for your passion for Greenport and your commitment to making it better. We won't always agree but you'll have an honest broker on this board who will listen to you.  

- Julie Lillis and David Akcay for running a spirited campaign and for great discussions early on in my campaign.

- John Gagen for always stopping to talk to me when I was pounding the pavement or standing out in the freezing cold campaigning.

- A couple of voters who will go unnamed who knew that their omission from the voter rolls was an error and demanded to be allowed to vote until they were able to do so. Your actions were heroic!

- Mrs. Mary Gilligan for letting us bend her ear for a good while on a rainy Saturday.

- Captain Sid Smith for hauling down to Greenport to vote- he got in the door at 8:45. Next time get an absentee ballot, buddy!

- All the people who responded to our mailing and flyers by calling and asking questions about my ideas and positions. 

- The election inspectors who volunteered many hours yesterday from early in the morning until 10:00 at night to make sure we could have this election.

OK this blog post is long enough but it's only so many times in your life you win an election, especially with such a big margin, so thank you for indulging me.  

What's next?

1. Some R&R the rest of the week and weekend
2. Ask for a meeting with Treasurer Robert Brandt ASAP next week to assess our financial position
3. Ask for a meeting with Mayor-Elect Hubbard to discuss plans for the new administration
4. Spend time with my family again!
5. Get back to working out again with my friends at CrossFit North Tribe to lose my 10-pound campaign baby and hopefully more!

Thank you all.  Thank you, Greenport!  They've heard our message loud and clear!

But we haven't accomplished anything yet. Deep breath...and the real work begins. Hope you will all stay active and involved. It takes a village to run a village. 

We Are Greenport

posted Mar 13, 2015, 4:50 AM by Doug Roberts

Last summer Mary and I were walking around town with the baby- who was tiny at that point- and she said to me "You know, if you DO ever run for office, I know what you should call your political organization: 'We Are Greenport'".  I loved it and shortly after that secured the url for it.  

We Are Greenport is a description of how I envision myself as a leader in this community.  We Are Greenport is the method I will use to solve problems. It's the idea that all of us should be able to understand what our government is doing and participate in its processes.  We Are Greenport is the most succinct way to describe why I want to serve as a Trustee.  

Right now when I walk around town I see a lot of different Greenports.  I see a Greenport with thriving businesses in the summer but many that struggle to get through the winter. I see a Greenport of bedroom community homes, a Greenport of vacant second homes, a Greenport of neglected and unsafe homes, and a Greenport in which landlords earn a buck while putting tenants- including young kids- in harm's way through unsafe living conditions.  I see a Greenport where the main issues challenging us are a lack of career-oriented jobs and the tourism-ization of the economy, and I see a Greenport where businesses believe the village needs to do more to increase tourism via events like Tall Ships.  I see a Greenport where long-time homeowners want to participate in the booming tourism economy through legal short-term rentals in legal 2-family homes, and a Greenport where B&Bs and hotel owners want those who rent short-term rooms to be held to the same standards as they are.  

I am not running for Trustee because I have the answers to all these problems. I am running for Trustee because I think I have a good shot and building the coalitions and organizing community members to come up with compromises on which both sides can agree. I've been doing this work for 15 years in the private sector and with school district administrators, and now I am hoping to have the opportunity to do it on your behalf. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, well I've found that the whiteboard and a couple of different colored markers can fell the mightiest of dragons, and all begins with something simple: let's write down in green everything on which all parties agree, and let's build toward consensus.  Sometimes it takes a lot of cups of coffee and maybe a pastry or two, but by facilitating face-to-face conversations amongst different interest groups in town, we can get things done and get Greenport set up for a bright future.  

Hence: We Are Greenport!  See you all tonight at 6:00.  Last candidate forum- excited!

Proud to be a Greenporter

posted Mar 11, 2015, 7:11 AM by Doug Roberts


Last night's candidate forum was everything I envisioned about how government should work. I have said to several people already I could have gone another 3 hours. We had a good amount of time for all the questions to be asked, and the questions came from the voters. Everybody felt heard, nobody felt shut down, and lo and behold, there were no disruptions or interruptions. This is my vision for how the Village Board should conduct business, as I laid out in my recent post in which I propose a plan for managing meetings that will balance the need for civility and the need for the Board to let the public be heard.  We can do this, folks. I will fight tooth and nail to make our VB meetings look more like last night than what we've seen at The Fire House on Monday nights recently.  

I had to fight hard to get these forums to happen.  The Suffolk Times wasn't interested in hosting one because they were worried it would be a circus- and who can blame them with the dynamic at our VB meetings? I posted on this site and FB that if we didn't start to see candidate forums materialize I was going to have to host my own! I drew a line in the sand and, thankfully, members of the public answered the bell.  Rena Casey-Wilhelm, assisted by her husband Jason, Michelle Schott, Peggy Richards, and probably many others of whom I am not aware, did our Village a great service last night. It was a great night to be a Greenporter, and a great night to be an American. Win or lose, I really enjoyed the conversation and I was grateful to everybody who took 3 hours out of their evening to come and focus their energy and thoughts on the village we all love.  

 I'm working as hard as I can to listen to folks around town and formulate ideas for Greenport. I never thought being a Trustee would be easy, and I am getting a taste for how difficult it can be. But I am up for this challenge. I am trying to show my commitment to this work by doing, not by talking.  It's one thing to put out a call for a public meeting, it's yet another to seek out folks and ask them to unload their ideas, which is what I'd like to see The Village do.  Those of you following on Facebook have seen that I've put ideas out on parking, some of which have been well received, some of which clearly need some work. The Short-term rental issue needs more than just public hearings- I spoke with a group of folks, many who are new to town, who had no idea who is on the VB, when they meet, and (naturally) why they don't allow the public to comment at some of their meetings. But they were there to talk short-term rentals, and it's clear everybody is going to have to compromise on this one, which means everybody will feel like they lost a little bit and they won a little bit. I believe we can have a draft proposal prepared for public review by the May VB meeting and could have a law in place by July if we roll up our sleeves, schedule the meetings, and negotiate.  This is what I do for a living and I can't wait to do it on your behalf.  

 Jack Martilotta and I spent our time with microphone last night laying out our vision for Greenport: We want to plan for the future so our kids can afford to live here and have careers here.  We want to protect our utilities and ensure we continue to be self-sufficient as a village.  We want the village to prioritize safety with all of its code enforcement issues and maybe leave aside some of the more minor infractions, and we want to see absentee landlords held accountable. We want to fix roads instead of pay for free health care for elected officials.  And we want to increase communication between the Village Government and the people it serves. Aside from Bill Swiskey's great idea about charging North Ferry Company riders a landing fee, which Jack and I will pursue aggressively, our opponents did not come to last night's event with any substantive ideas about how they are going to move Greenport forward or how they will fight for Greenport and its people.  I hope our commitment and passion for our Village was apparent in the vision we laid out, and I hope we have earned your support.  If not, get in touch and let's chat-  Thank you to everybody for a great and important evening.  

Restoring civility, professionalism, and public participation at VB Meetings

posted Mar 4, 2015, 3:08 PM by Doug Roberts   [ updated Mar 8, 2015, 4:10 PM ]

Here's the plan I will propose to the new Mayor for re-engaging a disenchanted and disgruntled electorate and rebuild the public's trust in Village Hall.  

  • Meeting agendas, minutes, and other related documents are posted all in one section of the website (instead of several links)
  • Agendas and Public Hearing documents are posted 2 business days before the meeting
  • All documents will be "searchable" so the public can search for, say, "Tall Ships" and find the taxpayer money that is to be spent on that event
  • All financial documents will list, in one table, the expenses and revenues, as well as the net profit/loss, for each Village budget category. I'd like to see some sub-categories for major village functions, such as Mitchell Marina.  
  • Meetings should be at 7:00pm or later
  • The recording made of the meetings will be posted on a Village-managed Vimeo or Youtube page the night of the meeting or the morning after, ideally with the meeting documents attached
  • The Village will open an official FB account (vs. relying on one Trustee's campaign FB page) to disseminate information.  This account will be visible to anybody in the public via the Village Website, even those who don't have FB accounts. While helpful in emergencies, this can also be used to provide a link to the latest meeting minutes and the meeting video. It should literally provide a running catalogue of goings-on with the Village government. Pretty much every government agency does this with regularity.  It is easy and very inexpensive.
  • The Mayor, Trustees, and Village employees will return all emails from Village residents within 2 business days (as long as the tone and content of the email are respectful).  We won't always have an answer, and we may not have an answer that the person asking the question wants to hear, but we will respond. It's our duty to respect members of the public who reach out to us.
  • The public will be allowed to address the Board at EVERY MEETING, including Work Sessions.  Ideally, there would be an opportunity for the public to speak at the beginning and end of each meeting.  There are going to be rules, though:
    • Each speaker gets one shot to speak per public address period. So, if there's a public address opportunity at the beginning of the meeting, and a person speaks, she/he would be able to speak again at the end-of-meeting public address period, but not again during the beginning-meeting public address period
    • Each speaker is allotted a maximum of 3 minutes each time they speak, and we'll ask the public to honor this time limit given that we're going to open up 3 additional public comment periods per month!
    • The Board will listen and refrain from making faces, rolling eyes, interrupting, or otherwise being disrespectful to the speaker.  Having seen my share of eye-rolls lately from the Trustees while at that podium, I can tell you that it gets you pretty fired up to run against them for their seats so we can change how they treat us! 
    • The public will refrain from interrupting other speakers
    • After the public comment period is closed, The Board may choose to respond, but if they call out specific speakers from the audience, they should expect to allow that person to respond in-kind. 
    • This is not a new rule, but I've never seen this group do this: if more public comment is needed, a Trustee may move to open a new public comment period, and if there are 3 votes, we go back to listening to the public- which, by the way, is what we're elected to do.  
I'm aware that as a Trustee I will be 1 of 5 votes on this board and that the Mayor will set a lot of these policies. Julie and George, hope you're reading this!  I hope we'll be able to discuss after March 18! 

We need to increase participation in this government.  We have a lot of really talented and passionate people who live here, and they all have ideas.  Like all ideas- including those proposed by government officials- some are good, some maybe aren't right.  But they all deserve to be heard.  These Trustees alienate the public by trying to keep them from speaking.  When folks get upset about being shut down, the Board sits quietly as threats are made to call the police on their neighbors. I'm not defending out-of-order outbursts and I'm not saying we should be yelling at each other.  I am saying that I will work hard to include the viewpoints of the public I will serve, and that will improve the overall level of civility and professionalism in Greenport's Village Government.  If we are successful, the new Mayor will never have to use his/her gavel.

5-0 Votes = We lose

posted Mar 4, 2015, 2:36 PM by Doug Roberts

If you've attended Village Board meetings recently, you've probably noticed something- the Trustees agree on everything!  Almost all the votes are 5-0, with very little, if any, discussion about any of the resolutions they are passing.  Sure, a lot of the resolutions they pass are procedural in nature, or are things that are not worth arguing over- of COURSE we should approve a wetlands permit application when the applicant is following all of the appropriate regulations, and of course we should accept the minutes from the Fire Department.  

But even the more controversial issues- most recently, it was the Peconic Landing Sewer Deal- don't register any questions or discussion amongst the Trustees before they vote.  

Greenport is an amazing place, but it's not without its challenges and differing viewpoints about how to solve them.  Why are the votes all 5-0?  

Add to this that The Board actively discourages public participation in their meetings. 

  • Sometimes documents for public hearings are not available on the website or on paper in the room before the meeting
  • The meetings take place during hours most folks are either finishing up work or having dinner with their families
  • The public is not allowed to comment at half of them, and at the others, we're given one public comment period after which there is sometimes a long response to our comments, during which sometimes the ugliness comes out with grumbles from the audience, bangs of the gavel, and threats to call the police while The Board sits there in silent support. 
I have a mantra about organizational decision-making that I use with all my clients: If you are all agreeing about everything, you're probably not thinking about it carefully enough.  Imagine if the delegates to the Continental Congress or Constitutional Convention all agreed on everything? We'd either have a loose confederation of sovereign states sparring with each other or we'd have an absolute dictatorship (yes, I was a Social Studies teacher and still am one at heart).  

We need new voices on this board.  We need new ideas. We need thoughtful positions based on research and precedent.  We need leaders who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in and make the case, before the public, for their way of solving the problem. Through respectful disagreement and healthy discourse, better solutions are developed.  If we are a functional board, conflict will lead to compromise.  

We need Trustees who will work hard to listen to your ideas and put them into action, and we need a Board that's willing to stay as late as it takes to do the job well.  

Safety First: Kaplan Avenue

posted Mar 4, 2015, 6:53 AM by Doug Roberts

Firstly, I want to reiterate my condolences to the folks who lost their home on Kaplan Avenue and wish them all well as they pick up the pieces.  You can drop off clothing and other donations for the victims at Village Hall, and cash donations may be made to C.A.S.T.  Please join me in helping our neighbors cope with this horrible tragedy.  

Today I am worried about the next tragedy waiting to happen on Kaplan Avenue.  Have you walked or driven by the site? There's a chain link fence and a sign in small print there that says, basically, "Do Not Enter."  This fire happened over two weeks ago. One section of the house looks like an unsupported wall with a ton of debris behind it that could be blown over in a gust from one of these nasty storms we keep getting.  What would happen to the neighboring homes if that topples over?  What if somebody is walking or driving by?  And what if kids go in there and decide to play around in the wreckage? (As a young boy I might have considered doing such a stupid thing myself!)  What if somebody's pet dog or cat is scavenging in there and ends up injured or worse? Any number of things can go wrong with a disaster zone like that. Where is our Village Board to protect us from this potential disaster? Why aren't they doing something?

 Section 53-8 of or Village Code very clearly states that the Mayor can take action to guard the safety of people or property, which, in this case, would be to  call an engineer to condemn the site, demolishing it, and adding the costs to the tax bill, a matter which would likely ultimately be settled upon sale of the property.  How many more weeks must we all wait and hope that this unsafe condition doesn't cause further damage or, worse, injury to any neighbors?

This is not proactive leadership that takes action to safeguard the public interest.  You deserve better. I won't be afraid to advocate that our new Mayor make tough decisions on behalf of public safety.  Please vote on Wednesday, March 18, and please consider donating to help the victims of the Kaplan Ave fire.  Thank you,

Mitchell Park must be preserved for the public

posted Feb 24, 2015, 8:37 PM by Doug Roberts

Firstly, thank you to the North Fork Chamber of Commerce for hosting tonight's candidate forum. I enjoyed the dialogue with your members and it's clear we are all working toward the same goal- a better Greenport for a better North Fork.  

The issue of Mitchell Park Public Assembly came up and I was challenged by David Murray about my previous position on public events in the Park which, admittedly, has evolved over the last 6 or 7 months.  As a member of the public, I reviewed our financials and saw a lot of money going out of our treasury to pay for Mitchell Park and not a lot coming in.  I stood up at a meeting during the public hearing portion and said that I hoped to see us find a way to increase revenue out of Mitchell Park. I threw out the idea of possibly asking villagers- by referendum- for 5 or 10 nights a year when we could rent out the park to outside groups for exorbitant fees that would help to pay our Mitchell Park bills.  As member-of-the-public Doug Roberts morphed into Candidate Doug Roberts, I spoke with more and more people around town about these ideas and my conclusion was that my initial idea was not worth putting before the public for a referendum.  

Mitchell Park must be protected for use by the public. 

When you try to come up with creative solutions to a problem, sometimes your first ideas aren't the best ones. I am not running because I am perfect. I am running because I want to work hard to find solutions to problem and because, unlike our current VB, I want to listen to the public.  I talked to people, they shared their opinions, and I went back to the drawing board to find a better solution based on their feedback. This is how I will govern, and it will be a very different approach than we've seen the last 4 years, when our board votes 5-0 on every resolution despite any feedback the public can sneak in between banging gavels and restrictions on public comments. You also won't have to wait until 3 years and 11 months into my first term, when I am facing a challenge to my re-election bid, to hear me take a strong public position on an important issue facing The Village. My platform has been published on this site since I announced my candidacy in November: full transparency, a mantra of this campaign.

So let me be clear on my Mitchell Park position: We need a clearly defined policy for what can and can not happen in the park.  This board passed a moratorium on "non-Village sponsored events" after it got caught unawares by a religious group last summer that forced its way to hosting private event in our park with security guards who kept Greenporters out.  The current moratorium- in place since last summer- restricts all but "Village sponsored events" in Mitchell Park. How do we define a Village-sponsored event? The policy still gives vast amounts of leeway for The Village to decide what it is and is not sponsoring.  For example, at Monday's VB meeting, The Board voted 5-0 (of course) to allow The Maritime Festival's public assembly permit, but to deny a Shakespeare Company the right to perform in the park. So The Village "sponsors" a festival of pirates and beer drinkers, but doesn't support The Bard's works performed live for free on a weekend afternoon? 

It seems fairly simple to make a very clear policy: Public Assembly will be granted ONLY for events that are available for free to the public, provide cultural or educational experiences to Park-goers, and can not in any way be construed to be offensive to any parties.  This last bit is the tricky part.  An Art show is great!  An Art show that includes violence or nudity? Not in Mitchell park. 

As for the initial problem I was trying to solve- increasing revenue to pay our bills- our marina is not producing the profits it should. We need to look at the entire operation and figure out where the inefficiencies might be, we need to market the marina more aggressively, and we need to look at our pricing model and try to increase revenue. All options need to be on the table- including the option to lease out the marina to a third party operator. If the numbers work out better for The Village, why not?

Beyond this, I plan to work closely with the Friends of Mitchell Park, who tell me that they have been stymied by our Village Board with senseless regulations about who can pass around the collection boxes for the bands at Monday Night Dances. The Friends' mission is to see as many public cultural events as possible in The Park, as long as they are approved by the VB.  Having spoken with these folks, it seems they are eager to have an ally on The Board to work with them to increase the number and type of programs we can provide in The Park, and they may be able to help with funding. The Chamber of Commerce members tonight rightfully gave us an earful about how we need to keep activity in The Park going so we drive visitors and revenue for local merchants.  I say let's not stop at Monday Night Dances. The shoulder seasons (fall and spring) would be ideal to invite performing groups from high schools across Long Island to come and perform for the community on our stage.  The great thing about high school performing organizations is that they a) love to perform in beautiful places and b) bring parents and family members with them who need to go out to lunch or want to go shopping.  These events would be easy to pull off and would make Greenport an outdoor performance capital of LI- it just requires some effort and hustle to make it happen, and with your support I will get things like this done on your behalf.  

And, I've said this many times in my platform, in public addresses at VB meetings, and in various social media posts: we can't stop at Mitchell Park. Greenporters take their kids to 3rd Street and 5th/6th Street parks, too. Those parks deserve clean, safe facilities and bathrooms with running water.  Let's follow the leadership of Maritza Winkler and launch a 501(c)3 to support the maintenance and development of parks in our neighborhoods.  

Peconic Landing Sewer Discount?

posted Feb 17, 2015, 5:42 PM by Doug Roberts

According to all the records I've found, Greenport has charged $15,000 per housing unit to hook up to our sewer system since at least the mid-2000s.   

Tonight at the Village Board's Work Session, we learned that we've offered Peconic Landing the opportunity to expand its current sewer hookup footprint to an additional 78 units for $720K.  You don't need to have a Ph.D in mathematics to see that apparently we've dropped our price for sewer hookups from $15K to about $9200. And there was no objection from any of our current Trustees. Approximately $468K in potential revenue to the Village, and no explanation, no objection, nothing. Perhaps there is a good reason why we need to to eat the $468K, but if there is, nobody is sharing this with the public. And since we're not allowed to comment at Work Sessions, none of us could inquire about the issue tonight.

We need to end all the secrecy and mysteries. We need to provide the public with answers when we forego $468K in revenue that could be used to improve infrastructure or fix some roads.  

We need a Trustee who will hit the ceiling when a Mayor announces that we've negotiated against ourselves to offer a deep discount to a sewer customer. Please vote on March 18 and let's take back our Village.  

Crying Wolf on Snow Regulations

posted Feb 17, 2015, 5:41 AM by Doug Roberts   [ updated Feb 17, 2015, 5:44 AM ]

Many of my neighbors found notes taped to their front doors last week, with bright green tape, informing them that if they didn't shovel the sidewalks in front of their homes, they'd be assessed a fine or thrown in jail.


Shoveling the sidewalk in front of the house is just a good neighborly thing to do. I wish more of my neighbors would do so.  And yes, it is a violation of Village Code to leave snow on the sidewalk for longer than 24 hours after a storm, punishable by $250 or 15 days in jail.  

But let's use a little common sense at Village Hall.  The code also states that the Village can clear the sidewalks on behalf of the homeowner and then bill the charges to the homeowner via a lien against the house.  The goal here is to get the sidewalks clean, not to threaten to throw people in the slammer.  

Here's what we'll do next year when you put me on The Board:

1. Make an open and VERY PUBLIC call for all homeowners, especially second homeowners, to register their email addresses or cell phone numbers with The Village for alerts about various weather and utility events and emergencies.

2. Start communicating to this list in August- before second homeowners depart for the season- about making a plan for snow removal when they are out of town.

3. Put out an RFI (Request for Information) asking Village residents ONLY who would like to be on a list of snow removal services to submit a proposal to The Village that includes contact information, kinds of services they can provide (i.e. plow, shoveling walks, etc.) and their pricing, as well as any other pertinent information that would be useful to potential clients. Note this is ONLY for people who live in the village to help local folks earn money during the slower off-season.  Potential applicants need only show proof of a Greenport address. 

4. Publish the list of potential snow removal vendors on the website for homeowners - especially second homeowners- to use to contact a snow removal service.  

5. Then, next year, we'll have fewer violators, making it a manageable project for us to send our crews out to shovel violators' sidewalks and bill them for it.  

The truth is that everybody I've talked to who got this notice taped to their door scoffed at it, knowing that the Village wouldn't actually enforce the law. That's the reputation our Village Board has cultivated over the last few years- everybody just ignores them and moves on. And how is The Village posting signs on peoples' doors about snow removal when the boardwalk in Mitchell Park- a heavily traveled walkway in town- hasn't been shoveled in weeks and is basically an ice rink?  

I've heard from others that we send out nasty notes about cutting off utility service when somebody who has paid their bills dutifully for years misses a monthly payment. This kind of communication with our customers needs to stop.  Come April, we're going to stop Crying Wolf, and we're going to be deliberate about our communications with the public. And we are definitely going to get the sidewalks clear!

The Power of Communication: Candidate Forums 3/3 and 3/10

posted Feb 16, 2015, 6:21 AM by Doug Roberts   [ updated Feb 16, 2015, 6:22 AM ]


We haven't won this election yet, and we're already having a strong influence over our Village Government.  Since before I was a candidate, I have been agitating for more communication and transparency from our Village Government. Naysayers have scoffed at the notion that we can improve our service to the public by bringing more Village information to the web via social media and traditional media (i.e. the website).  Yet last week we saw a classic example of new media tools bringing about a massive upgrade in the communication between the public and those of us who serve the public (or at least, in my case, who hope to be serving in an official capacity beginning this April). 

I've been making noise for some time about the need for candidate forums. I'd be saying it if I weren't a candidate for office as well.  There is no better way for the public to make an informed choice than to have a chance to sit down in a room with all the candidates and talk through the issues.  Yet, for reasons I don't understand, nobody from the traditional media or the sitting Village administration was willing to volunteer to host or moderate a candidate forum.  Some of the candidates have seemed reticent to have these forums, or to have them go on too long, or to have too many candidate forums.  Could you imagine voting for a candidate who is not interested in spending time with voters talking about his ideas and listening to theirs? If you can, don't vote for me.

In addition to my public calls for candidate forums, I engaged in private lobbying of various media outlets and community organizations looking for both a space to host the forum and somebody to moderate, and Southold Local seemed to jump on the idea. 
Well, finally this past week, The Local announced they'd be hosting a forum on March 3 6pm at Floyd Memorial Library.  Thank you, Lisa Finn and Southold Local!  

Meanwhile, a group of Greenporters, led by Rena Wilhelm of The Weather Barn shop on Front Street, came together to offer to host a truly organic, grass-roots forum in which questions for us will be sourced online via Facebook.  This group of Greenporters will also open up the floor for questions during the forum in a town hall format.  This Forum will take place 3/10, and is currently looking for a site (Rena is working on asking The School to host it).  All of this came together online, largely on Facebook.  When I am on the Village Board, we'll continue to crowdsource input from Greenporters in this way, and we'll use these tools to proactively communicate out about important events and policies- for example, parking and shoveling rules during snow storms.  

I'm proud that this campaign helped these candidate forums come about and I'm grateful to the community members and to Southold Local for caring enough about our Village and its citizens to host them.  See you all on March 3 and March 10.   

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