Town Employee Jackets

Written By: Dan Rattiner

Town Employee Jackets5

On Tuesday at the regular town board meeting in East Hampton, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said he felt so proud of all his town employees that he wanted to give them all a gift with his compliments. It would be a fleecelined jacket with the Town Seal on it and the name of the employee stitched over the heart.

Initially, he had hoped this would be a surprise, he said. But then someone pointed out he would need to ask everybody what size they wore and what official “name” they wanted stitched on the jacket. So it couldn’t be a surprise. It wouldn’t do to have something ordered in size XXXL for Sluggo only to find out that Sluggo was actually the loving nickname that everybody called the lady in the Town Clerk’s office who was a size six.

Many of those at the town meeting, including some of the town board members, were not overwhelmingly enthusiastic about what the Supervisor wanted to give out of the goodness of his heart (and out of the pocketbooks of the taxpayers.)

The reasons were simple. For one thing Mr. Wilkinson had spent four years cutting and slashing both at the payroll and at the supply office in order to get the out of whack budget back into balance – an extraordinary feat that kept the town from bankruptcy — so there would be many people, in addition to the 200 town employees, who once worked for the town and now no longer did, and everybody knows who these people are because this is a small town, who wouldn’t be getting any jacket. So this would be an I’m Still Here But You’re Not jacket, in spite of the Supervisor’s good intentions.

The other thing was the cost. Wilkinson said that 200 jackets was just $30 a jacket, so the total would be just $6,000 which wasn’t very much for a town this size. Bot others said this cost was nevertheless $6,000 was a completely unnecessary cost. How could this be? Mrs. Overby, a town board member, commented that maybe the money should be put toward paying for clothing for just a few employees, for example, the Sanitation Department, which had not been provided with new clothing since 2010. Think about that for a minute or two.

Another town board member wondered how the Supervisor could do such a thing without a vote of the whole five member town board. Wasn’t this just like him, plowing ahead with what he wanted?

And then there were people who thought the Supe was just a single step away from requiring that all town employees wear them while at work, which they really didn’t want to do, since it would just make everyone look alike, like they were at a McDonalds or something. One person in the audience told the East Hampton Star that he thought perhaps there would be a GPS device secretly stitched into each of the jackets so Wilkinson could keep track of where everybody was at all times.

Whatever the reaction, Wilkinson said he was moving ahead with the town jacket idea. He said he had already gathered up the sizes and names of all town employees, except for the Town Planning and Budget office employees and he would proceed to following up on this at the next box lunch informal board meeting.

If you think about it, Mr. Wilkinson, who came on board here to save the day (and did, like it or not), was formerly in real life a Vice President of Walt Disney in charge of Personnel, who are, as we all know, from mouse ears to white tap shoes, all dressed up in uniform, so it is not surprising he would come up with this idea as a sort of perk for everybody. Shouldn’t they just love it?

“I don’t know how the residents would feel about employees that don’t want to wear a town jacket,” Mr. Wilkinson told the Star. “That bothers me.”

On the other hand, if he wants to call me up at Dan’s Papers, I can tell him about the improvements in work output that have taken place since I bought company jackets for everybody who works at the paper. We have a morning muster. We have a bugler play reveille. At the end of the day we have our daily staff meeting where we give out medals to well performing employees for that day and send them home after reciting the pledge of allegiance (to Dan’s Papers.) Once a year, we give promotions to good employees which include an extra gold chevron to be worn on the sleeve above the ones already there. Some people have eight or nine chevrons.

Fistfights have all but disappeared from the halls of Dan’s Papers. Even loud shouting has fizzled out. And the number of births in the office has dramatically improved from years gone by.

As a result of this success, there’s been an idea we have discussed from time to time, where we consider paying to provide from Dan’s Papers profits jackets for all the different sorts of people you find in the Hamptons so you can tell which group they belonged to. Red would be for the celebrities. You’d easily be able to see that that person who looks like Seinfeld or Madonna really is Seinfeld or Madonna. Blue would be for yachtsmen. Green would be for the wealthy old money set. Tan would be for the clammers, surfcasters and other locals, orange and pink would be for the twenty somethings and camaflogue would be for the environmentalists.

There’s a lot that can be said for knowing who is who in the Hamptons. And all can be sartorially equipped at a toll booth at the crossing of the Shinnecock Canal bridge. For a fee, of course.