Sunday, September 28, 2014

Could we have some order in the Court?

At the July 9, 2014, the town board voted to terminate one of the court clerks; only one councilman, Richard Woodland, voted against the resolution.

The resolution that was entered in the July 9, 2014 town board minutes did not state a reason for the termination, but at the meeting Supervisor Tyksinski said it was because “the town was going in a different direction”.

Over the past couple of months the employee termination has been brought up by several people I have met; the topic even made it to the Utica Topix website.

According to Town Law Section 20, court clerks are appointments of the town justice(s):
“The clerk of the court of a town shall be employed and discharged from employment only upon the advice and consent of the town justice or justices.”
Talk around town is that neither town justice requested that the employee be terminated, so just what is going on?

Further research revealed that Town Law 20 was actually amended in 1990 so that the justices would have complete control over hiring and firing of their clerks.

In a NYS Attorney General Informal Opinion written by JAMES D. COLE, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of Opinions, on another question that also referenced Town Law 20, it is written:
"This language was added by chapter 252 of the Laws of 1990. The legislative bill jacket indicates that the sole purpose of the amendment was to require that town justices consent to the employment and discharge of court clerks. L 1990 ch 252, Bill Jacket, Memorandum on Senate 3566 and Assembly 5740 by Senator Volker and Assemblyman Graber.”
The reasoning for the change in Town Law 20 in 1990 according to the NYS Attorney General Opinion is:
“Each town justice is required to keep legible and suitable books, papers, records and dockets. Id. They are required to maintain financial records and promptly deposit all money received by the court. Id. For failure to comply with these responsibilities, town justices may be disciplined or even removed from office. Id. In order to discharge these responsibilities, local justices are heavily dependent upon the ability, industry and trustworthiness of the clerks of their courts. Id. Through the amendment to section 20 of the Town Law, town justices have been given the authority to consent to the employment and discharge of their court clerks on whom they rely heavily.”

But has it been tested in the courts?

Why yes it has…in RENO v. VAN VORIS, Supreme Court, Rensselaer County, November 6, 1996.


In that particular case, the East Greenbush, NY town board tried to play the "semantics game" by unanimously suspending one of their court clerks and argued that since she was suspended and not discharged, the law doesn’t apply. They further argued that one of the town justices was in favor of suspending the court clerk, but it was not the justice who was in direct supervision of the clerk.

The court disagree and "was of the opinion that neither contention withstands scrutiny". The court further explained their reasoning, but I won’t bore everyone with the facts; you can read the entire decision here.

In brief, the court said that:
”… the Town Board's action of unconditionally suspending petitioner without pay for an indefinite period is tantamount to discharge and thus falls within the purview of section 20 (1) (a).”

AND...

"The court concludes that under the strictures of the 1990 amendment, Town Board actions as to a court clerk may be taken only with the advice and consent of the Justice or Justices to whom the court clerk is responsible."
The court ordered that the petitioner be reinstated with pay and all applicable benefits retroactive to June 12, 1996" which is the date the East Greenbush, NY Town Board unanimously voted to immediately suspend her.

The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, Appellate Division who:
..."affirmed, agreeing with the lower Court that Reno's unconditional and indefinite suspension without pay constituted a "discharge" within the meaning of Section 20.1(a).”

"From a review of the memoranda in support of the bill, it is clear that the legislative purpose behind the amendment to Town Law § 20(1)(a) was to blend the actions of the Town Board with the wishes of the Town Justice to whom the Court Clerk reports and to provide Town Justices with control over the selection and removal of their Court Clerks".

"Therefore, based upon our interpretation of the legislative intent, we find that the action of the Town Board in suspending petitioner was appropriately annulled by Supreme Court as being in violation of Town Law § 20(1)(a)".
This time the court:
"ORDERED that the judgment is affirmed, with costs."
An online blog, New York Public Personnel Law, wrote a summary of the decision in which they stated that “the Reno decision indicates that this 1990 amendment to the Town Law [Chapter 252, Laws of 1990] is to be strictly applied.”

So why does all but one board member, Councilman Richard Woodland, think they have the right to terminate a court clerk?


That brings me to the town board minutes of January 2, 2014, the day the court clerk was first appointed due to the retirement of the former court clerk.

According to the town board minutes, the court clerk was hired “for a 6 month interim period”.

Interim...a period of time between events. That’s a strange way to put an appointment!

What is more interesting is the fact that Supervisor Tyksinski was the only board member who voted “nay” for the appointment in January 2014. Why?

Given the b/s that has been going on lately with no bid contracts, it makes one wonder if Supervisor Tyksinski doesn’t have a “bucket list” called “People I need to pay back for helping to get me elected” because it sure sounds like Supervisor Tyksinski might have had someone else in mind for the job.

Sorry to say Supervisor Tyskinski, according to the courts, Town Law 20 is very clear...the choice of court clerks is definitely in the hands of the “Justice or Justices to whom the court clerk is responsible”. Doesn’t sound like there is any “wiggle room” on this no matter how hard you try to mince words.

Supervisor Tyksinski, the town board needs “to go in a different direction” all right. Do the right thing and reinstate the court clerk with back pay and avoid another lawsuit against the town...we have enough of them already!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New Hartford Town Board...

The New Hartford Town Board meeting didn’t last very long last night…the executive session lasted almost as long as the meeting.

Nothing special to report at the moment about this meeting, but I did want to comment on a recent Observer Dispatch article, Another hotel planned for New Hartford.

According to the article:
The Hampton Inn & Suites at 201 Woods Park Drive, which opened in June 2012, and Ramada Inn at 141 New Hartford St., do not have anything to fear from the proposed new lodging, Tyksinski said.
Of course, Ramada Inn has nothing to fear, Supervisor Tyksinski, because the same company that plans to build the hotel off 840 also apparently owns the Ramada Inn.

According to town assessment records, the Ramada Inn was purchased by New Hartford Hotel Assoc. LLC, 382 East Second St, Corning NY 14830 on March 22, 2010.

382 East Second St, Corning NY 14830 is the same address on the site plan review for the new hotel except they used the name "New Hartford Lodging Group, LLC" on the application.

It is also the same address of Visions Hotels, who according to the OD article is the new hotel’s parent company.

In fact, according to a recent legal notice in the Observer Dispatch, a new LLC is now connected to the Ramada Inn, 141 New Hartford Street address:
OD: 8/20, 8/27, 9/3, 9/10, 9/17, 9/24/2014 LEGAL NOTICE NEW HARTFORD ENTERTAINMENT ASSOCIATES, LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 8/13/2014. Office in Oneida Co. SSNY desig. agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to 141 New Hartford St., New Hartford, NY 13413. Purpose: Any lawful purpose. OD: 9/3, 9/10, 9/17, 9/24, 10/1, 10/8/2014
The questions are…what, if anything, is being planned for the Ramada Inn? And how, if at all, will that affect Mr. Adler’s hotel?

Politics in New Hartford, I could write a book, a real “who knows what and when” story, but I will have to settle for a few blogs now and then because my day job is calling for some attention at the moment! LOL

The September 24, 2014 town board meeting is now available on my YouTube Channel!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The New Hartford Central School Board...

...held a meeting last evening; it lasted less than 22 minutes.

Two items on the agenda ended in discussion after the motion was made to adopt.
  1. Board member Flemma questioned one of the coach appointments, but the rest of the board passed all five (5) with one vote instead of individually as requested by Flemma.

  2. Board member Flemma also questioned a $6,000 stipend to be paid to Superintendent Robert Nole in lieu of an increase in base salary during the 2014-15 school year.

  3. On the agenda:

    C. Amendment to Contract

    WHEREAS, at the end of August the evaluation for the Superintendent of Schools was completed and the Board of Education deemed it appropriate to provide an increase in compensation from that provided in the 2013-14 school year;

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education hereby approves amendment of the Superintendent's contract providing, in lieu of an increase in base salary during the 2014-15 school year, payment of a one-time six thousand dollar ($6,000.00) stipend.
When the public portion of the meeting was adjourned, Superintendent Nole asked for a vote to go into executive session for what this blogger later found out was for pending litigation. I say later found out because as usual, Superintendent Nole's request was difficult to hear even though I was within a few feet of the board table.

Pending litigation is certainly an exception to the Open Meetings Law allowing a public body to discuss litigation strategy behind closed doors; however, here’s the problem with Superintendent Nole's request:

According to an article on the Committee for Open Government website:
Based on a recent decision of the Appellate Division, as well as earlier decisions, a motion cannot merely parrot the language of a statutory ground for conducting an executive session. In short, the decision confirms that a motion to conduct an executive session should include information sufficient to enable the public to believe that there is a valid basis for closing the doors.
In Daily Gazette Co. , Inc. v. Town Board, Town of Cobleskill:
"It is insufficient to merely regurgitate the statutory language; to wit, 'discussions regarding proposed, pending or current litigation'. This boilerplate recitation does not comply with the intent of the statute. To validly convene an executive session for discussion of proposed, pending or current litigation, the public body must identify with particularity the pending, proposed or current litigation to be discussed during the executive session" [Daily Gazette Co. , Inc. v. Town Board, Town of Cobleskill, 44 NYS 2d 44, 46 (1981), emphasis added by court].
More recently, in Zehner v Board of Education of Jordan-Elbridge Central School District, the Appellate Division affirmed that the lower court:
“… properly determined that respondent violated the Open Meetings Law on three occasions by merely reciting statutory categories for going into executive session without setting forth more precise reasons for doing so. Given the overriding purpose of the Open Meetings Law, section 105 is to be strictly construed, and the real purpose of an executive session will be carefully scrutinized ‘lest the … mandate [of the Open Meetings Law] be thwarted by thinly veiled references to the areas delineated thereunder’ (Daily Gazette Co. v Town Bd., Town of Cobleskill, 111 Misc2d 303, 304 [Sup Ct, Schoharie County 1981]; see e.g. Gordon v Village of Monticello, 87 NY2d 207 AD2d 55.” Zehner v Board of Education of Jordan-Elbridge Central School District, Appellate Division, 4th Dept, January 31, 2012.
In its decision, the court ordered:
Therefore, this Court directs the members of the respondent Board to participate in a training session concerning the obligations imposed by the Open Meetings Law, conducted by the staff of the Committee on Open Government. See, Public Officers Law § 1 07(1).

The Board must provide proof of completion of its training within ninety (90) days of the date of this Order.2

This Court also finds that the petitioner is entitled to attorney's fees based on the record in this case and the Board's previous violations of the Open Meetit1gs Law. Counsel for petitioner is directed to submit an affidavit detailing legal fees for this matter no later than fifteen (15) days from the date of this Order and this Court will determine the reasonable attorney's fees to be awarded.
The public at last night’s meeting was given no reason to believe that the school entered into executive session for a legitimate reason. Superintendent Nole merely stated it was for pending litigation and the board readily approved.

As public officers, it is the duty of each board member to be familiar with the Open Meetings Law and to make a conscience effort to conduct their meetings in accordance with the law. There is plenty of information available on the internet regarding the Open Meetings Law and certainly, if requested, Robert Freeman would more than likely be happy to conduct a workshop to help facilitate the board's understanding of the law.

Below is a video of the meeting:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Townplace Suites by Marriott coming to New Hartford?

At last night’s New Hartford Planning Board meeting, a representative of Zangrilli Engineering appeared before the board seeking Preliminary Site Plan Review approval for a proposed hotel on Middlesettlement Road in New Hartford on Tax Map #316.016-6-64.2; property currently owned by James and Harold Julian and under contract for purchase by New Hartford Lodging Group, LLC.

The proposed hotel will include 98 units on four (4) floors and is situated near the NYS Route 840 West ramp in close proximity to the senior housing complex currently under construction.

The Application for Site Plan Review was signed by A. Patel on behalf of New Hartford Lodging Group, LLC of 382 East Second Street, Corning, NY.

While no confirmation was provided at the meeting, or in the application that was made available at the meeting, as to who plans to build the hotel, according to information found on the internet, the address in Corning comes back to Visions Hotels, a hotel management company. According to their website, they are the same company that built the Hampton Inn on North Genesee Street in Utica.

The Julian property where the proposed project will be located is currently zoned C1 General Commercial and a hotel is a permitted use in that zone with a required site plan review. Preliminary approval was unanimously given by the Planning Board paving the way for further review before final approval of the project is given so that construction can begin. According to the application submitted to the Planning Board, the developer anticipates construction to begin within the next twelve (12) months.

Below is the video of that portion of the Planning Board Meeting for September 8, 2014:

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mia Culpa...NOT!

Did you happen to see Jim Messa’s message in the August 2014 Town Crier? Here is a pdf copy for anyone who missed it.

Jim’s message was written to inform residents why he decided to vote no to revive the curbside trash pickup this year even after using the trash program as part of his campaign last year.

In his message, Jim Messa gave some of the blame to Councilman Miscione because, according to Messa, Paul Miscione didn’t come to the July meeting with “a comprehensive implementation plan”.

Really Jim? Shouldn’t you have been the one to come up with a plan or at least take part in coming up with a plan…say, maybe before you took office in January, so there was plenty of time to come up with a “comprehensive implementation plan” by April particularly since you were the one who used the trash program as a talking point in your campaign last Fall?

He also said there was no cost associated with the purposed (I think he meant "proposed", not purposed) trash pick-up. Whose fault is that Mr. Messa? Last Fall, you were part of the decision to place $20,000 in the 2014 town budget and tax residents to cover the cost. Councilman Backman would have been against putting the $20,000 in the budget…but if you remember, he deferred to you during the budget process and you said that YOU wanted to leave it in. As a result, town residents were taxed for a service they will not be receiving!

Timing was also an issue according to Messa, stating that the highway crew is busy doing other projects. Again, Jim, you could have solved the timing issue by bringing it to the town board earlier in the year.

FYI Jim...Since Rick Sherman has been Highway Superintendent, I’ve yet to see him not be able to do what was asked of him even if it put his department in a crunch. If the town board voted to reinstate the trash program, I would bet that Rick would have accommodated the request for the additional work somehow.

The only thing on the same level as a politician who doesn’t keep his campaign promises is a politician who blames everyone else instead of taking the “bull by the horns” and admitting that maybe he campaigned without ever bothering to educate himself on the issues or that maybe he dropped the ball instead of taking the initiative to be proactive.

This blogger had a lot of hope for you, Jim, but so far you have not been very impressive. Voting against one of your campaign pledges was a big blunder, Jim! No one was running against you…you were a sure thing, you should have never made ANY promises.

By the way, had you regularly attended town board meetings you would have known that there was no way that Tyksinski was going to allow the trash program to be reinstated as long as he was in charge. Reynolds also spoke against the program several times. You were the deciding vote, Jim.

Messa went on in his message to state that he “will continue to look into reinstating the trash pick-up to see if there is a better time of year that would be more effective than what was purposed” (again,I think he meant “proposed”, not purposed.  Damn spellchecker!).

As you may (or may not) know, Jim, budget time for 2015 is right around the corner. Since, according to your message, you are only "looking for a better time of year", will you be teaming up with Councilman Woodland and Councilman Miscione to put money for curbside trash in the next year’s budget and then start working on “a comprehensive implementation plan” as soon as the budget is adopted in November 2014?

The most accurate statement in your “message” was that you clearly have a “learning curve ahead of you”. Don’t take too long to get “on board” because before you know it, another election year will be here and this time you will have a record that can and more than likely will be used against you no matter what elective office is the target of your future aspirations.

Just for the record...since invariably someone will question and attack my reasons for writing this, I have already stated in an earlier blog that I am against reinstating the curbside trash program. It is expensive and our highway workers have more important things to attend to like working to alleviate stormwater issues.  I write this because I have a problem with people who speak out of both sides of their mouth!

Monday, August 18, 2014

“Bidding”…Adieu?

Over the past several weeks, this blogger has received several inquiries as to the reason why all the excavating work throughout the town is being done by one contractor in particular. People want to know why there were no advertised bidding requirements for this work.

Let’s start by looking at the town’s Procurement Policy, which by the way is almost exactly what the NYS Comptroller says is required by General Municipal Law 104-B. I say “almost exactly” because there is one difference that will be mentioned later in this blog.

The town’s procurement policy states:
COMPETITIVE BIDDING

The thresholds under General Municipal Law, 103, governing contracts of Political Subdivisions requiring the competitive bidding process are as follows:

Contracts for Public Works $35,000 or more.

Purchase Contracts $20,000 or more.

The only exceptions to these guidelines are items/services that are obtained under New York State Contract, Oneida County Contract, from New York State Industries for the Blind or New York State Correctional Institutes are less than $20,000 in total for purchase contracts, less than $35,000 in total for Public Works Contracts, are professional services, or are emergency purchases.
The work in question is definitely not being done under New York State Contract, Oneida County Contract, from New York State Industries for the Blind or New York State Correctional Institutes. Nor could excavating work be considered professional services. Excavating would definitely be “contracts for public works”. In fact, the town’s policy makes it quite clear that we are talking about a Public Works Contract with work over $35,000 requiring competitive bidding:
“The term Public Works Contract would apply to those projects/commodities involving labor or both labor and material. An example of this would be construction, paving repair contracts, equipment use, anything that would require repetitive use throughout the year or major construction.”
Could it be that in this case the dollar amount expended was below the threshold for Contracts for Public Works in a given year?

To find out, a FOIL request was sent to the town clerk on July 16, 2014 asking for all invoices received to date from the contractor in question.

We received invoices totaling over $158,000 for the months of September, October, and November 2013. To be sure, paying out over $158,000 in a three month period is clearly over the $35,000 threshold.

Furthermore, our town’s own procurement policy states (and the state comptroller agrees):
In determining the necessity for competitive bidding, the aggregate (accumulative) cost of an item or commodity being purchased in a fiscal year (New Hartford – January 1st through December 31st) must be considered. It is prohibited to artificially divide purchases to satisfy threshold amounts.
Interesting, because according to the spiel given by the town supervisor at a recent town board meeting, you can bet that this contractor will be billing the town for considerably more than $35,000 to cover the additional work he has been hired to do in 2014 to build the retention pond in Woodberry.

Could it be that the Town Supervisor is hiring this contractor in an “emergency” situation? The town’s procurement policy also addresses those situations. According to town policy, an emergency is deemed to be:
“Only those situations that require immediate action, apart from normal procedures, would classify as "emergency".

This would include situations that would be threatening to life and property due to fire, explosion, flood, electrical failure or extreme weather and immediate action is required. Also, when an emergency vehicle is involved and repairs are required immediately, to enable the vehicle to be put back in service.”

The town’s procurement policy continues….

“Unless an emergency meeting is required, at the next Town Board meeting, the Supervisor, Director of Finance and responsible Department Head will apprise the Board of the situation, what was done and what needs to be done. The situation can only be declared "emergency" by Town Board resolution. This will allow necessary repairs to be made.

A permanent file for each emergency will be maintained of all memos, correspondence, police reports (if required), resolutions and vouchers in the Finance Department.

Any vouchers/expenses involved with the emergency will have to have authorization (signature) of the Town Supervisor prior to being processed. In all cases, reimbursement is sought from insurance company. Any legal consultation required will be obtained by and go through the Town Director of Finance or Town Supervisor's office.”
Hmm…don’t recall any emergency situations being declared by the town board in 2013 or 2014 so guess the work probably doesn’t qualify as an emergency.

Finally, let’s address the one difference between the town’s policy and the opinion of the State Comptroller.

NYS Highway Law 143 says:
§ 143. Town superintendents may hire machinery. The town superintendent may rent or hire machinery or equipment at a rate to be approved by the town board. The expense thereof shall be paid out of moneys provided for the repair and improvement of highways.
However, one must also look at General Municipal Law 104 PUBLIC CONTRACTS 104-B, Procurement policies and procedures, which states:
1. Goods and services which are not required by law to be procured by political subdivisions or any districts therein pursuant to competitive bidding must be procured in a manner so as to assure the prudent and economical use of public moneys in the best interests of the taxpayers of the political subdivision or district, to facilitate the acquisition of goods and services of maximum quality at the lowest possible cost under the circumstances, and to guard against favoritism, improvidence, extravagance, fraud and corruption. To further these objectives, the governing board of every political subdivision and any district therein, by resolution, shall adopt internal policies and procedures governing all procurements of goods and services which are not required to be made pursuant to the competitive bidding (emphasis added) requirements of section one hundred three of this article or of any other general, special or local law.
The State Comptroller in his Opinion 92-43 interprets General Municipal Law 104-B to require that along with the town board setting the hourly rate, the town’s procurement policy must set forth guidelines on when and how the highway superintendent can hire machinery under Highway Law 143.

The Comptroller states in part:
“Since the policies and procedures required by section 104-b must govern "all" procurements of goods and services for which competitive bidding is not required, it is clear that procurements made by the town superintendent of highways are required to be covered under the town board's policies and procedures. We further note that, as an officer involved in the procurement process, the board must solicit comments concerning the policies and procedures from the superintendent in accordance with General Municipal Law, §104-b(3).”
New Hartford’s Procurement Policy, unlike several other town’s Procurement Policies, is silent on Highway Law 143 and we would venture to guess that the highway superintendent was never consulted on the Procurement Policy when it was updated last year.

Furthermore, when the excavating work was started in September 2013, the town board had not even set an hourly rate as required by Highway Law 143 so one can safely say that Highway Law 143 can be ruled out as a legitimate reason for the work that was done last Fall.

What more is there to say? It would appear that, for now, the reason for the work being done by one contractor absent any competitive bidding will have to remain an unsolved mystery for taxpayers in the Town of New Hartford. Guess anyone wanting to know the “real” reason(s) why there was no competitive bidding for work totaling thousands of dollars will have to speak directly to the Town Supervisor, who along with the Finance Director, updated the town’s procurement policy in July 2013.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sangertown Square...

On Monday, August 11, 2014, representatives of Sangertown Square presented their proposed site plan modification for the re-development of the Circuit City space to the New Hartford Planning Board for review.

The expansion is proposed to include:
  • Restaurants with outdoor seating;
  • Additional retail store space for multiple new tenants;
  • A new corridor from the entrance to main shipping corridor;
  • A +13,642 sq. ft. gross building expansion (+ 689 sq. ft of gross leasable area);
  • Internal ring road adjustment and reconfigured parking;
  • and new landscaping.


A pdf copy of the Site Plan Narrative.

The video of the portion of the meeting devoted to the Sangertown Square proposed re-development is below:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Messa does the political two-step…

however, as Ward 1 voters may remember, he was doing it to a different tune last Fall as he campaigned to be the next Ward 1 councilman.

Today’s article in the Observer Dispatch Trash pickup voted down in New Hartford, didn’t quite tell the whole story. It left out the names of the “ayes” and “nays”.

Paul Miscione and Richard Woodland voted to bring back the trash program, while Supervisor Tyksinski, Dave Reynolds and Jim Messa voted against.

We expected a "nay" vote from Tyksinski and Reynolds as they have been opposed to bringing back the curbside trash since Tyksinski took office, but Messa? That was definitely a surprise!

Messa ran unopposed last November to replace Don Backman for the Ward I seat on the town board table. One of his main "talking points" was that he would bring back the trash program. A little over six (6) months on the town board and already he voted against one of his campaign promises.

A little history...

At the October 23, 2013 town board meeting, as the 2014 budget was being formulated, Messa spoke and said he not only wanted to bring the curbside trash pickup back, but he also wanted to keep the current tag system and the dumpsters.

From the approved October 23, 2013 town board minutes:
...Councilman Backman agreed with the Town Supervisor but also yielded to James Messa, candidate for Ward One Councilman (in place of Backman) to reinstate the curbside collection, do the tag system and have the dumpsters simultaneously.
We’re not complaining that the trash program has been “trashed”. As a matter of fact, it was one of the better decisions that the town board has made in recent years. It was costly; took up highway employees time that could have better been utilized fixing other problems; and it generally turned New Hartford into a free-for-all junk yard for one (1) month each year.

Unfortunately, the town has failed miserably to advertise the new tag system, or perhaps the residents who are complaining that they want the trash program back just aren’t willing to give the new system a try. Certainly, the town’s website is not user friendly or very informative so good luck getting information on the tag system there.

However, what is disappointing is the fact that Messa, the ‘new kid on the block’ for Ward 1 pledged to bring the trash program back in all his campaign literature, but when the time came to make good on his promise, he voted "nay".

Messa did make one final statement after his "nay" vote to bring back the trash program on July 9th:
“I’m saying no because of the timing and the situation the town is in as far as staffing.”
How disingenuous Councilman Messa. You were at the October 23, 2013 meeting regarding the budget and heard the town board members discuss all the same reasons for not doing the trash program as were discussed at the July 9th meeting. You knew last October the reasons Tyksinski and other board members were against bringing back the curbside trash program, yet you continued to make that a "talking point" in your campaign literature. The odd part is that no one was running against you so there was no reason to make any promises you weren't willing to defend.

Could it be that you have now been informed that the $200 contribution to your campaign by Supervisor Tyksinski came with a price tag because so far it would appear by the votes you cast that you are clearly riding on the Tyksinski train and that could cost you in your next run for office! Hopefully, you won't run unopposed next time!

Here is the portion of the July 9, 2014 meeting with the discussion regarding the annual trash pick-up program:



New Hartford NY Online will have the entire July 9, 2014 town board meeting on our YouTube channel tomorrow.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING TOWN OF NEW HARTFORD, NY

The following legal notice was noted in the Sunday, June 29, 2014 Observer Dispatch:

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the Town Board of the Town of New Hartford, pursuant to Civil Service Law Section 209.3, does hereby schedule a Public Hearing to be held on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 7:00 P.M., or as soon thereafter as reached in the regular course of business, in Butler Memorial Hall, 48 Genesee Street, New Hartford, NY, for the purpose of allowing the Town of New Hartford Town Supervisor and Teamsters Local 294, formerly known as Teamsters Local 182, to explain their respective positions on the Fact Finding Report of PERB appointed Fact Finder Murry Solomon and the recommended actions for resolving the bargaining impasse that exists between the Town and Teamsters Local 294 over the terms and conditions for the bargaining unit of employees employed in the Town Highway Department and represented by Teamsters Local 294 for the period subsequent to the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement covering the period from January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2010.

DATE: June 26, 2014 Gail Wolanin Young, Town Clerk OD: 6/29/2014

=======================================================

New Hartford NY Online has obtained a copy of the Fact Finding Report; click here!

We are also including a copy of the expired contract between the Teamsters Local Union 182 and the Town of New Hartford dated January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2010; click here!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Hartford Central School Board/Committee Meetings of June 17, 2014

We videotaped several New Hartford Central School board committee meetings as well as the regularly scheduled school board meeting held in the Bradley Library last evening.

The videotaped meetings include:
  1. Buildings, Grounds & Transportation Committee - regarding an incident and how the school plans to address security in the future.
  2. Budget & Audit Committee - A BOCES employee met with the committee to discuss the cost of school lunch increase to $2.25 beginning in the Fall.
  3. A conversation with Attorney Ferrara regarding a "retreat" being held between Attorney Ferrara and the school board.
  4. The regularly scheduled school board meeting where parents and teachers addressed the board regarding the recent senior class prank.
  5. The resolutions adopted after the executive session to include Superintendent Nole's contract extension to 2019.

All videos are available on New Hartford NY Online's YouTube Channel.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

In the Town of New Hartford, privilege of the floor…

appears to only be for the "privileged".

At the last town board meeting, we were told that there no longer is time allotted on the agenda for public presentations. Apparently, it was discontinued with the adoption of the 2014 Organizational resolutions. Tyksinski was quoted as saying, if you want to address the town board, you have to contact the town clerk by the Monday prior to the board meeting and let her know what you would like to talk about.

With the new rule now spelled out not only at the last town board meeting, but also in the Observer Dispatch, everyone was clear as to how to proceed if they wanted to address the board...right?

Since there was no public presentation listed on last night’s town board agenda; the business of the meeting got underway as soon as the Pledge of Allegiance was done.

A couple of resolutions were adopted and then, just as the town board was to vote on accepting the Comprehensive Plan, a voice from the back of the room asked to be recognized. Supervisor Tyskinski asked him to wait for a minute.

Then, just before the new zoning laws were adopted, Tyksinski acknowledged the person who wanted to speak to the board.

The resident apologized for missing the Public Hearing that was held last month on the Comprehensive Plan and zoning laws, but he wanted to address the town board on an issue regarding the zoning laws prior to the town board adopting the new law.

The public hearing for the Comprehensive Plan was held weeks ago; Tyksinski already said there are no longer public presentations unless you register with the Town Clerk; however, the person in the back of the room was recognized by Supervisor Tyksinski saying he would allow him to speak because of his “service to the town”.

You see, he was a retired New Hartford Police Officer. Apparently, the rules of public comment don’t apply to anyone who has “service to the town”.

Supervisor Tyksinski gave the person in the back of the room several minutes to make his presentation. Tyksinski even recessed the meeting a couple of times so that he could make calls to the town attorney for guidance regarding the question of whether or not it would be proper to grandfather the person’s project before the new zoning laws were adopted. (Town Attorney Cully was not in attendance at tonight’s meeting). Tyksinski even asked several questions of town employees who were in attendance regarding the development in question. After 16 minutes of conversation, the town board passed a resolution to grandfather the project that was started in 1994, but never completed.

Here is the video of that portion of the meeting:



The meeting continued with other items from the agenda. One of the items was introduced by Councilman Reynolds who felt that public participation should be re-instated. Discussion ensued.

We have to give kudos to Councilman Reynolds. He was the one who brought the subject to the table in the first place; voted in favor of public comments; and voted “nay” to require signing up with the town clerk if you have questions that you want to address to the town board.

At this point, it would be easier to just watch this part of the video than for us to try to describe the discussion!


Bottom line, as of tonight's adopted board resolutions, comments are accepted...but NO questions.  If you want to ask questions of the town board, the town attorney or an employee, you need to sign up with the town clerk by Monday prior to the meeting…unless of course, you “have service to the town” and are in good standing with the town supervisor.

In that case, apparently you can ask a question of the town board anytime during the meeting that you want, even involve the town attorney and also town employees...exactly what Supervisor Tyksinski says he wants to avoid by requiring people to register with the town clerk! Guess the town is run just like American Express...membership (in the friends & family plan) has it's privileges!

The law does not require a public comment portion of a public meeting, but courts have determined that the rules governing public participation at meetings must be reasonable and consistent so as to be fair to everyone. The town board is on a slippery slope to be sure!

The entire town board meeting is now available on our YouTube Channel.