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The Bravest Little Rebel on Long Island

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - Found this story in a 1948 book "The Lore and Legend of Amagansett" Out of print. 

Tells the tale of local defiance and the famous showdown by Jedediah Conklin with the British Major Cockrane, commander of the English forces in the Hamptons.  

A British vessel laden with supplies for soldiers stationed at Southhampton and Sag Harbor came ashore east of Amagansett.  All the local teams were called upon to cart supplies.  A given number of many casks made the required load.  Finding one extra cask remaining on the beach Major Cockrane ordered Jedediah to take it on his cart.  Mr. Conklin boldly refused, despite angry oaths. Cockrane, who had an inflammable temper, rushed at the rebel with his sword, vowing to strike him dead.  Jedediah brandished his long ox goad and told the major if he came one step nearer, he would kill him. The officer weakened and rode on horseback to the East Hampton Tavern where he told the story, adding that Conklin was the bravest little rebel on Long Island. Just then Cockrane saw Jedediah come along with his ox cart load of casks.  Apparently relenting, the Major called to Conklin to drink with him.  The small but fearless Jedediah turned his back on him and said, "I'll see you burned in hell first."   

He was not further reprimanded.  

 

Sticking up for the home team:

CityWatchLA is a national treasure,"to encourage grassroots civic engagement through information, ideas and perspective" and they've been using the tagline "Politics. Perspectives. Participation."  

One reader wrote a very interesting letter to Ken, the editor, on behalf of her boss Meridith Baer who runs the largest, if not one of the largest home staging companies in the United States, and who I had referenced alongside others in a column about big bosses that don't come to the telephone.  

The article is here but the section shown here again is true (not false) and also my opinion. 

 

Meridith Baer Home:  A group that caters to rich people who require home staging before selling fancy real estate properties for millions of dollars. Turns out HR over there is poorly organized. But when Mer's organization went afoul of acceptable conduct and caused a student to lose a $4,000 scholarship, she's declined to be available.  So far.   

Meridith Baer's in house counsel told the CityWatch editor that what I had written was untrue and likely to be found to be defamatory. I disagree with this attorney who works for Meridith Baer.  Her name is Renee Becnel. What I wrote was totally true, not to mention the fact that I am an opinion writer and critic. 

This attorney who may be more accustomed to squeezing warehouse workers or negotiating freight tariffs or denying various liabilities also suggested that my sentences regarding the poor organization of Meridith Baer was merely an unfounded personal gripe. 

Of course it's a gripe, but it is very much founded on the shared experience of the people with whom I have been griping, namely, my daughter, Reva Preven, and the woman who referred us directly to Meridith Baer after a big song and dance, a former employee, Joann Ficca. I can't speak for CityWatchLA but I do not cede to anyone the personal gripe space.  

The attorney is also very upset at the complete lack of transparency and disclosure that it was me... whom Meridith refused to come to the phone to speak with.  For more Transparency, that Renee craves... once again here is the offending sentence: 

 

Meridith Baer Home:  A group that caters to rich people who require home staging before selling fancy real estate properties for millions of dollars. Turns out HR over there is poorly organized. But when Mer's organization went afoul of acceptable conduct and caused a student to lose a $4,000 scholarship, she's declined to be available.  So far.  

The purpose of writing about scoundrels repeatedly is that it can bring them back, as I wrote, from going "afoul of acceptable conduct." 

Many know that I am a recognized critic of office disorganization.  

And companies or agencies that get criticized by patrons and press have choices.    

Some say the way a company reacts to criticism says a lot about the company.   Depends.  

Renee Becnel, has a different view.   

She does not want to hear about minimum standards. The public demand it.  

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission watches carefully for discrimination in companies with over 100 employees.  eeocdata.org 

For instance, if an email is never responded to at all,  when the email was sent by a known party, what should the sender do? 

Is it appropriate to call the office to check about the content...and so on.  What if that person is the head of the company? 

Did it get through?  

What does HR will call you for days and days...with no result?  

Readers of CityWatchLA know that when a public official does not respond at City Hall, we can check with Ted Ross of ITA and he can confirm that the email is functional. 

When I reached out to speak to Meridith Baer, after the bad behavior by her HR team, I was accused of harassment by an unscrupulous attorney.  

Ms Baer may feel she's the queen of England, I don't feel that way.  I feel, like Don Corleone, she wants bad news delivered quickly. That's a Godfather reference from the prior article.  Not intended to be scary or intimidating.   

The attorney has since suggested that her personnel team was harassed by my professional effort to speak to the big boss over several month and four emails.  

The HR team was baffled by the request to speak with the big boss about the referral. They did not, however, want Meridith to speak to a critic of the personnel team's negligence.  Tough bind.  It's not fun when your questionable conduct (allowing the clock to run on a kid's funding) down in HR, is outed to the big boss.   

That's why HRs everywhere often like to work in the shadows. Lot's of secrecy and a nasty file on each and every employee.   

The lawyer who must have known that I'd written hundreds of columns on CityWatch and in the Daily News, The Intercept, 

yet she felt that writing the following sentences...

 

Meridith Baer Home:  A group that caters to rich people who require home staging before selling fancy real estate properties for millions of dollars. Turns out HR over there is poorly organized. But when Mer's organization went afoul of acceptable conduct and caused a student to lose a $4,000 scholarship, she's declined to be available.  So far.   

.... was a continuation of the (harassing) behavior.   Asking to speak to the boss was step one, CityWatchLA was... "a new outlet!"  for my harassment.  

 She claimed that there is a disconnect between my comments and the purpose of CityWatch.   

Is it not about speaking truth to power, even if the power comes in the packaging of a real estate mogul, with an eye for oversized plants?  

Is there some kind of exemption? 

It turns out, according to Renee the attorney, CityWatch is not on a "mission to defame companies and individuals, and Mr. Preven is engaged in an inappropriate use of the CityWatch forum. It all runs completely counter to the transparency and honesty that your site demands of our civic bodies and public organizations." 

The  big closer, "Mr. Preven erodes the integrity of your site and exposes CityWatch to the risks inherent in publishing these types of statements." 

 

Meridith Baer Home:  A group that caters to rich people who require home staging before selling fancy real estate properties for millions of dollars. Turns out HR over there is poorly organized. But when Mer's organization went afoul of acceptable conduct and caused a student to lose a $4,000 scholarship, she's declined to be available.  So far.  

She also asked that any references to Ms. Baer and Meridith Baer Home be retracted and removed as soon as possible. 

Done. 

She also, asked that CityWatchLA refrain from publishing anything further regarding the matter including Mr. Preven's personal views of or gripes with our company and Ms. Baer.

 

(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch.) The views expressed and content submitted do not necessarily reflect those of CityWatch or CityWatch writers.