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Letter to editor East Hampton Star

Lawsuit Dismissals
East Hampton
November 12, 2019

Dear Editor,
I am writing to give you some background on some recent disturbing events regarding the upcoming village election.
As stated in my letter to the editor of two weeks ago, Mr. Larsen and the village parted ways at the end of 2016. I will not get into the reasons for that here. I simply want to make it clear that what has happened since then goes beyond the bounds of what some would think is customarily part of a normal village election campaign.

As was reported in The Star, Mr. Larsen sued the village shortly after his separation, and in that suit alleged things about me that he knew were blatantly false. Why he targeted me in particular is anybody’s guess. I believe I know the reasons for it, but I will not speculate here. Fortunately, the lawsuit was dismissed, but not before great cost to the village taxpayer. To demonstrate the frivolousness of his suit, he proceeded to sue the village a second time, for not supplying him with requested information under the Freedom of Information Act for his first lawsuit. Curiously, he filed the second lawsuit even before the allotted time frame for supplying the originally requested information had elapsed. That suit also was dismissed, but, again, not before costing the village taxpayer thousands of dollars.

I mention the initial lawsuits as the precursor for what was to come. After the lawsuit dismissals, Mr. Larsen began a campaign of continuing FOIA requests to the village in the hopes of finding something that the village board, and in particular me, had done that could be construed as illegal or unethical.

In all, he has requested information from the village a total of at least 12 times since his separation. The bulk of those have been since he began his campaign for mayor. Most can be considered legitimate inquiries, with some exceptions. He always makes them very general in nature, and in many cases he singles me out when requesting information. This suggests that he is on a fishing expedition, rather than a legitimate effort to support a belief that he may uncover some wrongdoing. His requests range from his original lawsuit, having no merit, to the very mundane request for the Fire Department gym records. What information he hopes to glean from gym records one can only imagine. Again, these requests require a great deal of manpower and expense in order to fill. One such request took 30 employee hours to complete. He knows that if the village should innocently miss supplying him with just one piece of paper that pertains to his request, he could then sue us for not completely filling that request.

Most recently, his FOIA requests have taken on a more personal and perhaps sinister nature. In the last month, he has requested all information that the village has on two properties that I am associated with in the village, including my personal residence. I am not concerned with what is in those records. My concern is that he is using the guise of his campaign to intimidate me from exposing pertinent information about him.

My concerns are supported by the fact that his latest FOIA request for my personal residence records occurred early Friday morning, Nov. 8, the day after my letter exposing his unethical issues appeared in your paper. To me, that is a clear effort to intimidate, since those records have nothing to do with the issues most important to village residents.
The other curious thing about all of this is that I am not even running against Mr. Larsen for mayor in this election.

Therefore, there is no other reason for him to target me other than for personal reasons.Sadly, Mr. Larsen has opened the door to this unnecessary dialogue, and it is my sincere hope that moving forward we can all concentrate on those issues that will affect village residents in the future. Our continued existence as one of the “most beautiful villages” you will find anywhere is at stake.

Sincerely,
RICK LAWLER



The Elms Party
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