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Mar 4, 2009 1:02 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Supervisor has bone to pick over councilwoman's dog

Mar 4, 2009 1:02 PM

Mounting tension between two potential political rivals has spilled over from debate over capital budgets and financial restructuring to the issue of a 12-pound dog.

After last week’s contentious Southampton Town Board meeting, during which a proposal to reorganize the town’s finance department was shot down, Town Supervisor Linda Kabot suggested that the proposal’s initiator, Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst, was violating town policy by regularly bringing her dog to Town Hall.

Ms. Throne-Holst said she had no idea that anyone was upset with her for bringing Frankie, her dachshund/poodle mix, to work, and had she known she would have stopped, which is what she said she is going to do now.

“I apologize if I offended anyone,” she said. “No one has ever said a thing to me. But I’m sorry and will never let him step another paw inside Town Hall again.”

After originally pointing out last week that Ms. Throne-Holst was bringing her dog to Town Hall, Ms. Kabot said Tuesday that she did not want to discuss the issue.

“I really don’t want to get involved with it as this will be considered petty at this point with the other bickering going on,” Ms. Kabot said. “There is no need to create more tension and dysfunction in town government.”

Ms. Throne-Holst said she began bringing Frankie to work when her youngest son went away to school and after Christine Russell, the town’s assistant animal shelter supervisor, suggested that he be trained as a therapy dog for senior citizens. Ms. Russell said she suggested Frankie as a therapy dog after her boxer, which she had been using for that purpose, died. Ms. Russell said the size and temperament of the councilwoman’s dog made him well suited for senior citizen therapy and that many of the town’s shelter dogs are not adequately socialized for such work.

“I rarely get home before 9 or so in the evening, with community meetings and the like, and I was worried about the little guy being left alone for so many hours,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “He usually hangs out with me in my office and greets people when they walk in. In fact, when I don’t bring him, people ask about him.”

Although Ms. Throne-Holst said Frankie is in the process of being certified as a therapy dog, and bringing him to Town Hall is part of that training, that has not stopped some of her colleagues from voicing displeasure with the councilwoman’s canine companion.

“It’s a matter of common courtesy,” said Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, whose office is next door to Ms. Throne-Holst. “The sign on the door reads ‘no dogs, except service dogs.’ So we have a town councilperson who feels she can do whatever she wants. It certainly raises questions and concerns.”

But Ms. Throne-Holst rejected that characterization and said in no way does she feel entitled or privileged.

“I wouldn’t mind anyone else bringing their dog to work, so long as that dog was friendly and not a nuisance,” she said. “The supervisor, nor anyone else for that matter, has ever complained or said a word to me about Frankie.”

“The conduct of an elected official is really under self-policing, and not my responsibility,” Ms. Kabot said. “I am not my sister’s keeper.”

Ms. Graboski said town employees are afraid to say anything for fear of losing their jobs.

“That’s ridiculous,” Ms. Throne-Holst countered, adding that her colleagues on the board, including the supervisor, are not fearful of such reprisal and have never confronted her.

Ms. Graboski said she has never mentioned the issue to her fellow councilwoman for fear of it affecting town business. “I stay away from personal issues,” Ms. Graboski said. “I assume she would tell me, ‘Who are you, the dog police?’”

Ms. Throne-Holst said she never got the impression Ms. Graboski felt that way and would not have responded the way her colleague assumed. “Had she, or anyone else, told me she had an issue with him, I certainly would have respected that, as I’m doing now.”

The other board members, Chris Nuzzi and Sally Pope, whose offices are also adjacent to Ms. Throne-Holst’s, said they are not bothered by their colleague’s pet and have not received any complaints.

“I can’t believe we’re even having this discussion,” Mr. Nuzzi said when asked about the dog. “Right now we have much more important things to focus on, and I do not wish to be sidetracked, or even comment on, the desire of a town council member to bring her dog to work with her.”

Ms. Pope said Frankie makes the Town Board office a happier place and enjoys him being there. “This may sound funny, but he humanizes the office,” she said. “He comes up and loves you. And sometimes, he’s the only one to do that.”

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What about common sense? Pets do not belong in the workplace. I dont know of any place of business that would allow an employee to bring a pet to the workplace. I know its the east end of Long Island and not a corporate office in Manhattan, but ther are unspoken rules of professional etiquette that should be observed. Southampton Town should not have to create a policy banning pets from the workplace. Any person with an ounce of professionalism or common sense should know that bringing a pet ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Mar 4, 09 10:50 AM
Oh, for goodness sakes - this is the stupidest issue I've seen so far in Town Hall politics. Why on earth can't we have a dog or 2 (or 3) in Town Hall? What harm can this little mutt get into? I can see if someone brought in a St. Bernard or Rottweiler, but this little guy is only 12 pounds of fluff. If anything, studies have proven that animals in the workplace actually work to bring blood pressures down. From what I've read, this is exactly what they need over there right now. I say we keep ...more
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Mar 4, 09 11:01 AM
How trivial ! Let Ms. Throne-Holst bring her dog to work !
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Mar 4, 09 11:04 AM
According to this article, Ms. Kabot said, "“I really don’t want to get involved with it as this will be considered petty at this point with the other bickering going on,” Ms. Kabot said. “There is no need to create more tension and dysfunction in town government.” Then why did you bring it up in the first place and why is it being reported in the Press. I thought the supervisor did not like airing personnel matters in the newspaper. She said that way of addressing such issues was hurtful. Are ...more
By Viewpoint (26), Southampton on Mar 4, 09 11:53 AM
Keep the dog, get rid of Ms. Kabot
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Mar 4, 09 11:55 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By NYC (7), Amagansett on Mar 4, 09 12:55 PM
just a cheap low blow by kabot to try to distract the public from the real issues like the budget fiasco thats going on!
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Mar 4, 09 1:04 PM
A Town CouncilPerson, someone in a leadership position is unaware that bringing a pet to work is unprofessional? Really, she didn't know any better? Really? Did she get the dog from ARod's cousin?

By CommonSense (71), Southampton on Mar 4, 09 1:20 PM
Your tax dollars hard at work
By lgfla (8), Southampton on Mar 4, 09 1:54 PM
Nancy Graboski! Shame on you!! Do represent town employees "Afraid of loosing their jobs"? How can you make such an accusation without ANY proof. It is obvious that you will do whatever the Supervisor wants you to do. You are both attacking the councilwomen who is asking the tough questions about the town finances. With all of the important issues the town faces, this is what you choose to comment upon.
Again, Nancy, You are such a disappointment.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Mar 4, 09 2:16 PM
O my heavens! The Town is missing how many millions of dollars, and this is a story?

I like dogs, but they don't belong in the workplace, much less Town Hall! And is sure does seem like the Councilwoman has a sense of entitlement!
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 4, 09 2:20 PM
Ms Graboski, were you really fearful for your job, you couldnt talk until now, wouldnt it have been less humiliating for you to not have this go public?????? this is such a ridiculous article, I think Holst handled it beautifully.
By leavingli66 (8), southampton on Mar 4, 09 2:39 PM
A bunch of cats fighting over a dog. Professionalism has sunk to a new low at Town hall along with transparency, good governance, fairness and competency.
Send all of them to the pound and get a new breed!
By Phanex (83), Southampton on Mar 4, 09 2:42 PM
keep dog send throne holst home!
By native son (9), Cutchogue on Mar 4, 09 3:27 PM
Wow! One would have thought that a single mother raising 3 teenagers, with a full time job in public service would also be allowed to have some concern for animal rights too. Unless there was a public outcry against small pets in the work place, I would rather have a public servant working 16 hours a day, then have her rush home to have to take care of her pets. When I lived in Washington DC all the public servants left the office at 4.55pm, you have someone working to 9pm every night and you ...more
By PhilippeB (1), west palm beach on Mar 4, 09 3:34 PM
Why don't we just hire another employee to look after the dog!!!!
By eastender09 (29), southampton on Mar 4, 09 4:22 PM
Ms Kabot, to claim you don't want to bring up something 'petty' because it would cause further 'dysfunction?' Then, why did you?

You're not your sister's keeper? Well I do think you are in charge. Seems like you could have quietly mentioned this to Ms. Throne Holst when it first came to your attention and she would have obliged.

Whether you like it or not, any management job, and I am assuming that's what a Town Supervisor position is considered, requires dealing with petty and ...more
By RealLocal (76), Bridgehampton on Mar 4, 09 4:31 PM
Are you kidding me? Ms Kabot-please go away. You just made yourself look the fool here in a big, bad way. Shouldn't you be worried with more important issues involving the actual town? Get a clue! You obviously have some sort of personal vendetta with this woman and you shouldn't be dealing with it this way. As town supervisor it's your job to ensure the success and survival of its residents, not to worry about a tiny canine that has nothing to do with the proposal this woman created. If ...more
By eastendgolf (28), Manorville on Mar 4, 09 5:33 PM
Wow, yet a new low. Every dog should have its day. Since when did sniping slip onto the town agenda?
By JVB (7), Westhampton on Mar 4, 09 8:09 PM
i have a solution. hire a man.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Mar 5, 09 6:56 AM
i have another solution. a no holds jello wrestling match. both of my suggetions would reflect the seriousness of this situation adequately.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Mar 5, 09 6:57 AM
Everybody bring their dog! Bring your kids! Bring your pet Monkey. It's a workplace you idiots. You see people in charge breaking protocol and it undermines the system.
By lirider (288), Westhampton Beach on Mar 5, 09 6:59 AM
This is Linda Kabot trying to drag others down. It is her leadership style. By the way, well said, PhilippeB.
Now...can our chief financial officer, Linda Kabot, please justify our capital budget and stop sniping and do your job.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Mar 5, 09 8:18 AM
If SH Town sold tickets to the jello-wrestling..............but seriously, Kabot is an embarrassment and a hack. This is not only tax dollars at work - it is our votes at work, which makes it even more pathetic. What's next - will Gal Friday have Code Enforcement bust down the door to Annas office and arrest her?

Kabot should just resign, if she wants to stay in Politics, let her run against Mayor Mini Madoff Motz in Quogue - where she lives. I think it was 80 votes to get elected and then ...more
By G (342), Southampton on Mar 5, 09 11:52 AM
hey why not have the dog become the auditor for the books? he'll do a better job than Kabot's Klowns
By littleplains (305), olde england on Mar 5, 09 2:17 PM
I cannot even believe I am reading this story. It's small, narrow minded and a waste of time! This is an embarrassment to everyone that lives in Southampton Town. Ms. Kabot and Ms. Graboski focus on the issues! This just shows how low you both are.
By powerwalker (52), Southampton on Mar 5, 09 9:50 PM
Good Heavens! If little Frankie is in training as a therapy dog, why shouldn't he be allowed into Town Hall as any other service dog?
By SusieD (115), Southampton on Mar 6, 09 9:20 AM
didn't the former town clerk, marietta seaman, bring her puppies to work? and weren't they being trained as service dogs? never heard a peep about marietta's dogs. so maybe this isn't really about dogs at all.
By easthamptoner (34), easy hampton on Mar 6, 09 2:48 PM
I agree with Councilman Nuzzi, is this really a pertinent issue right now? It's a small dog in an office, get over it.
By EQ Local (4), East Quogue on Mar 6, 09 3:36 PM
There are alot more important things that LInda Kabot should be worrying about in town hall. If no one complained then there should be no reason for this argument. If someone was affraid to speak up about it than maybe ther shouldn't be working for the town because maybe they will be affraid to speak up about other matters. I can think of alot easier and nicer ways to ask someone to stop doing something than bringing it up to public. I can see if she was asked several times to not bring the dog ...more
By courtesy (43), Southampton on Mar 6, 09 6:01 PM
It is amazing that there is so much free time at town hall that Anna Throne -Holst and Marietta Seamen can care for her dogs at work . Can anyone bring there dog to the town hall? Is there a size requirement? Who pays if someone is bitten or trips over a dog? How much do these people get paid? I agree with the other comentators where are these peoples mannors. This is a place of bussiness.
This sounds like a case for Pat Lynch it could keep her busy and away from the Southampton Town Animal ...more
By M (2), Southampton on Mar 6, 09 9:27 PM
Seems more than a little unfocused, not to mention mean spirited of Ms. Kabot to go after a harmless little dog during a budget discussion and use it to try to make a colleague look incompetent.

How petty. Does anyone remember Bebe, the Post Office dog? He is burried at the P.O. What a great ambassador for the place he was.

I'm not advocating that everyone starts bringing their pit bulls to work, but small, friendly creatures do no harm, might do some good in the stress ...more
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Mar 7, 09 6:51 AM
It seems lately, that if it is not a dog fight in Town Hall ,it is a cat fight
There is the medical issue and concern of allergies and asthma! Public officials should view how their behavior impacts others--not all about her desires and the dog's well being. A dog's dander can trigger an asthmatic attack and aggravate allergies.
The public and town employees using the building for a short amount of time or a longer period can have health problems from a dog's presence. And I agree, the employees will be reluctant to "rock the boat" about a superior's behaviors--the ...more
By sb (1), Southampton on Mar 7, 09 9:21 AM
34 comments! Good lord - and I'm dumb enough to be #35 - well shame on me - but the 34 previous - yea - the fault is with her Press - who the h##l cares?
Just give me some tax relief. Anybody - please - Linda - don't be distracted
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Mar 8, 09 10:37 PM
Dogs rule! It sounds like a lot of people drool
By clamman (1), Westhampton on Mar 9, 09 2:52 PM
I think the issue here is that Ms. Throne-Holst is putting herself above everyone else! What happens if everyone employeed at Town Hall brings thier pet to work? Or perhaps every visitor brings in thier pets when they have business at Town hall. While I love being with my pets, and do bring them to work with me periodically that is why I chose the profession I did so I would be given that opportunity. Perhaps Ms Throne-Holst should start working at the animal shelter on a daily basis so she can ...more
By animalcaregiver (14), sag harbor on Mar 9, 09 4:27 PM
By kkathkon@aol.com (3), Flanders on Mar 9, 09 11:35 PM
"What happens if everyone employeed at Town Hall brings thier pet to work," animalcaregiver?

The mean IQ inside Town Hall would rise considerably!

Taxes, people! Taxes! And that missing $19 million!

Who votes these people into office?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Mar 10, 09 7:58 PM
Dogs do not belong at work. Ms. Seaman was a "puppy walker". The dogs wore a vest that identified them. These dogs are not pets, they are guidedogs in training. If Ms. Throne-Holst's dog was a true service dog, it would be identified as such. What she said is she may use the dog in this capacity. Her reason for bringing the dog to work is she doesn't want it to be at home while she works. There are thousands and thousands of people across the country who work long hours and have dogs and ...more
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Mar 22, 09 8:44 PM