Photo: Denise Civiletti

Wake up, Riverhead. At hand is a rare opportunity to clean up Riverhead Town Hall. We, the people, have endured the same party in power, and their contemptible abuses, far too long.

Now, at long last, the time has come to change our town’s direction. Electing some new talent, new ideas, and honest character presents us not merely an opportunity, but an obligation, to vote for desperately needed change, the kind of change Riverhead has needed for years, and deserves now.

Consider only one of many compelling arguments that leads to this inescapable conclusion. That argument centers around the incumbent Republican supervisor’s fundraising. The devil is in the details, carefully set out in the campaign donations she received in this current election cycle.

Profiteering developers from out of town have changed the Riverhead landscape dramatically, and not for the better. They have installed permanent solar panels on hundreds upon hundreds of acres of valuable open space and rich agricultural land. Other towns wisely have had little or nothing to do with this madness. Even the cynical town board in-crowd sees the folly of it all, and passed a moratorium against such projects, but only after the horse was out of the barn. So we’re stuck with these installations for decades to come, with no real benefit to the people of Riverhead, not even a break on our electric bills.

Other developers are in the apartment house game, and where better to play it than in Riverhead, with little to no scrutiny by the town board majority, and their appointed “planner,” himself a cruel joke on all of us.

Further, the astonishing proliferation of downtown apartment units isn’t over, with at least three more apartment houses in the pipeline. The town board majority, true to form, ignored the objections – even from the board of education — raised about this at a number of the rare times the public could be heard.

Now take a quick look at the thousands dollars of donations casually received by the supervisor from these same developers. Further, and at the heart of this argument for removing this crew, many of these donations came from developers who wait for her and the rest of the town board to decide on the developers’ project applications. When asked about this, she saw nothing wrong with it.

This is the case for the Republican majority’s ouster on Election Day. They have run things for so long in our — yes, our — Town Hall, that unethical behavior has become routine. And our Town Hall’s board of ethics has been on a protracted lunch break.

Were it not for the state’s disclosure requirements for campaign donations, we would know nothing about this unholy alliance between our town board majority and these greedy developers. And even with the dollars and cents that have been made all too real, we still do not know anything at all about whatever discussions have been had with the Town Hall in-crowd and their developer friends that led to these donations, and you can be sure we never will.

But that is the case, clear and simple. We don’t have to dwell on all the other outrages, such as the board majority’s repeatedly demonstrated, obvious and scandalous contempt for those who disagree with them, or their appalling use of the mute button against public input they receive electronically, or their political kin on the Riverhead IDA who give out tax breaks like Halloween candy, at our expense, or their disregard for the town planning board as an annoyance to ignore, or their mystery “work sessions,” or their secret meetings in the pathetic EPCAL deal, or shamelessly touting a tax break actually made possible only because of spendthrift, federal “COVID relief,” and so on and so on.

Note that this developer money benefits not only the supervisor, but the other Republican town board candidates who seek our vote, directly or indirectly. In this respect, the supervisor is generous with these funds, as shown in the constant, high cost ads and glossy mailers that seek to make all of them shine. And note as well that in the face of donations to their supervisor from these developers with their pending applications in Town Hall, her running mates say not a word, complicit with their silence.

The same party in power too long has meant a scourge of corruption and incompetence on the county level as well, where the Democratic Party power brokers have given us one district attorney on his way to federal prison, and his successor who got there unethically by soliciting huge cash from the SCPD union power brokers while he was still police commissioner. It was in that job that he looked the other way for 18 months while the convicted police chief Burke did his evil deeds, not the least of which was booting the FBI out of the Gilgo serial murders. Suffolk DA Sini’s active role with NY’s atrocious “bail reform” is the proverbial last straw, and calls for his replacement by the Republican candidate.

It’s absolutely, and tragically, that simple. On the county level, the Democratic DA cannot stay. And on the Riverhead Town level, the Republican “team” has to go.

We, the people, only have this brief window to act. The shame to our town has to end. The arrogance of power has brought shame to them and to our community. It will be years until we’ll have this chance again. A clean sweep would give us the best chance for clean government, for a change. We can make it happen, or we can continue to suffer the same old, secretive, shameless, snide and mean-spirited incompetence. The choice finally is not theirs, but ours.

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Greg has spent his life in public service since he enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a teenager. He is a former Suffolk County Family Court judge, six-term Suffolk County legislator and commissioner of Social Services. Now retired, Greg is active in volunteer work and is a board member of several charities. He lives in Jamesport. Email Greg