Equal Time: It’s not about farmers; it’s about process

In his recent Guest Spot in the News Review, Anthony Coates, a paid political consultant and campaign manager, launched an attack against us for doing what we were elected to do (“What are these councilpeople thinking?” May 31). Mr. Coates stated he’s written a lot of political ads and campaign strategies. In fact, Mr. Coates creates political spin for his clients. In other words, he manipulates facts to put his clients in a positive light and attack adversaries.

Why are we Mr. Coates’ adversaries? Perhaps it’s because we voted against a job for Mr. Coates that would have paid him close to $100,000 (inclusive of benefits). The job would have been to lobby for the creation of a state authority at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. Trying to get the authority created is something our elected officials in Albany have stated they would do themselves.

We feel well represented by Senator Ken Lavalle and Assemblyman Dan Losquadro.

To say, as Mr. Coates did last week, that we’re trying to kill jobs in Riverhead and that we’re against the farmers is ridiculous!

Jim Wooten grew up in Riverhead. He remembers the Warner potato chip factory. He, along with classmates, went on several field trips there. Of course, this was 45 years ago, when Riverhead only had about 10,000 residents. Jim Wooten is not against the farmers. Most of the farmers still in production today were classmates of his, and lifelong friends.

Jodi Giglio has spent her professional career helping residents and business people get through the bureaucracies of government to achieve their goals. In addition, she’s an entrepreneur and has created jobs.

What we both have campaigned on and stood for is simply, “No special favors for special friends.” When we “pose” for photos in front of flags and business openings, it comes as the result of hard work to open these businesses and take them through all the necessary steps. No favors, no short cuts.

We, as elected officials, must uphold the law and town code. The code states that when a pre-existing, non-conforming use is abandoned for more than a year — as in the case of this property, on which is the Blackman Plumbing warehouse — then an applicant must go before the Zoning Board of Appeals to obtain a special-use permit. By skipping this step, Riverhead Town becomes vulnerable to senseless litigation, which the town would lose for not having followed proper procedures.

Here are the facts, without the spin: neither of us has come out to oppose the J. Kings project; the Zoning Board of Appeals, not the Town Board, will vote on the special use permit; and lastly, we are in favor of projects that help the town, the farmers and the residents by creating jobs and being good neighbors.

But it is our job to ask questions and make sure everything is done properly.

Jodi Giglio (R-Baiting Hollow) and Jim Wooten of (R-Riverhead) are Riverhead councilpeople. Ms. Giglio is a business expediter and Mr. Wooten is a retired Riverhead police officer.