08/02/13 7:00am
08/02/2013 7:00 AM

FILE PHOTO | Anthony Coates last year, announcing his intentions to run for Town Council.

I like a lot of what Anthony Coates is saying in his campaign for Riverhead Town Board.

A bright guy with a gift for gab, he’s painted an opponent as beholden to developers and himself as a political outsider who’s all about transparency in government.

He’s articulately outlined why you should believe he’s the better choice over his Republican primary opponents — well, one of them at least — and how much more he wants the job than anyone else. With 40 days left until the primary election, it’s been as spirited a challenge as you’ll see in this town or any other.

I’m just not sure it’s been a completely honest one.

In a phone call to WRIV radio this past June, Mr. Coates made a curious comment about the development experience of one of his opponents, Jodi Giglio.

“When it’s in your DNA and you represent developers, you represent them all over the place,” he said of the councilwoman. “Once it’s in your DNA, that’s where you’re cut from.”

That statement just hasn’t sat well with me since I heard it. Hasn’t Mr. Coates worked for developers? Isn’t that in his DNA?

Grant Parpan

Grant Parpan

It’s just an odd statement from a man who spent several years working closely with infamous Port Jefferson developer and automobile dealer John McNamara — a man whose empire came crashing down following his conviction in a $436 million Ponzi scheme. Mr. McNamara’s misconduct led to the arrest of Brookhaven Town officials he allegedly bribed to swiftly approve his development projects, though all town officials were acquitted in the case.

While the résumé Mr. Coates shared with the News-Review shows he worked as publisher of the Port Jefferson Record at a time when Mr. McNamara owned the paper, it makes no reference to Mr. Coates’ involvement with any other McNamara businesses. In fact, the résumé makes no reference to any experience working in development whatsoever.

It’s in line with an approach Mr. Coates has taken since moving to Riverhead, where he has acknowledged his time working for the disgraced developer in interviews but has often distanced himself from the scandal.

In an article published last March on RiverheadLOCAL.com, Mr. Coates said he ran “a portfolio of 15 businesses” for Mr. McNamara.

When asked about the résumé discrepancy in an interview with News-Review staffers last month, Mr. Coates said, “I did run a bunch of companies for him,” including a development company named 347 Corp. of Florida, a name similar to Route 347 Realty Corporation, the Port Jefferson Station company at the center of the McNamara bribery scandal. He stressed, however, that he had no involvement with the local development company or the car dealership, which Mr. McNamara used to secure financing from General Motors to keep his scheme afloat.

In August 1992, Mr. Coates claimed in a federal forfeiture action against the McNamara companies that he was owed more than $11,000 for eight weeks of unused vacation time while he was employed by Mr. McNamara. He claimed he was owed that money by Route 347 Realty Corporation in Port Jefferson Station and not 347 Corp. of Florida, which was also listed as a defendant in the proceeding, according to the documents.

In a follow-up interview this week, Mr. Coates maintained that he never worked for the company at the center of the scandal involving Brookhaven Town officials, but his attorney advised him that claiming that company owed him vacation pay increased the odds of getting paid.

“You go after the bigger company,” he said.

Mr. Coates also said in the earlier interview that he stopped working for Mr. McNamara on his own terms after he sensed his employer was having financial difficulties.

“My first kid was born, I’m making oodles of money and for the first time now the job isn’t fun,” he said. “And also, I went from this wet-behind-the-ears kid who doesn’t know [expletive] to, you know, Sinatra. So I was like, ‘I’ll go off and do other things.’” He said they parted ways mutually in a planned departure and left the door open for him to still do consulting work for Mr. McNamara’s companies. He said he could afford to leave the job — even at a time when his first daughter was just an infant — because he had become financially comfortable working for Mr. McNamara. He said during the interview that to this day his tenure with Mr. McNamara has afforded him a comfortable lifestyle.

When asked how much he made working for McNamara companies, Mr. Coates said, “Oodles of money. Many, many, many zeroes at the end of the money.” He said his salary was for his job at the newspaper and he “earned bits and pieces of other things he touched … mostly I was paid through the newspaper, though.”

As a creditor in the federal forfeiture action, Mr. Coates stated his tenure with Mr. McNamara ended with “an out-of-the-blue termination” on March 15, 1992, one month to the day before Mr. McNamara was indicted in the scheme to bilk GM out of $436 million. Mr. Coates states in his claim that his weekly pay rate was $1,442 during the time he worked for Mr. McNamara — about $75,000 per year.

When asked in a follow-up interview if that was his salary and if he would characterize that as “oodles and oodles of money,” he said that was just his salary and the bulk of his pay came from performance-based bonuses from the other companies he represented.

Even the dates Mr. Coates worked for Mr. McNamara are inaccurate on the résumé, which states he published the newspaper from 1989 to 1993. But Mr. McNamara sold the newspaper in November 1991 and was arrested in April 1992. He admitted in the interview that he left the newspaper before it was sold and spent the remaining months of his employment with Mr. McNamara working for other companies, including a highly profitable heating oil company.

After first being questioned by this newspaper several months ago about possible inaccuracies in his own résumé, Mr. Coates said in an email: “There isn’t an item on my résumé that is disputable, exaggerated or in doubt. I knew what was coming at me, I took every precaution. I may be a bit off on a date here and there because who really remembers their life to the day?”

In that same email, he said of Ms. Giglio, “People with thin résumés shouldn’t throw stones. It’s about time someone calls this woman on her lies.”

Mr. Coates has no doubt he said a lot of the right things during his campaign. But I do wonder how much of it he truly believes and how much of it is just the right thing to say.

Is he really disgusted by Ms. Giglio’s career in development, despite having once worked for one of Long Island’s most powerful developers and having later worked on other development projects? Is he really a political outsider frustrated with the current Town Board, even though he’s been involved in Suffolk County politics for more than 30 years and has run the recent campaigns of the current town supervisor? (His résumé says his first job was as a Suffolk County legislative aide at the age of 16.) Is he truly committed to transparency when his own résumé leaves off his development connections and downplays his role as an employee of Mr. McNamara at the height of the scandal?

When asked similar questions this week, Mr. Coates said his DNA is made up of a lot of different parts. He’s not just a guy who worked for developers, he’s not just someone who’s worked in politics and government. He’s also worked for a fuel buyer’s group and in the financial world. He accomplished a lot at an early age and has rejected a lot of the bad he’s seen in the early part of his career, he said.

He says a reformed insider is really the candidate he is today. I just wish, in the interest of true transparency, his campaign did a better job conveying that to the voting public.

Grant Parpan is the executive editor of Times/Review Newsgroup. He can be reached at (631) 298-3200, ext. 266 or gparpan@timesreview.com.

07/31/13 12:00pm
07/31/2013 12:00 PM

The Riverhead News-Review and RiverheadLOCAL.com are partnering with the Suffolk Theater to host a pair of Riverhead Town debates this election season.

The first event will be held Monday, Aug. 26, in advance of the Sept. 10 Republican primary for town council and the Democratic primary for town supervisor. All five candidates vying for the two posts have accepted an invitation to participate in the debate. The second debate will be held Thursday, Oct. 24, before the Nov. 5 general election.

“We’re very excited to be working together to bring these debates to the public,” said Times/Review Newsgroup executive editor Grant Parpan. “Given the current political climate in this town, there’s no doubt these events will be good shows worthy of the theater’s grand stage.”

Both debates will be moderated by Mr. Parpan, RiverheadLOCAL editor and publisher Denise Civiletti and News-Review editor Michael White.

“Riverhead is at a crossroads,” Ms. Civiletti said. “The next town board will be making crucial decisions that will affect our future for generations to come. Voters need to know where the candidates stand on important local issues.”

The Aug. 26 debate will feature Democratic supervisor candidates Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Angela Devito, followed by Republican town council candidates Anthony Coates, John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio,

All questions for the debates will be written in advance by the three moderators and the candidates will be given time to make closing statements. Readers can submit questions in advance to denise@riverheadlocal.com or mwhite@timesreview.com.

The events are scheduled for 7 p.m. and the theater will offer beverage service before and after the debates. The bar will open at 5 p.m.

Admission to the debates will be $5; all proceeds will be donated to a local charity.

07/30/13 12:08pm
07/30/2013 12:08 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Just two petitions have been challenged in Riverhead Town this election season.

Only Ann Cotten-DeGrasse, who is running a Democratic primary for Riverhead Town supervisor, and Mike Panchak, the Riverhead Republican Committee’s candidate for highway superintendent, have had specific objections filed against their nominating petitions for this fall’s town elections.

Since the deadline for filing objections has passed, that means there will be a Republican primary for Town Council in September, with Anthony Coates challenging committee nominees John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio.

The challenge against Mr. Panchak came from Keisha Washington Dean, who is a member of the Riverhead Town Democratic Committee.

Ms. Dean claimed that since Mr. Panchak is not a registered Republican, he requires a certificate of authorization from the Republican leadership, and failed to get that certificate, sometimes called a “Wilson Pakula,” by the July 15 deadline.

“It’s still in the hands of the Board of Elections,” Mr. Panchak said.

He said he plans to run whether he’s on the Republican line or not because he’s still going to be on the Conservative line and no challenges were filed on his position there.

Mr. Panchak, who is challenging incumbent Democrat George ‘Gio’ Woodson, is not registered with a political party, and is listed as a “blank” by the Board of Elections.

“We missed the filing period to give him a Wilson Pakula,” said Republican vice chairman Mason Haas of Mr. Panchak. “Normally we would have caught this mistake. However, the distractions of late has unfortunately caused us to have missed the filing deadline for the Wilson Pakula and Mr. Panchak may be a casualty of that.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse, whose name appears on the ballot as Ellen A. Cotten-DeGrasse, filed 429 signatures, and three different people filed objections to them, including Ms. Washington Dean. Maxine Kleedorfer of Baiting Hollow also challenged all of Ms. Cotten’s petitions on the grounds that she listed her address incorrectly.  Jeanne Luboja of South Jamesport is the third person to file petitions against Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse, who is challenging Democratic party nominee for Angela DeVito for supervisor, listed her address as 8 Legend Lane in Jamesport, although the town changed her address to 37 Legend Lane for the e-911 emergency phone system. In addition, since she gets mail delivered to a mailbox, her mailing address should be Legend Lane in Riverhead, since the Jamesport Post Office doesn’t deliver to mailboxes in front of homes.

The Board of Elections will rule on both cases in the coming weeks.

Mr. Coates said he filed general objections to the Republican petitions, through his girlfriend, Cleo Beletsis, but decided not to file specific objections because it would be too much of a distraction.

tgannon@timesreview.com

07/29/13 3:38pm
07/29/2013 3:38 PM
Joe's Garage

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A Joe’s Garage truck parked outside the restaurant Thursday.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio says she didn’t know her partner in the Summerwind Square apartments complex was also an owner of Joe’s Garage and Grill — a restaurant located within the building —  when she voted in May to award two snack vendor contracts to the restaurant.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The Summerwind Square complex downtown.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The Summerwind Square complex being built on Peconic Avenue downtown.

Ms. Giglio said that had she known of her business partner’s involvement in the restaurant, she would have abstained on the snack vendor vote.

Ms. Giglio, along with Ray Dickhoff and Martin Sendlewski, is a principal of Eastern Property Investor Consultants, LLC, the company that owns and is building Summerwind Square, a 52-unit apartment complex in the works on Peconic Avenue.

Summerwind will offer apartments on the top three floors and stores and a restaurant on its ground floor.

On May 22, in a competitive bidding process, the Riverhead Town Board awarded Joe’s Garage and Grill two snack vendor concession contracts for town beaches.

The town bid-out snack vendor contracts for 13 locations, and Joe’s Garage was awarded contracts for the Iron Pier Beach and East Creek Marina concession stands, paying the town $1,000 for the East Creek concession and $500 for the Iron Pier concession for the summer months, when the beaches are open.

The Town Board’s vote was unanimous, with Ms. Giglio among those voting in favor of the contracts.

Her opponent in this fall’s Republican Town Council primary, Anthony Coates, who has issued a continual stream of criticism of Ms. Giglio in his campaign, later charged in an interview with the News-Review that Ms. Giglio should have abstained because Joe’s Garage is her tenant in Summerwind.

When asked about the matter earlier this month, Ms. Giglio said she didn’t think she should have had to abstain on the snack vendor vote just because Joe’s Garage is a tenant. The issue was a competitive bid, she explained, and she didn’t stand to gain anything from Joe’s Garage receiving the vendor contract.

But the bid packets on file at the Riverhead town clerk’s office show Mr. Dickhoff to be an owner of Joe’s Garage, along with his wife, Natalie Dickhoff, and Wayne and Paul Steck.

The Stecks are owners of the Wayne Paul Construction Company in Melville, according to the company website.

Ms. Giglio is not listed as an owner of Joe’s Garage and Grill, which is a separate corporation from Eastern Property Investor Consultants, according to the state Department of State division of corporations

When told by a reporter last week of Mr. Dickhoff’s involvement, Ms. Giglio then spoke to Mr. Dickhoff, who told her he is an owner of Joe’s Garage as well, Ms. Giglio said.

“I didn’t even know that when you asked me,” she said, adding that had she known, she would have abstained from voting on the snack vendor contracts.

Ms. Giglio said she had previously believed only the Stecks were involved in the restaurant. (Editor’s note: Ms. Giglio later clarified her statement to mean she had believed only Paul Steck was involved, not Wayne steck who is a Summerwind principal.)

“How could she not have known?” Mr. Coates said of Ms. Giglio’s explanation. “It was in the bid packet. Was she not telling the truth when she said she didn’t know? Or did she vote on this without reading the bid packet?

“This is wrong in that she voted for a tenant of hers, it’s wrong that she voted for a business partner and it’s wrong that she didn’t read the bid packet.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

Read more in the Aug. 2 New-Review newspaper.

07/24/13 3:30pm
07/24/2013 3:30 PM
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio.

The Riverhead Town attorney’s office now says Councilwoman Jodi Giglio does not have to pay another $1,500 in fees to get a building permit for a second-story addition to her Baiting Hollow home, contradicting an earlier stance taken by the town building department.

The move comes after Ms. Giglio, who’s claiming that “political rivals” in the town dragged out the process when they realized she was getting close to obtaining permits, hired an attorney to investigate the situation.

Over several years, Ms. Giglio and her husband, Mike, had built the second-story addition, a finished basement, an inground pool, a hot tub and a deck. All had gone without certificates of occupancy until recently.

On June 20 of this year, the Giglios were issued COs for the basement, first applied for in 2009, and the pool, first applied for in 1999. But a letter dated June 20 from building inspector Richard Podlas said a Sept. 29, 2009, building permit for the second story had expired in 2010 and the Giglios would have to pay a $1,500 renewal fee before the CO could be issued for that addition. The letter was sent again July 11, according to the town.

Ms. Giglio said last Wednesday that she had not received either copy of the letter. She claimed she had paid the $1,500 building fee in 2009 and should not be required to pay it again. The fee represents a triple fee, a penalty the town previously imposed on applicants who had built structures without a permit.

Complicating matters was an Oct. 20, 2012, letter from Mr. Podlas saying Ms. Giglio owed a $403 permit fee for the pool and a $1,160 fee for the basement. The letter stated that these fees would be added to the Giglios’ “open permit” for the addition, “which Leroy Barnes put hold on, so therefore this permit does not have to be renewed, even though it expired.”

The wording of the letter brought charges from political rivals that Ms. Giglio was being given a waiver.

“It sounds like, from the way that reads, that by putting a hold on it, whatever that means, it allowed her to get a favor that otherwise would be unavailable to the public, and it seems like, although it’s not abundantly clear, it allowed her to avoid having to renew the permit again and pay the fee again,” said Anthony Coates, who is challenging Ms. Giglio in a Republican primary this September.

Supervisor Sean Walter, who also originally thought the letter from Mr. Podlas meant the fee was being waived, said Friday that the entire Giglio building permit file was being turned over to the town attorney’s office. On Tuesday, he said he wasn’t commenting on the case anymore.

“It’s up to the town attorney’s office,” Mr. Walter said.

Mr. Barnes, the former building department coordinator referred to in the October 2012 letter, said on Friday that he had held up all other permits until a building permit was obtained for the basement. He pointed out another 2009 letter in the file, on which he had written by hand, “On hold. Finished basement no permit.”

Deputy town attorney Bill Duffy said Tuesday that he is recommending the building department not require the $1,500 fee because the Giglios paid it in 2009 and the town “never released the permit, so you can’t claim it expired.”

Ms. Giglio charged on Tuesday that politics were involved in her not getting the permits, citing Mr. Walter’s claim that “Giglio’s toast,” made at a fundraiser for Mr. Coates.

“This is dirty politics and has been dragged out for political purposes,” she said in a statement to the News-Review. “When my political rivals realized I was closing out the matter with the building department, things were suddenly held up in the building department and additional things were requested.”

When asked for comment Tuesday, Mr. Walter laughed but declined comment on that claim.

However, Mr. Coates, when asked for comment, said the issue arose long before this year.

“This issue has gone on for 14 years,” he said. “She arranged for tax abatements, permits and everything else for the Summerwind project [of which she is an owner] during this same time and ignored her personal property until I asked a question. She likes to blame other people for her problems. She’s blamed her husband, me, the supervisor, the media, her attorney, her architect and the building department, when the fault lies directly with her. None of this exonerates her from 14 years of willful neglect in a tax avoidance scam.”

The additions to the home, except for the pool, were not reflected in the town’s tax assessment records from 2003 to 2013, meaning that the Giglios were not taxed on the improvements. Ms. Giglio has said she will pay the taxes due on those improvements.

Ms. Giglio also questioned how Mr. Coates had obtained so much information about her building permits since he had never filed a Freedom of Information request with the town to see the file.

Mr. Coates said he has never seen the file and had only asked questions of Republican leaders in response to rumors that the building permits were lacking.

“And all of a sudden a chain of events began,” he said.

“I raised the issue and, boy, did they step over themselves trying to cover up the situation,” he said. “I haven’t said a word about what’s in the file. I’ve reacted to her statements and to what’s been in the press.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

07/12/13 2:30pm

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTOS | Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio (left) is currently engaged in a bitter primary battle with Anthony Coates.

Hours after her primary opponent called for her resignation over online reports that she made alterations to her house without town approvals, Republican Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said there’s “not a chance” she will.

“Let my record stand for itself and the taxpayers of the Town of Riverhead decide my fate as an elected official,” Ms. Giglio said in an email to the News-Review Thursday evening. “Resign? Not a chance.”

Ms. Giglio only recently got part of her Baiting Hollow home up to code, according to a story first reported on riverheadlocal.com. The house had an ingr0und swimming pool and other backyard amenities installed in 1999, and later a finished basement and second-story addition, according to the report.

A certificate of occupancy for the pool wasn’t issued until June 20 of this year. A certificate of occupancy for the finished basement was also issued in June of this year, and a CO for the addition is still outstanding, according to the report.

The RiverheadLOCAL story also detailed how Ms. Giglio’s property value had not been reassessed to reflect the work done in the basement or the second-floor addition, though the assessed value of the home was raised after the pool was installed.

When contacted by the News-Review about the report Thursday, Town Board hopeful Anthony Coates, who is challenging Ms. Giglio in a Sept. 10 Republican primary election, said he believes the councilwoman should step down from her elected office.

“The hand is caught in the cookie jar and frankly, I think she should resign,” Mr. Coates said. “This is a big thumbing your nose at every citizen of Riverhead who does pay their fees.”

Ms. Giglio said the call for resignation, and the Coates campaign in general, is all part of a “personal crusade” following her voting against his appointment to a town legislative secretary job, a position that would have had him working on getting a proposed commission to fast-track development in Albany approved.

Mr. Coates said that’s not why he’s running.

“When they didn’t give me that job I did it anyway,” Mr. Coates said, pointing to trips he made to Albany along with Supervisor Sean Walter and the recent approval of fast-track legislation by the state Legislature. “If there’s anything called a vendetta here it’s really on her. She’s the one who banned me from riding in town vehicles. She’s the one who tried to ban me from Town Hall.”

Still, Mr. Coates was quick to admit there’s no love lost on either side of what is becoming a fierce primary battle.

“There’s definitely no Christmas cards being exchanged [between us],” Mr. Coates said. “But I do think it’s important for people to know this isn’t about [a personal crusade.]

“I didn’t start off my [campaign because of] a problem with Jodi Giglio,” he said. “It’s the facts and the lies that have made me have an issue with Jodi. My campaign is about real questions of ethics with her and her conflicts of interests.”

Ms. Giglio said Friday she “never banned Mr. Coates from Town Hall or from town vehicles.”

“This is just some rhetoric from him that makes me look like someone I’m not,” she said. “It’s just him spewing lies.”

Both candidates said they don’t believe their opponent is “fit to hold office.”

gparpan@timesreview.com

07/11/13 6:33pm
Jodi Giglio and Sean Walter

FILE PHOTO | Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio during a disagreement in 2012.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio — who is locked in a heated Republican primary for a Town Council nomination — only recently got part of her Baiting Hollow home up to code after several alterations were made over the course of years that improved the property, according to RiverheadLOCAL.com.

The house had an ingr0und swimming pool and other backyard amenities installed in 1999, and later a finished basement and second-story addition, according to a report published Thursday by the online news outlet.

A certificate of occupancy for the pool wasn’t issued until June 20 of this year. A certificate of occupancy for the finished basement was also issued in June of this year, and a CO for the addition is still outstanding, according to the report.

The RiverheadLOCAL story also detailed how Ms. Giglio’s property value had not been reassessed to reflect the work done in the basement or the second-floor addition, though the assessed value of the home was raised after the pool was installed.

“I was stunned that these permits were still open,” Supervisor Sean Walter said in an interview with the News-Review Thursday. “This was an issue in 2009 and I was assured when we ran as a team that this was resolved, and then after we got elected, I found out it wasn’t resolved.

“I spoke to her on multiple occasions about getting it resolved and I was assured by both her and by Republican party leadership that all these issues were resolved on multiple occasions. It’s unfortunate. She’s got to get it resolved immediately. I think elected officials have to be held to a higher standard than what residents are when it comes to things like getting town permits.”

Reached Thursday afternoon, Ms. Giglio said there was “no wrongdoing on my part,” and that she and her husband had been trying to finalize permit issues with the town ever since they tried to refinance the house in 2009.

“Despite what the supervisor alluded to [in the RiverheadLOCAL report], I did not receive any favors,” she said. “We applied for all the permits, and that information is supposed to be automatically transferred over to the assessor’s office.”

She also denied having any conversations about her house with Supervisor Sean Walter, a fellow Republican but political rival.

“That’s a bunch of crock,” she said. “Sean and I had never had a discussion about my house. Not once, ever.”

The first-term councilwoman is being challenged for the Republican nomination by a former Walter adviser, Anthony Coates, who has repeatedly publicly criticized Ms. Giglio.

“It just goes to show the type of character you get, when those resort to mudslinging on personal issues rather than the voting record of the candidate they’re opposing,” Ms. Giglio said. “Because I’ve always been a steward for the taxpayers and watched their money as if it were my own.”

She said her $12,000 a year taxes would likely rise by about $1,000 annually after the property tax assessment is adjusted to reflect the improvements, and she would be willing to repay any back taxes for what she described as an internal oversight.

Ms. Giglio added that she didn’t live in the Baiting Hollow home in 1999, but in Wading River. Her husband’s company, Structural Technologies, owned the property and was renting it to a sales manager at the time.

She said the basement was also finished before she and her husband moved in, and the couple had the addition built in late 2004, months after their twins were born and she was caring for three small children.

“I didn’t even take title to the property or have my name on the deed until 2004,”  she said. “And we’ve been trying to get the permits ever since. My house has been inspected on more than three occasions for the pool and the addition.”

Mr. Coates said he had inquired about the matter himself with the building department about the time of the May 23 Republican Convention and confirmed what he said had been rumors for years about work at the Giglio property and expired permits.

“This is exactly what I’ve been talking about in the campaign,” said Mr. Coates. “There’s an attitude of entitlement and a real disregard for the process that seems to pervade out of elected officials.”

“This really came to a head with the cavalier attitude about the waiving of the building permits for Athens Grill and the Rendezvous,” he said in reference to a recent vote of the Town Board to waive fees for two fire-damaged restaurants downtown, of which Ms. Giglio abstained, saying she believed insurance would cover the fees and wanting to find out out more information.

“It’s a complete double standard for an elected official versus the stand for the public,” he continued. “Anyone who has filed a permit for a deck or pool or a minor repair knows the hoops they have to go through. Jodi Giglio is an expediter. Did she not do her job as an expediter? Or is she not doing her job as a Town Board member? Either way, it’s a real indictment.”

“I feel vindicated that what I’ve been talking about is accurate,” he added. “The town needs a shaking up.”

Republican vice chairman Mason Haas, who is also a town tax assessor and had flirted with the idea of challenging Mr. Walter for the Republican supervisor nod, told the News-Review Thursday that Ms. Giglio’s CO issues are not unique.

“I’m not speaking because I’m vice chair, I’m speaking because it’s wrong to imply anyone is covering anything up,” said Mr. Haas, who was elected assessor in 2007 and started working on residential grievances in 2009, when he said he started to notice flaws in the town’s system of communication between the building department and assessors.

“I was a little shocked at what Sean said about the permit thing,” he said. “I’ve been screaming for two years about the system [in town], because as a businessman who comes from the private sector, the system is broken in the building department.”

“When they issue a permit they’re supposed to forward them to the assessor’s office,” he continued. “It is not uncommon that we don’t get the building permit. What I implemented last year, was that when permits get issued they automatically get emailed. I’m not here to say Jodi’s right or wrong, but what I will say is it’s a very common problem that I’m trying to fix as we go.”

He said the town’s computer systems are too outdated to implement new software and there’s no money for upgrades.

Mr. Haas and other Republican leaders have also been outwardly criticized by Mr. Coates during the Coates campaign, first announced last fall.

“When I met with party leadership and they tried to talk me out of the race,” Mr. Coates said. “I said there were three things they needed to provide to me as a condition of my withdrawal.” Among them were “the permits on Jodi Giglio’s home, which I had heard for years and years didn’t exist. This is a decade, for a woman who was an expediter,” he said.

“I was rejected flatly,” he continued, adding that he looked into the permit matter himself. “I never filed a [Freedom of Information Law request]. I called an inquired about one for her building permits. [Party leaders] knew I was coming and they knew I was serious because I raised the question at the convention. Mason told me they existed. Then June 20, they miraculously show up.

“After 10 years of non-compliance, Jodi decided to finally comply after I rang the warning bell.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

06/18/13 6:06pm
06/18/2013 6:06 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Riverhead Republican nominees, from left,

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Republican nominees, from left, Mike Panchak, Laverne Tennenberg, John Dunleavy, Sean Walter, Anthony Palumbo and Jodi Giglio.

Anthony Coates, who’s running a primary for a Riverhead council seat, is accusing town Republican committee leadership of threatening members who carry nominating petitions for him.

Candidates in Riverhead Town need signatures from 380 registered Republicans in order to get on the primary ballot.

A letter from recently appointed Riverhead Republican vice chairman Mason Haas, which was sent to committee members and forwarded to the media by Mr. Coates, reads as follows:

“As per the Chairperson, all committee members are reminded that they are only to carry the petitions of those nominated by the committee. Anyone doing otherwise would face disciplinary actions by the county committee. Along with possible dismissal as a committee person.”

Ms. Haas confirmed he sent the letter, and said his comments reflect a policy of the county Republican committee.

But Suffolk County Republican chairman John Jay LaValle said in an interview Tuesday that this isn’t exactly the case.

“It’s not necessarily true that if a committee member is supporting one Republican over another Republican that this would be an actionable situation,” Mr. LaValle said. “If a committee person was carrying the petitions of a Democrat, or member of some other party running against our party, that would clearly be actionable.”

“Actionable” could mean that person’s removal from the committee, he said, adding that while it would be “frowned upon” for a committee member to carry petitions against the committee’s candidates, it wouldn’t necessarily involve disciplinary procedures.

But Mr. Coates says this is the type of thing he’s running against.

“Did that really come from Republican headquarters? Or was it Berlin 1941?” Mr. Coates wrote in a letter to local media.

The Republicans nominated incumbents John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio for the council seats, and Mr. Coates, who changed his registration to Republican only last year, is running a primary for one of those seats.

Mr. Coates says he began collecting signatures on June 4, the first day petition forms were available from the Board of Elections, and now has more than 500 signatures.

The Republican committee leaders, on the other hand, were “a little late” in handing out their petitions due to “unforeseen circumstances” and didn’t start until this week, according to town GOP chairman John Galla.

He said they usually hand out the petitions at their annual golf tournament, but that was rained out. In addition, he said, the petitions they received from Suffolk County didn’t have the voter enrollment books attached.

Mr. Coates called the delay in gathering signatures for nominees “sheer laziness” on the part of Republican leadership.

“This is an example of the type of complacency and right of entitlement and taking the voters for granted that I’m running against,” he said. “I want to be represented in Town Hall by the person who does their homework first. This is a metaphor for how they will govern.”

Petition signatures are dated and, under Board of Elections rules, if someone signs Mr. Coates’ petition first and then signs the Republican committee’s petition, which includes the names of all candidates nominated for town office, then the signatures on the second petition could be challenged and possibly thrown out, as least for the council nominees. In effect, although nominees for other offices would be unaffected, neither of the Republican council nominees (Mr. Dunleavy and Ms. Giglio) would receive credit for that signature because it would be unclear which of them the signer intended to support.

The BOE says they would only review such discrepancies if someone raised a challenge.

Because of this, Mr. Coates said, both Mr. Dunleavy and Supervisor Sean Walter are carrying blank petitions with only their own names on them, so they won’t be thrown out if the signer also signed Mr. Coates’ petition.

Mr. Walter gave a different story. He said he is carrying the petitions of the Conservative party, which endorsed the entire Republican slate except Ms. Giglio.

In order to carry petitions, one must be a registered member of the party for whom they are collecting petitions, or a notary public. Mr. Walter, a registered Republican, said he is also a notary.

Mr. Dunleavy also denied carrying petitions with only his name on it, but said he considered carrying petitions for the entire Republican slate with Ms. Giglio’s name whited out, but decided not to when he learned that these petitions would be counted separately from those with the full committee slate.

Mr. Dunleavy said he is now carrying just the petitions of the full Republican slate.

“He just wants to stir the pot,” he said of Mr. Coates.

Mr. Dunleavy said Tuesday that he only began collecting petitions Monday, in his own neighborhood. He said he knocked on two doors and both people said they had already signed Mr. Coates’ petition.

He got into a lengthy discussion about a town issue with one of the residents, he said, and had to go to a town function after that, so he never got any further.

“It’s harder to collect petitions when you’re in office,” he said, because of the town issues that need attention.

tgannon@timesreview.com