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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Now and into the future...

Two interesting editorials in today's Observer Dispatch; Reed must now focus on town's future and Successor needs vision.

Expecting Supervisor Reed to suddenly ask for public involvement is a long stretch, but it needs to happen if the Town of New Hartford is to truly move forward.

The Observer Dispatch editorial says:
One of Reed’s suggestions is for the town to hire a comptroller, and that idea certainly needs to be part of the public discussion.
Didn't the town just announce last week that Councilwoman Krupa would be screening candidates to possibly hire a comptroller? Where did they advertise the position? Who do they plan to interview? Shouldn't everyone who is interested have a chance to apply?

The editorial goes on to say:
The position was eliminated in January 2002 by then-Town Supervisor Ralph Humphreys and approved by the board as a way to save money. That hasn't been the case. Since the job was scrapped, it has actually cost the town a considerable sum for accounting and financial services, most of which could have been handled by a professional financial officer.
True, Ralph Humphreys did eliminate the position in 2002, but let's be honest about something. The financial problems didn't start with Ralph Humphreys; it didn't start costing the town "a considerable sum for accounting and financial services" until AFTER Earle Reed took office.

It was during Reed's administration that the Citizens Budget Committee was disbanded. Reed was quoted in the Observer Dispatch at the time saying:
'My philosophy is, citizens don't have all the information we have.' 'My (department) leaders have too many things going on to sit with residents on the committee.'
As today's editorial points out:
Fact is, in this case, blame can also be placed on town board members — some of whom have been publicly silent on the issue — who share responsibility for this financial fiasco. While the overseer of town finances might be the supervisor, board members, too, are guardians of public dollars and have failed the people who elected them by not keeping track of their money.
You bet the entire town board is to blame for this financial fiasco. However, of the candidates recently endorsed by the New Hartford Republican Committee for re-election, only three (3) nay votes were ever cast at a board meeting; one (1) 'nay' vote by Councilman Reynolds and two (2) 'nay' votes by Councilman Payne.

  • At the Sept. 12, 2007 meeting, Reynolds & Payne voted 'nay' regarding possibly opening the Stormwater Meetings to the public. That vote was rescinded after Concerned Citizens filed a Notice of Claim against the town.
  • On July 11, 2007, Councilman Payne voted 'nay' to allowing Concerned Citizens to have a copy of the assessment database; even though by law it is FOILable. Once again Concerned Citizens prevailed and a copy was eventually made available to us.
Quite a track record! Without any discussion, the biggest share of the time, all board members were in total agreement with everything that came before them to include the payment of bills and the budget. Are they are truly looking out for the interests of town residents and taxpayers that they were elected to represent or rubber-stamping the desires of the party led by Town Attorney Green?

Take a look at Attorney Green's invoices...he billed the town to investigate whether or not we could post videotaped town board meetings on the internet. He billed the town to make decisions on almost every FOIL request we submitted as to whether the information could be released to us; he billed the town to investigate whether documents needed to be released to us in their native format or whether the town could use pdf files as a means to try to make it difficult for us to use the information. How much money did it cost taxpayers for Attorney Green to try to block our attempts to make information readily available to residents in New Hartford?

So now the Town of New Hartford is in financial trouble. Do we sit back and merely vote in the same old politicians endorsed by the Republican Party hoping that this time it will be different? Clearly, if you attend town board meetings you would know that Earle Reed was not the man pulling the strings. He was the puppet for Dave Reynolds and Attorney Green.

The editorial goes on to say:
The discussion needs to begin now. And part of the dialogue needs to be a public explanation of what went wrong and what safeguards must be put in place to make sure this never happens again.
We agree wholeheartedly; the discussion needs to begin now and the public needs to be involved. Mr. Kalil has already stated that if he decides to run, he will be an advocate of open government. Will Mr. Tyksinki, the candidate endorsed by the New Hartford Republican Party that is headed by Attorney Green, vow to go against the current Republican controlled board and make town government open?

We offer our forum to any candidate running for office in the Town of New Hartford. We will post in its entirety any commentary submitted to us for publication. Let's see which candidates are willing to be open about their ideas and goals if they are elected this Fall.

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For more commentary on Attorney Green's invoices to the Town of New Hartford, be sure to read Strikeslip's blog, Raining Nickels and Dimes....

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