"The Shelter Island Way"
I'm suing the Town of Shelter Island. I'd like my neighbors to understand why.
Update: 10/24/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
Thank You. No, seriously. Thank you.
If you are still having trouble trying to figure out why in the hell Sylvester Manor would need to be represented by such a high-profile white collar criminal defense attorney as Gina Parolvecchio or her get-em-out-of-a-tax-jam colleague, Leah Robinson, over at Mayer Brown, read this GREAT ARTICLE in the New York Times this morning. I think it will shed some light on where all of this is going.
In other news...
In their most recent motion to the court, this Salt and Pepper duo, in a remarkably lame attempt at getting their clients over there at the Manor out from under my subpoenas and deposition requests, tried to spin a cringe inducingly silly argument to the Court about how I shouldn’t be able to exercise my right to FREE SPEECH by hosting this website. I’m fairly certain that there’s at least 1, and maybe even 2, really important laws that say I can do this and so I don’t think that argument is going to work out so well. But good luck.
That said, I did want to thank the two damning damsels for highlighting the www.TheShelterIslandWay.com website address so prominently in their filing. I think they might have spelled it out for the Judge at least a dozen times. Dear Lord. It does have great branding, though. I’ll give you that. Sort of sticks in your head, doesn’t it? So I can understand the attraction.
SO NOW thanks to that super sharp litigator move on their part I'm going to get the very unusual opportunity to speak DIRECTLY to the Honorable Joseph C. Pastoressa himself next week when he visits this site. Which he will.
And then I’m gonna do my best to explain to him in very simple language...because I’m a very simple guy...why the Town of Shelter Island is a lawless place, surrounded by a moat. Then I'll go on to explain that because of that watery boundary and the $20 dollar ferry ride it has operated COMPLETELY UNCHECKED by the Federal, State and even the County authorities FOR DECADES and that's why this case so important as it will finally shed light on a remarkable set of facts that are, on their surface, incredibly compelling and worthy of the Courts' fullest examination.
Or something like that.
So, anyway, seriously, thank you guys for the shout out on the website address. Very much appreciated.
*I’m going to take the rest of the weekend off. I’m gonna go to Mass, for sure.
And pray for dumb people.
Update: 10/23/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
I'm having a real hard time believing that could be the case.
That's because yesterday she and another partner that gets people out of tax jams, Leah Robinson, along with an associate, Thomas Halpern, filed a motion that I would estimate weighed just under 5 pounds if printed out on cheap paper.
They went through that arduous exercise, and burned through what had to be AT LEAST 100 billable hours, just to avoid producing what should have amounted to a handful of HIGHLY RELEVANT emails that I wanted to see from the Manor, that I know exist. And they know that I know they exist. In fact, I know things exist that they don't even know exist. How's that?
So if all this legal firepower is actually on the clock, at fully billable Mayer Brown rates then that means that one filing would have come in at, what? $100K? Easy. Like falling off a log.
So let me get this straight, Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, is supposedly a 501(3)(c) charitable organization and they are being represented by one of the most prestigious law firms in the country, by 2 TOP TIER partners and 1 associate that are collectively putting up a tooth and nail defense that is heavily weighted on stopping me from getting super relevant testimony from my neighbor and Founding Trustee of the Manor, Eben Ostby, in a case that focuses on exposing a pattern of systemic UNEQUAL TREATMENT by the Town of Shelter Island, and supposedly Mayer Brown is doing all of this for FREE?
Well, if the Manor is paying that monster legal bill then WE'RE ACTUALLY ALL paying for it because the bulk of the dough that they've accumulated since their founding in 2011 has come from OUR TAX DOLLARS that were supposed to be set aside to protect land that is at risk of being developed.
And SYLVESTER MANOR has NEVER BEEN at risk of being developed. Not back then. Not now. Not ever.
Something STINKS. And I'm going to find out what it is.
Update: 10/22/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
BREAKING: BOING, BOING, BOUNCE. RICH IS GONE.
Huh. Good to know. Glad the Town is in good hands. I was getting worried. When people start changing their entire defense team mid-litigation things typically aren't going all that great.
EQUAL TREATMENT FOR EVERYONE ON THE ISLAND
Update: 10/22/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
Deposition Thursdays: Sass-Quash
The long and the short of their argument, as best I can tell, is that they're looking to wiggle out of our deposition requests because, well, umm, they don't want to be deposed.
In summary, they're saying this is all just a big mix up. Lot's of people film music video's on slave burial grounds. What's the big deal? What could be wrong with that? Why's this guy so pissed off? They're already dead slaves!!! It's not like we let Beyoncé' and Disney film their music video on live ones. Now THAT would beyond the pale. Like, right up there with, umm, I don't know, NOT FOR PROFIT TAX AVOIDANCE? Jeeze.
Well, that's an interesting argument, ladies. As a friend, I have to say though that I think you two really should consider spending less time on your hair and more time filing timely responses. I am willing to concede, however, that it is does appear to be all one length. So you've got me there. (SIX sisters : )
See you in court.
Update: 10/21/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
White Guy Network
My old man wanted for nothing other than to take care of his family. When he died I put every single one of his possessions into a contractor grade Hefty bag and dropped it all off at Goodwill. I mean, really, how many pairs of blue oxford shirts, grey suit pants and black wingtips can one white guy legally have?
He had accumulated nothing. No boats. No bank account. No nothing. Just 9 fat and happy kids and my amazing mom.
And he was a terrible racist.
Growing up, when he wasn't watching the CUBS on WGN (White Guy Network) he spent most of his days trying to keep my 6 sisters ( Ann-ie, Lynn-y, Nanc-y, Debb-ie, Claudia & Janice) from getting pregnant. He used to tell them the only PILL they needed to take...was an Aspirin. And hold it between their knees.
My sisters were all PORN-STAR gorgeous and so, invariably, on Friday night one of them would try and sneak out of the house dressed like a stripper. And so off Donald Patrick Gaynor would go. Chasing them back up the stairs swinging a belt buckle and telling them "...If you want to go out dressed like that I'm gonna drop you off at 28th & California an you can walk home...". 28th & California was where Cook Country Jail was located and so the not too unobvious implication there was that they were of course going to be raped by black guys for their wardrobe transgressions.
If I told you that hearing stuff like that roll off my Dad's tongue, day in day out, didn't have an impact on me growing up I would be lying through my big white teeth. I have grappled with the impact of racism on my own life, my whole life, and so when I heard about the completely BS whitewashing stunt that Sylvester Manor, Disney and the Town pulled off by filming that BS "Black Is King" music video to promote Disney's "Lion King" movie I was furious. Still am.
Sylvester Manor is NOT A MOVIE SET. It's one of the most important historical landmarks in the United States and representative of THE DARKEST period of America's slavering past, and the remnants of what happened there - 200+ years of enslavement, rape and murder - are still very much weighing on this country with no signs of letting up anytime soon.
But I am going to try and move the needle.
WGN used to run these ads for the United Negro College Fund in between innings of CUBS games with the catch phrase "The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste". That commercial stuck in my head and so with it in mind I plan on making the following things happen:
1. I'm going to see to it that the the Town of Shelter Island starts treating everybody on this Island EQUALLY irrespective of who they are, where they came from, what color they are or any other bias. Period.
This change in behavior is likely going to require that AT LEAST one person is walked off this Island in handcuffs, but more on all of that soon enough.
2. I'm going to have the entire Board of Directors at the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm removed and replaced with people who aren't just looking to pad their resumes and who posses a functioning ethical compass that points true north. There's 100's of super nice people on this Island and so this won't be heavy lifting. Binder has folks on his pool crew that are better suited to be in charge of that place than those people. I've met them.
If you haven't figured it out yet, I am definitely NSFW, and so, NO, I won't be there. Whew.
3. Disney, and their CEO, Bob Chapek, are going to apologize for illegally filming on our Island just so that they could push up their share price with their BS music video.
4. The Town of Shelter Island is going to cut a check to the United Negro College Fund for $1,000,000.00 bucks.
Just you watch.
Update: 10/20/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
My brother Danny and I once stole a Cub Cadet garden tractor from one of our neighbors a few blocks away. In the middle of the day. All potted up. On a Sunday (Bless me oh father for I have sinned. Again.).
Do you have any idea how stupid (and high) you have to be to do something like that? Do you know how embarrassing and slow of a police chase we could have gotten into with the cops? Unbelievably, not only did we get away with it but I ran an ad in the Tribune and sold the thing. Dear Lord. My poor parents.
I learned then though that if you're gonna break the law, do it in broad daylight. Because everybody is already looking for you in the shadows.
I reflected on that life lesson recently as we prepared to file suit against the Town of Shelter Island. I was going through lists of folks that we were going to name in the suit when I came across this one: Kathleen Gerard.
I was going back and forth between the Manor's board of directors and Shelter Island's Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board, and I was, like, WHOA, WHOA, WHOA. What? Are you kidding me? There she is again. 5th from the TOP.
WTF? Do you have any idea how many MILLIONS, UPON MILLIONS, UPON MILLIONS, UPON MILLIONS, UPON MILLIONS, UPON MILLIONS of our tax payer dollars have made their way from that Town Fund and over to Sylvester Manor's bank account? Year after year? And that lady sits at the director level on both of those boards?
Have I said WTF enough yet this AM? I mean, look at this woman's resume:
"Currently a philanthropy and fundraising consultant with over 25 years of non-profit experience in the fields of education, the arts, history, health, foreign policy, the environment, wildlife conservation and women’s health and human rights. Formerly employed in a development capacity by the International Women’s Health Coalition in New York, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C., the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, the After School Corporation in New York and the South Street Seaport Museum. Other professional experience includes federal and state government service, communications, TV documentaries as well as board and foundation service. Serves as a member of the Shelter Island Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board and was co-chair of the first four Farm to Table events at Sylvester Manor. Her family’s interest in land preservation on the Island resulted in the sale of the development rights of the Ryan Horse Farm’s 65 acres. In addition, Kathleen is on the board of Freedom for All that tackles modern-day slavery. Education: M.Ph. American and Latin American History, the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York, M.A. Latin American Affairs and Anthropology, New York University, B.S. Foreign Service, Georgetown University of Foreign Service, Washington, D.C."
Are you kidding me??? This lady looks like she should be Biden's pick to be the next Ambassador to China or something and yet she AND THE TOWN BOARD can't see how improper this relationship is? I mean, I'm an un-convicted lawnmower thief and even I know better than to pull a stunt like that.
And this isn't the first time this has happened, either. We've found AT LEAST one other instance where a Sylvester Manor board member has been stacked on the CPF Board.
Sweet Jesus. I swear, you just couldn't make this crap up. This thing just keeps getting weirder and weirder.
Yeah, somebody's going to the tank. For sure.
Update: 10/19/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
Beyoncé is NOT in the house.
In the absence of being able to get a straight answer from the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm as to how their board of directors could have possibly thought that it would be a good idea to take a bunch of cash to allow Disney to secretly and illegally film the music video "Black Is King" on the site of the Manor's slave burial ground, I've subpoenaed the star of the film, Beyoncé, in hopes that maybe she could fill in the blanks. I mean, somebody has got to know something, right? She didn't just wind up there by accident.
Anyhow...my process server is a former East Hampton cop and so we all sort of just assumed that given COVID and all she'd probably be hanging out with her family at their place in East Hampton and so when we couldn't get past her security detail, we just nailed it to the front gate of her estate, which I guess is pretty much SOP when it comes to these sort of things.
In any event, as of this moment we haven't heard back from her or her attorney's and so it's starting to look like they are just planning on blowing this all off.
Why is everybody running from this thing? I mean, I've really got a pretty simple list of questions:
1. What the hell could Disney have been thinking?
2. What the hell could Sylvester Manor have been thinking?
3. What, if anything, did anyone share with Beyoncé' about Sylvester Manor and their 24/7 x 200+ year pattern of enslavement, rape and murder that DEFINITELY went on at that place.
4. Other than letting everyone off the hook for illegally filming this ethical disaster without ANY of the required permits AND without issuing so much as a moving violation once they were all caught, what was the Town of Shelter Island's involvement in the planning of all of this?
No way she was told the truth about that place and still showed up to film there.
Ma'am, please don't blow off our subpoena. We could really use your help.
Update: 10/18/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
NUTS! And Bolts.
Here's what's coming up in one guys' war to get the people in charge of EVERYTHING on this Island...to start doing the right thing and begin treating EVERYONE living or visiting here, EQUALLY:
1. We've served a subpoena on the former Town of Shelter Island Supervisor, Jim Dougherty, so that my attorney, Alex Kriegsman, can depose him. Jim is being a little cagey right now. But we'll get a hold of him soon enough. I want Jim to tell me everything there is to know about why Sylvester Manor has gotten A DECADES worth of Federal, State and DEFINITELY LOCAL tax dollars to the tune of nearly $20 MILLION BUCKS and yet I can't seem to find the money. I mean, like, not anywhere. And I've been digging for quarters in couch cushions since I was five.
Talk to you soon enough, Jim. (Pro Tip: The "Fuzzy Memory" trick won't help.)
Stop back by here for Deposition Thursday's to find out who's next on the list.
2. The Town of Shelter Island is going to have to respond to my lawsuit seeking all the relevant documents in this matter, sometime on or before November 4th. The Town's attorney's are doing a REMARKABLY BAD job trying to throw up all sorts of silly 1st-year-out-of-lawschool blockades to try and get me from getting all of the information I've requested, and so they will fail. Like, miserably. And so I'll be getting all of the answers I need, soon enough.
Say goodbye to boring winters on the Island. This one's going to be a doozy.
3. I'm thinking about organizing a Search & Rescue operation to try and locate the Editor of the Shelter Island Reporter, Ambrose Clancy. He's been missing (POOF!) since I filed my law suit against the Town and he and The Reporter got such honorable mention(s) in my complaint.
Curiously enough, there also hasn't been any mention of this lawsuit in The Reporter, either. That's JUST SOOO WIERD. And, I have about 17 elected and appointed Town officials and Town employees under subpoena and very soon I'll be taking their sworn testimony. Oh well. I'm sure those folks just have their hands full doing some investigative reporting on 4 Poster Deer Fraud instead of the slightly more interesting one focusing on the curious misplacement of TWO DECADES worth of tax payer dollars over at the Manor and our Town's elected officials role in that matter.
No worries. I'll get to the bottom of all of this myself. Just takes time and money. And I've got plenty of both.
More to come.
Update: 10/17/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
"Leah & Gina"
I'm the baby and the most perfect of 9 fantastically awful Irish Catholic criminal children.
When I was growing up in the '70's my 6 sisters used to pay me $0.50 cents to pull down on the bottom of their just-washed/still-wet bell bottom jeans on Friday night so that they rode at just the right height over their Frye boots.
One time I made the all-but-fatal mistake of telling my sister Annie that the reason things weren't working out for her as planned was because she was FAT. And so she knocked me completely unconscious with a perfectly good American Telephone & Telegraph rotary dial phone. Right then. Right there. And in my house back then that event didn't even disrupt dinner.
I think that's when I stopped underestimating anyone. Ever.
Yesterday though my lawyer, Alex, got yet another sternly worded lawyer from TWO PARTNERS at the BIG, BIG TIME law firm Mayer Brown, essentially threatening to sue the shit out of me because I made fun of them on this site for wasting their clients time with arguments that have ZERO merit.
Dear Lord. What's with kids these days?
Anyhow, here's their most recent email to my lawyer, Alex:
"Leah and Gina"
It's that last part of their collaborative email that I'd like to call attention to.
I couldn't make this part up if I wanted to. I mean, seriously? Really? That's the kind of SIGN OFF that I would get at the bottom of a note ("YOURS...NOT TRULY...DEBBY & NANCY!!!!!) that would get slipped under the door of the bedroom that I shared with my brother Timmy and Danny in response to our threat of global thermonuclear underwear-fare against the "SAVAGE SIX" on West Melrose Avenue...and NOT what you'd expect from 2 partners at one of the most prominent law firms in the county.
But hey, it's a brave new world out there I guess.
And so to the Managing Partner at Mayer Brown that signed off on this dynamic-duo's determined defense of a FAMILY OF SLAVE TRADERS at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm...on a PRO BONO basis....I want to say: Hats off to you, whoever you are. Your Mayer Brown, never-back-down attitude, no matter HOW WRONG YOU ARE, would have served you well where I grew up.
I just can't say it makes you better people.
Shame on you.
Update: 10/15/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
Every Thursday, from here on out until I get to the bottom of this thing, we are going to start cutting subpoenas to depose anyone who might have "helpful" information about anyone that has done anything other than exactly what they're supposed to be doing on this Island. Going back to pretty much just right after Jesus was born.
1st on the list: Jim Dougherty. Very soon, sir, you're going to get to go into the room with my attorney, Alex. We'll be in touch shortly.
More to come folks.
Update: 10/14/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
Mayer Brown partner and white collar criminal defense attorney, Gina Parlovecchio, and her co-counsel and head of Mayer's state and local tax defense group, Leah Robinson, sent my super-duper heavy weight attorney, Alex Kriegsman, a 314 word sternly written email yesterday schooling him on why "Facts Matter".
I'd upload the whole thing but it's a bit wordy. Which can happen when 2 partners at Mayer Brown put their heads together to burn through what I would estimate took them 2 billable hours to produce 1 email.
The gist of it though was that they wanted to make it clear that never had used the word "immediately" in a conversation that they had all had. Good to know.
Anyhow...I got to thinking about Gina's & Leah's sublime partner-y thoughts over there at Mayer Brown with respect to FACTS and why they matter and I had a few of my own that I thought I'd share that maybe not everybody knows:
FACT: Gina's summer house is EXACTLY 1.4 miles away from Sylvester Manor here on Shelter Island. Who knew?
FACT: The worlds biggest A-HOLE, Nathaniel Sylvester, who built the Manor was the largest known slave trader in the eastern United States and every square inch of Shelter Island, including Gina's property and my own was bought and paid for using the proceeds of aforementioned a-hole's global slave trading enterprise.
FACT: Eben Ostby, is the 12th direct descendent of Nathaniel Sylvester. Eben was given the Manor, all 240 acres of it by his Uncle in 1992.
FACT: Eben Ostby is alive and well. Surprisingly, he's not poor. And to this day he is of course the founding Trustee at Sylvester Manor.
FACT: PIXAR was acquired by The Walt Disney Corporation in 2006 for $7.4 billion dollars.
FACT: Did I mention that Eben is not poor?
FACT: Disney just got done releasing the movie "Black Is King" that they illegally filmed at Sylvester Manor and the Manor got paid HANDOSMELY to allow that to happen and, in FACT, conceal the deal.
FACT: My A-HOLE neighbor, Nathaniel Sylvester, was a worldwide slaver and on his land, directly behind my house, are buried the remains of AT LEAST 200 enslaved Africans and Manhasset Indians in unmarked and unkept graves and yet Disney thought that was an appropriate place to film a movie.
FACT: Bob Chapek, Disney's CEO, credited "Black Is King" for helping them hit their 5 year subscriber goals at Disney+ in just eight months with the help of this ethical disaster.
FACT: Even though Eben converted his inherited holdings to a 501(3)(c) corporation and promised the federal government and the good people at the Internal Revenue Service that they would preserve Sylvester Manor lands in exchange for not paying a WHOLE BUNCH OF TAXES, the Manor has taken and continues to take MILLIONS upon MILLIONS upon MILLIONS upon MILLIONS upon MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of the Town of Shelter Island's tax payer dollars that are supposed to be earmarked properties that are ACTUALLY AT RISK of being developed.
FACT: And this one is by far and away the most important, by applying the simple dynamics of population modeling to the output of Nathaniel Sylvester's slavering operations we can deduce that that 1 A-HOLE is responsible for, not 1000's or even 10's of 1000's, but MILLIONS of African American families that have been locked in GENERATION AFTER GENERATION of systemic racial, social, cultural and economic poverty in this country - and this is supposed to be the greatest country in the world.
And that's a FACT.
And so given all of these hard-to-believe FACTS, all I can muster up is just ONE question, Gina:
How IN THE HELL did you get Mayer Brown to not only allow you to represent these guys, I mean, at all, BUT TO DO IT FOR FREE?
Now that's an interesting FACT.
Update: 10/13/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
Great article in the Washington Post the other day in case you missed it.
Before you even go there, this is not a Trump bashing post. I do enough of that at my day job with my father-in law. Here's the whole story in PDF format in case you don't have a WaPo account. This is a GREAT article that details how land that has ZERO CHANCE of ever being developed is monetized in the form of tax breaks - for the super rich.
When you're done with that, imagine you're Eben Ostby & Bennett Konesni and somebody hands you 240 acres on Shelter Island. And now all of the sudden you have an inheritance tax "matter" to rival all others. All because you're 12 degrees of separation from the worlds largest A-HOLE, Nathaniel Sylvester, who essentially invented the Triangle Trade.
I want to know why Sylvester Manor is being treated so UNEQUALLY and preferentially on this Island by our ELECTED OFFICIALS, over and over and over and over again. Like the Town of Shelter Island's CPF fund is the Manor's own private ATM.
It's going to STOP. That, and all other UNEQUAL treatment of anyone and everyone who lives or visits this amazing place.
Update: 10/12/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
As previously reported, astonishingly, the white collar criminal defense attorney, Ms. Gina Parlovecchio, and former federal prosecutor that put El Chapo in the tank from the global white shoe law frim Mayer Brown, has been hired by the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm to represent them in the remediation of this ethical national disaster that they've got themselves into.
And then yesterday my lawyer, Alex Kriegsman, takes a call from yet ANOTHER Mayer Brown partner, Ms. Leah Robinson, who "...LEADS Mayer Brown's State & Local tax group" and apparently this dynamic duo has teamed up to defend SYLVESTER MANOR.
WHOA WHOA WHOA. This is a farmstand? On Shelter Island?
Ok, again, I have to ask: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON ????
For those of you reading this that may have limited experience in both white collar crime or state and local "tax problems", please understand that getting these top-tier legal ladies to come and cover your butt IS NO SMALL MATTER. Forgetting that whole breaking the law thing for a moment, please know that partners over at Mayer Brown typically bill their time out at about $900 bucks an hour. And up.
I mean, we're talking about our little old Sylvester Manor Educational Farm here, folks. Not Ford or United Airlines. Do you have any idea how much all this legal firepower works out to in farmstand dollars? Like, about 36 pounds of Cherry Tomatoes....TIMES TWO...OR 72 POUNDS OF CHERRY TOMATOES AN HOUR.
I want to know what is going on over there...and I plan on finding out. And I want to find out why the Town of Shelter Island is giving such UNEQUAL and preferential treatment to my neighbor, and at the same time treating me and my family so UNFAIRLY. I mean, we share 400' of lot line and one of us (ME) gets his ass handed to him once a month by the Town. While the other one (SYLVESTER MANOR) can seemingly do whatever they want, whenever they want, and get off with not so much as a hand slap.
That sort of UNFAIR and UNEQUAL treatment is going to stop on Shelter Island.
Update: 10/08/2020 (To read the original story please scroll down below.)
A reporter from Newsday reached out to my attorney yesterday to get his comments with respect to my lawsuit against the Town.
In it, opposing counsel, Richard Zuckerman, who is currently burning through our tax dollars to defend the indefensible behavior of the Town, made this comment about why I am pursuing all of this:
"This case was filed because the town refused his demand that they pay $2 million to buy property from him that the town didn’t want at that price," Zuckerman said. "Everything flows from there."
That's an interesting allegation, Rich. Unfortunately, once again, the Town's assertions don't line up with the facts. Here they are for everyone to examine and decide for themselves why I am doing, what I am doing:
1. I grew up in Chicago, one of the most racially divided Cities in America.
2. Racism was served up nightly at our dinner table by my Dad, who made Archie Bunker look progressive. He also put food on the table for the 11 of us as a building inspector for the City and walked out of the house carrying a loaded .38 and a blackjack to work every day. Do with all of that what you will.
3.When I was growing up, white kids got on the "L" train heading to the northside of the City and black kids took the train south. To this day ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAS CHANGED ABOUT ANY OF THAT.
4. I've worked very hard my whole life NOT to follow in my Dad's footsteps and so I came up with an idea to sell the development rights on 10 Cobbetts Lane to the Town and have half of the proceeds, $1,000,000.00, paid directly by the Town to the United Negro College Fund as a form of reparations, of sorts, for my Dad (in part), my own lifetime of white privilege (for sure), and for our Island's and Sylvester Manor's founding role in the global transatlantic slave trade. You can download a copy of my proposal on this initiative here. This proposal was made to our Town Supervisor, Gerry Siller, the Chairman of the CPF, Gordon Gooding and the Town Attorney, Bob DeStefano and all of the Town Trustees.
5. In addition to the sale of my development rights on #10 to protect the view along Cobbetts (which is unmatched on the Island, IMHO), I was also offering to provide an easement to the Town on my dirt and pay to build a connecting path DIRECTLY NEXT TO MY OWN HOUSE on #8 that would enable the community to walk uninterrupted from the Old Lima Bean Field trail system to Sylvester Manor. This of course would lower the value of my place but I was cool with that or I would not have offered to do it.
6. At the time when I had submitted this proposal to the Town I had turned down several offers from buyers well north of $2M bucks for that dirt. The most recent offer I've received was for $2,750,000.00 which my wife and I rejected.
So, no, Rich, none of this is about Mike getting $2M bucks. It's about Mike's larger concern that, according to the most recent U.S. Census, Shelter Island has a 97% white population and the African American population is stuck at essentially ZERO PERCENT...and I'm fairly certain that didn't come to be by accident. Last I checked, anybody can get on the ferry. So that's not the problem.
Oh, and then there's that whole issue that I think there might be at least 1 white supremist currently sitting on the Town of Shelter Island's Town Board.
And finally, of course I'm also not at all too happy with Sylvester Manor's and Disney's BS wholesale and coordinated whitewashing campaign designed to soften up the history of that place and 200 years of enslavement, rape and murder that definitely went on there on a 24/7 basis. All of this BS championed by our own Shelter Island Reporter so that Disney can promote the rerelease of their "Lion King" franchise and rake in a few $100 million more in revenue THIS YEAR using our Island as a backdrop without our permission.
Now, does any of that help clear the facts up for you, Rich?
Richard Zuckerman, Counsel Who's Currently Burning Through Our Tax $$$.
A couple of final points I'd like to make about opposing counsel, Richard Zuckerman, who is currently representing the Town of Shelter Island in this matter:
1. I haven't seen a mustache like that since Burt posed in Cosmo.
2. If you stop by my farm, Rich, I'll give you a FREE founding fathers (currently rolling over in their graves) commemorative stamp and you can use it to mail back your law degree to whatever "law school" mailed it to you as I am certain they'll want it back after reading you make such a rookie and ridiculous suggestion about my intentions in the press.
Gordon Gooding, the Chairman of the Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board, met with my attorney, Alex Kriegsman, recently and asked him "Where is all of this going???"
I've been asked that same question by many of my neighbors as well and so I thought this would be a good time to spell that out:
I've FOIL'd the Town's financial records with respect to the Community Preservation Fund and the MILLIONS upon MILLIONS upon MILLIONS upon MILLIONS upon MILLIONS upon MILLIONS upon MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of our tax payer dollars that have changed hands between the Town of Shelter Island and the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm over the last 10 years. And once I get those records, which I will shortly, I am going to have a team of forensic accounts that I have worked with in the past when I acquire a company, review them.
And if upon completion of their review I find evidence that our Town's elected officials and / or employees of the Town have misappropriated public funds for their own benefit, then I'm going to spend every one of my 21 waking hours each day, and deploy whatever financial and legal resources I need to deploy, to see to it that whomever committed those offenses are removed from this Island, preferably in a pair of shiny new stainless steel bracelets, while the camera's are rolling (no permit required this time), have them dressed up in government issued green jumpsuits, and remanded to another Island all together. This one without a yacht club.
And so to answer everyone's question, that's where this is all going.
From here on out, everyone is going to get EQUAL TREATMENT.
NICE. HONEST. FAIR.
ORIGINAL POST STARTS BELOW:
October 1st, 2020
To: My Neighbors
From: Mike Gaynor, 8 Cobbetts Lane, Shelter Island, NY
Re: Unequal Treatment
My name is Mike Gaynor. I'm your neighbor and I'm suing the Town of Shelter Island. I just wanted to let you all know why.
As some of you will recall, I bought the old tree farm on Cobbetts Lane and cleared the pine trees there to make way for a house and some barns for my wife and I and our 3 horses. The clearing of those trees caused quite a bit of an uproar - to say the least - and for the last 2 years now my family has been the target of harassment by the Town of Shelter Island, The Shelter Island Reporter and a few of my far less-than-nice neighbors on the Island who simply won't let it go.
And now I've had enough. So last week I filed suit in New York State Supreme Court against the Town of Shelter Island. You can download a copy of the complaint by clicking the link at the bottom of this letter.
But the filing doesn't tell the whole story. Not by a long shot.
I've been watching this Town from the sidelines since I moved here, reading The Reporter and listening to folks talk, and I've noticed a far broader pattern on the Island where all sorts of people are being TREATED UNEQUALLY for a whole bunch reasons. None of them good.
I've seen Hispanic families get demeaned in public comments at Trustee meetings because they come to visit us and fish off our beaches. People running from the City to escape COVID with their families who are getting their asses handed to them by SOME angry locals - just because they're from the City. Longtime homeowners here that need extra income to stay afloat who are being denied their right to property by the Town's insane Short Term Rental Law that was written by a bunch of guys that want to turn this place into their own personal retirement community. Important and wildly necessary institutions like The Shelter Island Reporter that are running side agendas for their friends. And even the venerable Sylvester Manor Educational Farm is doing some pretty shitty things that the Town lets them get away with and that they absolutely need to be called out on.
This story is just starting to unfold in court right now but the cast includes....:
The Town of Shelter Island, of course, and our elected officials. The Walt Disney Corporation. A global slave trader and total a-hole named Nathaniel Sylvester. All the super nice and hard working women who run The Islander Restaurant. Hugh Grant. My next-door-neighbor-lady. Beyoncé. Our 3 super awesome Clydesdales: Mike, Ike and Sam. Nicole Kidman. El Chapo. HBO Films. The entire Manhasset Indian tribe. Money. LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY. The global white shoe law firm Mayer Brown. The Sylvester Manor Educational Farm - its entire Board of Directors and Management Team. The Shelter Island Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board. A guy named Ambrose. The Shelter Island Reporter. And 200+ enslaved African peoples and Manhasset Indians that are buried in unmarked and unkept graves on The Manor's land.
Oh, and me.
But the long and the short of it is this: I've had enough. And in the absence of anybody else doing anything about it I'm putting the Town on notice that this seemingly engrained pattern of UNEQUAL TREATMENT is not going to go on unchecked any longer. If I see it happen, I'm calling you out. Publicly. And if I have to file suit AGAIN after I'm done with this one, I'll do that, too.
The Town of Shelter Island is going to grow up and get it's collective shit together. And the tiny fraction of the population that thinks it owns the place is going to start acting it's age or, I promise you, I will move heaven and earth to see to it that anyone who is doing anything other than exactly what they are supposed to be doing gets punished financially and to the fullest extent of the law. If I have to spend a $1000 bucks to cost the Town $1 in court ordered penalties and fines, then so be it. I promise you I won't miss it from my bank account.
The BS pattern of UNEQUAL TREATMENT of any one living on or visiting our wonderful Island stops now. Effective immediately, by executive order #1, from here on out everybody at the Town and everywhere else on this Island are going to treat everyone else EQUALLY: Be Nice. Be Honest. Be Fair.
The longer story behind what's going on is all laid out below.
Thanks for reading.
8 Cobbetts Lane
Shelter Island, NY
This all started back in the Spring of 2019 when the Editor of the Shelter Island Reporter, Ambrose Clancy, thought it was appropriate to publish this "Letter To The Editor" about my family's soon to be home:
“To the Editor: For 40 years I have driven past the lot on Cobbetts Lane with the stately pine trees. I have often dreamed of winning the lottery and buying that lot to live in a cottage under those tall pines. It always seemed an enchanted place and one of my favorite spots on the island. A recent buyer has chopped down all the pine trees, leaving not one left. I am all for a property owner’s right to do whatever is legally allowed with their property. But why buy that lot and remove all those beautiful, irreplaceable trees? That’s what made it so special. I just don’t understand. But then again, I live in a state where it is now okay to kill a baby right before it is born. Something I will never understand, and a greater reason to be heartbroken. DONNA MOLIN, Shelter Island”
So that was a nice welcome to Town. It's not everyday that my house gets an honorable mention right next to a horrific statement about late term abortions.
The Reporter followed up that Letter with this cartoon shortly after depicting my lot in what I think we can all agree is a less than favorable light, and so, Ambrose, The Reporter and I have been sparring ever since.
Cheap shots aside, I want to go on record and say that I support the Shelter Island Reporter through my paid subscription and I think everyone on the Island should, too. Small newspapers are folding all across America right now and our Town desperately needs The Reporter. If only to keep tabs on Town Hall, and to make certain that everyone is being treated EQUALLY.
So if you haven't done so, please click here to sign up for your paid subscription to The Reporter now.
A bunch of Town elected officials and employees picked up the baton to beat me with soon after the trees came down and those things ran in The Reporter and I've been dealing with their BS ever since.
The Town Clerk has refused to speak with me or even answer the most basic questions I have about Town services. I've had to send my attorney in there on multiple occasions to get one sentence answers to simple questions from the Town Attorney. The Town Supervisor has refused to meet with me when I've tried to bring this crap to a halt. I've been cited for Short Term Rental violations on my house that's not even built. I've had my taxes doubled for a project that is in no way anywhere even close to finished. And on. And on. And on.
For the record, I'm definitely not a thin skinned guy. I grew up in Chicago in a 4 bedroom house with 9 other perfectly horrible Irish Catholic kids. My dad was a building inspector for the City and my mom was an angel. I didn't graduate from high school ( I got my G.E.D in the the A.R.M.Y.) and I've actually dealt with this type of crap for a living when I was still going into the office.
I'm here to tell you that in my 30 years of working with municipalities', from New York to San Francisco and everywhere in between, I've never seen such childish BS behavior like I've seen go on in this Town. Anywhere or ever before.
All of this may all sound pretty mundane to you. But if that's the case I think it's because we've all just become so numb to this kind of treatment. It's this day in and day out government crap that can wear a community down. It exacts a toll. It makes our community angrier, more contentious, wildly less efficient and hobbles every single person living here. With all the crap going on in the world right now the last thing this Island needs to be doing is giving ANYONE a hard time for no good reason at all.
This is not small stuff, folks. Every one of us has to get up and go to work and do our job well or our families don't eat. The Town of Shelter Island needs to be held to that same standard. Our elected officials and Town employees need to get to work early, stay late and treat everyone on this Island fairly and EQUALLY- or they need to go find another job.
SYLVESTER MANOR EDUCATIONAL FARM
Up until a few months ago I was a very big supporter of The Manor. In the last year I gave them $30,000.00 bucks just to help keep their lights on. If I'm not mistaken I think that puts me personally on par with the Andrew Mellon Foundation and so I think I have standing to speak out here.
I've worked with them on some master planning matters and I've tried to share my ideas for getting that place cash flow positive and off the public dole, which I actually think is a totally achievable goal.
The Sylvester Manor Educational Farm is a financial mess, folks, and they are definitely an UNEQUAL drain on the Town's resources. I've been supporting conservation initiatives and historic preservation projects on the East End since I moved here 20 years ago, and so nothing pains me more than having to say any of this.
The Sylvester Manor Educational Farm is designated by the IRS as a 501(c) (3) charitable organization. So what that means is that they don't pay one dime in federal taxes, as they shouldn't. The reason for this though is that by their own designation they are 100% preordained and dedicated to conserving the 240 acres of farm land that they were gifted.
THAT'S THE WHOLE REASON THEY EXIST. THAT'S WHY THEY DON'T PAY TAXES. BECAUSE THEY'VE PROMISED THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THAT THEY WILL NOT DEVELOP THEIR LAND. EVER.
But between 2009 and 2019 the Town, through it's Community Preservation fund (CPF) and other government funding sources, the Manor has received what is quickly approaching nearly $20,000,000.00 in public funds. Do you understand how much money that is? It's adds up to about several years of the entire Town budget or about what it would cost to build a new indoor Olympic sized pool for the High School.
Those tax dollars that the Town keeps handing them, year after year, are supposed to be set aside to protect land that is AT RISK OF BEING DEVELOPED. The 240 acres that the Manor is sitting on is at NO WAY facing that risk. Ever. Period. So why do we keep on tripping over ourselves every year to hand them more and more of the Town's money???
Why is the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm being treated so UNEQUALLY?
Here is a copy of their most recent tax returns that I was able to get ahold of from the 2017 tax year.
Jump to line 15. These guys have a $939,858 dollar payroll line. What the hell is up with that??? Have you been to The Manor recently? If you haven't, please go visit. They are open to the public. If you have gone, can you please tell me where MILLIONS OF DOLLARS of tax payer money is evident? And how, what amounts to be a glorified farm stand at this point, could possibly be burning through $1M of our donation dollars in payroll every year?
How is any of that that even possible? I mean, the place is quite literally falling down around itself.
Honestly, I just don't understand it. Not even maybe. And all of this - and ESPECIALLY the Town's involvement in it - has me more than a little concerned.
"BLACK IS KING"
From 1651 on, Sylvester Manor, and every square inch of Shelter Island, was the global HQ for the transatlantic slavering operations of Nathaniel Sylvester, the top a-hole and CEO of a worldwide slave hunting and trading operation. There is simply no other way to describe that guy.
And so I was deeply offended when I learned that The Manor took money from Disney to allow the film "Black Is King" starring Beyoncé to be secretly filmed on what is without argument wholly sacred ground.
If you are not aware, please know that there are AT LEAST 200+ enslaved Africans and Manhasset Indians buried on their land and so that's just not a place where you film a dance-off. I'm sorry, it's just not done. I'll spare you the web research - because I've done it - and nobody has ever filmed a music video at Auschwitz or Arlington National Cemetery, either.
What Sylvester Manor and Disney did with their production was illegal - and everybody involved knows it, especially the Town. In addition to the Town's own laws that require a permits to film here, there are about a half dozen other federal, state and now even local laws that protect sacred grave sites like the one at Sylvester Manor from being exploited like this. Again (and I actually can't believe I'm having to lecture anyone on this...let alone my own Town): IT'S JUST NOT DONE.
Ethical reasons aside for a moment and to illustrate just how top of mind this film permit process is in the Town, please note the collection of stories written in The Reporter about HBO Films interest in filming a mini-series starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant titled "The Undoing" just months before Disney's secret "Black Is King" project. The Town gave HBO & Co. their walking papers on this permit request because a lot of people were legitimately concerned about all the disruption the film would have during the summer season.
So is there any reason to believe that The Manor or Disney would possibly expect all of us to allow them to film a music video at that place if they had asked us the way they were supposed to?
If there are still any questions lingering around in your head as to what happened here, please know that every single person at The Manor were required to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements ( NDA's) from Disney so they could keep this film hush-hush as Hollywood is prone to do with productions of this scale - so they can make more money. Period.
Please also know that it's universally accepted by all parties involved that Disney NDA's and Shelter Island Town public bitch sessions that define our open permit process for these filming events are not super compatible bed fellows.
Filming on Shelter Island, just like pretty much every other municipality in the country requires a permit and there's a BIG FAT PERMIT FORM right on our little Town's website just for that purpose. There are a whole host of reasons for this. On a fully pedestrian level, filming a movie is an inherently dangerous activity. It involves lights and camera's and action and combining all of that with The Manor's felled forest and a bunch of wood framed buildings that are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places is just a really bad idea.
I guarantee you everyone of those Disney NDA's would have been violated in a hurry had that place gone up in flames. The Manor staff would have been calling for the Hook & Ladder guys so fast it would make your head spin. And then what?
The Manor and Disney put our First Responders in harms way with this stunt. The fact that nothing happend...AS BEST WE KNOW...has nothing to do with it. This entire thing borders on criminal if you ask me and somebody ought to be punished.
Had I been given the courtesy to comment on any of this in a public permit process as the Town Code requires, I'd have said all of this and more.
The Town has now confirmed two facts in their responses to our legal filings:
1. Nobody got a permit for this film. Not the Manor. Not Disney. Nobody.
2. The Town has not taken ANY enforcement action against anyone. Not the Manor. Not Disney. Nobody.
How is this in anyway EQUAL TREATMENT?
If you or I rent our house out on a short term basis, the Town is going to take enforcement action against us. If you or I build without a permit, the Town is going to take enforcement action against us. Very soon, if you or I want to have a garage sale and we do it with out their permission, the Town is going to take enforcement action against us.
So how do all of these folks get to film what the Town code defines as a "MEGA FILM" and nobody gets busted for that?
That's as UNEQUAL as it gets, folks. And it's going to stop.
How many lawyers did Disney have assigned to this film? 10? 20? And yet we're supposed to believe that you guys missed this? That this was all just a big mix up?
Honestly, that's just insulting. You guys along with The Manor and the Town Trustees seriously owe our Island residents a BIG apology.
Shelter Island and Sylvester Manor does not deserve to be pimped out as a cheap back drop so that Disney+ can ramp up it's subscriber base by a few million people at $6.99 a pop / mo.
In Disney's Q3 earnings call their CEO, Bob Chapek, credited "Black Is King" for getting Disney+ to hit their 5 year subscriber goal in just 8 months, tacking on an additional 3M users to their service. Congrats, Bob. Well played, player.
Now, all of the sudden though it sounds like Bob's folks have a sudden case of memory loss about just who was supposed to deal with those pesky burial ground film permits. What a joke.
Sylvester Manor is not some side show or a movie set. It's not just a Shelter Island landmark or even a State of New York landmark. It represents part of America's original and most evil sins and it should have never been shown in any form of an entertaining light.
Seriously guys, I want an honest answer to my simple question: How the hell did this ever happen? I had my attorney fire off a subpoena to you guys so we can ask you that question under oath and we've gotten zero response.
Now I've had to go bother Beyoncé with the very same move and I just don't see how that is going to help. I seriously doubt anyone told her about any of this, either.
I'd like an answer and an apology for my Town, guys. Please. And soon.
UPDATE: In response to the story in the POST, Gerry Siller, the Town Supervisor, gave this defense to the Sara Nathan, the reporter:
“Mr. Gaynor’s accusation that the Town received a secret payment from Disney is, in my opinion, false, preposterous and defamatory. The first time anyone in Town Hall was made aware of the film shoot at Sylvester Manor was when an article was written about it in the local paper, The Shelter Island Reporter. The article referenced the film that had been made in the summer of 2019 and recently released. When we learned that no permit or application for a permit had been requested, we met with Sylvester Manor, which apologized for the mistake; they had assumed that the film company had taken of the required paperwork, which it had not done. Given the circumstances, the Town Board’s consensus was that a fine was not necessary as long as the permit fee was full paid, which it was. That’s “the story.”
Really Gerry? That’s the sequence of events, is it? Are you sure it doesn’t go something more like this: The Reporter wrote their story on 8/13 AND THEN when I filed a FOIL request on 8/21 confronting the Town on this ethical disaster THEN you guys had a nice comfy meeting with your friends at The Manor on some day AFTER that. AND THEN, it appears they paid, what? A $20 permit fee or something? For filming an illegal MEGA FILM on Shelter Island? On the grounds of one of the most historically significant federally landmarked properties in the eastern United States. But thanks though for confirming that the Town got payment from Disney via your "secret meeting" through their partners in this film, Sylvester Manor. Given that Disney picked up about, what, $20M bucks in monthly repeat / reoccurring revenue - and climbing - as a result of this thing, I think that was about the best $20 bucks they ever spent.
So is this the NEW S.O.P. from here on out, Gerry? Is that what all of Hollywood can expect? “Come to Shelter Island! Film your movie wherever you want and will deal with that whole messy permit thing later!”
And the Manor “assumed” that the “film company” (The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) just came to Shelter Island and just banged this all out in an afternoon one day? Didn’t stop by the Manor for coffee, even?
Really? Is this really "the story" as you put it? Do you know how many postgraduate degrees the collection of Sylvester Manor Board and Management Team members have at that place? I’ve lost count. And supposedly they all thought after the treatment that HBO got, that Disney would just take care of all of this and get a permit no problem? Is that it?
Give me a break.
Meanwhile pretty much every contractor with a ladder hanging off his truck the wrong way that drives 5 mph. over the speed limit in the Center is ear marked to close your budget gap with a day’s pay in moving violations. All day, every day.
To my Island neighbors: This is a complete 100% BS response from Siller. The guy needs to step down. How can any of us ever expect EQUAL TREATMENT in this Town if this is how the place is run.
SIDEBAR: THE LAWYERS
Just after we filed the complaint against the Town my attorney, Alex Kriegsman, took a call from a partner at the global-white-shoe law firm, Mayer Brown, whom is apparently now representing the Board of Directors at Sylvester Manor.
Please allow me to introduce you to Ms. Gina Parlovecchio, a member of Mayer Brown's "...global White Collar Defense & Compliance and Regulatory & Investigation Practices..." and former federal prosecutor who just finished up putting the former Mexican drug lord, "El Chapo" in the tank.
I'm sorry for seeming dumb struck here, but could somebody please tell me.....WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON AT SYLVESTER MANOR?????
Admittedly, I don't have any experience with white collar crime. But wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that the only people who would hire white collar criminal defense attorney's would tend to be folks who actually NEED to hire white collar criminal defense attorney's?
WOW. Ok, well, if those folks over there signed you up in an attempt scare me, lady, please let them know it worked. HOLY SHIT.
Oh well. I guess I'm going to have to just bumble along here with my little country attorney, Alex. But know this: My guy sits on the the school board (TAKE THAT!). He thinks cammo is a color. Runs his practice out of a white clapboard farm house on Main Street in Sag Harbor. Open carries a folding Buck pocket knife in his front right suit pants pocket. Hunts deer with a bow. Fish's porgy with his sons. I've seen him in both cowboy boots and a Kippa. And he's the best lawyer I've ever had. And I've had dozens of them.
In the last few years, on my behalf, Alex has taken on the global private equity giant, Warburg Pincus, and won. The significantly-less-than-global private equity runt, Genstar Capital, and won. And the very much global $40B technology conglomerate, Roper Technologies (NYSE:ROP), and won.
And I expect no less of a result this time around. So if it's all the same to you ma'am, I guess I'll just have to steel myself for the wrath of the 800 lb. legal gorilla that is Mayer, Brown & Gina...and just see you folks in court.
NICE, HARDWORKING PEOPLE
Since I've moved to the Island I've met some of the nicest, hardest working people I've ever known. There's all the women at The Islander who know my egg order by heart now. Mike at Jack's Marine who's running his store like Fauci would. The guys at Picozzi's fuel who keep everyone gassed up. The guys at Shelter Island Wines who keep ME gassed up. The crew at Stars Cafe that are doing the best they can to make us all feel like there's nothing-to-see-here. The sailors that work the umbilical cords that are our north and south ferries, the super nice cops that checked on my house when I was stuck down in Mexico and gave me the "all-clear", the "geese-police" lady at animal control who helped tame a daffy duck on my dirt...and on and on.
And so why is it that all these people can do their jobs and do it with a smile - even behind a mask - and yet we all have to act like our elected officials are doing us some sort of favor for being asked to provide that same sort of nice, customer service orientated EQUAL TREATMENT to everyone on this Island?
I'm sorry, but your attitude sucks, folks. And I'm not putting up with it any longer. If you don't want to do your job and do it with a smile, please, do us all a big favor and move on.
MY NEIGHBOR LADY
At some point in time, my next door neighbor-lady grabbed a few hundred feet of my dirt - before it was my dirt - to expand her privet line and pool area. It was after all essentially abandoned land forever and if I were in her shoes I probably would have done the same thing. But when I started building I asked her if she could please move her trees back (which were about 6' on to my property and about 150' long) back on to her own land. About a year later she finally relented and moved them, but not without a parting shot. Never afraid of getting in the last word she told me that my new-comer behavior and "can-you-please-cut-me-a-break-here-I'm-really-having-a-bad-year" attitude was not consistent with what she described as "The Shelter Island Way".
To this day I literally have no idea what that was supposed to mean.
Stay tuned, folks. Much more to come.