Editorial: No excuse for Giglio not getting house in order

07/18/2013 8:00 AM |
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and other Town Board members are responsible for making and, sometimes, enforcing laws in the town.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and the other Town Board members are often responsible for bringing enforcement actions against code violators.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio has no good excuse and should blame only herself for the mess she’s created by not getting the proper permits and certificates of occupancy for work done on her home in Baiting Hollow.

As her detractors are quick to point out, Ms. Giglio is a permit expediter who helps business owners here and elsewhere in Suffolk County to navigate the red tape of local bureaucracies in order to get things built. And if she knew there were ongoing, major permit issues at her house — which she said she discovered while trying to refinance in 2009— she should have put some of her business dealings on hold until she cleaned up her own mess. Because, all the while, she has been paying less in property taxes than she should have.

We won’t call her a liar, as her political challenger has. Maybe she’s confused, or just isn’t that great an expediter. But it seems more than fishy that permits and COs are just now getting issued during a re-election race.

Politics helped push this matter to the forefront of the news and set off a political firestorm after initial reports on Friday by RiverheadLocal.com. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter where or with whom the information originated, or why it was leaked. The problems are all there, in black and white, in the Giglio file at the building department on Howell Avenue. It’s a file that could very well cost Ms. Giglio the election. As a Town Board member, she makes decisions each week on enforcement issues involving others accused of skirting town code — and these revelations severely damage her credibility.

Of course, we understand she’s not alone. There’s a pervasive sense of entitlement at all levels of government, as if getting special breaks and favors is built into a benefits package for an elected leader or department head. Ms. Giglio isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, to face criticism, or worse, for sidestepping the law. But her situation right now should serve as a reminder of the consequences.