A tough row to hoe for Riverhead’s Democrats

03/09/2011 3:00 PM |

I read former Riverhead supervisor Vinny Villella’s comments on the State if the Town message with a chuckle.

It seems that the former one-term supervisor is troubled by the hopeful and optimistic message delivered by current Supervisor Sean Walter about where this town is and where it is going. If I were in charge of trying to defeat Mr. Walter, as Mr. Villela is, I’d be troubled too because Riverhead, after six years of the doldrums under Phil Cardinale, is clearly moving in a dynamic new direction, and as the leader of the loyal opposition in town, Mr. Villela has his work cut out for him.

Vinny, you are a very nice man and you and I have on occasion shared a glass or two of Pine Barrens pure water but I’m sorry my friend you are allowing partisan politics and your loyalty to Mr. Cardinale to cloud your judgment about where this town is headed. Consider this:

Downtown was a complete ghost town under Mr. Cardinale as his illusion of progress called “Apollo” choked out any real possibility of growth and all we saw were architectural drawings and “coming soon” signs. In a horrible economy, under Mr. Walter we see a new Hyatt Hotel rising before our very eyes, the “Summerwind” project is breaking ground, Dark Horse Restaurant open for business, the Red Collection antique store moved in and Cody’s Barbeque will replace the eyesore of Casa Rica.

The Sufffolk Theatre, stalled under Mr. Cardinale, is moving forward. The Blue Door stayed in town and a new Tex-Mex restaurant is coming to Main Street behind the brand new Haiku restaurant. Not bad for a down economy and only one year in office. Mr. Cardinale likes to say these projects were works in progress under his administration. Maybe he should ask the owners of these businesses who really helped them when they needed it.

EPCAL? Vinnie, you and Mr. Cardinale rail about EPCAL yet, let the record reflect, during Mr. Cardinale’s tenure, which coincided with the largest land boon ever on Long Island, not one acre of land was sold at EPCAL. Mr. Cardinale did bring us a proposal for a ski mountain to be constructed by mysterious Scottish developers who could not close their transaction and a housing deal to be built along the runway at Calverton, hardly “blue chip” deals and like Mr. Cardinale’s bogus Wilpon deal and Pulte homes transaction the principals could never cross the finish line.

This Town Board, recognizing reality, is moving in a more mature, realistic direction to develop EPCAL instead of simply using the property as a place to hold publicity stunts.

As for the town’s finances? When Mr. Cardinale was defeated he said, “If we are ever going to be real about town taxes we need to cut the size of our staff.” In six years as supervisor, not once did Mr. Cadinale have the courage to cut staff. In case you missed it, there was an election in 2010 and the people are crying out for lower taxes and smaller government. Mr. Walter made the tough choices in these difficult economic times and reduced staff and spending.

Let me get this straight, you and Mr. Cardinale don’t think town spending can be cut?

Finally, Vinny, you complain about me being an adviser to Mr. Walter. Well, last I checked every elected official has advisers and perhaps if Mr. Cardinale listened to more advice he wouldn’t be a former supervisor. You claim I work for the town of Riverhead as a “press secretary,” yet you and I know that’s not true. You claim that I “write every word Mr. Walter speaks.” Sorry that’s simply not true as Mr. Walter is a man of his own vision and convictions.

I will say this though, Vinny, I do write a lot and I am a former newspaper publisher, so as one writer to another let me give you this friendly advice. When you write a column it is best not to completely lift words from another person, as you did in your recent column. If you take what you wrote to the News-Review and then read what Mr. Cardinale said in an interview in another publication, your words are Mr. Cardinale’s words verbatim. Verbatim meaning word for word. That wordsmithing is kind of what you accused me of, and yet you are caught in the act.

The public can spot things that are fake, not real and just don’t make sense.

I think you’ll see that clearly in Campaign 2011, should Mr. Cardinale decide to try to return to Town Hall.

Mr. Coates is a downtown resident and adviser to Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter.

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