After a close and painful election loss in November 2009, what I thought I needed most was to withdraw from the limelight and avoid comment about town matters. I did that for more than a year. I stopped talking, but I couldn’t stop listening. And what I heard from my successor disturbed me.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
I thought about that and about what I had tried to do during my six years as Riverhead Town supervisor — much of which was being undone by my successor.
I discovered Riverhead’s future still did matter to me, and I was sure there was a better way for Riverhead.
I’d come full circle. I stopped being silent. Around the first day of spring this year I decided to run.
What is a better way for Riverhead? A town government that’s honest, open, fair and prudent. It’s what we don’t have and badly need. It’s why I’m running and why I’m asking the questions that follow.
How is it honest for a supervisor to announce after his election that he will continue his law practice and work part-time at that while accepting a full-time salary from the town?
How is it honest for a supervisor to credit himself with the work of his predecessor and others downtown, where virtually every project now under way was started before he came into office?
How is it honest for a supervisor to claim the town is nearly in an all-out fiscal crisis when the town actually has over $7 million in reserve funds and its highest credit rating ever?
Dishonesty steals our better future. Honesty is a better way for Riverhead.
How is it open for our supervisor to disregard town ethics law and refuse to identify law clients he represented before town agencies?
How is it open for the Town Board to repeatedly discuss in closed executive session topics that the open meetings law requires be discussed in public?
How is it open to repeatedly fail to program Channel 22, leaving silent and black the government public access channel?
How is it open to schedule for the same time public hearings on proposed actions and the actual votes on those actions — telegraphing the Town Board’s disregard for public input?
How is it open to take months to respond to Freedom of Information Law requests, which must by law be answered within five days?
How is it open to announce a taxpayer-financed investigation of possible criminal wrongdoing by town workers, and then refuse to discuss the investigation or disclose its results or refer the matter to the Suffolk County District Attorney?
Information is the lifeblood of democracy. Open government is a better way for Riverhead.
How is it fair for our supervisor to disregard the Master Plan and the zoning laws passed after years of public participation as “a load of crap”?
How is it fair for the Town Board to look the other way, fail to protect our neighborhoods and disregard the laws governing land use in order to benefit political supporters?
How is it fair for the town to treat some town residents differently than others?
The rule of law applies to all of us. Enforce the law equally. No special rules for special people. That’s a better way for Riverhead.
How is it prudent for our supervisor to refuse to even consider comprehensive redevelopment and condemnation downtown when virtually the entire south side of Main Street is empty?
How is it prudent to lay off a fire marshal, jeopardizing public safety?
How is it prudent for our supervisor to refuse to even consider purchase offers at the Grumman property, leaving the land off the tax rolls indefinitely while spending more than $500,000 on another unnecessary study?
How is it prudent for our supervisor to use our tax dollars to play real estate developer at the Grumman property, wasting years of time, spending millions of dollars and taking enormous risks with taxpayer money?
Prudence is a better way for Riverhead.
To find that “A Better Way for Riverhead” we must talk to each other, not through each other. In that spirit and with that hope, Ibegin my run for supervisor.
Mr. Cardinale, of Jamesport, is the Democratic candidate for town supervisor. He is a lawyer and former Riverhead Town supervisor.