Below are our answers to statements made to the Observer Dispatch by Superintendent Nole, Attorney Hallak and Attorney Linda Romano, owner of Ashford-Clinton Corp.
"District Superintendent Robert Nole said the school board was aware of Romano’s husband’s role with Ashford-Clinton Corp. but he said he did not know about her own relationship with the company."Gee, Ms. Romano has referred to "her company", Ashford-Clinton Corp., many times at Library Board meetings; we're surprised she never mentioned it in the presence of Superintendent Nole or members of the school board.
“The school district had its own representation in connection with the purchases,” Romano said.
"Bond, Schoeneck & King was not used in the purchasing process for these properties, Nole said."Well, we should hope Bond, Schoeneck & King was not representing the school since Ms. Romano of Bond, Schoeneck & King is also one of the owner's of Ashford-Clinton Corp., the buyer.
However, Attorney Hallak, another school attorney was involved with the purchases by Ashford-Clinton. But why? Why was the school attorney involved with the purchase of properties being bought by another school attorney's company? Why was it necessary for Attorney Hallak to be present for the transactions if the school wasn't involved in the purchase? Just who was he representing?
"As for Romano’s role in the proposed purchase, Hallak said he does not believe she had any. Hallak also said he does not believe Romano suggested the purchase to the district. “I’ve only seen Russ’ name in documents,” he said. “I don’t know that she has any financial interest in the purchase.”Just because Ms. Romano's name is not on documents doesn't mean she doesn't have an interest. We have it from a good source that Ms. Romano was involved in the Daly Place property. Goodness..the New Hartford Village minutes even identify her as being involved. Plus, the deed to 29 Oxford Road was to be returned to Bond, Schoeneck & King, 501 Main Street, Utica, NY 13501 after it was filed according to the recording page. Isn't that the address of Ms. Romano's Bond, Schoeneck & King office?
The address on the lease is: THE ASHFORD-CLINTON CORP.,c/o Russell J. Petralia, 501 Main Street, PO Box 4969, Utica, New York 13504 ("Landlord").
According to Martindale.com, Ms. Romano's address for Bond, Schoeneck & King is: 501 Main Street, P.O. Box 4969, Utica, New York.
The same address, right down to the P.O. Box, but we are supposed to believe that Ms. Romano was not involved and the school board and Superintendent Nole had no knowledge of the connection.
"Romano said most of the work between Bond, Schoeneck and King and the New Hartford school district goes through attorney Paul Reichel, out of the company’s Syracuse office."According to the Letter of Engagement for the Triple A project that we FOILed [for some reason the school failed to supply the signature page to the letter], it is clear that it was written on Ms. Romano's letterhead. So either Ms. Romano was the signatory or Attorney Reichel used her letterhead to provide the school with a Letter of Engagement. It does seem strange that he would use her letterhead if he is the one making the agreement with the school? And it does seem quite coincidental that the signature page was not provided in answer to our FOIL request.
Further, the Official Statement for a 2009 bond sale clearly said:
"The Bonds are offered when, as and if issued and received by the Underwriters and subject to the receipt of an unqualified legal opinion as to the validity of the Bonds of Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, Utica, New York [emphasis added]."Why would the Official Statement mention Utica, New York if Attorney Reichel from the Syracuse office of Bond, Schoeneck & King was the one that provided the unqualified legal opinion? Ms. Romano must have been involved on some level.
As an aside, Attorney Reichel of the Syracuse office of Bond, Schoeneck King is also involved in the New Hartford Public Library's endeavor to become a school district library. Library Board President Linda Romano has said more than once that Superintendent Nole is enthusiastic regarding the library re-chartering as a school district library with taxes to fund the library being levied on New Hartford Central School District tax bills.
In fact, Superintendent Nole is so enthusiastic he has agreed to have the school district pay the cost of the re-chartering referendum to be held in the library on August 23, 2012.
"Ashford-Clinton purchased the property in June 2009 from St. John the Evangelist Church, according to Oneida County real property records. Ashford-Clinton purchased the George Avenue property for $14,000 according to county records.The company invested $46,257, Romano said. The corporation plans to sell the property to the district for $55,713, she said."What did they spend $46,257 for? The only thing we see is that someone put in shrubs and trees and built a berm after Ashford-Clinton bought the property. However, it is unclear who did the work.
"The school currently leases the Oxford Road building for $28,000 a year, so purchasing the property would save money, Nole said. If the sale is approved by voters, the building will continue to house the business office, he has said."As we have already noted, $28,000 is double the 5-year lease that the school originally signed. Please read the Lease and the Option to Purchase. The school had no authority to sign a Purchase Option...Education Law does not allow it.
We also would like to refresh everyone's memory of the property that the school was referring to as the home of the future Higby Park until we FOILed the information and learned that after it is developed, it will be known as Romano Park.
Isn't it coincidental that every property the school desires to purchase would be bought by Ashford-Clinton Corp. first? No conflict of interest? Sorry...the statements in today's paper just don't add up...
We present actual documents FOILed from several governmental agencies to back up our assertions. You can read all of our blogs regarding the purchase of these properties here!
All voters will have the chance to make their own decision on Tuesday, May 15, 2012. Please be sure to exercise your right to vote!
Note: We have placed a permanent link to the Tentative 2012 Town of New Hartford Residential Assessment Database in an Excel spreadsheet at the top of the column on the right of this blog. We will be putting more assessment information online shortly.