Thursday, October 30, 2008
On November 5, 2008 there will be a Public Hearing at 6:00 P.M. in Butler Hall regarding the Preliminary Budget for 2009. We will post a copy of the 2009 Tentative Budget later today.
On November 12, 2008 there will be a Public Hearing at 6:00 P.M. at the Ralph Perry Junior High School on a proposed new law to amend the Code of the Town of New Hartford by adding a new chapter 117 entitled "Water Service Local Law".
Part of this proposed new law, Section 21 - Equivalent Dwelling Unit Schedule - may affect the number of benefited units (Equivalent Dwelling Units) to be assessed for each given property type within water districts, i.e. Higby Road Water District. The number of Equivalent Dwelling Units are used to determine the amount each property within the water district is to pay on their Town and County Tax bills to repay the debt for installation of water lines. We will be posting the proposed new law in the next day or two.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
"I read Mr. Donovan's e-mail. It makes me wonder if NH On-line did? He called on the town board to open storm water management meetings to the public. As for Preswick Glen, he championed that matter and to date has been proven correct. His "rants" as you discribe them, which I have also read, lay out the case against the Preswick Glen tax exemption. Do I detect some eney? I don't understand why NH On-line attacks someone who supports their position and is willing to challenge town officials. Enough of the personal attacks. Stick with the facts and more folks will take NH On-line more seriously." - AnonymousAnonymous, we read Mr. Donovan's letter...however, you missed the point of our blog.
Perhaps if Mr. Donovan chose to address the town board asking them to open the meetings because it is the law, we might have had a different opinion of his thoughts on the subject. However, to berate our organization in order to persuade the town board to open the meetings is disingenuous on the part of Mr. Donovan.
To quote Mr. Donovan:
"I can appreciate the frustration caused by a small group of self-appointed community activists who often distort and personalize issues, but by shutting out all taxpayers we let them win by portraying the town board in a less than favorable light."It would appear that Mr. Donovan couldn't have cared less about whether or not the meetings were open. If he did, why didn't he attend a town board meeting and openly state his concerns just as he did regarding Preswick Glen? Instead, Mr. Donovan chose to send this email to a select few town board members and the town attorney. It would appear that Mr. Donovan was more worried that Concerned Citizens might give others a reason to question the actions of the current town board. Concerned Citizens doesn't need to go out of their way to portray the town board in a less than favorable light...they do that all by themselves. The town attorney was actually called into a Stormwater Meeting to provide a justification to the Committee for closing the meetings and ignoring the Open Meetings Law.
As far as Mr. Donovan's rants, we were referring to the speeches regarding Preswick Glen he made at several town board meetings; obviously Anonymous was not in attendance at those meetings, we were. Even though we felt on several occasions, Mr. Donovan was out of line when he addressed the previous town board, we still put his opinions on our website when Mr. Donovan came to us; we did so because we believe that everyone has a right to state their opinion regardless of how we feel. By the way, the jury is still out as far as the outcome of the Preswick Glen case.
One last thing, Anonymous, Mr. Donovan didn't "challenge" the town board to open the stormwater meetings, Concerned Citizens challenged the town board by filing a Notice of Claim.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Did anyone bother to find out if the Hartford would have stayed or left the area if the new deal was not reached?Concerned Citizens is trying to figure that out. We even spoke to County Legislator Jim D'Onofrio, who represents part of New Hartford, about our "idea" as to what was going on. However, he really couldn't offer any insight; in fact, he kept saying he was unaware of most of the information we shared with him in our meeting and the information he had conflicted with what we knew to be true. Either he is a great actor or someone has been feeding him a lot of misinformation. Course, it could be that he has been in politics for so long he is starting to forget who it is that elected him to office! Makes a good argument for "term limits"!
Why did they want to abandon a perfectly good building on Middlesettlement Rd?
Does anyone know?
At any rate, when Peter Zawko from Mohawk Valley EDGE attended the October 1, 2008 Town of New Hartford Board Meeting to ask the Town Board to pass a resolution to "shift" some Empire Zone credits from one parcel to another parcel adjacent to the New Hartford Business Park, the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together.
After that board meeting, Concerned Citizens tried FOILing some documents from Mohawk Valley EDGE. Peter Zawko, Vice President of Mohawk Valley EDGE wrote to us in response to our FOIL request stating that:
“EDGE is a New York not-for-profit corporation, managed by a Board of Directors comprised entirely of private individuals…none of the voting directors or members of MV EDGE is a government official, appointed by a government official or government entity, or subject to removal by a government official or government entity, Mohawk Valley EDGE has long taken the position that it is not an “agency” within the meaning of the New York Freedom of Information Law and, therefore, has no responsibility to comply with it.” copy of letter received from Mr. Zawko.According to Mr. Zawko’s letter:
“Mohawk Valley EDGE has decided, in this instance, to voluntarily respond to your FOIL Request.” “Bearing in mind that we are voluntarily responding to your FOIL request, you may inspect the records at our office during our regular business hours”.Mr. Zawko also gave us the option of paying $45.00 for copies.
Got news for you Mr. Zawko, we spoke to RoAnn Destito and she seems to disagree with you…isn’t her husband on the Mohawk Valley EDGE Board of Directors? Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government also seems to disagree with you. Your records are FOILable and the FOI Law allows for electronic transmission of documents. Given the fact that an Article 78 can be filed, your Board of Directors might want to re-think their position.
In the meantime, we visited the Town Clerk’s office and picked up a copy of the resolution Mr. Zawko presented at the October 1, 2008 board meeting. Mr. Zawko wanted the town board to pass the resolution, the first step in the “shift” of Empire Zone credits; however, too many questions were asked by Concerned Citizens at the board meeting upsetting Town Supervisor Earle Reed and the resolution was tabled for the next meeting.
In our next blog, we are going to take a look at what appears to be going on. Stay tuned…
Monday, October 13, 2008
“The Hartford, which has 689 employees, is part of The Hartford Financial Services Group, which is based in Hartford, Conn.”689 jobs will be retained according to the December 19, 2007 press release from the nylovesbiz website. In that press release, Upstate Empire State Development Chairman Daniel C. Gunderson is quoted as saying:
“The tax relief package is tied to the company maintaining 689 jobs for the 10-year period.”
The press release also announced a $500,000 Empire State Development grant to The Hartford toward capital investment.
“This project, with the retention of 689 jobs and a $20 million-plus investment in the community, is a vote of confidence for the Mohawk Valley”.
He further states “ESD is committed to supporting the needs of companies that want to invest and grow in the region and we are pleased to work with The Hartford to realize a positive impact to the local Mohawk Valley economy.”
At the October 7th “Special” Town Board meeting, Councilman Rich Woodland* asked, “how many jobs will be retained as a result of the Hartford Insurance Company moving to the New Hartford Business Park?” Attorney Green replied, “he could not remember”?? According to copies of legal invoices remitted to the Town of New Hartford, Attorney Green spent 2 hours on March 29, 2008 reviewing and analyzing the signed Hartford P.I.L.O.T., Prime Lease, Leaseback Agreement, Guaranty Job Agreement and Allocation Agreement. Isn’t it odd that the town attorney (Jerry Green) could not remember? Town Attorney Green, assured everyone present at the town meeting that he had the Hartford Agreement - Job Guaranty document in his car and he would get it after the meeting and make the Hartford Job Guaranty available for public view. Mr. Green never did! Why?
*It appears that Councilman Woodland, (Ward 4...where the New Hartford Business Park is located) did not receive a copy of the Hartford Job Guaranty. Why?
Apparently, Frank Basile who, according to his invoices, has billed the Town of New Hartford about $30,000 to "assist Town of New Hartford with negotiations and financial matters relating to the development of the New Hartford Business Park" must have a memory problem too because he was in attendance at the meeting yet he said nothing. In fact, most of the questions asked by residents at the meeting went unanswered.
Concerned Citizens has that part of the agreement. We blogged about it a couple of weeks ago, Hartford Insurance Job Guaranty Questionable.
The Job Guaranty is not 689, their supposed current level of employment; not 700 or 800 as in job growth. For the first 5 years of the agreement, The Hartford guarantees 600 full-time employees. For the next 5 years, The Hartford guarantees 500 full-time employees. The Hartford’s definition of a full-time employee is someone that works a minimum of 30 hours per week. In reality there is no job growth; there isn't even really job retention. Or, are a lot of part-time employees (less than 30 hours with no benefits) included in the 689 employees...in other words, 689 employees is an inflated figure?
After year 10, according to the Job Guaranty, The Hartford “shall have no further obligation with respect to the Employment Obligation”. Why not?
Why is the The Hartford only willing to sign a Job Guaranty for 10 years? Could it be for the very same reason they “decided” to move about a mile away from the building where they are currently located?
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Many people in attendance were disgusted that little notice was given of this meeting. It was apparent by the size of the room reserved at the New Hartford Library that Supervisor Reed neither expected or wanted a large crowd.
Also scheduled for about the same time that evening was a school board meeting in regards to their role in the PILOT agreement and a New Hartford Village Zoning Board meeting for a zoning variance at 19 Campion Road, a building that is already not in codes; the same building the Town of New Hartford wants to purchase for three (3) new courts, holding cells, etc. and town offices. Amazing that all these meetings could be scheduled for the same time, almost like it was planned that way. We will be blogging and providing videotapes shortly.
Right now, we will just leave you with one little anecdote regarding the "special" town board meeting at the New Hartford Library.
At that "special" town board meeting, many people who live in the area of the New Hartford Business Park, spoke out about the possible problems that might result as 600 or more employees of The Hartford use the intersection of Route 5 and Woods Highway every morning and evening to get to and from work. One person asked what happened to the plan to build a road through the land owned by Mr. Yager, owner of Twin Orchards. Town Supervisor Reed replied that at the moment the Yagers do not wish to entertain the offer to purchase more of their land so that a road could be built. Actually, believe us, it is more like the owners of Twin Orchards don't wish to entertain ANY MORE offers from the Town of New Hartford at this point...PERIOD!
A gentleman sitting next to Cathy Lawrence, Co-founder of Concerned Citizens, mumbled..."then use eminent domain".
Ms. Lawrence, recognizing who the gentleman was, looked at him with complete disdain and asked..."who do you represent?" The man sort of smiled and seemed a little uneasy, but was silent.
Who was the gentleman sitting next to Ms. Lawrence? None other than County Legislator Jim D'Onofrio, the same gentleman mentioned in the October 8, 2008 Observer Dispatch article:
"The county Legislature will likely approve the measure when it votes Oct. 15, said Legislature Majority Leader Jim D'Onofrio, R-New Hartford, who attended the meeting."If you remember, we blogged about Mr. D'Onofrio a while back when he was videotaped saying he hates listening to himself. Wake up New Hartford...let him know how you feel about what he has to say!
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Also, don't forget the Village of New Hartford Zoning Board is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. on October 7, 2008 to discuss the zoning variance request from the owners of 19 Campion Road -- the building that the town wants to purchase for the new town court and town offices. This meeting will be held at Butler Hall.
Gee, too bad they are both about the same time...we are sure that was not intentional.
Friday, October 3, 2008
On August 15, 2008, Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government filed a Notice of Claim against the Town of New Hartford, the Highway Superintendent, the Town Planner and the Town Engineer and all the members of the Stormwater Committee to include two town board members. We felt that this disregard for the law had gone on long enough and if taxpayer money was being spent based on the recommendation of these individuals, taxpayers had a right to attend these meetings. Besides, the Town of New Hartford was not in compliance with the Open Meetings Law when, upon the advice of Town Attorney Green, they closed the meetings.
After we filed our claim, several members of the Stormwater Group became nervous, as well they should, and the consensus of the group was to open the meetings. It was suggested that Attorney Green should address the group and let them know what insurance coverage the town could provide in the case of a lawsuit. (We doubt that the town insurance will provide any coverage to protect people who are intentionally breaking the law.) Through a FOIL request, we obtained the minutes of the meeting the Committee had with Attorney Green. Amazing that the Town Attorney can even justify the purpose and intent of the decision to defy the law. But, we guess that according to them, the end justifies the means.
Next let us show you an email from Jerome Donovan sent on October 22, 2007 to Town Highway Superintendent Roger Cleveland, Councilman Dave Reynolds, Councilman Robert Payne and Town Supervisor Earle Reed with a courtesy copy to Town Attorney Gerald Green, who also just happens to be the Town of New Hartford Republican Committee Chair. To quote Mr. Donovan's email:
"a group of self-appointed community activists who often distort and personalize issues".
"Over the past two years the town board has done much to address a number of issues left to linger by previous Town Boards. While some might argue that here has been missteps along the way, I believe on balance the Board has moved the town forward. Despite the loud voices of a few antagonist, I think residents by in large share this point of view."Amazing, we wonder if that is what Jerome Donovan thought of himself when he presented his rants regarding Preswick Glen to the previous town board? Wonder if that is what he thought when he emailed us and asked that we post his rants on our website? We did so because we believe that everyone should have a voice in how their government is run. Apparently, Mr. Donovan doesn't share our views about Freedom of Speech. According to Mr. Donovan's email he believes in a "...government of, for and by the people...", but apparently only if you are the "right" people.
The Observer Dispatch was provided with a copy of our Notice of Claim, a reporter was present at the September 10, 2008 town board meeting when the Highway Superintendent announced that due to the filing of a Notice of Claim, the Stormwater Committee has decided to open the meetings. Yet nothing has been printed in the Observer Dispatch...guess there are other more pressing stories that needed to be printed, like the one about the chickenpox outbreak.
At the town board meeting, Roger Cleveland asked the town board to pass a resolution to open the meetings, which they did, unanimously. Here is an excerpt from the September 10, 2008 Town Board Meeting Minutes:
Stormwater Management Improvement (Advisory) Committee Meetings – Reversal of Closed Meetings:Unanimously, because it is the law and there is a possible lawsuit out there to see to it that all meetings that are by law to be open meetings are just that...open to everyone.
Thereafter, Councilman Reynolds introduced the following Resolution, which was duly seconded by Councilman Woodland:
(RESOLUTION NO. 214 OF 2008)
WHEREAS, on September 12, 2007 the motion of Councilman Waszkiewicz, seconded by Councilman Woodland, that the advisory committee meetings – specifically, the Stormwater Management Advisory Committee meetings – be open to the public, had been defeated by a vote to 3 – 2; and
WHEREAS, the Stormwater Management Committee on September 9, 2008 agreed to open their meetings (working sessions) to the public;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the New Hartford Town Board does hereby unanimously agree that the meetings, including working sessions, of the Stormwater Management Improvement (Advisory) Committee, be open to the public from this date forward.
Upon roll call, the Town Board members voted as follows:
Councilwoman Krupa - Aye
Councilman Reynolds - Aye
Councilman Woodland - Aye
Councilman Payne - Aye
Supervisor Reed - Aye.
Thereafter, the Resolution was declared unanimously carried and duly ADOPTED.
The only problem now is that Roger Cleveland can't seem to decide when the next meeting will be held. Opening the meetings and yet never calling another Stormwater Committee Meeting or not making it clear when and where the meetings are held is not going to end our Notice of Claim.
This is your government people; you can either sit on the sidelines and let them run it to suit their own needs or you can stand up and be counted! The choice is yours!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
If you live other than the Oxford/Tibbitts/Kellogg/Woodberry Road area or the Brantwood/Bradley Road area of town...you will more than likely not see any work done on your stormwater problem with this $2 million. As of yet, even if you live in those areas, you probably haven't seen any work done.
Concerned Citizens FOILed all stormwater emails, meeting minutes, etc. from Highway Superintendent Roger Cleveland. We found a lot of interesting items that we will start sharing with you.
One of the documents was a DRAFT Bond Status Report (dated Sept. 9, 2008) for the $2 million stormwater bond that was voted for in March 2007.
When all projects that are currently planned are finished, all that will be left of the $2,000,000 bond will be $32,282. That leaves a lot of people with a stormwater problem that isn't going to be corrected any time soon. And, according to Roger Cleveland at the meetings that were held last Spring regarding the projects in the Oxford Road/Tibbitts/Kellogg/Woodberry Road area (see "Stormwater Meetings" under Labels to the right of this blog for tapes of the meetings), the flooding there won't be totally solved; they only hope to alleviate some of the problems so the flooding won't be as severe...that's the part they left out of their "spiel" when they were looking for your "yes" vote in March 2007. Now, all we are left with is the debt!
People it's time to start voting with your head instead of your heart.
p.s. Concerned Citizens was successful in seeing to it that Stormwater Committee meetings are now open to the public...more information to follow in our next blog!