If you haven't already read Part 1 & 2, we hope you will take the time to do so.
Since the town board was unable to reach a consensus regarding our FOIL appeal at the August 13, 2008 town board meeting and because the FOI Law states that appeals must be decided in 10 business days, it was necessary for the Town Supervisor to call a Special Town Board meeting on August 25, 2008.
At the meeting, Supervisor Reed read a prepared statement from Town Attorney Gerald Green once again stating that our FOIL request was denied based on Civil Rights Law 50-a. Concerned Citizens had their lawyer in attendance, but Mr. Reed would not allow any questions from him regarding the prepared statement that was read.
When we questioned the reversal of the opinion of Robert Freeman, the Town Clerk stated that "any personnel records of a police dept. that are to be used to consider the future employment of an officer would exempt that". The town clerk thought that might be the basis for Mr. Freeman's reversal. Ms. Lawrence of Concerned Citizens then stated that one could probably assume that since the town attorney feels that Civil Rights Law 50-a was appropriate for a denial, one could only make the assumption that a police officer was involved in the stalking case. The town board neither confirmed or denied, but Supervisor Reed immediately adjourned the meeting.
The attorney for Concerned Citizens asked for a copy of the prepared statement that was read by Supervisor Reed; however, Supervisor Reed said "no, it is privileged and confidential information". Privileged information that was read aloud in a public meeting...hmm! Watch the demeanor of Ms. Krupa, an attorney and Ward 2 Councilwoman, who snapped at our lawyer that Supervisor Reed did not read everything on the paper; he left out some of the information. Interesting!
In fact our camera was turned off when we realized that the town board never did a formal vote on the appeal because the town board was in such a hurry to get out of there. We had to remind the town clerk that no vote was taken and she had to run after the town board to bring them back to the meeting. The meeting was re-opened and a vote was quickly taken. They once again adjourned the meeting and scurried out of the building.
Concerned Citizens would like to point out that the woman who appeared before the town board came looking for a solution to a situation she felt put her life in danger and she was treated horribly. No resident should ever be treated in such a manner. We also want to state that it was obvious at the July 9th town board meeting that the resident was someone that Supervisor Reed recognized...Mr. Reed became visibly upset as the resident walked into the Kellogg Road Community Center just before the start of the meeting.
The whole incident could have been avoided if Sgt. Michael Inserra took the time to take a statement from the resident; if Police Chief Philo had accepted the letter that was sent "restricted delivery" and took the time to listen to the resident's complaint; if Supervisor Reed had responded to the letter sent to him "restricted delivery", after all, he had from June 20, 2008 until the July 9, 2008 town board meeting to do so...instead he dismissed the woman's claim; and if Supervisor Reed truly did take the letter directly to the Chairman of the Police Commission, then why didn't the Chairman respond to the resident's complaint in a timely fashion? Their failure to respond to the complaint filed by this resident made it quite obvious that they were aware of the situation and that their only intention was to protect "one of their own".
One final note, not one town board member spoke up regarding the treatment of this resident during her time before the board on July 9th. Not one! Surely one of them is the councilperson who was elected to represent this Town of New Hartford resident. But not one of them came forward to address her concerns. Is this how people can expect to be treated if they feel they have a valid complaint regarding a member of the New Hartford Police Department...the very people that are paid extremely well to protect residents? No one is above the law...including members of the New Hartford Police Dept. Why is this being hushed...don't taxpayers have the right to know?
For the record, we would like to point out that every Town Board meeting has been videotaped by Concerned Citizens since December 28, 2007. All videotapes are available on our website. Our cameras are not hidden; they are in plain view. Every town board member and Department Head knows that we are videotaping, but it doesn't seem to affect the arrogant manner in which they conduct themselves nor does it seem to have an impact on whether or not they abide by the law.