Much Ado About Group E-Mail

    As the clock neared 8 p.m. and Rona Klopman’s call for a leash law met with polite silence, it looked as if Monday’s meeting of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee would be ending an hour earlier than usual.
    Proceedings that night had been brisk. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited, the May minutes were approved, and John Ryan, chief of the town lifeguards, gave an informative rundown on water safety and the new numbered-beach system, all within 15 minutes.
    The fence is still broken outside the Amagansett Farmers Market, which a few members had complained about last month as being “in a state of disrepair,” but the overflowing garbage can situation on Main Street, also a topic of angst at the May meeting, now seems to be under control.
    “You might want to advise starting the [seasonal workers] earlier,” Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, ACAC’s liaison to the town board, told members. “Part of the problem was, they hadn’t started their rounds yet.”
    Jeanne Frankl, who keeps an eye on requests for zoning variances in the hamlet, reported that new construction appears to be “booming, especially down in the dunes, and no one is comfortable staying within the zoning laws.” She rattled off a list of upcoming applications: on Seabreeze Lane, for a 90-square-foot hot tub and a 50-square-foot outdoor shower too close to freshwater wetlands; on Marine Boulevard, for a pool and patio on land containing coastal bluffs, on Mitchell Dunes Lane, for a pool, decking, and a sanitary system 75 feet from wetlands where 150 feet is required.
    On a happier note, Ms. Overby announced that the town code enforcement officer who was injured recently has recovered, and will be back at work by July 1. Also, she said, the town board has added a seasonal worker in each of the code enforcement, animal control, and fire marshal’s offices. Members greeted the news with nods of satisfaction, and then the mood of the evening changed.
    “Every member of ACAC has received a letter bashing the Republican Party and ridiculing and insulting me,” began Elaine Miller, standing up, the better to be heard. “Three times I’ve tried to deal with this issue. I don’t want to see my name on ugly, sarcastic, mocking e-mails.” For example, she said, a recent one “used the F-word” and referred to “hooter dreamgirls.”
    With a few exceptions, everyone in the room seemed to know right away just who and what she was talking about, though she never once mentioned the person’s name. In October, when Ms. Miller first complained of e-mail harassment, the advisory committee passed a unanimous resolution stating that “members must use ACAC e-mail and ACAC members’ addresses only for vital ACAC needs such as minutes, agendas, and other similar uses,” and for no other purpose. Last month, after she said the objectionable e-mails had not stopped and asked that members be reminded of the new policy, a copy of the resolution was sent to all ACAC e-mail users.
    Apparently, however, it had no effect on James Macmillian, whose name was blurted out by Britton Bistrian as others nodded.
    “He shouldn’t be nominated again,” someone called out.
    “I read the e-mail and I was pretty shocked,” said Kieran Brew, the committee’s vice chairman and incoming chairman. “After we said don’t do it, he went and did it.”
    “I would go to the police,” said someone else.
    Ms. Miller said she’d already gone to the town board, earlier that same day, bringing along “five pages of attachments with inappropriate e-mails.” Turning toward Ms. Overby, she said in a shaky voice, “I believe ACAC, a committee that you sanctioned, is not the place for this.”
    During a work session of the town board the next day, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley described the e-mails, without saying who had written them, whereupon Supervisor Bill Wilkinson took a look at one and remarked, “Oh, Macmillian,” or words to that effect. Councilman Dominick Stanzione called the situation “alarming and unfortunate,” and Ms. Overby suggested the board draw up guidelines for citizen advisory committees regarding the use of mailing lists. No one objected.
    The ACAC meeting ended with the announcement that Ed Michels, the senior harbormaster, has found an unused flagpole among the town’s resources, and Tony Littman, head of the Buildings and Grounds Department, will have it erected in front of the old Life-Saving Station on Atlantic Avenue.
    “We’ll have it up as soon as possible,” said Kent Miller, ACAC’s outgoing chairman, who also heads the committee to restore the building. Mr. Miller got an enthusiastic round of applause for the good news, and for his two years’ service as chairman.