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Friday, May 30, 2008

Hey...here it is...

Finally found that Press Release...we thought it would be listed under Press Releases & Public Notices on the home page of the "official" town website ...silly us, it is under Police Dept.

- - - - - Press Release - - - - -

May 14, 2008

POLICE DEPARTMENT RECEIVES DONATION
MOTORCYCLE UNIT ESTABLISHED


The New Hartford Police Department is the benefactor of the donation of a police motorcycle.

Doctor Michael Kowalski and his wife, Doctor Margaret Kowalski donated the motorcycle. The motorcycle is a 2008 Harley Davidson FLHTP Police Special. It is equipped with a 103 cubic inch V-Twin motor, six-speed transmission, anti-lock brakes, air ride suspension and seat, emergency lighting, siren and other features specific to police motorcycles. The donation of the motorcycle includes uniforms, accessories, and training costs. The only cost to taxpayers is to insure it.

The newly established Motorcycle Unit will be used during special events and for special needs.

The responsibilities of the Motorcycle Unit may be expanded in 2009 when the New York State Department Of Motor Vehicles launches a statewide Motorcycle Initiative Program to educate motorcycle riders of education and training programs as well as the use of proper equipment and laws specific to motorcycle operation. Those plans are incomplete at this time.

-------------------------------------------------

Are we reading this right? "...may be expanded in 2009...to educate motorcycle riders of education and training programs." Huh?...so they are going to expand the Motorcycle Unit to educate motorcycle riders so they know where to get education and training programs?

"The only cost to taxpayers is to insure it." Does anyone else hear cha-ching...cha-ching?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tying up some "loose ends"

We received a "tip" on our tipline a couple of days ago. Normally, we just quietly work behind the scenes investigating and then we would write a blog after we have all the facts. But this "tipster" wasn't sending us a tip that needs further investigation:
It is interesting that your blog will print allegations and snide comments from individuals concerning the generous donation of funds from a private citizen for a police motorcycle and safety equipment (including uniform and training for the riding officer) to the NHPD prior to the official press release about such, but not comment on the official press release (dtd 5/14/08) itself.
Actually, we just wanted to tell the "tipster" that it is not interesting at all. You see, we are not on the town board approved "official press release" recipient list nor are we a news agency although we must admit that we are flattered that you apparently thought we were either on "the list" and/or a news agency. Actually even if we had received the press release, we thought we said just about everything there was to say on the topic and no further comment was necessary, but we would be happy to do a recap for anyone who has not read our previous blogs on the subject.

The New Hartford Police Department accepted a donation...a two year rental of a $25,000 Police Harley Davidson motorcycle...from Dr. & Mrs. Kowalsky. On November 16, 2007, Chief Philo notified the town clerk to add the vehicle to the town insurance. On November 19, 2007, the lease agreement was actually signed by Chief Philo without town board approval (it was not signed by the Kowalskys, the supposed donors). The lease agreement specifically states that the town will be held liable for any damage to the motorcycle.

Then on March 23, 2008, 5 months later, the town board passed a resolution to accept the donation of the motorcycle and that is when the board wanted to know if there was any cost to the town. One might call that tactic "closing the barn door after the horses get out".

And finally, according to our "tipster", on May 14, 2008, the town board sent out a press release to let everyone know about the "generous" donation that was made 7 months prior. We must admit that we apparently missed the "official" press release...was it in the Observer Dispatch...because it isn't on the town's
"official" website.

Hmm....let's see the tipster said "snide comments":
Snide - Adjective
comments critical in an unfair and nasty way
So we are guessing that the "tipster" thinks that it is unfair and nasty to criticize the fact that the town board and Chief Philo "forgot" to do a couple of things along the way! Oh well...

Oh and by the way, the "tipster" forgot to say that the "private citizen" donor just happens to be the Police Surgeon whose family members are avid motorcycle enthusiasts. You know, there is an Officer Kowalsky on the NHPD...wonder if he is any relation to the donors...wonder who took the riding course on how to handle the Harley...just saying.

Monday, May 26, 2008

What's happening....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 is Grievance Day. Property Assessment Grievances will be heard at the Kellogg Road Community Center from 1 - 4 p.m. and 5 - 8 p.m. You should have already scheduled an appointment at the Assessor's Office, but if you haven't, you may grieve your assesment by either waiting for an opening to be heard or dropping off a completed grievance form. Appearing in person is not necessary.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 5:30 p.m. there will be a Planning Board meeting in the New Hartford Public Library downstairs in the Sammon Room. On the agenda will be GEIS, Southern Tier of the Town of New Hartford.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. there will be a Town Board meeting starting at 6:00 P.M. in the Kellogg Road Community Center. One of the items on the agenda will be a Public Hearing to adopt, table or reject Local Law Introductory C of 2008 (Zoning Law/signs). We have a draft copy of the proposed law.

Don't forget our Trash & Brush Program is available online. By entering the first 3 or 4 letters of your street you can get a complete schedule of dates for trash and brush pickup in your area.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tuesday, May 20...

is the New Hartford Central School budget vote 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. in the High School Gymnasium.

Strikeslip's blog got us to thinking about how New Hartford's budget increase is distributed. So we did some figuring using the information in the Spring issue of the Report Card, a brochure sent to homes by the New Hartford Central School.


* Consumer price index (CPI) is an index number measuring the average price of consumer goods and services purchased by households.

So spending is above the rate of inflation and includes a 13% increase for administration, but only a 3% increase for the program component. It's for the children...

Please be sure to take the time to vote.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The next Zoning Board of Appeals...

meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 19, 2008. Meeting is to be held in the Kellogg Road Community Center at 6:30 p.m.

Agenda is now online.

We also want to welcome CNY Snakepit back to the blogosphere. We missed you...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Just sayin...

Back on January 22, 2008 bids were opened for One (1) 2008 Ford F250 Pick-up Truck with snowplow, less trade-in of 2005 Ford F250 XL Super Duty w/fisher plow. Winning bid went to Steet-Ponte Ford. The trade-in truck was used in the Highway Department and the new truck will be a replacement for the old one.

Shortly thereafter, we received a tip regarding a former town truck being seen around town. We did our homework and lo and behold, it would be the same truck that was traded in to Steet-Ponte on March 29, 2008.

First of all, even though Steet-Ponte took possession of the truck on March 29, 2008, the town board didn't declare the truck surplus until April 9, 2008, but what else is new? Board resolution:
REGULAR TOWN BOARD MEETING
April 9, 2008
Page 10

Declaration of Surplus Vehicle – Authorization for Trade-in
Upon request of the Highway Superintendent, the following Resolution was offered for adoption by Councilman Payne and duly seconded by Councilman Reynolds:

(RESOLUTION NO. 95 OF 2008)

RESOLVED that the Town Board of the Town of New Hartford does hereby declare as surplus the following Highway Department vehicle:

Year Make/Model VIN
2005 Ford Pick-up Truck 1FTNF2159EB69664

And be it

FURTHER RESOLVED that the aforesaid vehicle is hereby authorized as a trade-in vehicle with regard to the January 22, 2008 Bid Opening for purchase of a 2008 Pick-up Truck; the Town Clerk’s office shall arrange to terminate insurance coverage on said vehicle.

Anyway, getting back to our story. We looked up the VIN number of the trade-in truck on CARFAX and found out that the truck was turned in to Steet-Ponte on March 29, 2008 and then Steet-Ponte turned around and sold the vehicle to someone else on April 7, 2008...a week later. The truck was actually registered and back on the road April 8, 2008...a day before it was declared surplus by the town board!

So...? Well, the funny thing is that we FOILed the bids and one bid included a trade-in value for the truck of $6,500 and the other trade-in value was $10,000. Hmmm! Don't all car dealers use either the Kelley Blue Book or NADA to determine values? That's quite a difference in trade-in value.

What if we told you that the CARFAX report (report starts at the bottom of page 1) showed that the truck was in two (2) accidents involving other vehicles during the time that the town owned it.

What if we told you that the truck was originally purchased from Steet-Ponte and serviced at Steet-Ponte while it was owned by the town?

What if we told you that Steet-Ponte submitted the bid with the $10,000 trade-in value for the Ford truck?

What if we told you the person that purchased the truck one (1) week after it was traded in was not only a relative of the Highway Superintendent, but also a town employee in the Highway Dept. that wanted the truck for his landscaping business he runs on the side?

Do you think the fact that Steet-Ponte offered $3,500 more for a trade-in than the other bidder had anything to do with the fact that Steet-Ponte probably knew ahead of time that they had a willing buyer just waiting in the wings? Could it be the other bidder was a little low on the trade-in value because they were unsure how long they might have to hang on to a truck that had been in two (2) accidents and still had quite a bit of damage to the drivers side and behind the rear wheel of the passenger side?

Is it us or does Steet-Ponte seem to always submit the winning bids in the Town of New Hartford? Just sayin...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What is an Emergency Purchase?

According to the Town of New Hartford Purchase Policy, it is:
Only those situations that require immediate action, apart from normal procedures, would classify as "emergency". Also, when an emergency vehicle is involved and repairs are required immediately.

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....
Unless an emergency meeting is required, at the next Town Board meeting, the Supervisor, Comptroller and responsible Department Head will apprise the Board of the situation, what was done and what needs to be done.
So on June 28, 2007, the town board called a Special Board Meeting to address an emergency situation regarding the need to lease a vehicle for Chief Philo to replace his 1999 Crown Victoria.

Seeing that the car the Chief was driving only had about 56,000 miles, we were curious as to what could be so wrong with the car that it would require an "emergency" board resolution to circumvent the bidding process so we FOILed the maintenance records for the Chief's car.

Besides routine maintenance like change oil, filter & lube, according to the Vehicle Maintenance Record, in June 2006 someone replaced all brakes, rotors, shoes and tie rod ends.

On May 15, 2007, according to the Vehicle Maintenance Record, the car had an oil change and the record notes to "check the front end - loose upper ball joint (Pass)". They did the oil change, but they apparently did not replace the ball joints.

Then strange as it may seem...a month and a half later...replacing this car suddenly becomes an emergency so much so that a "Special" Town Board meeting is called on June 28, 2007 and a resolution is passed to lease a new Ford 500 to replace the 1999 Crown Victoria.

By law, an emergency purchase does not require bids. Isn't it amazing how the replacement vehicle just happens to have been leased from Steet-Ponte...no bid needed (quinky dink?).

And now for the rest of the story...

The 1999 Ford Crown Victoria was recently declared surplus, so we waited until the town listed the car on eBay.

According to the eBay listing, the car has 56,237 miles; "driven by Chief and not used for routine patrol...Vehicle runs good...power steering system may need work. Unknown if pump is bad; suspension also needs work, possibly tie-rods and/or ball joints". Gee, do tie rod ends only last for a year because if you remember, they were replaced in June 2006? I can't believe that the mechanic who worked on the car didn't note all those problems on the Vehicle Maintenance Record in May 2007 or did the car (56,237 miles) suddenly fall apart between May 15 and June 28th? Wouldn't it be interesting to find out who ended up buying this car on eBay?

By the way, we found this interesting. Under Vehicle Information on the eBay listing it says "For sale by: Dealer". Now that's strange...every other car that the town has recently sold says it is for sale by a Private Seller. The Town of New Hartford is not a car dealer...is it? Maybe it was just a "mistake" or SNAFU. Also strange that according to CARFAX, the title to this car was issued or updated on July 12, 2007. Hmm...that's right after the town leased the new Ford 500 from Steet-Ponte, isn't it? And, yet the eBay listing says that the car has been off the road for 3-6 months. Hmm, isn't June of 2007 almost a year that it has been off the road?

By the way, not one member of the board voted against this "emergency" purchase...not one of them!

We're not done yet...wait until our next blog.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Next Town Board Meeting....

will be Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. instead of the usual second Wednesday of the month meeting. Also the town board meetings will be held in the Kellogg Road Community Center for the months of May, June, July & September.

The agenda for this meeting is now online.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Town of Whitestown Excel Spreadsheet...

with assessment information is now available for download.

We have included all Property Class 210, single-family homes; Property Class 220, two-family homes; and Property Class 230, three-family homes.

Currently the spreadsheet is sorted by street and house number, but you might want to do a sort by square feet of the home, assessed value per square feet, etc. The report is quite lengthy so we definitely suggest that you download it and save it either to your computer or to a disk.

The data is as of March 2008.


If you have any questions regarding the spreadsheet and how to sort the information, please feel free to email us at concerned@nhconcernedcitizens.com. We will be glad to assist you.

Town of New Hartford Excel Spreadsheet...

with assessment information is now available for download.

We have included all Property Class 210, single-family homes; Property Class 220, two-family homes; and Property Class 230, three-family homes.

Currently the spreadsheet is sorted by street and house number, but you might want to do a sort by square feet of the home, assessed value per square feet, etc. The report is quite lengthy so we definitely suggest that you download it and save it either to your computer or to a disk.

The data is for 2007, but since the only changes in 2008 should be for new buildings, additions or name changes due to sales, the information should be relatively accurate. We will try to have a copy of the 2008 database soon.



We will have the same Excel spreadsheet available for residential parcels in the Town of Whitestown shortly.

If you have any questions regarding the spreadsheet and how to sort the information, please feel free to email us at concerned@nhconcernedcitizens.com. We will be glad to assist you.