McCobb’s Seat in Limbo

    Sharon McCobb, a member of the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, failed to win reappointment last Thursday when a resolution supporting her did not get a majority East Hampton Town Board vote.
    Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, who introduced the resolution, and Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc voted for her reappointment. Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley voted no, and Councilman Dominick Stanzione abstained. There was no discussion of the matter.
    Ms. McCobb, a fitness trainer and organizer of the I-Tri youth triathlon program, has continued to attend zoning board hearings since her term expired at the end of 2012.
    Later in the meeting, Mr. Wilkinson offered a resolution appointing Karen Benvenuto, a real estate broker and director with Brown Harris Stevens in East Hampton, to the zoning board. It was supported only by Ms. Quigley.
    Mr. Stanzione abstained during the vote for Ms. Benvenuto, which appeared to irritate Mr. Wilkinson, who paused a roll call to ask him why. Mr. Stanzione explained that he wanted more time to think about it.
    “You interviewed her,” Mr. Wilkinson said.
    “Yes, I did interview her, and I actually interviewed a couple of other people. I haven’t made my mind up. Another couple of weeks isn’t going to kill anyone,” he answered.
    “It’s going to kill any efficiency that this board is going to produce,” Mr. Wilkinson said.
    “I’ll take another week,” Mr. Stanzione said.
    “You’ll take a week of politicking; that’s what you’ll do,” Mr. Wilkinson said.
    According to a biography posted on the Brown Harris Stevens Web site, Ms. Benvenuto cut her teeth in East Hampton Town real estate in the 1980s with the conversion of the Beachcomber Motel in Montauk to a 92-unit co-op. Following that, she and her husband, a builder, developed and sold more than 100 houses in the area. She is on the board of directors of the Lion Head Beach Association and an adviser for Hamptons Free Ride, an advertiser-funded shuttle service.
    Separately, Ms. Overby presented a resolution to appoint Lee White as the zoning board’s vice chairman. A vote on the change failed 3-to-2. Don Cirillo, a former East Hampton Republican Committee treasurer, will remain the Z.B.A.’s vice chairman. Ms. Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc are Democrats; Mr. Wilkinson, Ms. Quigley, and Mr. Stanzione are Republicans.
    Separately, Roy Dalene was reappointed to the license review board and will remain its chairman by a 3-2 vote, and the board appointed Richard Gherardi as a new member. Mr. Dalene had yes votes from Ms. Overby, Mr. Van Scoyoc, and Mr. Stanzione. A counter-resolution offered by Ms. Overby to reappoint Robert Ortman to the board was defeated 2-2, with Mr. Stanzione abstaining.
    The reappointment votes were bookended by a sharp exchange between Ms. Quigley and the board’s two Democrats over nominations to fill two open seats on the license review board.
    Ms. Quigley had introduced a resolution naming Carlos Perez and Daisy Bowe to take the seats. While Mr. Stanzione again abstained from taking a position, Ms. Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc voted no.
    Mr. Stanzione’s delay apparently irked Mr. Wilkinson, who asked, “How long is it going to take you to decide? We’ve gone through this for months.”
    Ms. Overby interjected that she did not know Mr. Perez or Ms. Bowe, which drew Ms. Quigley into the exchange.
    “This is getting to be an embarrassment. I sent around these names . . . two weeks ago,” Ms. Quigley said. She said that Mr. Perez and Ms. Bowe were “minority members of this community.”
    “Right now I am embarrassed to be a member of this town board,” Ms. Quigley said.
    “You are appointing two white men and you are not appointing a Latino man and an African-American woman,” Ms. Quigley said.
    Mr. Van Scoyoc responded that he was not “looking at it that way.”
    “Well you should,” Mr. Wilkinson said.
    Later in the ongoing back-and-forth Ms. Quigley said, “It’s high time we stopped putting whites onto every single board. It’s high time.”
    Mr. Van Scoyoc described Ms. Quigley’s view as “kind of like a racist way of looking at it,” which led to emphatic objections from Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Quigley.
    Ms. Overby pointed out that the license review board under Mr. Wilkinson had not had new members since 2010. “You took no action to appoint someone,” she said, adding that she objected to Ms. Quigley bringing race into the discussion. “I find that objectionable,” she said.
    “This is an affirmative action request on the part of this board to consider inclusion and diversity in decision making in this town,” Mr. Wilkinson responded.