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Compromise Possible on Highway Department Plan

Naughton, Petrone and Cook to discuss options for changes in Highway Department.

Town Supervisor and Highway Department Superintendent will meet to discuss changes in the department that could halt efforts to abolish the superintendent's job as an elective position.

Petrone made the surprise announcement as Tuesday's got underway. The talks, which will include Councilman , are aimed at "Attaining similar goals without organizational changes," Petrone said. Some of those goals, besides converting the job to an appointive position, include streamlining, reducing redundant facilities and operating as part of the Public Works Department.

After that, Naughton, greeted by loud cheers and a "We love you!" shout from the audience, spoke briefly, citing his responsibilities in caring for Huntington's roads. "Obviously I'm against this," he said. "And I'm for the rights of the people to elect for their public officials."

He was followed by seven highway superintendents from around Long Island, representatives of the Tea Party, highway workers and many residents, nearly all in opposition to the plan.

Peter W. Harris, superintendent of the Southold highway department, set the tone by saying "My opinion is that the abolishment is about nothing more than gaining complete control.

"You want to take away the right to choice of the voters, the very people who elected you.

"I would sincerely urge the voters to vote down what would take away the right of you to choose. You have someone who truly cares," he said of Naughton, to more cheers. 

George Woodson, Riverhead's highway superintendent, said, "If you make this an appointed position, you're adding five people who have to make a decision. The highway superintendent works for the people."

Many speakers objected to losing their right to vote directly on job performance. Several reminded the board that they would remember how Town Board members voted when their turn on the ballot came around.

Others, such as Rich McGrath, a board member, said they were concerned about a lack of accountability if the job became an appointive one. McGrath said community members had been unable to get answers from appointed officials at the Huntington Housing Authority.

"A lot of you guys probably don’t like Naughton," he said. "I’m guessing Naughton doesn’t like a couple of you. But that's no reason to take away voters rights to an elected position. Get in a room and work it out," he said.

And he said to Town Clerk , "Jo-Ann, hold on to your seat because theyre coming for you."

When another speaker said to Raia, "I ask you, are you next?"  she replied, to much laughter, "No way!"

Not everyone praised the . One resident detailed problems getting answers when he called to complain about his street being ripped up.

And Robert Lifson, former chairman of the Republican Party in Huntington, criticized those opposed to the referendum in the name of protecting voter rights, saying, "It is hard not to note the irony, if not the outright hypocrisy, of those who have organized others to speak against the passage of the resolution on the grounds that its passage would deprive the elctorate of the right to vote for this public office." He also said that about two-thirds of Long Islanders have an appointed highway superintendent.

Both Petrone and Naughton said after the meeting that a date hadn't been set for the meeting, but time is short. Under state law, the board would have to vote by Monday to place the referendum onto the Nov.6 ballot.

The plan was first proposed in July and was supported by Councilmen and .

Naughton said after the meeting that he had insisted on including Cook in the meeting, citing his construction background.

Petrone said certain steps, such as eliminating duplicate facilties and better use of equipment, could save $3 million but that he is looking for bigger savings without eliminating personnel.

Asked about allegations that the move to change the Highway Department was rooted in politics, he replied, "Accusations come and go" but that the need for savings was clear.

"It took a realization that we had to do something," he said of what had led to the drastic determination to consolidate departments. "All through the state, they're looking for savings."

Linda Otta August 15, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Mike T it is clearly personal for you. You already spelled out your issue with Oakland Road and made false accusations about his son possibly running (no facts to back that up means it is a lie) I am not saying you don't have the right to be upset, but for you this is personal. For myself and many others it is about the position and not the person.
Michael T. August 15, 2012 at 07:25 PM
I have no PERSONAL issue with Mr. Naughton; I have issue with the quality of his performance and lack of accountability and responsiveness to not only myself but many others on my block and in our town. Wasting, on estimate, $73,000 of OUR tax dollars is not personal - it's about fiscal responsibility in a time where money is tight and the average taxpayer doesn't have the money for to fund these types of mistakes. I didn't ACCUSE anyone of anything; it's called an OPINION, not an ACCUSATION. And I am willing to bet (and will pay up, with everyone here as witness) $100 that once Naughton retires or decides not to run that his son will "run" for "election." http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accusation Definition of ACCUSATION 1: the act of accusing : the state or fact of being accused 2: a charge of wrongdoing http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accused Definition of ACCUSED : one charged with an offense; especially : the defendant in a criminal case
tony August 15, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Wow! I took a quick look at the website and it reminded me of last year's highly organized efforts by powerful people with vested interests to try and prevent the referendum on the councilmantic districts. This convinces me more than ever that we need to eliminate the elected position of highway superintendant and create a Department of Public Works.
Michael T. August 15, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Not to mention that the website is set up through a proxy (https://www.domainsbyproxy.com) so whoever is behind it doesn't want you to know who they are. Why the mystery? Do they work for the town or the department? Are they using government time to administer the site?
mbh August 15, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Michael t: believe me, I understand the referendum process. What I don't understand is why we have to vote to vote? 5 of the 7 towns in Suffolk have elected highway superintendents. And the two that do mot are in serious financial trouble. The town of Islip isn't one of those 5 and they are 8 million in debt. If saving money is really the issue here, which of course it is not- Petrone simply wants a political ally in the highway dept- why are we trying to emulate a failing model? I am actually not concerned bc naughtons work speaks for itself and judging by the overwhelming support shown for him last night, he's not going anywhere.
mbh August 15, 2012 at 10:55 PM
*8 of the 10 towns in suffolk*
Chris F August 16, 2012 at 01:33 AM
I thought the original idea called for this to be a "special election" not one represented on election day. Maybe my memory serves me incorrectly on this but I was under the impression that it was perceived as being done a little on the sly. Either way as long as it is on election day then let the people speak. If they want an elected official then so be it. Special elections on the other hand have a much lower turnout and are usually politically motivated.
Laura August 16, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Michael T I read your many emails. , we vote for the best candidate. We are not sheepeople. The law has been around since 1909. Naughton has done a good job, no one is perfect. How dare the Huntington Town Board take my right to vote away ! I have a suggestion for you Get yourself a LAWYER ! Your emails are giving are giving me a headache. Laura
Michael T. August 16, 2012 at 05:32 AM
Laura - How could you have "read your many emails" when I have written the below paragraph 4-5 times already and still you think "how dare the Huntington Town Board take my right to vote away." Again, the right to vote is NOT BEING TAKEN AWAY. There would be a referendum and voters will vote in favor or opposed to have an appointed Superintendent. There is a choice there and if you are opposed, vote that way. The town board is not going to just remove the elected position and replace it with an appointed one. It seems like you are misinformed, don't understand the referendum process, haven't taken the time to fully learn about what's going on with the town or just don't care because the status quo is fine with you. Or it could be a combination of the above. But what does a lawyer have to do with any of this? If you don't like what I have to say, then don't read it. Nobody is forcing you to do so and I'm entitled to my opinion because we have freedom of speech in our country. Lastly you say we vote for the best candidate - BUT THERE IS AND HAS ONLY BEEN ONE CANDIDATE ON THE BALLOT. Are you even a resident of Huntington or is it that you've never voted in the elections before?
Pat August 16, 2012 at 11:22 AM
MT...you continue to insinuate that people do not understand what a referendum is and to point out that the community is not losing its right to vote. However, I believe most people do understand the process. Who from the community requested this referendum? What majority of community members saw the need for this "opportunity" to vote on this suggested change? My understanding is that this was initiated by Petrone and the town board with two members not in agreement of the resolution. If the community were asking for the opportunity, then I would better understand your point. You may be in support of it, now that it has been proposed, but it did not begin with the community. You may or may not be aware of Petrone's anger over the deputy superintendent appointment of Pat Irving which may have been the catalyst for this resolution. If you are not aware, you should read the July 11, 2012 issue of The Huntingtonian: http://thehuntingtonian.com/2012/07/11/recent-appointment-in-asharoken-fuels-speculation/ I cannot remember anything from recent past where Petrone was so involved in a mayor's position in one of the villages within Huntington. This is another reason for members of the community to be concerned with the issue of this resolution and how it came about.
Linda Otta August 16, 2012 at 12:19 PM
so both Mike T and Mr Dalton both denied there was a personal issue yet both have clearly shown there is a personal issue involving work on Oakland Ave. We are talking about the POSITION of Highway Superintendent not the person Mr Naughton who is currently in that position. Neither of you can speak clearly of this because you were wronged on the Oakland Ave issue that clearly involved NATIONAL GRID coming in and ripping up the street in which NATIONAL GRID said they would pay to repair. So Naughtons office is suppose to know everything NATIONAL GRID plans to do? http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/12/01/botched-road-project-leaves-huntington-residents-in-an-uproar/ Nuff said.
Laura August 16, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Good morning michael T. The Huntington Town Board is taking my right to vote away. Why should I vote on the right to vote, when it already exists. It is a Big Power Grab for Petrone. You said " his dept was nasty. They refused to take your calls. They ignored your emails. Something happened on Oakland Avenue. I vote every year, have for over 30 yrs. I am aware of what is going on in this country. You have a complaint against Naughton. I do not. I think he has done a good job. So do many others. Petrone and Naughton have had disagreements in the past. You called the highway dept and emailed them. It did not work ( you say ). Next step is get a lawyer. That is what I meant. I repeat " why should vote for a vote, I already have. Less government power NOT more! We the people decide. Michael T have a day. Laura
Michael T. August 16, 2012 at 01:20 PM
You clearly are ignorant or truly uninformed on town processes. I posted that same link in the 8th comment (not replies, original comments). Naughton's office is supposed to know what National Grid plans to do, considering they are responsible for issuing permits for road openings: http://huntingtonny.gov/department_details.cfm?ID=4 "Nuff said"
Michael T. August 16, 2012 at 01:31 PM
mbh: Because there have been enought complaints about Naughton, his department and how things are run that it warrants a change. They keep waving "the department is fine, there's a $10mm surplus" around to show it's running fine. Our road was supposed to be paved in August 2010; it was not. The reason was "there was no money left in the budget." At the end of 2010 there was a $10,544,560 surplus - seems to me like there's plenty of money to spend $93k to pave the road. Instead the road gets paved in Oct 2011 at a cost of $93k and ripped apart a month later. His office issued the permits for the work July 2011, paved the road Oct 2011 and it was torn up the end of Nov 2011. Either he really doesn't know what's happening in his department, doesn't care or just doesn't communicate.
Michael T. August 16, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Well Laura, AGAIN AND AGAIN I SAY THIS. The town board IS NOT TAKING YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE AWAY. What do you not get about that? Are you really having a hard time understanding this. The voters will get to vote and decide, not the town board. Stop spreading false information. If the referendum is added, the voters decide. Not the Town Board. End of story.
Michael T. August 16, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Not only that, but you are a Tea Party member, are you not? It's funny you should even be posting on this subject then, since you left the following comments on another article "Crashing the Hamptons: How $25 Billion is Being Used Against You": 1) "Give the citizen the voter, a chance to choose their future." 2) "Lower my taxes, stop spendind my taxes stupid things." This would be gibing the "citizen the voter" the "chance to choose their future" by allowing the board to appoint a Superintendent. Wasteful spending of an estimated $73k on Oakland Ave is one street in the township; how much other waste is going on in the department that is leading to higher than neccessary taxes? His son, a high ranking membe of his staff, called snow "white money" on twitter - meaning him and his buddies make a ton of $ when it snows. Shouldn't someone working for the town be looking to save the town money and not lining their friends and their own pockets? It's also ironic that you're comenting here because you're a member of the Tea )Party. As a member of the Tea Party, you probably know that the Tea Party is all for repealing the 17th Amendement, which established direct election of Senators by popular vote by the citizens (voters). The tea party wants to take selection of U.S. Senators out of the hands of voters and put it in the hands of state governments. So which way do you want it? You can't have it both ways, Laura. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
Michael T. August 16, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Tony - not only that they have misleading information on the website. Right at the bottom of the page, in big bold letters: Don't Let The Town Board Take Away Your Right to Vote They are not doing that; they are putting the decision in the hands of the voters. If it passes it will be because the voters passed it.
Michael T. August 16, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Chris - no special election. It would be added as a referendum on the ballot on election day.
Michael T. August 16, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Pat - I ask you: Is the town board taking the right to vote away? If the board passes the referendum will the position all of a sudden become appointed? NO and NO They are GIVING us the decision to make as voters. Yes to have appointed Superintendent and No to keep elected. There were numerous homeowners on our block that reached out to the board about this. That's one street dealing with one issue in the whole township. How many other problems similar to ours have happened over the years? Enough to make this an issue. I can guarantee if there wasn't complacency and a lack of accountability in the office, this wouldn't be happening.
Linda Otta August 16, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Mike I can clearly see why Naughtons office hung up on you. If you were 1/2 as nice to them as you are on these blogs I would have blocked your number. Since you have resorted to name calling and feeling that a difference of opinion means "your way or the highway" and you must be the only one who has a comprehension of how government works? I will also end with have a day, I get the feeling you are unable to have a nice one. Cheerio!
Michael T. August 16, 2012 at 05:14 PM
His office hung up on not only me, but numerous other (at least 4) people from our block. We were polite & respectful to them. It's public knowledge the first 3 calls are answered & anything after that are automatically routed to a voicemail that's full 99% of the time. If the VM is full all the time & these are messages from people that called 3+ times in a day, how happy can residents he's serving really be? Where did I call a name? When I said "You clearly are ignorant or truly uninformed on town processes"? That's not name calling - if I said you were a moron or an idiot, that's name calling. Saying what I DID say was an opinion on how you've handled your side of the debate. And that's exactly what this is - a debate. I have my side & others have theirs. Where did I EVER say it's "my way or the highway"? I never once said that, so please stop putting words (or comments) into my mouth. People must not understand since they keep repeating the same thing - "I don't want the town board to take away my right to vote". That is ABSOLUTELY NOT HAPPENING. They are simply adding a referendum to the ballot that voters would vote on & make the choice for themselves. Not the Town Board. The Voters choose. People that oppose this are starting to look really scared that if a referendum is added to the ballot, it will pass. Why else for all the opposition? If there was faith in the person holding office, let the referendum come up and be voted down.
Linda Otta August 16, 2012 at 05:58 PM
It will be. 80% of the people voted no in Brookhaven. I find your comments to be long, exhausting, long and defensive (did I say long?) Hamlet comes to mind. "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" So agree, some do not. It will be voted down and I guarantee the "we will vote in one week" will happen. They have the votes they need. They will put it up for a referendum. You are voting for your right to no longer be able to vote for that position. So yes, some dumb misguided voter's will not realize this and vote for this thinking streamlining will somehow save us money. As far as the "faith in the person who runs the office" that is the problem I was trying to point out for you. For you this is a chance to get rid of Naughton. For others it is a risk that many others of us could potentially lose the right to vote. Yes the public will decide but this will be sold for something that it is not. It most certainly is not about Naughton, but it is for you. Which is sad for those of us who could care less about the person in that position, we care about being able to vote people out we are dissatisfied with.
Jim August 16, 2012 at 06:16 PM
STFU you're clearly mentally incapable of having a debate.
Michael T. August 16, 2012 at 06:24 PM
That's the beauty of the US - I'm allowed to say or post whatever I like without the care of what you think. If you don't like what I write or think it's long, don't read it. That's your right. So if it's going to be voted down and you're so sure, let it get put up for referendum. Not letting the people vote on this issue is the same lack of democracy that you site in not being able to vote for the position. Except your point is flawed because you would rather not even give that right to vote. And I'll say it for the LAST time, he's been there 24 years. There is NO WAY TO VOTE HIM OUT even if you are not satisfied with the job he does. Have you gotten that point yet? You must not have because you keep citing the fact "we care about being able to vote people out we are dissatisfied with." He's going to run again - that'll be another 4. It will be an unopposed election. When he decided to retire, his son WILL run and it'll be the same with JUNIOR running the dept as it is with SENIOR. So the department will be run the same for what, another 40 years? No thank you. I posted this about his son previously; did you bother to even read it & consider the attitude towards our tax $$: Not to mention that JUNIOR, the highest paid member of the staff, called snow "white money" on his twitter page. As someone working for the town, shouldn't he be looking for ways to SAVE the town money and not celebrating making money for him and his friends when there's a snowstorm?
Michael T. August 16, 2012 at 06:27 PM
And you never even bothered to acknoweldge the fact that you were 100% wrong when you said "So Naughtons office is suppose to know everything NATIONAL GRID plans to do?" and I pointed out that yes, he is when it involves digging up the roadway since his dept issues the permit. You just skip along and make a different post to bring up the same tired point yet again.
Michael T. August 16, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Jim - not nice, be civil. No need for inappropriate remarks.
Linda Otta August 16, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Mike do you know who they are looking to appoint? Are you comfortable no longer having that choice? I do realize your frustration with no one running against Naughton and I DID read your posts, I believe I even called you on 'junior' running for office. Thats cannot be foreseen. What I was trying to express to you was WHO you need to hold accountable (if you read my posts) and that they are the party leaders that are cutting back room deals and cross endorsing instead of giving the public MORE choices. I am disappointed we only have 2. And yes for years he has run unopposed......however the problem lies in the political powerhouses. Thats who needs to change. I am glad (if put up for a vote and I bet it will happen) that it is being done in a Presidential election year when more people come out to vote. usually on an off year not enough people come out to vote and that is why we end up with the same deadbeats we have now. Only those political 'in the knows' show up to vote. Also to address Mr Dalton who is concerned about that website and not being able to find who is running it. In the Town of Huntington, when you step out of line and fight the powers that be in any way? They will and DO come after you. It is common knowledge.
Laura August 16, 2012 at 09:48 PM
The giving us the right to vote was passed in 1909. That meant we elect the Highway Supt. Frank Petrone wants to take right away. He wants to decide who the Highway supt is, not we the voters. Why would you vote for a right you already have. It is control and a massive power grab. I never really liked the movie " Ground Hog day ". You keep saying the same things over and over again. I hope the town sees they made a mistake and drops it. Have a nice day ! Thanks Linda Otta Great Emials as usual. Laura
Morgan August 17, 2012 at 12:28 AM
If he's unopposed THAT's a reason to take away the elected position? I can not stop laughing. Tell me more about the Great Townwide Conspiracy to Keep Candidates Away. There never seems to be a lack of people looking to take down the Town Board candidates. And Joann and Esther need to take note: here but for grace go you!
Michael T. November 21, 2013 at 11:09 AM
Good riddance to bad rubbish!

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