The following are a pair of e-mails sent from Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell to Troy Gustavson in regards to the appointment of Jim Rich to the town Planning Board:
We did not appoint Joe at the organizational meeting yesterday. I like Joe and agree with you on his many attributes, however, the Board wanted to go in a new direction. I had actually offered the post to Leslie Weisman, but she wanted to stay on the ZBA. We need a Board that is going to be more involved in the day to day functioning of that office and, at the same time, take a more active role in the Comp plan update. We believe that Jim Rich will provide the more “hands on” approach we are looking for as we move to undertake several large projects. I do appreciate your insight.
I have a resume for Mr. Rich that was submitted in January of 2009. He interviewed that year for the Zoning Board of Appeals. He re-interviewed last year for the Planning Board and was a strong candidate. We ultimately appointed Don Wilcenski, however. I have a letter of interest that Mr. Townsend submitted to the Town Board on November 22, 2005. The board had run an ad asking for resumes to be submitted by that date. I remember it well because I had just won the position of Supervisor and the appointment would not take place until after I was sworn in in January. Tom Wickham had reached out to me to see if I would support expanding that board to 7 members because he was in a difficult position — wanting to find room for Joe Townsend, but not wanting to remove Bill Cremmers. I did not support the expansion of that board at that time and the Board ultimately removed Bill and appointed Joe. The loss of Bill was evident within a few months since the same Town Board rehired Bill as a paid consultant. That was a position he held until a new Town Board appointed him back in 2009. I should also point out that I participated in the interviews that year, but knew that the four Democratic members of the Board had already promised the position to Joe. I also participated in the ZBA interviews that year. I remember sitting through those and watching people who were dressed up come in and answer questions and, the funny thing is, the Town Board appointed Leslie Weisman who had not even submitted for an interview. I do not like dog and pony shows. It is unfair to applicants who make the effort for a position which is already pre-determined. Jim was a strong candidate and has sit trough the process of interviews twice now. I was comfortable in appointing him and I know that the majority of the board was as well.
On the issue of 7-Eleven, that was not my reason and you would need to speak to the other Board members on their thoughts. However, I was disappointed with the Planning Board on that and many other issues. On the whole, we do not have a Planning board that seems to want to put the effort in on a great many tasks that need to be done. Bill Cremmers is the only member there that is a regular attendee of the Comp. Plan Task Force meetings. Marty Sidor is the second most likely — not as much as Bill, but way more then the others. Joe has only recently started coming. The same thing could be said of the stakeholder recommendations, the Mattituck Corridor Study and, yes, the 7-Eleven. Bill and Marty were the only ones who seemed to express concern about the growing impacts of franchises in Mattituck. In fairness to Joe, I did not get much support from either side of the political aisle on that one.
I do hope you notice that I do not get lock-step loyalty around here and do not want or expect it. Jim Rich was a candidate the majority could agree on and, frankly, I think his work ethic and interest in the position is going to be very good for this community as we move forward. He conducts himself in a nonpartisan fashion and that is the way I try to run Town Hall. His appointment was not meant in any way to slight Joe. We simply believed that it was time to take that board in a new direction.
I would be happy to send the resume and the letter to you or fax them. Please let me know.