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Friday, June 29, 2007

The "Hidden" Agenda

Let's start by congratulating the New Hartford Town Board--they actually advertised their "Special" town board meeting held at 11:45 a.m. yesterday morning. It was listed in the Observer Dispatch under Today's Meetings. Hooray!

However, a call to the Town Clerk's office to find out the agenda for the meeting proved fruitless. After some checking by the town clerk's office, it appears there was no agenda for the "Special" meeting. The Town Clerk's office said they would try to find out the topic(s) for discussion. A call back to us stated that the meeting was necessary because the Town Board "forgot" to vote on the Highway Department contract at the last town board meeting. The town clerk's office also stated that it was expected to be a 3 minute meeting.

Contract negotiations was indeed one of the topics slated for Executive Session on the June 13, 2007 agenda. Wonder what they talked about in executive session on June 13th? Must have been pretty important for them to "forget" to vote on the Highway Department contract.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

May 9, 2007 Approved Town Board Minutes--Odd Indeed!

The "approved" minutes for the May 9, 2007 New Hartford Town Board Meeting are now online.

Oddly enough, PBA contract negotiations are still listed as a reason for executive session. Perhaps it wasn't a typo as we originally thought when we received the Draft minutes. Rather odd, since the contracts were signed last summer. Hmm!

Also, odd the mention of tax map number 317.010-5-1 noted in (RESOLUTION NO. 84 OF 2007) that in part says:

WHEREAS, the County of Oneida and the Town of New Hartford intend to amend the Oneida County Empire Zone boundaries to encourage industrial and commercial development and to allow for the creation of a Regionally Significant Project in the Town of New Hartford, Town of Whitestown and the Village of New York Mills, and

WHEREAS, Oriskany Manufacturing LLC, by expanding manufacturing operations at the former Bonide facility located at 2 Wurz Ave., Yorkville NY 13495, meets the criteria of Section 957(d) of the general municipal law as a Regionally Significant Project by creating 50 or more new manufacturing jobs for inclusion within the Oneida County Empire Zone in an area outside the separate and distinct contiguous areas, and

WHEREAS, the Town of New Hartford wishes to support and concur with an Empire Zone designation for tax parcel 317.010-5-1, and

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Town Board of the Town of New Hartford, in its capacity as governing body of the Town of New Hartford, does hereby support and concur with the Oneida County Empire Zone to include property as a Regionally Significant Project within the Oneida County Empire Zone within tax parcel 317.010-5-1, and located at 2 Wurz Avenue, Yorkville NY 13495.
Odd indeed when you look at the assessment data for that parcel; tax map number 317.010-5-1. The parcel is approximately 1 acre of residential vacant land assessed for $200.

"WHEREAS, the Town of New Hartford wishes to support and concur with an Empire Zone designation for tax parcel 317.010-5-1"?

Empire Zone Regionally Significant Project?
A one (1) acre residential vacant lot???? ODD, indeed!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Jessie, you are in my prayers.

Snakepit wrote about the Woodberry Swim Club accident that has an 11-year-old child in the hospital in critical condition. He makes interesting points that do raise questions. As a mother, I just want to add a couple of my thoughts for everyone to ponder.

As a mother who knows what it is like to sit in a hospital beside a critically ill child--it's HELL!

As a mother who knows what it is like to have to say good-bye one last time--it is unbearable.

I pray for this mother and this beautiful child. I pray that this mother does not have to bear the most devastating pain that any parent can experience. Right now, we all should be praying for this mother and child--there will be plenty of time to place blame.

Mr. Gilligan, you are Superintendent of New Hartford Central School. Your quote in today's paper---"Gilligan said he hopes to visit Jessie next week." is unacceptable. I hope you were misquoted.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The word for today is Leadership

This has been grating on my nerves for the past couple of days.

For the second time, Councilman Robert A. Payne, III decided to "try" to throw his weight (i.e. his inflated ego) around and threaten to have a resident thrown out of a town board meeting. The resident was asking questions during a public hearing this time; last time, the same resident was asking questions during the "informational" meetings regarding the bonding.

This bothers me for two reasons:

1. Every resident has the right to ask questions. Might not be the questions that the town board wants to hear or for that matter, the questions they have the answer to, but every resident has the right.

2. I expect more from a person who is supposed to be a "leader". Councilman Payne needs to learn that whether he likes someone or not, whether he likes the questions or not, he is not the "King" of New Hartford. "Bullying" a resident is unacceptable.

By the way, in the spirit of fairness, Councilman Payne made the remark after some whispering and a nod of the head by Town Supervisor Earle C. Reed.

Councilman Robert A. Payne, III, (and Town Supervisor Earle C. Reed) the word for today is Leadership:

Leadership is the ability of an individual to set an example for others and lead from the front. It is an attitude that influences the environment around us.

Hubert H. Humphrey:
Leadership in today's world requires far more than a large stock of gunboats and a hard fist at the conference table.

Dwight D. Eisenhower:
You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership.
On the brighter side, Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Environmental Study Public Workshop

Just a reminder that Monday, June 18, 2007 there will be an Environmental Study Workshop at the E.R. Hughes Elementary School at 6 p.m. This workshop is free and open to the public.

The town is preparing a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for the southern end of town. This GEIS is intended to measure impacts of development and find ways to mitigate those impacts. This is your opportunity to ask questions and make sure that your concerns are addressed.

Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government cannot stress enough the importance of attending this workshop; not only if you live in the southern end of New Hartford, but for all residents.

We hope to see you there!

Friday, June 15, 2007

It's wonderful...

A dog park in New Hartford. A park so that FiFi and Fido can sniff each other while their owners socialize. Really--that is number 7 of the benefits listed on the handout we received at the June 13, 2007 town board meeting.

Other benefits--#1 - dog parks promote responsible dog ownership. #6 - Well-exercised dogs are better neighbors who are less likely to bark excessively and destroy property. Not for nothing, but I do believe that pet owners who leave their dogs outside to bark excessively probably would not be the people that have the time to take their four-legged friend to the park.

One thing made clear at the town board meeting--the Public Hearing was not to decide on whether or not to create this dog park; that was already decided when they approved the 2007 budget. The Public Hearing was to discuss the rules for the dog park. The amendments to Park Local No. 2 were unanimously approved by the Town Board.

Mr. Reed stated that he had calls from Boston asking whether we had a dog park because they were looking at moving here. The caller was relieved to know that we were a "progressive" town. I'm happy that someone who doesn't live here or pay our taxes thinks we are progressive. However, our town board should be considering the desires of those of us who live here NOW --the ones who are footing the bill NOW---not the ones who "might" move here. I wonder if Mr. Reed mentioned to the Boston caller how "progressive" we are in handling our fecal matter and stormwater issues.

Furthermore, to construct this doggy haven $22,000 plus another $6,800 for the access system was taken out of the 2007 budget. This is about $29,000 taxpayer dollars--money that could be better spent. Their hopes are to have 150 people register the first year; they figure that they need at least 63 registrants to cover the maintenance costs. If they get more than 63 registrants, the excess fees will either help defray the original construction costs or be used for future improvements. Anyone want to take bets on how excess fees, if there are any, will be used? What will be next---a town-funded dog spa or doggy day care?

By the way, according to the Parks Dept. Director, the annual cost to frequent the Town of New Hartford Dog Park will be $70 for non-residents, $35 for residents and $30 for seniors.

Happy Tails to you!

Monday, June 11, 2007

June 13, 2007 New Hartford Town Board Meeting

The June 13, 2007 Town Board Agenda is now available online. Looks like a full agenda, however, it is subject to change (and does quite often).

The Public Hearing on the park hours and the dog park planned for Sherrillbrook Park is also scheduled for this meeting.

Please note that the meeting will be held at the Myles Elementary School on Clinton Road instead of the Kellogg Road Community Building where it is normally held in the summer months.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

May 9, 2007 Town Board Minutes (DRAFT COPY)

Regarding the May 9, 2007 DRAFT Town Board minutes:

As I was reviewing the draft minutes given to us by the Town Clerk, I immediately had two questions regarding the Executive Session:

Why did the town board go into Executive Session to discuss the PBA contracts when the Dispatcher and Police contracts were already signed in May 2006 and August 2006, respectively? Was it a mistake by the town clerk—or—are changes being made to the existing contract---or is it merely a ruse and something else was discussed instead?

What did the town board discuss regarding the D.E.C. and how does it fit into the eight (8) legitimate reasons for an Executive Session in accordance with the Open Meetings Law? To discuss anything other than outlined in those eight (8) scenarios is illegal.

The fact that the Town board would discuss this topic in Executive Session is very intriguing given the consent order debacle. A quick search on the internet produced the minutes of the May 9, 2007 Town of Paris Board Meeting where they also discussed the D.E.C. Consent Order. The difference between the Town of New Hartford and the Town of Paris is that Paris held the discussion in open session. Of course, the other difference is that the Town of Paris already has their minutes for the May 9, 2007 meeting online. Our group, on the other hand, has been forced to play games with the Town Clerk's office for the past 2 weeks just to get a copy of the DRAFT minutes of May 9, 2007!

It is also particularly disturbing that the New Hartford Town Board chose to discuss the D.E.C. in Executive Session given the fact that the following was recorded in the April 11, 2007 New Hartford Town Board Minutes:

A gentleman from Yorkville presented his concern regarding an article that appeared in the Utica-Observer Dispatch this morning regarding sewer disposal problems in Oneida County and the environmental problems that the area municipalities may have regarding sewage treatment. A determination regarding this problem, as per Highway Superintendent Cleveland, has not been made and the municipalities involved are waiting to hear from DEC and Oneida County. The Town does do infiltration studies. Storm water and infiltration of water are addressed in the GEIS. The article is about County-owned sewers. Until there is a consent order, the Town can’t determine any impact this would have on the Town. Fourteen (14) communities are involved in this problem.
To the best of my knowledge there has been no consent order signing to date so what were they discussing and how did the New Hartford Town Board justify discussing the D.E.C. matter in an Executive Session? Residents should demand to know what this town board is up to and why they continually ignore laws that are meant to protect the rights of town residents.

To review the entire DRAFT version of the May 9, 2007 Town of New Hartford Town Board Meeting please click here.

Better late than never...

Two weeks after the Draft May 9, 2007 town board minutes should have been available to the public according to the Open Meetings Law, they were finally turned over to us.

It seems that they were actually ready last Friday, June 1, but the Town Clerk forgot to tell the Deputy Clerk that it was o.k. to give them to us. Hopefully, after the June 13th town board meeting, the town clerk's office will be better organized and we will get the minutes within the two week window allowed by law.

We haven't had a chance to really delve into them yet, but here they are. I will be blogging about them in the next day or two because I have already found a couple of things questionable in my initial review. But let's not forget these are only the DRAFT minutes; the town board hasn't had a chance to make their changes, if there are any!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

In New Hartford, laws are apparently....

made to be ignored.

Fault Lines and CNY Snakepit have pretty much summed up my thoughts on the recent Observer Dispatch Editorial regarding the D.E.C. Consent Order.

I will only add that if you haven't been paying attention to the plans in New Hartford, you might want to check out what they have in mind for the Seneca Turnpike--Woods Highway--Rte. 840 area of the Town of New Hartford. To see a larger image of the planned development, be sure to go to the bottom of the page and click on FILE DOWNLOADS - Site Plan!

Our present leaders continue to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to the sewage problems, just like they have continued to do with the assessment problems. Assessments are unequal in New Hartford and it is not just the "normal" inequities associated with the assessing process as the State commented at a recent meeting arranged by Councilman Waszkiewicz. It often amazes me how the same people who were plotting behind the scenes to possibly take the previous administration to task for the assessment debacle, now seem to be running the other way. What a difference a year or two makes, right boys?!! But I digress.

It is time for New Hartford leaders to stop being loyal to their developer friends and start listening to the people who pay the bills--the same people whose doors our "leaders" will be knocking on in a couple of years when they are looking for support at re-election time.

UPDATE: I thought this was so apropos to the topic at hand (town law according to New Hartford's set of rules) I thought I would just tack it on at the end of today's blog entry.

If you read my blog on Friday, June 1, 2007, you will know that we are trying to get a copy of the May 9, 2007 town board meeting minutes through a Freedom of Information request.

Once again, this morning we went to the Town Clerk's office to see if the Town Planner was able to copy the file to a cd. We were greeted by the Deputy Town Clerk who is always more than cordial.

The unfortunate part--the Town Clerk will be out of the office until Thursday; however, the Deputy Town Clerk thought there was a cd in the office for us. Unfortunately, the Deputy Clerk cannot release the cd without the approval from the Town Clerk. The Deputy Clerk said she will try to ask the Town Clerk, if and when she talks to her, if it would be o.k. to release the cd to us if indeed it is "the cd".

Let's see... Next Wednesday, June 13, 2007 is the next town board meeting where the Town Board should approve the May 9, 2007 town board minutes. If they can stall us long enough....hey, who says they have to make them available two (2) weeks after the board meeting--it's only the law!!

We are going to peruse our notes and give you a synopsis of the May 9, 2007 meeting long before next Wednesday.

Friday, June 1, 2007

How many town employees....

does it take to get a copy of the May 9, 2007 Town Board meeting minutes? Apparently at least 2 or 3 of them! The jury is still out if more will be needed.

It took us over a month and a half to get a copy of the April 11, 2007 town board minutes. Heaven forbid, that any residents get any information as to what is going on in this town.

At any rate, the Open Meetings Law specifically states that Town Board meeting minutes must be available to the public within two weeks of the meeting whether they have been approved by the town board or not. So on May 23rd, two weeks after the May 9, 2007 board meeting we submitted a Freedom of Information request for the town board minutes. In theory, those minutes should have been made available to us that day.

By May 31st, we still hadn't even received an acknowledgement of the FOIL request; even though as usual we hand-delivered the request to the Town Clerk's office and had a copy of our request timestamped--we know they did receive it. By law they are supposed to respond to a FOIL request within 5 business days. So on May 31st we once again made a trip to the Town Clerk's office to see what the problem was in obtaining the minutes.

We were told that the file was so big that when they tried to email it to us, it was returned to them. Then they said they tried to put the file on a disk and the file is too big to fit on a disk. Please keep in mind these are the minutes of ONE town board meeting. So we said o.k. put them on a cd; surely a cd will hold them.

Yesterday afternoon we received an email confirming that they "are in the process". In the process???!!! We are asking them to copy a file to a cd for crying out loud!

Today is June 1. Back to the Town Clerk's office. This time we were told that they had sent the file to the Town Planner's office to have him copy the file to a cd. The Town Clerk was not in the office today and they didn't believe that the Town Planner was in either so they couldn't say for sure how soon before we would be able to pick up the cd with the minutes.

Gee, you don't think they are giving us the runaround do you? I find it hard to believe that this administration doesn't have the utmost respect for the law and I am shocked that they would do anything to try to discourage residents from getting information. As soon as I recover from this shock I will post the agenda from the May 9th meeting and like we did last month, we will try to figure out what they don't want you to know.