Monday, January 11, 2010


It is said that "silence is golden."  In the case of the January 6, 2010 public meeting, the silence emanating from Mineola's Board of Trustees was deafening.  Not one of these elected officials had anything to say as Village resident Jesse Smith questioned Mayor Jack Martins yet again about the architectural albatross that now exists at 217 Horton Highway.  Even Deputy Mayor Larry Werther - notorious for his diarrhea of the mouth - was uncharacteristically silent.

So to what do we owe this dearth of dialogue on the part of our trustees?  Post-Christmas January blues? Sugar-induced comas?  Your basic, run-of-the-mill ennui?

Is it at all possible these men are starting, however slowly, to recognize the facts of the matter?  Maybe they are beginning to realize that if Jack is going to twist the truth like a pretzel, then it's better he bury himself alone without jumping into the grave with him.  Or perhaps that's giving them all too much credit.

It should be fairly obvious to anyone who was at that meeting or who has seen it on Channel 18 that Jack will do anything to defend the behaviour of his Building Superintendent, Daniel B. Whalen and that of the owner of 217 Horton Highway.  How else to justify Mr. Whalen's issuance of a CO to that property in the absence of properly installed leaders and gutters and a final survey?  If Jack is going to employ the same justification Attorney Spellman used when Danny B issued that illegal fence permit on Latham Road (i.e. it was a "mistake") that would then lead one to believe Mr. Whalen is not qualified for his job. 

And by what or whose authority did Whalen issue a CO for a 2 and 1/2 story house when the Architectural Review Board approved a 2 story house?  Martins' spin has been and continues to be that a completely empty, unliveable space constitutes half of a story, when as a real estate attorney he should (and no doubt does) know better.  A 2 story house consists of two liveable floors having either a flat roof, or a gabled roof with unfinished area such as a crawlspace or attic.  If there is now an additional half-story to that house, it means part of the attic has been finished and is liveable.  That is why Mr. Cunha's taxes have now gone up.  Until recently, the tax assessor's rolls showed a 2-story house.  Cunha was not taxed for the attic space because it was assumed to be unfinished, ergo unliveable.  But now his assessment report reflects an additional, taxable 1/2 story which is not what was called for in the original ARB approved plan.  And THAT friends, is what Mr. Smith is questioning.

Martins is trying to turn this whole thing around to make it sound as if Mr. Smith is claiming that the actual structure of the house has changed;  as if there's a mysterious 1/2 floor sticking out somewhere.  How did Martins put it?  "The house that was built is the house that was approved." (Um, NO.  Check the approved plans and then check the roof line and you'll see it doesn't match.  But let's not split hairs.)

Let's go over it again.  The ARB approved a house with 2 LIVEABLE FLOORS, an UNFINISHED BASEMENT and an UNFINISHED ATTIC.  Dan Whalen issued a CO for a house that has 2 and 1/2 floors of liveable space (1) without requiring an additional permit for a revision of plans (2) despite the absence of state-mandated leaders and gutters, and (3) absent a final survey.  Such actions would lead most reasonable people to conclude that Mr. Whalen is either incompetent and needs to go back to collecting coins from parking meters, or something else is going on.

The silence was even more obvious the second time Mr. Smith took to the podium to discuss the damage done to his property when a lightning strike in October splintered Mr. Cunha's chimney, sending bricks flying in all directions including into Mr. Smith's car.  The car that was parked in HIS driveway.  The same driveway that Cunha cut into without any prior notice.

Each of the trustees in turn looked at the pictures Mr. Smith provided and NOT ONE of these sheep made a peep.  NOT ONE had the courage - let alone the basic common courtesy - to extend any sympathy to this taxpayer for his aggravation and financial loss.  And let's not even consider what might have happened to either Mr. Smith or his wife if one of them managed to be out there when this "Act of God" occurred.

Instead, one by one in their zombie-like states, they shuffled through the photographs and passed them on.  And the only thing our illustrious mayor did was to confirm with Mr. Smith that Cunha had been advised by his masoner to install a clay chimney cap and/or a lightning rod (neither of which this professional architect has done).


Do you know sheep are among the stupidest animals on earth?  They will follow their flock leader straight off a cliff - or straight to their slaughter.  Sheep also have no concept of a moral code.  Of course, that can be attributed to their level of evolution.  What excuse do the ruminants sitting on Mineola's Board of Trustees have to offer?