Readers Write: Lone Ranger is thriving on chaos...again!

Readers Write: Lone Ranger is thriving on chaos...again!

As noted in my earlier letter, a potential candidate who is planning on running for office in June in the Village of Manorhaven election suddenly showed up at the monthly Board of Trustees meeting and took aim at Mayor John Popeleski and the Board of Trustees.

In a letter to the paper, Francesca Zahner pointed her finger at Mayor Popeleski to claim that she was “disgusted by the lack of professionalism shown by the current mayor and several trustees.”

As an attendee at that meeting, I witnessed how Zahner's comrade, Trustee Jeff Stone, was the cause of her alleged “reality TV chaos.” Stone came to the meeting with his hidden agenda to stir up controversy over a certain waterfront development project that was passed with proper procedure in 2023. Stone demanded that there should be a forum to inform the residents and address their concerns.

As public records show, a good number of public hearings were held at both the BOT and BZA meetings regarding that particular project. Stone's entourage of concerned residents had the opportunities to attend these meetings and spoke their concerned minds. Now that the project has been approved, suddenly Stone wanted to re-open discussion only because of his personal dislikes of the developers. Where were you, Mr. Stone, when public meetings were held for this project? Did you speak or submit your comments at these meetings?

As I said in the meeting, minutes and voting records of these hearings are public information and Stone could have foiled them, studied them and educated himself so he can communicate to these concerned residents on his own. But he simply wanted to re-open discussion, three months before the village election. What is his ulterior motive? And even after Mayor Popeleski, the trustees and the village attorney explained to him that it is not proper procedure to have an open discussion sponsored by the village, Stone kept ranting and raving about the need to have the “forum” and stirred up the audience's reaction against his adamancy. When Stone was told by the stenographer to talk “one person at a time,” he even took a shot at her and made her burst into tears.

If Stone is so concerned and annoyed by this project, he certainly can sponsor a forum on his own, paying out of his own pocket. As a taxpayer, I don't see why we need to spend our tax dollars to entertain his ideas.

On the other hand, Stone was working hard to get a local business' violation summons dismissed so they can continue operation. This business filed for permits to operate as a grab-and-go upon opening, while they are actually operating as a pizzeria/restaurant with an open firewood-burning pizza oven, which is a fire hazard! After being issued tickets of various violations, this business reached out to Stone for help.

Again, without doing his homework, Stone praised the owner as a good person and a respected businessman and urged the village board to “work with him.” In this case, he was not concerned at all with this business' disregard of the village building codes or public safety issues.

I am very surprised to see Stone open the back door for a business by tampering with the board of trustees. He is setting a precedence for preferential treatment and opening the village to possible legal actions in the future.

When I questioned Stone about his involvement with this business and demanded an explanation from him, his response was “why are you digging dirt on me?” This is the “transparency” he pledges to bring to our village?

So far every time I've presented Stone with a question, he has never given me a direct answer or explanation. Stone has demonstrated time and again that his only mission is to create chaos and disturbance for Mayor Popeleski and the board to gear up for the upcoming village election. He puts his political gain in front of the welfare of our village, he prioritizes doing personal favors over public safety, he challenges the legality of our village building codes.

What is he bringing to our village after all?

Richard Li
Village of Manorhaven

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