Received from Roger Friedman, Sea Cliff
March 19, 2018
To the Editor:
The latest edition of the SC Herald featured a number of Letters to The Editor in support of candidates for Village Trustee –One endorses McGilloway and Rohl, the Civic Progress Candidates. The letter writer asks, “what’s wrong with Sea Cliff?”. The letter speaks of how wonderful Sea Cliff is, and has been, and says that a group of residents who “claim to love Sea Cliff”, calling themselves Sea Cliff Open Government are doing nothing but creating division.
I am writing this as a resident, but I am also a member of Sea Cliff Open Government, and in response to this offensive statement I say this: Sea Cliff is a wonderful town and my wife and family love living here. We are relative newcomers having arrived in the summer of 2012. When we moved into town we were blissfully unaware of some of the major issues facing our town. In October of 2015 we discovered that an enormous Waterfront Development, that had been in the works since the 2000, was moving forward in Glen Cove… directly across from our beloved beach. We joined a group and volunteered our time to try and fight this development. We raised and donated funds to this campaign to initiate a citizen’s lawsuit against the project. We gave more of our own time and money than any of the other major donors to this fight to try and stop the development.
In the process of initiating legal action in 2015 we came to learn that we citizens, and more importantly, the Village, were late to the fight. That in 2009 and 2011, while decisions were being made in Glen Cove that would forever impact Sea Cliff, our elected officials, with all of their experience, were asleep at the switch. Our experienced Trustees are now proud to say that they have an appeal pending regarding the Waterfront, what they don’t say is that they completely missed the major opportunity to sue when changes were made to the development in 2009 and 2011. This is, without a doubt, the single greatest threat Sea Cliff has ever faced and multiple, “experienced” Board of Trustees missed it.
The fight to try and stop the development aside, everything was, as the letter writer says, going along just fine in our idyllic little town. That is until a board conference meeting in November of 2016 when, in one meeting, the Mayor became the Village Administrator, the Deputy Mayor became the Mayor and a new Trustee was appointed just 2 months before the next election. To many people, something smelled rotten in our idyllic Sea Cliff.
I believe that everyone involved in that decision sincerely believed there was nothing wrong with this action. That is exactly the problem. It was in response to this, and one other, poorly noticed and hasty decision in 2015, that Sea Cliff Open Government was formed.
I did not join SCOG as the letter writer says, “to create division”, I joined because I believed that residents, who were dis-satisfied with decisions of the board, deserved a choice of candidates instead of the “one party” system that had been the norm. I joined because I wanted to engage people in a positive dialog about the future. Since forming we have elected one Trustee to the BOT, we have attended, and live-streamed practically every meeting and fostered an attitude of greater transparency among the BOT. We have served this Village that we love and will continue to do so long into the future.
I was not going to write this letter but the accusation that we are being divisive was the last straw. I am proud of the work we’ve done in this community, I am proud of the people who are volunteering to take an active role in our Village governance, I am proud of the positive and issues based campaign being run by SCOG’s two, extremely qualified candidates who are prepared and ready to serve.
I take extreme offense at any suggestion that they, or any of my fellow members of SCOG have engaged in divisive behavior. The letter writer is the preverbal pot calling the kettle black. Simply challenging an incumbent for one open seat, and challenging the nominee of an existing opposition party (Civic Progress) for another, is not divisive, it is the right of every citizen.