Bellport Village: Don’t Vote For David Smith

Part of the stock in trade of any news organization is to let the public know the facts about candidates seeking political office, and to assess their fitness for the position. In reporting, it’s the media’s responsibility to fact check and to determine the accuracy of the information they’ve received because simple fairness requires this, not only so a person’s character will not be unwarrantedly impacted but, more importantly, so the public is given a fair and honest view of the candidate’s fitness. As we all see from the Presidential campaigns now ongoing, this is a hard job and often incompletely performed as the media typically receives its information from third parties who invariably have their own agendas.

This correspondent, however, is in the rare position where fact checking doesn’t need to be done as I was a witness to the events discussed here, and those events show with clarity why David Smith should not be given your vote for Bellport Village Trustee. A little background is in order:

David Smith is a resident of Bellport and the husband of Anne Hayes, a local lawyer. Both Mr. Smith and Ms. Hayes are members of the Bellport Methodist Church, as am I. The church has run an early age education program for many years and, in 2010 Ms. Hayes was in charge of overseeing the operation of that program, one that was operated daily by a church employee. The church also had a Board of Trustees that oversees the properties of the church, and is concerned with liabilities associated with the school program. As a result of the trustees believing that the Church might be better served if the school was operated under an independent contractor management contract with the operator of the school program, the employee was asked by a trustee to draw up an independent management agreement – one that would, in essence, separate the management function of the school from Ms. Hayes’ oversight. As a result, Ms. Hayes fired the employee in order to keep control of the school.


As Ms. Hayes had previously knocked heads with the particular trustee of the Church, and as she became aware of e-mail communication between the employee and the trustee about the impending business plan, Ms. Hayes and a number of church members aligned with her moved to oust the trustee by alleging the trustee had breached a breach of fiduciary duty based on the e-mail communications. Mind you, the entire Board of Trustees had approved the trustee asking the employee to explore setting up the non-profit organization, as it would help insulate the Church from liability, and other boards of the Church were to review it as well. Ms. Hayes and her cabal then pushed the new Minister to remove the trustee and he did so inasmuch as the last Minister he had recently replaced had been moved out due to his not appeasing Ms. Hayes’ group. A classic political battle had erupted.

The allegations having been made, the Minister informed the trustee that she would be removed unless the trustee resigned, and the trustee had to hire an attorney to advise her. The attorney reviewed the Discipline of the Church and found that where a trustee was to be removed the trustee had the right to have the matter decided not by the Minister and the small group of members aligned with Ms. Hayes, but by the whole congregation. The trustee took that option – one that is rarely invoked and had never been used in this particular church.

At the trial before the Church’s congregation – one of whom was me – the group backing Ms. Hayes prosecuted the trustee and produced several e-mails between the trustee and the employee – which had been taken off of the employee’s personal e-mail account – about the progress of creating a business plan to set up a non-profit to run the school. With some creative editing of the e-mails, the case seemed minimally damning – a trustee asking the employee to set out a business plan to take over operation of the school. Numerous personal e-mails – spanning a period both before and after the employee had been fired – were used in this prosecution. This is where Mr. Smith comes back into the picture.

On cross-examination of the matter, the attorney asked the church member who produced the e-mails where he had obtained them. He said that they were obtained from the Church’s computer. He was then asked how he had obtained e-mails that were dated after the date that the employee had been fired. Again, he said they had come from the Church’s computer. When pressed as to how he had received them, he then admitted that he had gotten them from David Smith. The attorney then asked – “The same David Smith that is married to Anne Hayes, who oversees the school?” He agreed.

The attorney then turned to Mr. Smith and asked him – “Where did you get the e-mails from?”  Smith’s answer: “From the computer the employee used.” The attorney asked, “How did you get them after she had been fired and was no longer using that computer?” Smith’s answer: “She didn’t protect her password.” Smith then admitted on further questioning that he had removed the computer from the Church in order to look at the communications between the employee and the trustee, and that he had done so even after she was no longer working for the Church. In many instances Smith had hacked into and read the e-mail messages to the employee even before the employee had read them. When asked if he understood that he had illegally hacked in to the employee’s personal e-mail account, Ms. Hayes jumped up and said: “We’ve looked into it and it’s legal.” When the attorney noted to her that it was a federal offense to open up and look into a person’s personal e-mail communications without permission – much like opening up someone else’s mail – and likely put the Church in the position of being sued, neither Smith nor Hayes had anything to say. The vote was taken by the congregation and the trustee – appropriately – was exonerated.

David Smith – by his own admission in front of 50+ Church members – had no objection to sneakily looking into the private communications of others, and in sharing confidential information with others, in order to achieve his and his wife’s political objectives. Nothing short of being an electronic Peeping Tom, Smith sought to excuse his conduct before the Church by suggesting that it was “legal” – as if that mattered. The morality of the act completely escaped him and his wife. The fact that his actions were clearly not legal only shows that he’s inept and ill-advised.

Ann Hayes has now made it her life’s mission to castigate the South Country Ambulance Company and to obtain some other ambulance service for the Village of Bellport. This is part of a continuing vendetta by her and her three or four cronies. Clearly, her husband’s being on the Village Board is just another attempt to further that goal, and with the help of someone who feels no compunction about invading and using private information. Is this who you want representing you? Putting David Smith anywhere near the confidential information held by the Village only places temptation before the Devil. Don’t get burned – DON’T VOTE FOR DAVID SMITH.

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