Saturday, June 20, 2015

The letter...

As you might recall, in an earlier blog I wrote about my letter to New Hartford School Board President John Jadhon.

Apparently, Mr. Jadhon read the blog; because shortly thereafter, I received an email from another board member telling me that Mr. Jadhon didn’t get my email because I was inadvertantly given the wrong email address for Mr. Jadhon; although, it was correctly sent to nhart.org.

So I promptly wrote another email this time using what I was told was the correct email address.

I was approached by Mr. Jadhon at the May Budget Hearing to personally let me know that he didn’t get my first email. In fact, he said that he didn’t get the second email I sent either. Mr. Jadhon insisted that any emails sent to his school email address go directly to his work office.

Do they? I am not naive enough to believe that the school doesn’t route emails sent to nhart.org through the school first, then to the intended recipient.

I questioned Mr. Jadhon..doesn’t the school have a catch-all mailbox just in case someone mistakenly misspells a name when they address an important email to nhart.org?

Both emails were addressed to nhart.org; how could it be that someone at the school didn’t receive it? I know the school uses Gmail for board members email and I know for a fact that Gmail allows you to set up catch-all mailboxes. Why wouldn’t the school district set-up a catch-all mailbox just to capture any emails sent to nhart.org with misspelled names so they are not sent back to the sender as "undeliverable" or lost in space? What if it was critical that the email was received? Incidentally, none of my emails were returned to me as “undeliverable”. Does the school have a catch-all mailbox, after all? Is that what happened to my emails to Mr. Jadhon?

I also questioned Mr. Jadhon as to why the school website does not list the school email address for each board member since the board by-laws state:
S. Complaints

The usual channeling of complaints, especially those involving instruction, discipline or learning materials is from teacher to school building or district administrator, to Superintendent and then to the Board. In those cases where satisfactory adjustment cannot be made according to this procedure, complaints may be submitted to the Board. Citizens concerned over educational matters and issues should contact the Board or Superintendent in advance. When a concern goes to the Board, as a general rule, it should be submitted in advance in writing and signed, specifying the action desired or the remedy sought.
My comments/questions had nothing to do with a teacher or child, it was purely a board matter; policy would lead me to believe my choice was to either contact the board or the superintendent. So I chose to try to contact Board President Jadhon through an email; trouble is, I don't normally correspond with Mr. Jadhon, so I didn't have his email address.

It would have been helpful if the school’s website listed board member school email addresses with a “clickable” link so this whole episode could have been avoided.  Instead, the only contact for school board members on the school website is a contact form where it is mandatory that you give your full name and email address in order to send an email to the board.

But, alas, there is no mention of who will receive your message; perhaps you are supposed to assume that it goes to someone on the board. But who on the board? Is it possible that anything sent using this contact form gets run by School Superintendent Nole first and he then decides who on the board should receive it; or worse yet, sent to the circular file if it should be from someone in “that group”? Who would know the difference? What if the complaint is about Mr. Nole; does he self-monitor if the board should see it?

When I asked Mr. Jadhon about why school board members' school email addresses weren't on the school website, he said he thought they were on the bio page.  Really? I sure don't see them there.

Back to my letter…

My letter to Mr. Jadhon was distributed to the full board in their “Friday packet” for the discussion at the May 18th board meeting.

The discussion indeed took place at the May 18th meeting; however, there was no mention of the discussion regarding my letter in the minutes of the meeting that were presented for approval at the June 2, 2015 board meeting. Mr. Flemma asked that it be included and after some discussion, the board voted to amend the minutes stating the May 18th minutes would be approved at the next meeting on June 16th.

However, the amended minutes which were included with the June 16th board packet said:
“Mr. Jadhon distributed a letter that he received from Ms. Lawrence and Mr. Nole confirmed that the process and procedure that the Board follows to enter into Executive Session is correct.”
Basically, the minutes were now amended to make it appear that the school board has been correct all along; not because the school board was called out by my letter, but because they just were always following the Open Meetings Law! That is not what was said at the May 18th meeting; Mr. Flemma once again objected.

Without going into further detail, the bottom line, the minutes are to be amended once again and voted on at the next school board meeting in July. You can listen to the video to hear that discussion for yourself.

I note that Mr. Jadhon has failed to respond to any of the questions in my email. I checked, Board Policy Section 1000 on Community Relations, more specifically Policy 1401 under Public Relations, that states:
It is imperative that all staff members employed in the District realize the importance of positive public relations. The Public Relations Program should include the following:

E. Maintaining good relations with parents through prompt, thoughtful and considerate answers to all inquiries and complaints.
Shouldn't board policies apply to the Board of Education as well? Granted I don’t currently have any children in school, but I am a concerned taxpayer and I would like to think that everyone who takes the time to write to the school board receives an answer when they ask questions; it’s just the right thing to do.

Mr. Jadhon…as you walked toward the board table at the May 12, 2015 budget hearing that was held shortly after I wrote my last blog about the letter I sent, you looked back at me, smiled and said you wouldn’t mind if I said something nice about you on my blog.

Here’s the deal...just as soon as you answer and acknowledge my emails and my questions posed to you when we spoke on May 12th, I promise to acknowledge you and say how nice it was of you to respond to questions that were asked over a month ago! Deal?

Here’s the June 16, 2015 school board meeting.



Friday, June 19, 2015

Another NHCS school board member heard from…

The New Hartford Central School Board met on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. During the public speaking portion, Mr. Edmund J. Wiatr, Jr. for a second time in a row asked the board to speak up so that their voices could be heard on the videotape of the meeting; a request that has been made several times over the past year.

Each time that request seems to fall on deaf ears. However, this time, Mr. Stephens, a long-time member of the school board, said he wanted to know who these people were that are complaining. Is it a group?

Why would you even insinuate that any person or group of people in New Hartford should have less of a voice to question board actions than others?

Mr. Stephens, you have always been very polite to me; perhaps that’s because you didn’t know who I was or why I was videotaping. I’m that quiet person who sits on the sidelines videotaping meetings so that anyone who is interested can watch and hopefully hear school board meetings at a time that is convenient for them.

To set the record straight, Mr. Stephens, I am one of “those people” who have a difficult time hearing the voices of some board members on the videotape. Frankly, Mr. Stephens, I have a hard time hearing some members even when I am standing in the room a few feet from the board table videotaping. However, Mr. Stephens, I have also received many inquiries as to what can be done so that voices, in particular, Mr. Nole’s voice, is more audible on the tapes.

Mr. Stephens, I’ve had to overlook the fact that you keep calling me Carol even though my name is Cathy!  However, that is what life is about…overlooking things that really don’t matter.  I don't really care if you call me by Carol instead of Cathy...no big deal. However, I do care if you label me as a "complainer" and dismiss my concerns as if I don't matter.

Mr. Stevens, in answer to your rude questions, I'll borrow an all-too-familiar phrase…what difference does it make?

For the record, I don’t require anyone who comments on this blog or writes to me on the New Hartford Tipline to identify themselves; this is a blog for everyone…no exclusions! Quite honestly, sir, I don’t give a damn (There I go, using another familiar phrase!) who writes to me as long as they are civil!

Sir, I would doubt that anyone listening to the videotapes of the New Hartford Central School board are taxpayers from another school district. Lord, I would think that people have better things to do than monitor a school board meeting of another school district!

I would, however, venture to say that some of them are members of your own teaching staff, possibly other board members or members of the PTA, quite possibly they are parents…or maybe all of the above. One thing is for certain…we are ALL stakeholders!

Clearly, the people who take the time to listen to the videotapes of New Hartford School Board meetings care about their school and so they want to know what is being discussed at school board meetings.

You were elected to the board to represent everyone! If you feel compelled to label people who want to know what is being said at school board meetings as “complainers” that need to be singled out by name, perhaps you should think about resigning from the board!

Oh, I almost forgot…have a nice day, Mr. Stephens!

NOTE: I will be posting the June 16, 2015 videotape of the New Hartford Central School Board meeting on YouTube in a day or two…as soon as I finish writing a blog about the rest of the story regarding my letter to Mr. Jadhon.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Video of Special Town Board Meeting and town financials...

Below is a videotape of the Special Meeting held at 5:00 p.m. in the Town Supervisor’s office on May 20, 2015 to discuss a proposed municipal agreement between the City of Utica Police Department and the Town of New Hartford Police Department. Two councilmen, Rich Woodland and Paul Miscione were unable to attend.



Next, the 2014 Town of New Hartford audited Financial Statements and related documents:
2014 Audit Engagement Letter

2014 Audited Financial Statements

2014 SAS114 Letter
Last, but not least, is the 2014 Annual Update Document (AUD) that is required to be filed in the Office of the State Comptroller by May 15th each year:
2014 Annual Financial Report Update Document (AUD)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Special Meeting in the Town of New Hartford...

A Special Meeting of the Town Board will be held on Wednesday evening, May 20, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. in the Supervisor's Office on the 2nd floor of Butler Hall.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss a proposed municipal agreement between the City of Utica Police Department and the Town of New Hartford Police Department.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Two (2) Vying for One (1) School Board Seat in NHCS…

New Hartford Central School held their budget hearing last evening; the attendance was abysmal.

Beth Coombs and Alexis Tangorra, both running to fill the one (1) open board seat, spoke at the end of the budget hearing.

On May 19, 2015, voters will have the opportunity to vote on the 2015-16 school budget; a proposition to purchase five (5) school buses; and one person to represent you on the school board.

I encourage everyone to at least listen to what each candidate has to say; the winner will represent you on the school board for the next five (5) years.

Videos of each are presented in the order that the candidates spoke last night:

Beth Coombs:





Alexis Tangorra:





Here is the entire public hearing discussing changes to the budget for 2015-16:



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Yet another Extended Stay Hotel coming to New Hartford…

The New Hartford Planning Board met last evening, May 11, 2015, in Butler Hall.

The second item on the agenda was Preliminary Site Plan review requested by developer Larry Adler to build a 4-story 85-room extended stay hotel and a restaurant.

If you remember, last September, the Planning Board met for Preliminary Site Plan Review approval for a proposed extended stay hotel on Middlesettlement Road in very close proximity to the New Hartford Business Park. (see Townplace Suites by Marriott coming to New Hartford?)

Last night, Mr. Adler presented his plan to connect a new extended stay hotel to the existing Hampton Inn and Suites, an 87-room hotel built by Mr. Adler that opened in 2012, located in the New Hartford Business Park.

After the presentation, the Planning Board voted to give Preliminary Site Plan approval to Mr. Adler's project.

Next on the agenda, Mr. Adler asked the Planning Board to approve a minor subdivision “for a hotel parcel containing approximately 3.6 acres plus a parcel for a restaurant containing approximately .6 acres. Again approval was given by the New Hartford Planning Board.

Coincidentally, on the Friday, March 15, 2015 Oneida County Industrial Agency’s agenda:
Consider an inducement resolution relating to the New Hartford Homewood, LLC Facility and authorizing a public hearing. The Company is requesting financial assistance in the form of mortgage tax exemption and sales tax exemption.
The same consideration given to the owners of the proposed Marriott on Middlesettlement Road.

I can’t confirm that New Hartford Homewood, LLC is the same entity building the extended stay hotel proposed by Mr. Adler because Larry Adler’s name was the only one on the papers presented at the Planning Board, but…let’s just say that Homewood Suites, which are extended stay hotels, and Hampton Inn & Suites are both Hilton flags.

No official word yet as to whether last year's request for a PILOT for the Marriott Townplace Suites will be granted or whether Mr. Adler will eventually request a PILOT for the proposed extended stay hotel in his business park; but, honestly, two extended stay hotels in New Hartford? One can only imagine that it must be in anticipation of the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of jobs soon to be created at the Marcy Nanocenter!

Here is the video of last night’s Planning Board meeting:



Friday, May 8, 2015

Special Town Board Meeting...

A special meeting of the New Hartford Town Board was held at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 4, 2015.

The meeting was called primarily to discuss several certioraris currently being litigated. The certioraris that were slated to be discussed included:
Sangertown
U.P.S.
Talkeetna, LLC
Utica National
Special Metals
Widewaters French Road (Home Depot)
Morris
Sangertown
Burrstone Energy
Yahnundasis
Immediately after the Pledge of Allegiance, the meeting was called to order and a motion was made and seconded to go into Executive Session for the hiring of an attorney.

After the executive session, a motion was made to hire Attorney Daniel G. Vincelette of the Vincelette Law Firm in Albany at a rate of $250 an hour plus incidentals to defend the town in the following certioraris:
U.P.S
Utica National
Widewaters French Road (Home Depot)
Sangertown
A resolution was also adopted regarding a fence on the Rayhill Trail extension and Supervisor Tyksinski brought the board up-to-date regarding the FEMA applications received by several residents who are desirous of having FEMA purchase their property.

Here is the video of that very short meeting:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

New Hartford Central School, Freedom of Information and the Open Meetings Law...

You might think that the April 28, 2015 New Hartford Central School board meeting was unremarkable; it was, as long as you disregard the fact that Board President John Jadhon wanted to discuss how to keep anonymous letters that are sent to the school board members from being FOILable. His solution was to not discuss them during board meetings which is clearly not in keeping with the Freedom of Information Law.

You would also have to overlook the fact that once again Mr. Nole brought to the board table that an executive session was needed to discuss pending litigation; a reason for an executive session that is absolutely not in accordance with the Open Meetings Law.

On my way out of the room, I walked up to the board table and told board members that according to the Open Meetings Law, when they vote to enter executive session for proposed, pending or current litigation, they were required to name the litigants.

Here is the video of the April 28, 2015 school board meeting:



After leaving that meeting, I decided I had enough…meeting after meeting of the same b/s; either this board is not familiar with the law or they choose to ignore it. I felt it was time to write a letter to Board President John Jadhon informing him of the board's obligations under the law; then, if this behavior were to continue, everyone would know that these elected officials and school administrators just don't give a damn about taxpayers or the law.

My hope was that since my letter was not sent anonymously, but rather signed by me, it would be brought before the board for discussion.

So that no one has to FOIL my letter, I am making it available here for everyone who wishes to read it.


Click here for a pdf with larger print!


Last night, on May 5th, another school board meeting took place. However, not a word was mentioned about my letter at last night's meeting, not even a private acknowledgement of receipt was given to me. Both Mr. Jadhon and Mr. Nole walked right past me at last night’s meeting and said hello, but neither one said a word to acknowledge my letter.

How rude and arrogant is it to not even acknowledge receipt of my email? Did all board members receive a copy in their “Friday packet” or did Mr. Jadhon choose to keep it between himself; a select few board members; and Bob Nole?

Three (3) topics that were discussed at the school board table last night deserve to be mentioned:

1. As the board was looking for a vote to approve the April 28, 2015 board minutes, Mr. Flemma noted that there was nothing in the minutes that addressed the discussion regarding Mr. Jadhon’s desire to stifle the public’s ability to FOIL anonymous letters received by the school. It was decided that the minutes would need to be corrected for approval at the next meeting.

2. When Mr. Flemma started to ask questions regarding “an incident” involving 40 or more students that apparently took place during the Junior Prom so that he could factually address questions he was receiving from town residents, he was basically “shushed” by Bob Nole.

3. At the end of the meeting, Bob Nole once again requested an executive session to discuss pending litigation. This time, Mr. Flemma advised Mr. Nole that when using litigation as a reason for the executive session, it is necessary to list the litigants.

Mr. Nole, in his usual “soft” voice, so as not to be heard, replied that the pending litigation is against the Town of New Hartford.

No argument from Mr. Nole to Mr. Flemma’s assertion that the litigants be named?

So perhaps Mr. Nole did read my email to Mr. Jadhon! Hopefully, they consulted with Attorney Joseph Shields, who wrote "The Seven Legal Do's for Board Members" mentioned in my letter to Mr. Jadhon, and who is also one of the attorneys for New Hartford Central School!

Here is the video of last evening’s New Hartford School Board meeting:



A final note. Two people are vying for one open spot on the Board of Education. If you don’t mind the closed door policy between Bob Nole and the majority of the school board, you can either not bother to take time out of your day to vote on May 19th or vote for Ms. Soggs-Coombs; either way the status quo will be maintained.

If on the other hand, you are tired of the arrogance of the majority of the current board members and want change, make sure to get out and vote for Alexis Tangorra. Ms. Tangorra attends every board meeting and has proven that she is not afraid to speak up and question the school board when necessary. If Ms. Tangorra is elected, it is a good bet that Mr. Flemma will not be the only one who speaks up for the taxpayers in New Hartford!

The choice is yours…just remember, you get exactly who and what you vote for!

UPDATE added Tuesday, May 12, 2015:

I spoke to Mr. Jadhon at tonight's school board meeting and he stated that he didn't received my email. I even sent a second email to Mr. Jadhon which he claims he also did not receive. I have always found Mr. Jadhon to be a very pleasant and likable person so I have no reason to not believe him. Problem is..if Mr. Jadhon didn't get the emails which were sent to him at the school email address, who did and why wasn't it forwarded to Mr. Jadhon, clearly the intended recipient? Are school emails to board members being screened and only certain ones sent to their intended destination?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

New Blog in Town...

Just a quick note to welcome a new blog to the political arena....cnytruth -Tales of Finally Escaping Rotting Upstate NY.

Visit their blog; while you are there, sign up for email alerts so you can receive notification of any new posts.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

New Hartford Central School Board Meeting....

The April 7, 2015 New Hartford Central School Board meeting started at 6:00 p.m. instead of the usual 7:00 p.m. Two (2) executive sessions were immediately called by Superintendent Nole and the board unanimously voted in the affirmative.

First one executive session to discuss current litigation; Attorney Frank Miller was in attendance for that one. Then they came out and immediately voted to go back into executive session for two (2) things; proposed litigation and some other reason. As usual, Mr. Nole spoke so softly it was impossible to hear what the second reason was for the executive session.

Here is the short video of that portion of the meeting:


After the second executive meeting, there was a short break to allow the board to eat the sandwiches and drinks that were ordered for their dinner.

Finally, the business portion of the meeting started.

Highlights of meeting:

1. A request from taxpayer to consider a Veteran's exemption for school taxes.

2. Common Core - a parent spoke.

3. Discussion of the Budget for the 2015-16 school year. After the discussion, the board voted 6 in favor and 1 opposed (Mr. Flemma) to adopt the budget as presented. The proposed budget will be presented to the district voters in May.

4. Question from Mr. Flemma as to procedure for posting coach positions.

Below is the business portion of the meeting.