Saltaire Summary

By Hugh O’Brien

Well, we’re into the late spring doldrums here, that three- or four-week period between Memorial Day and the start in earnest of real summer … made a bit longer this year with the early calendar. Here it is, a week after Memorial Day, and it’s still May. (Although the welcoming vista passengers and crew were presented with whilst disembarking from the 6:40 p.m. ferry last Friday evening certainly perked things up. If you weren’t there, well, it’s a family newspaper and all that.)

Anyway, given the lull there’s not much new to recap or uncork, so we’ll concentrate on a few helpful hints and gentle reminders to get things off to a nice and legal start.

First off, though, we did hold an election May 22, and after distributing the walking-around money, ferrying homeless to the polls and stuffing the ballot boxes, we emerged with the closest election in 10 years, a mere five votes separating first place from third in the race for trustee.

Incumbent Alex Chefetz came in first with 100 votes even, followed by this correspondent at 96 and, close behind, Trustee Ann Connolly at 95. It was all good and civil among friends, no lawsuit or 5-4 vote to stop the count or anything. But the long count is a fast track to several nervous breakdowns in one evening, as you might surmise. John Kennedy famously said victory has a thousand fathers, but in my case it has precisely 96, with each person who voted for me claiming his or hers was the magic ballot. Anyhow, on a personal note, my thanks to those who voted for me, my congratulations to Alex, and my strongest tribute possible to Ann, an excellent trustee and civic-minded individual who will one day, I trust, be back a-Board. I find myself rapidly envying her temporary retirement!

Overlooked amidst the trustee mayhem was the unopposed reelection of Village Justice Frank Markus. The notices featuring the results erroneously state that Frank’s is a two-year term, like the board members. Un-so; Frank’s back for a full four years, the only four-year term in the Village menagerie.

In a race absent of suspense, the only fun comes in perusing the usual roll call of imaginative write-ins that hallow our municipal election process. A total of 180 votes were (or, to be excruciatingly grammatical, was) cast, and in the race for the bench Frank drew 123, with 16 write-ins and, by deduction, 41 blanks. Of course, many people draw blanks when it comes to Village government, but the write-ins are always educational: 6 for former Trustee and Village Prosecutor Hillary Richard; 4 for another former Justice, Nick DiCostanzo; and 1 each for Bruce Rich (former trustee), Scott Rosenblum (former mayor), Jon Leitner, Chris Clarkin, Vern Henriksen and, as mandated by Village law, the beloved late dog, Pal. However, all of them except Vern has a law degree, so the votes were responsible exercises in democracy. Judge Markus is once more free to make the law instead of interpreting it, like all those power-mad activist judges. Who elected them anyway? Oh, yeah, well … okay, truth be told, Frank is judicious and fair. Even the most ruthless criminals have nothing to fear. Wait … all right, Frank is simply good, and when making out the check, remember it’s Markus with a k.

Unusually, the roster of write-ins for trustee duplicated no names found on the justice ballot, and no multiple votes: 1 each for Sedat Beqaj, Mario Posillico, Allison Williams, Jim Azzinaro Jr., Jim Rieger, Michael Valente and Byron Golub. Mario especially was reportedly extremely disappointed at falling a hundred votes short of losing his salary and being forced to do the same work for free.

Speaking of Vern, one useful village perennial now pinned to the bulletin boards is “Vernon’s Top Ten Dos and Don’ts for Saltaire Garbage Collection.” (How do you spell the plural of “do”? Dos? Do’s? Does? A computer language, a Simpsonesque exclamation, a bunch of baby deer. Does sound a doozy.) I thought the Top 10 list went out with Letterman, but basically this batch has some necessary pointers, such as recycle just 1’s and 2’s unbagged in your WRAP can; put all regular rubbish in plastic bags in a dedicated can; only junk in junk-only containers; flattened cardboard, newspapers and the like atop the containers; and have the stuff out for collection by 6 a.m. Same old, same old. Oh, dead batteries can be tossed in the dead battery bin at the security station on Bay and Broadway walks. The bin was the inspiration of Peter Patterson, sort of a lightning bolt from the blue, so if we raze that house to raise some green space, we’ll memorialize the site where once we parked our dead batteries by naming it Battery Park.

For battery of a different kind, there’s “Chief Dennis’ Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Summer Season.” Okay, first, it should be “Dennis’s.” Second, and not to be taken with a grain of salt, battery is verboten except in that aforementioned bin. Third, register, lock, and safely operate bikes. Fourth, leash, pick up after and escort dogs in the proper locales. No food at the beach or ball playing from dusk till dawn, and in emergencies, like seeing the undead playing ball between dusk and dawn, dial 911. The poster parts by repeating its opening admonition, “Let’s Have a Safe and Enjoyable Summer Season!” A tad too North Korean in its enforced cheerfulness, perhaps, but a few rules that are well taken.

We close this time with yet more unwanted news, the passing in these past two weeks of two more dear and much-loved Saltairians: Mel London, who died on May 18 at 92, and Adele Seltzer, who passed away May 27, age 86. Mel was a brilliant filmmaker, author and baker, a longtime member of the Fire Company, who for many years made his voice heard in considered ways and to constructive effect to make Saltaire a better place. Adele had a successful career, even more successfully raised a wonderful family, and put up with her late husband Hal’s jokes for decades, no mean feats any of these. Thoughtful, educated, articulate, infinitely patient and kind, full of sage advice and caring of others, Adele was, in common with Mel, the kind of person we need more of in this here burg. But they gave us their all for a great many years, and leave us with memories of two wonderful friends whose nature we loved and whose characters we might do well to emulate. To Mel’s wife, Sheryl, and Adele’s children, Steve and Amy, and their families, our deepest sympathies … and thanks for sharing.

Hugh can be emailed for news tips at saltaire@fireisland-news.com.

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