Some of you may know Kathy Brown. She has been Long Beach resident and homeowner for many years. Her late husband was a beloved teacher and coach, and her now grown children were popular and well-known in our community. Kathy is also involved in community affairs, and of late has been working against our Town Board’s plan to continue a tax which should have expired this year. So, Kathy Brown was helping to organize the collecting of signatures for a petition to remonstrate against the tax. This remonstrance is of concern to the Town Board, and reportedly especially to Town Board President Peter Byvoets.
One day Kathy received a call from the Deputy Town Clerk Deanna Carlson. It seems that a neighbor of Kathy’s had made a Freedom of Information Act (F.O.I.A.) Request for the floor plan, septic records and related information concerning her home. Deanna said that she could not find all the records and was calling to see if they could be located. Kathy told Deanna that she did not have to be told who was making the request. She already knew.
The records were located and the first time Kathy saw her neighbor she asked him why he wanted them. He said that he did not have to tell her why he wanted the records concerning her home. They were public records and he did not have to explain to her why he wanted them. Nor did he explain why he simply did not ask her to begin with.
Kathy Brown’s neighbors are, in fact, Jeff and Kendra Bartlett. Kendra is the daughter and Jeff is the son-in-law of Town Board President Peter Byvoets, and both Jeff and Kendra are active in local government. Among other things, Kendra has been the Head of the Park Board and Jeff is a volunteer fireman. They are both active with the Long Beach Alliance and both were instrumental in Peter Byvoets election campaign. Jeff has also been known to do odd-jobs and to carry political water for his father-in-law. For example, during the Fall election campaign Peter Byvoets took to the floor of the council to complain on behalf of his son-in-law that Jeff Bartlett was not getting certain requested documents quickly enough. (Bartlett was always requesting documents, some of which he would seemingly have had no use for himself) Byvoets then related how he had to become personally involved to secure their release, implicitly witrh the advice of the Town Attorney. At the next Town Board Meeting when asked if he was seeking legal advice from the Town Attorney in order to obtain the documents for Bartlett, Byvoets did not know what the questioner was talking about.
But back to confrontation between Jeff Bartlett and Kathy Brown. When Bartlett demanded to know how Kathy had discovered that he was trying to obtain information about her home, Kathy told him about the telephone call from the deputy Town Clerk. Bartlett said, “Thank you for the information, because she broke the law by calling you and violated my rights. I’m going to het her fired!” Apparently Bartlett believes that the plans to Kathy Brown’s house and other information are not confidential but his request for it is, and that the Deputy Clerk (the same woman that his father-in-law had threatened with arrest for trying to attend the “secret” executive meeting of the town board in June (see: “Secrets Hurt” ) deserved to be fired for trying to locate the information he had requested.
Bartlett’s response concerned Kathy. Perhaps she was thinking of the $2,000.00 the Town was charged for research by the Town Attorney, research designed to support the proposition that the Deputy Clerk could not attend an executive meeting of the Town Board because she was not a resident, and which included a photograph of the clerk’s private home, research which nevertheless failed to establish its purpose. Or maybe she was simply concerned that Bartlett apparently believed that he could indeed use his connections to get Deanna fired. Either way she called Deanna to warn her and to assure her that she had done nothing wrong and in fact had done everything right.
The author remembers and longs for another Long Beach. A Long Beach when after an election the candidates all went on with their lives, and there wasn’t the kind of strife or hypocritical secrecy that the members of the Long Beach Party have brought us. Everyone got along, raised their children and went on with their lives, but that was before the current town government…and the zealots from the Long Beach Community Alliance….