David Gruber, a disgruntled Democrat running against the party line, lambasted the current East Hampton Town Board in an email to Montauk voters and suggested the district attorney launch an investigation into a controversial ruling the town recently made.
Gruber is running against the incumbent East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc. “There is quite clearly grossly improper behavior on the part of the town attorney and quite possibly some members of the town board,” Gruber wrote. Montauk residents and other members of the public have lambasted the town for a deal made with Marc Rowan, the billionaire owner of Duryea’s Lobster Deck.
In fact, the public outcry was such that the town board reneged on a settlement with the establishment that critics said would have allowed it to vastly expand its retail facilities with little town oversight. Gruber and others have charged that town attorney Michael Sendlenski pressured Ann Glennon, the town’s chief building inspector, to sign a deal only the town board could legally sign off on. Gruber maintains Sendlenski took the heat for the town board and then pressured Glennon into backing him up.
But court papers and subsequent testimony indicate Glennon resisted, and though the town board members initially claimed no knowledge of the agreement, Van Scoyoc said, “Four of us worked hard on this,” when discussing the matter publicly.
“Whether there was a corrupt bargain, in exchange for favors had or expected, and by exactly whom, we cannot of course know. Nor can we find out in the absence of any investigative powers,” Gruber wrote. “However, the conduct of the town attorney is so clearly improper, and also inconsistent with his past and subsequent practice regarding settlements, that in my opinion, this is worthy of referral to the Suffolk County District Attorney.”
“Something in this situation is rotten. Mere incompetence and negligence are possible. Criminal conduct is also possible,” Gruber added.
Sendlenski has since announced he is leaving his post, though for unrelated reasons.
In an interview April 26 Gruber clearly laid the blame on the town board’s allegiance to former Democratic Committee chairman Chris Kelley, a founding partner of the law firm, Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo, LLP. He maintained the local board kowtows to clients and others favored by the law firm. Kelley, as the leader of the local Democratic Party, has had a major role in appointing planning and zoning board members, and choosing who runs for the town board and supervisor. “It’s an open invitation to improper behavior,” Gruber commented.
“It’s a clear impropriety” in the Duryea case, said Gruber. “We looked at prior practices regarding settlements and the supervisor signs them. In this case, the attorney signed twice.” Gruber is running on the Reform and Independent party lines and was chosen by the local Republican Party as well, though the county GOP did not allow his name to appear on the ballot.
Kelley didn’t not respond to an email for comment by press time.