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

07/18/13 8:00am
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.

07/16/13 1:35pm
07/16/2013 1:35 PM

To the editor:

I want to apologize to the Riverhead taxpayers for the lack of oversight that occurred in the process of trying to obtain certificates of occupancy on my home. My husband owned the home for 17 years before I moved in and all of the improvements existed, with the exception of the addition. While I was newly married and the mother of our very young children, my husband was involved with the permitting of a proposed addition. Unfortunately between dust, dishes, and diapers I lost track of the process my husband had started. When refinancing the home we realized it had not been completed and we acted immediately to come into compliance. To rectify this issue, I have paid all necessary permit fees and penalties required by the Town of Riverhead and will remit payment for back taxes when calculated.

[Related: Coates says Giglio should resign; she says 'not a chance']

Though some have used this instance to attack my character, I remain steadfast in my commitment to serving the taxpayers of Riverhead.  Attempts to use this instance as a mudslinging campaign is a clear example of politics as usual —  but I am not a typical politician. I stand proudly on my achievements as a Riverhead Town councilwoman who values fiscally conservative principles. Since I was elected in 2009, I have worked to cut government waste and save much-needed tax dollars by working on code and contracts saving taxpayers $2 million townwide in their garbage tax, vamping up the town’s recycling efforts, subdividing land at EPCAL for high paying jobs, pursuit of the FAA coming to EPCAL and cutting back on spending $1 million. I have done my best to uphold the master plan when it comes to development and to respect the work that the taxpayers and my predecessors put into that plan.

While I am proud to stand on my record as a fiscal conservative, there is still much that needs to be done to make sure Riverhead continues on a path of sustainable growth. We need to continue the revitalization of downtown Riverhead and complete the subdivision at EPCAL. These are the issues that we should be talking about and these are the issues that I have, and will, continue to focus on going forward as a dedicated member of the Riverhead Town Board.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio

07/16/13 10:30am
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio.

UPDATE: Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio’s July 15 campaign finance disclosure forms have now been posted on the state Board of Elections website and, when combined with what she raised in the Jan. 15 reports, pull her ahead of fellow incumbent Republican Councilman John Dunleavy as having raised the most money for the coming town elections.

New July 15 reports were also posted Tuesday for Ann Cotten-DeGrasse, who is waging a Democratic primary for supervisor against  committee nominee Angela DeVito.

John Dunleavy of Riverhead

FILE PHOTO | Second-term Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy in Town Hall.

Reports for North Fork state Assembly candidates Tony Palumbo, the Republican candidate, and Democrat John McManmon, are also now available.

Ms. Giglio’s July 15 filings report contributions of $17,309 and spending at $20,771.

In January, she reporting raising $22,755 and spending $13,055.

By comparison, Mr. Dunleavy raised $25,430 in July and spent $16,220, but in January, he only raised $500, and spent $2,395.

Thus, the combined totals for the two filings show Ms. Giglio having raised  $40,064 and spent $33,826, and Mr. Dunleavy having raised $25,930 and spent  $18,615.

Among the contributions Ms. Giglio received in the July filings were $500 from Saber Riverhead, which is building a new shopping center on Route 58; $840 from Mainstream House on Sound Avenue in Riverhead; $500 from West RAC contracting of Hauppauge; $500 from Kevin Gershowitz of Gershow Recycling; $500 from M-GBC LLC, which is a company headed by Jan Burman that owns land at EPCAL, and $630 from East End Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgery of East Main Street.

Among Ms. Giglio’s expenditures were $3,000 to Outerbanks — a restaurant run by her husband at Suffolk County’s Indian Island Country Club — for fundraiser and $200 for snow removal for about 100 spaces at Outerbanks, according to the filing.

She also paid $989 to Campaigns Unlimited of Shirley for fundraiser invitations and professional services, and $1,378 to GMG Printing and Marketing Resources of Shirley for fundraiser invitations.

Mr. Dunleavy paid $729 to Minute Man Press of Riverhead for fundraising and $10,850 to the Baiting Hollow Club for fundraisers.

On the snow removal for Outerbanks, Ms. Giglio said Tuesday the job was needed to clear space for people attending a Feb. 12 fundraiser there, a day after the Blizzard of 2013 struck the region.

“The county employees were not coming to clear the parking lot that night, as they normally would, so I had to pay so the people coming to my fundraiser could have somewhere to park,” Ms. Giglio explained.

She also said the $3,000 checks for the Outerbanks fundraiser actually went to a catering company called Strategic Maneuvers, which was hired to help run the February fundraiser.

Supervisor Sean Walter’s January reports show only $6,100 raised and $1,085 spent. He was running for a county Legislature seat at the time.

Ms. Cotten DeGrasse, meanwhile raised $3,765 and spent $1,262, according to the July 15 reports.

The state Assembly race is close in the fundraising department

Mr. Palumbo raised $24,785 and spent $8,678, while Mr. McManmon raised $21,425 and spent $2,671.

Ms. Giglio’s rival in a Republican primary, Anthony Coates, reported raising $5,275 and spending $4,631. His campaign spending included $1,698 to the Riverhead Project for a fundraiser and $515 to PDQ Print of Taylor, Penn. for campaign brochures, according to the July 15 filings.

He also paid an AT&T cell phone bill out of campaign funds, according to the report.

(Scroll down for a complete roundup.)

JULY 16 STORY: The first campaign finance disclosure forms of the political season were due Monday, and Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy is way out in front of everybody so far, with more than $25,430 raised between Jan 15 and July 15.

In the supervisor race, incumbent Republican Sean Walter is leading Democratic challenger Angela DeVito in the money-raising department, $18,077 to $13,930.

The reports, which are filed electronically and posted on the state Board of Elections website, were due Monday, although some candidates didn’t report any contributions or didn’t file on time.

John Conklin, a BOE spokesman, said workers there are filing the reports as they receive them, but that anything received after 5 p.m. Monday will not be posted until Tuesday, although anything received  up until midnight Monday would not be considered late.

If a candidate is more than five days late, the BOE could launch a lawsuit against that person, and could possibly fine them up to $1,000, Mr. Conklin said.

Mr. Dunleavy and primary challenger Anthony Coates were the only town council candidates to have filed the July 15 reports on the state site so far, but Republican Councilwoman Jodi Giglio had reported $22,755 raised in the Jan. 15 reports.

Among some of the larger contributions for Mr. Dunleavy were $1,000 from town building inspector Sharon Klos; $1,000 from Mainstram House, an alcohol rehab center on Sound Avenue; $900 each from Riverhead Ford Lincoln and Mattituck Sanitation; $737 apiece from Kevin and Marnie Gershowitz, of Gershow Recycling; $500 from Ron DeVito, who is proposing an assisted living project on Mill Road, and $675 from Jefferson Consultants, headed by Mark Lyons of Port Jefferson, who is working on that project as well; $500 from Giorgio’s Catering in Baiting Hollow; $900 from Bob Scheiner of H2M Engineering; $900 from builder Richard Wiedersum of Wiedersum Associates; and $900 from Jaral Riverhead, which owns the Holiday Inn Express on Route 58.

Mr. Dunleavy, a retired town police officer who was re-elected to a second term in 2009, said almost all of his contributions came from a golf fundraiser he held on July 9.

He said he thinks he received the support because people are happy with the job he’s done, not because they are looking for favors from the town.

“I work with everybody,” he said. “I don’t care if you give me $100 or you give me nothing. A lot of people gave me nothing but I work with them.”

Mr. Walter’s biggest contribution came from the Riverhead Republican Committee, which gave him $3,000. He also got $1,000 from George Regini of Giorgio’s Catering; $1,000 from Suffolk County Probation Officers; $500 from Apple Honda owner Irwin Garsten, who is seeking to build a shopping center next to Riverhead Centre on Route 58; and $500 from West RAC contracting of Hauppauge. He also got $500 from Green World Marketing of Northport and he reported $2,985 in contributions under $100 from a July 9 event. Those contributions are not required to be reported by name.

Ms. DeVito, (who is not related to the aforementioned Ronald DeVito) worked with a builder’s union for many years and received a lot of campaign contributions from unions, including $1,000 apiece from the Political Action League of two Ironworkers’s unions and $500 apiece from  a Sheetmetal Workers union PAC and from Bricklayers Local Union 1.

Ms. DeVito also got $705 from Paulette DeVito of Rocky Point; $500 from Amy and Jim Csorny of Wading River, who had been in court with the town over breach access disputes; and $300 from George and Christine Prete of Flanders. Ms. Prete had served with Ms. DeVito on the Riverhead Board of Education.

Among the larger contributors to Ms. Giglio’s campaign in the Jan. 15 report were $1,000 from Irwin Garsten; $800 from engineer Dennis Kelleher of H2M, which has worked for the town for many years; $525 from Henry Chlupsa, the president of consulting firm Dvirka and Bartilucci; and $500 apiece from Syp Industries of Manorville; $500 from Sypher Construction of Manorville, and Bench Strength Partners of Floral Park.

Mr. Coates’ biggest contribution was $1,000 from Stacey Polites and $500 from Lia Polites, who is one of the owners of the Jedediah Hawkins Inn. He also received $500 from Mainstream House.

The Riverhead Republican committee got a $250 donation from Ronald DeVito, but most of its contributions were not larger than $200.

The Riverhead Democratic Committee had not filed the July 15 report, but the Jan. 15 report showed the Democrats owed $6,862.

There were no campaign committees listed for Riverhead Democratic council candidates Millie Thomas and Bill Bianchi.

Anne Cotten DeGrasse, who is challenging Ms. DeVito in a primary for the Democratic supervisor nod, had a committee but did not report any campaign finance activity.

tgannon@timesreview.com

More by the numbers:

Friends of Sean Walter

raised $18,077

spent  $16,239

Angela DeVito for Supervisor

raised $13,930

spent $9,956

Friends of John Dunleavy

raised $25,430

spent $16,220

Vote Coates 13 (Anthony Coates)

raised $5,275

spent $4,631

Riverhead Republican Committee

raised $6,115

spent  $7,172

Riverhead Town Democratic Committee

raised $6,205

spent $5,548

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio

July

raised $17,309

spent $20,771

January

raised $22,755

spent $13,055

Councilman John Dunleavy

July

raised $25,430

spent $16,220

January

raised $500

spent $2,395

Ann Cotten-DeGrasse

raised $3,765

spent $1,262

Tony Palumbo

raised $24,785

spent $8,678

John McManmon

raised $21,425

spent $2,671

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