Sunday, December 16, 2012

Let the Oligarchy Rule!!!???


The latest attempt to get the questions and spotlight off the Town Board on any number of issues is the mantra that “we’ve elected them to make decisions so we should let them do that and quit asking questions.  Questioning is meddling and disrupts the processes of good government.”  The most vulgar expression of this position is the one from Mr. Malone when he said “we’re the majority, and what we pass, passes.”  If nothing else, that’s an invitation for more oversight.  

Well, leaving them alone to govern might work if there were a track record which could be pointed to which supported the conclusion that the bunch we’re talking about were all that trustable.  My first case in point that they’re not is the fact that they couldn’t pass an Ethics Code which had financial disclosure and controls on nepotism.  

The second cases in point I’d offer is the fact that if some of us hadn’t been asking questions, we’d still have stipends, sick leave incentive and longevity payments going to elected officials, no monitoring of scrap revenue, poop in the Hudson, ……and the list goes on.  

If there is any doubt that oversight of our “decision-making body” is profoundly necessary, citizens should read the OSC audits from 2008 and 2012.  They are litanies of what can happen when the appropriate questions are NOT asked of government officials. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Congrats Jack!!

Today's TU has a follow-up by Alysia Santo on what has been going on in East Greenbush government and the recently released OSC audit.  Read it here:

Also, here's Jack Conway's letter of resignation from the Ethics Board which was referenced in the TU article:

                                                                                                October 26, 2012

Members of the Town Board of the Town of East Greenbush:

This letter is my resignation from the Town of East Greenbush’s Board of Ethics.  I appreciate the opportunity to have served on this board but I can no longer continue in this capacity.  It has been more than two years since I was appointed and more than sixteen months since the Board of Ethics recommended a new Code of Ethics but there is still no new Code in place and the Town Board now seems uninterested in pushing the matter to a reasonable conclusion.  I realize there is pressing town business but there has been ample time to address the question of ethics which is clearly not a priority for this board.

            The Board of Ethics was empowered and I was appointed in October 2010.  By January 2011 we had a full board that immediately set to the task of producing a new Code of Ethics. The local law that established the original Code was passed in 1974 but a Board of Ethics was not constituted until 2010.  Meeting twice monthly in order to expedite what we considered to be an urgent matter, the Board of Ethics submitted a draft of a new Code to the Town Board in June 2011.  This draft was the result of careful study of other Codes and a series of rigorous deliberations by the five members of the Board of Ethics in public meetings that included valuable and substantive input from members of the public.  We felt, and I still feel, that the draft produced by the Board of Ethics offered a guide for ethical conduct of which residents of the town could be proud.  Critical aspects of this draft were rejected by the Town Board.

            The primary purpose of a Code of Ethics is to ensure the public that every decision made by its municipal officials is made in the public interest and not for the benefit of an individual, family, private business, political party or other faction.  Above all else, it is supposed to eliminate both the appearance and reality of conflicts of interest.  The requirement for annual financial disclosure, strongly recommended by the Board of Ethics, was eliminated by the majority on the Town Board, an act that seriously undermined the Code’s ability to protect the public interest and monitor potential conflicts of interest.  More distressingly, the elimination of financial disclosure was done for the convenience of sitting members of the Town Board who chose to place their own interest above that of town residents.  The Town Board also objected to provisions that would govern the ability of employees to appear before the town after they leave municipal service, and certain provisions in the Nepotism section that affected the hiring of relatives of members of the Town Board.  Taken together, these changes transformed a draft Code that would protect the public interest into a guide for the kind of insider politics that a Code of Ethics is expected to prohibit.  In good conscience I cannot endorse or condone this approach.
There is a fundamental conflict of interest in having the Town Board write the Code of Ethics that is supposed to regulate the conduct of its own members.  The Association of Towns has published a series of suggestions for increasing the independence of municipal boards of ethics and I would encourage the town to adopt these.  They include passing a local law removing the requirement that one member of the Board of Ethics must be a municipal official, the establishment of a three-person independent panel that would select the members of the Board of Ethics, and the acceptance by the Town Board of the Code proposed by the Board of Ethics pending the opinion of the Town Attorney that all of its provision are legal and do not contradict provisions of State or local law.  Such an approach would assure the public that its interests are protected and will not be subverted for partisan political advantage.

            I would like to thank Ginny O’Brien for appointing me to this board.  It was an honor and a privilege to serve with Jim Breig, Justine Spada, Joseph Slater and Dave Youmans.  Each of them has done a rigorous, professional job and continues to serve with distinction.  When you decide on my replacement, I will work with that person in any way that might help get them up to speed.  Every town needs a strong commitment to ensure the ethical conduct of elected and appointed municipal officials and I will continue to advocate for such a commitment here in East Greenbush.


                                                                                                John J. Conway, Ph.D

Good way for the Gadfly to get back at it!  Comments folks??

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Gadfly is taking a temporary Vacation.

For well researched perspectives on East Greenbush "goings-on" follow this link to an old friend:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lipstick on a Pig?

Last Wednesday night the Town Board passed a Resolution (140-2012) “Authorization to Develop a Strategic Communications Plan."  The purposes are to “explore media options to promote our quality of life and encourage businesses and families to take root in our Town;” and “to promote the positive aspects of the Town of East Greenbush to aid growth in the Town, and not only maintain our quality of life but also to improve it for all residents;” and “to develop a strategic communications and marketing campaign to promote the progress being made in East Greenbush and all we have to offer.”

The original attached appropriation was $20,000.  Ms. Mangold moved (and it was approved) to reduce the appropriation to $10,000.

Let me suggest an alternative approach.  It won’t cost a dime.  It will save a hell of a lot of money.  It will create a governance atmosphere which will attract the positive attention from media outlets across the region.  And it will stabilize and even reduce taxes.  Here are some things which can be done right away – the fact is they are “late.”

1)      Develop, implement and enforce the Financial Recovery Plan which OSC called for in the audit report issued in 2008.  This is the report which disclosed the inter-fund borrowing and the $2.5 million debt which led to the “junk” bond rating for the Town.  These conditions were “self-inflicted,” and they will only be cured by “self-discipline” by those in charge of spending tax money.

2)      Institute the savings required by the early retirement incentive on which the Town spent $500,000.

3)      Do Town hiring and employment pursuant to a Town-wide work-load analysis.  Now THIS is something worthy of some spending on a professional consultant.  It would remove the “family and friends” considerations.  Personal Service expenditures are by far the largest in any government and business operation.  And these expenses have "tails" which never end.  They extend beyond the end of employment.  East Greenbush has a massive hemorrhage here, and it will continue to increase.  

4)      Stop Patronage and Nepotism hiring.

5)      Develop a “business sensible” and economical solution to the wastewater treatment problem.  This means disclosure to and “ownership” by the stakeholders – the taxpayers.  This process must not be seen as a “feeding frenzy” of the locals looking for lucrative contracts, or a power grab by one party or another. 

6)      Pass a strong Ethics Code.  One that includes financial disclosure and eliminates the “wiggle room” accorded to the connected.  Statesmanlike behavior on this issue, rather than the “weasel work” done on the original draft of the Ethics Board would go far in establishing the credibility of the Board. 

7)      Audit Bruen and bring the financial operation under the direct control of the Town’s comptroller’s office pursuant to an “ancient” OSC recommendation.  This no-bid and single source contract has NEVER been audited in the life of the relationship.

I’m sure there are additional initiatives for the list.  Feel free to add them. 

The best marketing the Town can do for itself is to practice good open, transparent and accountable government.  Until that happens and becomes evident to citizens, all the campaigns in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans.  It will be just like lipstick on a pig. 


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Court Clerk ex nihilo  (Court Clerk "out of nothing")

Subject: Resolution 95-2012 dated 6/20/12: for distribution to all Town Board Members/Town Attorney
Having FOILed for documents supporting the subject resolution and there being none, as notified by Asst. Town Clerk Kim Carlock; having reviewed the 2012 Organizational Meeting minutes and taking note of the court clerk positions appointed; having reviewed the standard work day assignments for certain town employees as denoted in Resolution 92-2012 of the same evening and noting that all three court clerks as indicated in the Organizational Meeting minutes were still employed in their original positions at the date and time of the Board Meeting and Resolution in question; having reviewed the Town Directory yesterday and noted that all three court clerks are still in the positions appointed for them at the 2012 Organizational Meeting; having reviewed the Town Board meeting minutes for the entire year and seeing no mention of or reference to an opening in the Court Clerk ranks; having noted that a budget transfer was required for this 4th Clerk, which would be unnecessary if there had indeed been a vacancy, I hereby conclude  that Resolution 95-2012 was a fabrication foisted upon the people of East Greenbush and expect that you will negate Resolution 95-2012 and make void its result: the hiring of a 4th Court Clerk for a vacancy which in fact did not exist, and that you will make this correction the subject of a separate resolution at a future Town Board meeting. Please note that this notification is my initial attempt at bringing the problem to your attention and seeking reasonable modification of Resolution 95-2012. There will be further attempts if necessary.


Dwight Jenkins
E. Greenbush NY

 Resolution 95-2012 may be found in the Minutes for 6/20/2012 at the following link:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Diary of a Stillborn Grant Baby - By Dwight Jenkins  ---  Continued.....
The previous Post is running a bit long so let's continue the comments here.  I've uploaded the comments to YouTube on the subject from the 8/15/12 Board meeting by Ray Mooney, Keith Langley, Phil Malone, Sue Mangold and Rick Matters.  Ms. O'Brien did not address the matter.   From what I hear from the comments, the direction is still an open question and all the numbers are not in yet.  (Probably not worth much to some readers, but I have also included a couple of my own comments on the process.)    Ray and Keith    DJ#1    Malone    DJ#2    Sue and Keith    Matters

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Diary of a Stillborn Grant Baby - By Dwight Jenkins

Following is simply a cut and paste from various sources available on the Internet regarding the origins of our sewer fiasco, from inception at a Town Board meeting in 2008 to the latest official announcement from the Water and Sewer Authority. The plan all along? Build a SEWER BYPASS to have the County handle some/all of our sewage so that we could expand business while operating more efficiently, saving the taxpayers money. The next report will show, from FOIL requests, where some of that money has gone. I think you will be as saddened and surprised as I was. If it's too much to read, go back to your coloring books...


From the 12/10/08 Town Board Meeting:
104-2008 Authorization to Negotiate a Joint Municipal Agreement to Share Sewer Services and to Apply for State Financial Assistance
WHEREAS, The Rensselaer County Water and Sewer Authority has entered into a service agreement, an operating agreement and certain lease agreements with the Town of East Greenbush to finance and provide water and sewer infrastructure improvements  benefiting both the Town of East Greenbush and the City of Rensselaer; and
WHEREAS,  on or about June 26, 2008, $8,005,000 in Water Service bonds and $6,555,000 in Sewer Service bonds were issued by the Rensselaer County Water and Sewer Authority to provide capital construction funds for such improvements;  and
WHEREAS, a major component of the sewerage facilities is the construction of a by-pass line which will take up to a maximum of one million gallons per day and a minimum of 500,000 gallons per day of untreated sewerage overflow from the Town wastewater treatment plant which is operating at near full capacity and potentially re-direct it to the sewer treatment plant owned and operated by the Rensselaer County Sewer District; and
WHEREAS, the Town of East Greenbush and Rensselaer County Sewer District (RCSD)  are intending to enter into an agreement where a portion of wastewater now collected by the Town will be discharged to County treatment facilities as aforementioned to lessen the burden of wastewater loadings at the existing Town wastewater treatment plant, and
​WHEREAS, the New York Department of State is seeking applications for funding for the Shared Municipal Services Incentive grant program that seeks to have communities share services in order to improve government efficiency and provide cost savings, and
WHEREAS,  New York State funding is available (up to approximately $400,000) to encourage and assist consolidations and municipal sharing initiatives such as this through the Local Government Efficiency Grant Program and the application for such funding requires a statement by the Town of East Greenbush and by Rensselaer County of its support for the sharing initiative; now therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town Board recognizes the steps already taken by the Rensselaer County Water and Sewer Authority and the Town of East Greenbush to provide capital funding needed to construct a by-pass line and associated monitoring equipment and the ongoing discussions between the County Sewer District #1 and the Town of East Greenbush to create the framework for a workable joint municipal agreement to implement a sharing of sewer services; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Town of East Greenbush is authorized to pursue a joint municipal agreement with the Rensselaer County Water and Sewer Authority and the Rensselaer County Sewer District #1 with the objectives of achieving cost effective improvements to the delivery of service, benefits to the ratepayers of the Town of East Greenbush and the residents of Rensselaer County, and reduced combined sewer overflow to the Hudson River; and that the Town of East Greenbush is authorized to apply for State funding to support this initiative with the aforementioned entities; and
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Town of East Greenbush, subject to the cooperation of the Rensselaer County Sewer District, hereby authorizes the Supervisor to apply to the Shared Municipal Services Incentive Grant and for the Supervisor to sign all necessary documents to effect this grant application on behalf of the Town of East Greenbush. There is a ten percent local match and of this the Town of East Greenbush will provide this amount from its service funds so as to pay its percentage to meet the local match requirement.
The foregoing Resolution was duly moved by Supervisor McCabe and
seconded by Councilperson Danaher and brought to a vote resulting as follows:


From the 1/14/09 Town Board Meeting:
Resolution to apply for local government efficiency grant funding
WHEREAS, the Town of East Greenbush, as Lead Applicant, and the City of Troy, the City of Rensselaer, the Town of North Greenbush, the Town of Schodack and the Town of Sand Lake, as Co-Applicants, are in mutual support of submitting a Local Government Efficiency Grant Program application to the New York State Department of State, Division of Local Government Services for the 2008 - 2009 program year; and
WHEREAS, the respective responsibilities of the lead applicant and the co-applicants are enumerated in the grant application; and
WHEREAS, the aforementioned municipalities have previously formed a consortium and successfully developed a shared Assessment Information System (AIS) to provide assessment and parcel level data to the six participating municipal departments and to the public via the Web; and
WHEREAS, the purpose of the grant application is to create additional operational efficiencies and further reduce municipal costs through the funding of carefully considered enhancements to the AIS; and
WHEREAS, the project title shall be the “Assessment Information System Enhancement Project”; and
WHEREAS, the Town designates Susan F. McCarthy, Assessor for the Town of East Greenbush as contact person for the Town, with responsibility for attending project meetings, furnishing all necessary information to the Town of East Greenbush and informing the Town (City) Council regarding the project’s schedule and progress; and
WHEREAS, the “amount of grant requested” will not exceed two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000.00); and (* It's actually $400,000)
WHEREAS, the “local share,” in dollars, of a successfully funded Local Government Efficiency Grant Program application shall be a ten percent (10%) cash match of the grant award; and
WHEREAS, the Town of East Greenbush, the City of Troy, the City of Rensselaer, the Town of North Greenbush, the Town of Schodack and the Town of Sand Lake, will each contribute one-sixth of the 10% match (1.667% ); now therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town  of East Greenbush authorizes the Supervisor  to submit an application, as a co-applicant, for funding not to exceed $200,000 to the Local Government Efficiency Grant Program and to execute all financial and administrative processes relating to the grant; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED that the Town  of East Greenbush will commit one-sixth of the required 10% local share, an amount not to exceed $3,333.33, from its general revenues, towards the local project share.
The foregoing Resolution was duly moved by Councilperson Cristo and
seconded by Councilperson Kennedy and brought to a vote resulting as follows:


July 8, 2009


Projects to Consolidate and Share Services to Save $105 Million Across the State

Governor David A. Paterson today announced the award of more than $1.4 million in Local Government Efficiency (LGE) program grants for the Capital Region. The LGE awards support projects that consolidate local government services to eliminate waste, make operations more effective and reduce costs. The Capital Region was awarded four grants that total $1.48 million and are expected to save area taxpayers more than $7 million over ten years.

“At a time of fiscal crisis, it is essential that we continue working to make New York more affordable for businesses and families. We need to reduce the property tax burden, and one way to do that is to modernize the delivery of local government services,” Governor Paterson said. “The Local Government Efficiency Grant Program helps municipalities to invest in their future savings, consolidating services to reduce waste and improve operations. These shared-service programs are an effective cost-saving measure that helps us build sustainable, high-quality services that will benefit communities across the State.”

Secretary of State Cortés-Vázquez said: “In this difficult time for all Americans, reducing expenses is as important on the State and local municipal level as it is for every household. Now, more than ever, New Yorkers must work together and support one another as we build a better, stronger future. Whether through the sharing of services or through consolidation, local municipalities continue to spend effectively to help control the rising cost of property taxes. These Local Government Efficiency grants will help New York’s local governments continue to find ways to become even more efficient and to effect the changes to help lower costs and lessen rising property taxes.”

More than $10 million will be distributed to 63 grant recipients across the State. New York’s taxpayers are projected to save $105 million. The LGE Program, which began in 2005, has already awarded $29 million in grants and is expected to produce an estimated savings of more than $250 million.

The announcement of the LGE grants is latest in a series of measures the Governor has taken to lower the cost of government, a priority of his Administration. Last month, he announced the creation of the Office of Taxpayer Accountability to manage efforts that reduce waste and find efficiencies in State and local government. The Governor also signed the New York Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act to establish procedures for the consolidation and dissolution of local governments. Through these commitments, the Governor has applied administrative and legislative tools that will help to decrease spending, achieve reform and reduce property taxes.

“Our property taxes have skyrocketed to levels that discourage residents and businesses. True economic recovery will address the fiscal challenges we now face, but must also establish new standards that ensure we manage our spending at all levels of government, so as not to burden the people who work to make New York the Empire State,” Governor Paterson added.

Capital Region Local Government Efficiency Grant Recipients:

$400,000 for the Town of East Greenbush, in cooperation with Rensselaer County, to create a joint municipal agreement to authorize the sharing of sewer services and develop the engineering and design specifications for the development of appropriate inter-municipal connections. (* For a connection, not an expansion.)

For more information and a complete list of the grant awards, please visit Department of State website at

The following quotes were provided in support of the Local Government Efficiency grants:

Senator Neil Breslin said: “During these difficult economic times it is important that we find ways to reduce government costs. This government efficiency grant will help reduce our local tax burden while making government services more efficient."

Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari said: “Property taxpayers and businesses in the Town of East Greenbush will benefit in the years to come from the sharing of waste water services with Rensselaer County. This will hopefully avoid tax increases for people who are already stretched thin by the economic recession. I am thankful for this efficiency grant and hopeful that it will encourage greater consolidation of services where possible throughout New York.”

Chairman of the Rensselaer Water and Sewer Authority (RCWSA) and Executive Director of the Rensselaer County Office of Economic Development and Planning Robert Pasinella, Jr. said: "It is more important than ever that local governments join forces to wisely spend scarce tax dollars to improve public services. The award of the Department of State Grant of $400,000 to supplement nearly $1 million in bond revenues issued by the RCWSA to build a Wastewater Bypass Line will save East Greenbush Taxpayers nearly $2.3 million, generate additional operating revenues for the County Sewer District and enable continued economic growth in the County. Governor Paterson, Secretary of State Cortés-Vázquez, Supervisor McCabe, the Rensselaer County Legislature and County Executive Jimino deserve our thanks and praise for moving this initiative forward."

Town of East Greenbush Supervisor Rick McCabe said: "We are excited to receive this grant that will enable Rensselaer County and the Town of East Greenbush to establish an intermunicipal agreement, where the County will share available waste water treatment capacity with the Town. Both the County and Town will benefit from this shared approach of municipal services. The County will benefit from additional revenues due to future anticipated residential, commercial, and industrial growth that would otherwise not occur due to the limited municipal service capacity presently available in the Town."


Ruth Noemí Colón

Dear Colleague,
It is with great pleasure that I present to you the 2009-2010 Annual Report for the Local Government Efficiency (LGE) program. In the report you will read how our local government partners are proving that the cost of pro- viding public services can be lowered through more efficient government, easing the impact of property taxes on community residents. This document is a tribute to their hard work and commitment.

The goal of the LGE program is to help local government leaders lower local government costs and increase efficiency of service delivery. This past year has been especially active as we are seeing a greater willingness to consider new models of governance and service delivery. New York State residents continue to make it clear that they are no longer willing to bear the cost of inefficient or duplicative services at any level of government. The “New N.Y. Government Reorganization and Citizen Empowerment Act” that became effective in March is a manifestation of this opposition. In response, the pressure on local leaders to meet these demands for action is high and the Department of State remains committed to help.

This report documents the positive effect that LGE projects are having in our communities. In fact, average household savings equals 4.6% of local government taxes and the annual rate of return on grant dollars is 89% -- a prudent investment of public funds. The Department of State looks forward to the continued success of the LGE program and to implementing new partnerships with local government and other community lead- ers. By working together we will meet the economic challenges of our time and emerge a stronger and more vital New York. (* We were blessed to make an appearance in this report! See the below quote:)

"Challenges imposed by changing demographics and aging infrastructure make intermunicipal and regional collaboration an attractive option. The Department of State is helping the Town of East Greenbush connect its sewage treatment plant, which is operating at full capacity and under a consent order, to the Rensselaer County plant, which is operating at only 60% of capacity. The grant will help to develop a joint municipal agreement needed to authorize the sharing of sewer services and offset some of the engineering and design costs of the connecting line. "

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ (revised 11/29/11)

Town of East Greenbush - $400,000.00   Status: 50% Complete
The Town of East Greenbush is building a sewer line connecting the East Greenbush plant to the County Sewer District at a capital cost nearly $3 million less than an expansion of their existing plant. 

(* Notice the above cost analysis from the Dept. of State web site. "$3 million less than an expansion..." And yet the Town Engineer was quoted as telling Times Union reporter Brian Nearing that it would actually cost MORE to do the sewer line connection:  "Another potential option, to hook up the town system to the larger Rensselaer County sewer system, has been deemed too expensive at this time,"  Benko said. "It is more beneficial to do our improvements from within," he said.  (More beneficial for who????)


 Rensselaer County Water and Sewer Authority 2011 Annual Report

John J. Bonesteel, Chief Executive Officer Robert Hotz, Chief Financial Officer
John Fetscher, Secretary
Philip H. Dixon, Authority Counsel
Henry V. LaBarba, P.E., Authority Consulting Engineer
February 2012
Robert Pasinella, Jr., Chairman G. Jeffrey Haber. Vice Chairman Kenneth M. Harting, Treasurer John Mooney Edward J. Patanian

On June 26, 2008, the Rensselaer County Water and Sewer Authority (RCWSA) closed on an $8,005,000 Water Service Bond Issue and a $6,555,000 Sewer Service Bond Issue to fund sewer projects in the Town of East Greenbush and water projects in the Joint Water District, consisting of East Greenbush and the City of Rensselaer. By the end of 2010 a total of $6,077,592 was disbursed on water projects and $2,682,963 on sewer projects. During 2011, an additional $1,384,577 was spent on water facilities and $344,451 on sewer projects. Debt service reserves of $497,705 and $408,458 are maintained for water and sewer bonds, respectively. Of the amounts available for construction costs, nearly all of water service bond funds have been spent or committed, while nearly half of the sewer service bond funds have been spent or committed. Major sewer project initiatives to be commenced in 2012 include construction of the sewer interceptor line with the cooperation of the Rensselaer County Sewer District No. 1 and the City of Rensselaer; pump station improvement projects in the Town of East Greenbush; and additional infiltration and inflow reduction initiatives in the Town.

In 2011 the Rensselaer County Water and Sewer Authority (RCWSA) continued its work on the water and sewer facilities serving the Town of East Greenbush and the City of Rensselaer. The second of two five million gallon water tanks serving the Joint Water District was completed, along with upgrades to the Cross Street Pump Station. The upgrades included replacement of the pump drives at Cross Street with highly efficient variable speed drives, utilizing savings realized from other water projects, which will reduce future operating costs at the pump station. The RCWSA also assisted the Town of East Greenbush by redirecting the Town’s water line along Route 4 to allow for the construction of a NYS Department of Transportation supported roundabout at the Couse Corners intersection.

On the sewer facility side, the focus shifted to increasing capacity of the Town’s waste water treatment system. In 2009, the RCWSA, in conjunction with the Town of East Greenbush and Rensselaer County Sewer District No. 1, applied for and received a $400,000 Local Government Efficiency Grant from the Department of State to implement a joint municipal wastewater diversion project to be constructed using the RCWSA’s Sewer Service bonds. Planning and design moved forward in the 2011 with the contingent transfer of a section of sewer line by the City of Rensselaer to the Authority. In 2010 the Authority acquired necessary easements and a parcel of New York State Department of Transportation property for the sewer interceptor line in the City of Rensselaer. Current plans call for the proposed line to carry up to five million gallons a day to the Rensselaer County Sewer District No. 1. This will provide excess capacity for future growth in the Town and its neighbors and take full advantage of current construction cost savings and efficiencies. The County Sewer District will also benefit by having a new dependable revenue source to replace the amounts previously paid by BASF. Draft inter-municipal agreements and necessary changes to the Town’s waste treatment code have been completed. In the area of infiltration and inflow mitigation, the RCWSA and Town completed manhole rehabilitation and sanitary sewer replacement where severe pipe deterioration was found and have instituted other inflow and infiltration initiatives, such as the residential sump pump program to reduce discharges of ground water into the waste stream.

Sewer line rehabilitation projects will continue to be undertaken to address the compliance schedule in the Town’s NYSDEC consent order. The replacement of aged and worn sewage pumping station will continue with one planned for 2012.

The Authority also owns the Pheasant Run sewer system, a fifteen unit system in the Town of Schodack. The Authority collects $600.00 per year per unit for its maintenance expenses. In 2011, The Authority and the Bond Trustee, Wells Fargo, continued to invest idle bond proceeds in government-backed money market funds due to the volatility in the financial markets. Bond principal payments totaling of $145,000 ($80,000 for water bonds and $65,000 for sewer bonds) were made on September 1, 2011. Interest earned on Water and Sewer Service Bonds totaled $172.74 and $434.32, respectively, for the year, reflecting the spend-down on project costs and low prevailing interest rates.


The following is a chronological account of the RCWSA’s accomplishments and operations during calendar 2011.

January, February - Water System Projects - Tank No. 2 work is complete. The only remaining tasks will be to release the retainage and issue a change order for credit from the leftover allowance amount. Concerning the other two remaining contracts, (Lashway and J&J Sass), the contract with J&J Sass Electric is now complete. Delaware Engineering has provided a final payment application and related paper work. The RCWSA has been asked by the Town of East Greenbush to assist in the Couse Corners Roundabout transportation project by financing the replacement of the existing water main at that intersection. The NYSDOT grant for the roundabout did not include adequate funds for about 600 feet of water main that will be situated under the roundabout. The Town and its water department are concerned that during and after new road construction the main will be vulnerable to breaks due to age and condition. The road design consultant CME has prepared a base plan showing the needed water main, valves and appurtenances. CME has prepared a cost estimate range of around $ $450,000.

Wastewater Projects - CDM has commenced design of the sewer interceptor line. The Town will be meeting to decide what additional construction is needed at the plant to accommodate the preliminary treatment of wastewater before it is bypassed to the County Sewer District No 1. A budget is being prepared to enable the Town to make a decision on what facilities are needed and if they can be financed through the remaining bond funds. We have met with the Town and officials to determine to what extend we need to replace influent grit removal systems and screens. It was determined that CDM can install the bypass structure and flow measurement facilities adjacent to the existing influent structure at the Town’s treatment plant. The Town is requesting that the Authority authorize payment for a fence to encompass a new storm water retention area constructed to relieve Infiltration and Inflow issues in Clinton Park.

March, April – Water system Projects – Cost estimates for the Couse Corners water main project appear to be closer to $400,000 which will fit within the remaining uncommitted water bond funds.

Wastewater Projects - Planning and preliminary design of the sump pump project is underway. It is not expected that any construction will commence until the summer. Public input and meetings are required initially.

May, June – Water System Projects - The Contract with Prelode for the new water tanks is closed. Construction of the Couse Corners water main project started on Monday June 6. A preconstruction meeting was held on May 29th with the Town, contractor, engineers, and DOT present. The Town will utilize its own inspection services, with oversight from HV LaBarba and CME to reduce bonded project costs.

Wastewater Projects - In early May, the Authority dealt with a sewer blockage and discharge issue discovered in a remote section of North Greenbush along the Valley View Blvd. line that was caused by construction debris clogging the line. The RCWSA remediated the area surrounding the discharge and instituted an inspection plan. Meetings are scheduled to be held with representatives of the County Legislature regarding the Sewer Interceptor Project. Attorneys from all parties, including the RCWSA, Town of East Greenbush and the County Sewer District will also be meeting soon to discuss the Joint Municipal Agreement associated with the project. As part of the sump pump elimination project, the Town constructed a large storm water detention area to handle peak flows from Sherwood Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue, where the sump project will discharge. The Town solicited three quotes to install a fence surrounding the detention area, which is about 1⁄2 acre and about 12 feet deep, for safety concerns. The low bidder was AFSCO Fence Supply Co.

July, August - Water System Projects – Drives have arrived at the Cross St station and are being installed by O’Connell Electric. The new VFD units are in place. This system will generate a significant energy cost savings through its efficiency. The pumps can now also run at higher than previous pumping rates. Couse Corners Roundabout construction is in its final stages. The new 30 inch main is in place and only minor site work remains.

Wastewater Projects – The City of Rensselaer passed a resolution relinquishing sewer ownership along a section of sewer line to the RCWSA, which was needed to complete the sewer interceptor line through the City of Rensselaer to connect to the County Sewer District main. The Town and the RCWSA made a presentation to the County Legislature on the status of the project. It was determined that the parties will need EPA approval of the Joint Municipal Agreement. The Hampton Manor sewer project is complete. Manhole rehabilitation work is also complete. We have received a request for release of retainage from Talham, Inc., which will close out this project. As a results of the planning and design efforts, a good percentage of the homeowners in the study have disconnected sump pumps from entering the sewer lines and those remaining can be serviced by storm sewers already in place. The Massachusetts Avenue sump pump elimination project will be the first of its kind in the Town and will provide direction to other areas of similar need. As part of the sump pump elimination project, the Town constructed a large storm water detention area to handle peak flows from Sherwood Avenue, including Massachusetts Avenue, where the sump project will discharge. The fence surrounding the detention area is complete.

September, October - Water System Projects – It was necessary to update and rewire the new pump drive controls to allow the City of Troy to remotely operate the pumps as needed.

Wastewater Projects – The Town is preparing an Inflow and Infiltration Reduction Plan for its presentation to NYSDEC regarding its consent order.
November, December - Water System Projects – There are two small on-going projects at the Cross Street Station, one involves ECI, the Contractor used by the Authority for the Joint Water System for tank monitoring and pump station control, to upgrade the control system. The estimated cost is around $25,275. The second contract is with JP Industrial to deactivate the old control valves ($480).

Wastewater Projects – CDM has nearly completed the final plans for the sewer interceptor. The Town met with NYSDEC to discuss its Consent Order, which terminates in March 2012. The following items were discussed: 1) the need for the Town and County to come to an accord for the Town to complete the sewer interconnection to the Rensselaer County Sewer District and the necessary intermunicipal agreement, 2) other options the Town has to satisfy DEC and the terms of the Consent Order concerning the treatment plants SPDES violations, and 3) ongoing Inflow and Infiltration issues. As a result of this meeting the Town has to submit to DEC a request to modify the Consent Order.The request included the following;

1) A revised time schedule for possible agreement with the County for an intermunicipal connection.
2) An alternate plan on how the Town will prevent future SPDES treatment violations by modifying or rehabilitating the existing waste water treatment plant.
3) A revised schedule to complete sump pump work and sewer rehabilitation on various projects in the Town ( Mass Ave & Sherwood) during 2012,
4) A plan to further monitor and control peak flows at the Corlis pump station and
5) A plan to replace and modify the Hideaway pump station to prevent flooding and
stream contamination.

These projects will become the RCWSA’s focal points for design and construction to be completed in 2012.

Board Members
Robert Pasinella, Jr., Chairman - Mr. Pasinella is the Director of the Rensselaer County Office of Economic Development and Planning, as well as the Executive Director of the Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency.

G. Jeffrey Haber. Vice Chairman - Mr. Haber is the Executive Director of the New York State Association of Towns and is the former Supervisor of the Town of the Town of Schodack.

Kenneth M. Harting, Treasurer – Mr. Harting is the former supervisor of the Town of East Greenbush’s water system for the Department of Public Works and is the operator of a number of small private water systems in Rensselaer County.

John Mooney – Mr. Mooney is a licensed real estate broker with Realty USA and the President of the Rensselaer City School District Board of Education.

Edward J. Patanian – Mr. Patanian is a builder/developer in Sand Lake, the owner/broker of Patanian Realty and EJP, Inc., a former CDRPC Commissioner and SLBA President, and is active on many other government committees.


POST-MORTEM: the grant baby was stillborn after so many good wishes and so many gifts. Then again, maybe there never really WAS a plan to deliver this baby? The latest update from the Water and Sewer is below is below:

Town of East Greenbush
Capital Improvement Projects

Project Status Report and Meeting Agenda Items
From: H. V. LaBarba, PE
Consultant to the Authority
August 7, 2012
1.    Intermunicipal Sewer – Status
  In summary of some of the important actions to date:
• The Town has a final plan approved by DEC concerning improvements to its wastewater system, including pump station upgrades, continued Inflow and Infiltration reduction and plant upgrading.  The sewer connection with the County is not a dead issue and it could (sic) available if the Town finds its (sic) needs additional capacity for future growth. The County has sent the Town a letter to this affect. For now there will be a hold on any further work with finalizing the bypass sewer design.  By late fall the Town will know if it should continue with this option of a connection to the County.
Actions to be taken:

 None at this time

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

DEC to Town:  Fix the Sewers

Last Saturday the Times Union published the story by Brian Nearing, which is printed below.  I've heard that it has some problems, one being that Mr. Nearing (who is supposed to be a competent journalist) missed the chance to ask some obvious questions.  

We still haven't heard about the content of the "plan" the political mucky-mucks are hatching to spend our money on this problem.  But the one thing that stood out for me, which I think deserves some explaining, is the statement by Mr. Benko that the plan to hook up to the County system was too expensive at this time.  I've heard from several people who should know that the County hook-up is the least costly and the quickest solution.  I've also heard that the County Water/Sewer Authority spent something like $200,000 to flesh out that plan.  I'd say it's time to get the straight poop guys.

Have at it taxpayers.......

DEC to town: Fix the sewers

Regeneron expansion is at risk if East Greenbush does not improve sewage system
Published 11:23 p.m., Friday, July 27, 2012
EAST GREENBUSH — A planned $75 million expansion of a pharmaceutical plant is bumping up against a state-imposed moratorium on an overused, leaky town sewer system that has fouled the Hudson River for more than a decade.
If East Greenbush wants the proposed 71,000-square-foot office and plant addition at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to use its overtaxed sewers, it must first reduce an equivalent amount of sewage from entering the system.
"The town must demonstrate an adequate reduction in flow to the (sewer) plant in order to be allowed to add the additional capacity (from Regeneron)," said Department of Environmental Conservation Region IV spokesman Rick Georgeson on Friday. "We are aware of the expansion and have met with the town, and are working with the town's consultant to allow for this increase of capacity."
That has left the town eyeing short-term sewer fixes to accommodate the expansion, which could mean as many as 130 new jobs at the 81 Columbia Turnpike facility.
This spring, the town signed its sixth sewage agreement with DEC during the last 13 years, paying a $15,000 fine for repeated spills and promising to upgrade its system, which has intermittently dumped into the Hudson for years. The town has repeatedly promised to fix the system, which gets overwhelmed by high volumes, but never lived up to the earlier agreements with the state.
This latest DEC agreement, like an earlier agreement from 2009, continued a moratorium on new sewer hookups unless the town can reduce the amount entering its system to cover it. East Greenbush, which had ignored the earlier moratorium and kept adding sewer hookups, also again promised to make major repairs to its system, this time by 2014.
It could cost taxpayers up to $800,000 to do shorter-term sewer fixes that would allow the Regeneron expansion, which would add another 100,000 gallons a day to the system, town engineer Rich Benko said.
Possible steps still being studied include building an equalization tank, which could hold additional sewage until it could be properly processed; adding linings to existing leaky sewer pipes to keep rain and groundwater from mixing in; or removing residential sump pumps that dump groundwater into the sewer system.
Benko said the town still has bond funds that could help pay for the work, which could reduce or eliminate the need to hike sewer rates paid by property owners.
Regeneron wants to start work on the office portion of its expansion by the end of this year or early next year.
Another potential option, to hook up the town system to the larger Rensselaer County sewer system, has been deemed too expensive at this time, Benko said.
"It is more beneficial to do our improvements from within," he said.
In the May agreement with the town, DEC imposed a fine on the town of $75,000, but agreed to suspend $60,000 of that if permanent upgrades are in place by December 31, 2014. No new projects can be hooked up to the sewer system unless the town reduces the equivalent amount of flow first, under the agreement.
After it first imposed the sewer moratorium under a July 2009 agreement with the town, the town ignored the action and hooked up 53 new projects by October 2011, DEC said. • 518-454-5094 • @Bnearing10

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Scammed on Ethics – Yet Again?
You Decide
By Ray Mooney

At the October 2010 Town Board meeting Rick McCabe, Ginny O’Brien and Rick Matters voted unanimously to form an Ethics Board.

That is Resolution 161- 2010.

Part of the resolution mandated amendments to the 1975 ethics code “including, but not limited to, financial-disclosure provisions.”

The Ethics Board met on Monday, July 23, 2012 in what amounts to a now almost two year effort to amend the 1974 ethics code.

At the July 23 meeting the public was informed by Chairperson Jack Conway that the 2010 resolution and the financial disclosure provision had been repealed.

Keep in mind that Ethics Board meetings are wonderfully open and fully participatory. The public in attendance were incredulous and asked when and how the 2010 resolution was repealed.

We were told that the following language of resolution 117-2012 repealed the 2010 resolution:
“notwithstanding any previous directive from the Town Board to the Ethics Board.”

The public was told that the town attorney and the majority had advised the Ethics Board that this language repealed the 2010 resolution.

We were further told that the town attorney had informed the Ethics Board to the effect that since the 2010 resolution was based by a three member Town Board the current full Town Board could change the meaning and interpretation of the 2010 resolution to anything the majority now wanted.

Ginny O’Brien voted in favor of financial disclosure in 2010 and against financial disclosure in 2012.
I e-mailed Supervisor Langley and asked him if he knew and agreed that the above language of 117-2012 repealed the 2010 resolution. I have not received a response.

I asked Board Member Matters the same question. Rick’s response was that the language of 117-2012 is open to interpretation but he was not aware of the majority’s intent to have that language repeal the 2010 resolution.

One person close to all the discussion between the town attorney and the majority has told me that the only problem is that the town attorney was incompetent when he wrote the language of resolution 117-2012.

Other people have told me that they feel that the majority is trying to scam the public and avoid the responsibility to openly and publically state that they are repealing the 2010 resolution and its financial disclosure requirement.

What do you think?

Friday, July 20, 2012

                                    Mugged on Ethics

 Here we have history being re-written by the Oligarchy which is the 3-member majority of the Town Board led by Majority leader O’Brien.  The interests of the people of East Greenbush are being sacrificed to the interests of three people who want to avoid financial disclosure and preserve the practices of nepotism and patronage.  The Town Board’s “Ethics Code” has so many “exceptions” that citizens would be better off with the 1974 Code.  It’s business and usual in East Greenbush.  Those of you old enough will be reminded of governments in Eastern Europe in the ‘50’s.  As you read the commentary below, please remember Mr. Malone’s pontification at the June Board meeting referring to the three member majority– “what we pass, passes.”  We’ve been mugged by the three driven by self-interest, relieving themselves of the “inconvenient” responsibilities they have to all the citizens of East Greenbush.

117-2012                      A Resolution Referring the Proposed Code of Ethics for the Town of East Greenbush to the Ethics Board for Review and Comment
Please notice that the Title makes no reference to the Code developed by the duly appointed Board of Ethics in 2010.  The Code considered is the Code from the Board (read Liccardi). 

WHEREAS, a proposed Ethics Code was brought forward for a public hearing held on June 20th 2012, and

Here again, no mention of the work done pursuant to Resolution 161-2010 dated October 13, 2010.

WHEREAS, the public hearing was held open and remains so as of this date, and

Public comment is allegedly still possible

WHEREAS, the Town Board desires receipt of comment from the Ethics Board upon the proposed Ethics Code, now

Comment on what we give you, not on the work you did.

BE IT RESOLVED, that the proposed  Code of Ethics for the Town of East Greenbush brought forward at a public hearing on June 20th 2012 is hereby referred to the Board of Ethics for review and comment, and

Read it….

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the review and comment shall be limited in scope to remain within the parameters of the proposed Code, notwithstanding any previous directive from the Town Board to the Ethics Board, and

Don’t say anything about anything that we don’t tell you that you can talk about…..  Absolutely forget about that we originally told you that you must at least include provisions related to financial disclosure.  (Talk about “double-think” and cognitive dissonance.)  Papers please….. 

Here we have the Town board stating that it will not be responsible for anything previously stated or assigned or mandated.  Wouldn’t it be ducky if any citizen could absolve him/her self of previous commitments and responsibilities with such ease to meet the personal needs present at any point in time?  Ms. Mangold need to be absolved of financial entanglements, and Malone and O’Brien don’t want to be accountable for nepotism and patronage. 

You can’t talk about those matters in anything you submit to the Town board. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Ethics Board review and comment shall be transmitted to the Town Board by way of a non-final inter-agency memorandum and,

What you say to us is to be said in secret so that the public will never know if you say anything which disagrees with what we sent you to “comment” on.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the public hearing shall remain open and adjourned without date.

The Town Board will decide what happens next, and it could quite possibly be a Resolution at an undetermined date which closes the public hearing and advances for passage the Board’s Code with no disclosure of anything offered by the Ethics Board. 

The foregoing Resolution was duly moved by Councilperson O’Brien and seconded by Councilperson Mangold and brought to a vote resulting as follows:
Councilperson O’Brien                       VOTED  _Yes__
Councilperson Mangold                     VOTED  _Yes__
Supervisor Langley                             VOTED  _Yes__
Councilperson Matters                       VOTED  _Yes__
Councilperson Malone                       VOTED  _Yes__

So what the Town Board three person majority wanted in the first place – a Code, rubber stamped by an obedient Ethics Board so it would look like the absence of financial disclosure, no sanctions against patronage and nepotism and business as usual in East Greenbush – could be enacted with the appearance of public vetting will actually happen.

The Ethics Board has been had, rolled, thrown under the bus, played, folded like a $2 suitcase.

Where is the consciousness of the Public Interest and Welfare on the part of both Boards? 

Everybody knew that the Board majority (oligarchy) would get what it wanted.  My question is why didn’t the Ethics Board make them publically pay for this assault on the public interest?  There were ample opportunities.  Is there some secret plan (like Nixon’s to end the Viet Nam war) that will make this colossal “cave” to the oligarchy understandable?  Yuri Andropov and Walter Ulbricht wrote that Resolution.  The people of EG are getting mugged.  Mr. Conway said at the June Ethics Board meeting that if Mr. Liccardi’s draft was adopted, it would be business as usual in EG.  He said he was going to say that at the Public Hearing.  He didn’t.  Seems to me that the people in a position to advocate in the interest of the people have caved to the oligarchy.  Really a sad day for East Greenbush.  The Machine rules once again.  “What we pass, passes.”

Right now, the Ethics Board is in no position to produce anything which will be known to the public as different from that finally promulgated by the Town Board.

This page is open to Mr. Conway, or any member of the Ethics Board to make any case they want to.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Where are we being "taken" with the Poop Solution?

We understand that discussions and negotiations are currently going on with reference to the solution to be implemented to solve the Poop in the Hudson problem for East Greenbush.  It is clear that the problem was created in the first place because of the placement of political power interests above the interests of the Community.  That being the case, it is hard to conceive of a solution to the problem being developed without those political power interests being in play.  And the less the Community knows about what is going on, the more mischief is possible.  Remember that East Greenbush got illegal interfund transfers, $2.5 million in debt and Junk Bond ratings directly from playing around with the Poop over 13 years. 

With these issues in mind, here's a comment by Dwight Jenkins which deserves to be a Post on the matter.  And here's the link to the Planning Board Minutes to which he refers:

"After a rather lengthy delay the Planning Board Minutes are updated on the Town Document Download site. Interestingly, the 5/23/12 minutes reflect a cover-our-ass conversation initiated by the Chair of the Board in which he asked about our Consent Order problem. What we heard was that it is a complex problem, very expensive to repair, we're not the only town dumping sewage, and that we haven't been ignoring the problem. What we didn't hear was a reason for the transfer of sewer funds to the general fund, when we could have and should have used those sewer fund surpluses to address the problem. Of course, we also got more than $6 million dollars in bonding from the County Water and Sewer authority back in 2008 to fix the problem, but we haven't used much of that for anything. It sits there while we pay about seventyfive thousand dollars a month in debt service for unfinished projects that would fix the problem. Look how quickly we spent the $6 million or so bond for water repairs: we banged out infrastructure updates and new water tanks in no time. That was a job well done. As for the sewer? No, this smells like a fight over power, influence, and money, hence the delays, hence the unacted upon consent orders, hence the State is finally pissed enough to jack up the fines to a level where they hurt, hence a connected lawyer got a nice payday to lower those fines somewhat,hence we got a bullshit answer on 5/23/12 in response to a staged question. Go read it for yourself if you don't believe me. Yes, we have problems with aging pipes and rainstorms. NO SHIT! That's what the sewer surplus and the hefty bond were to have fixed by now!"

Dwight Jenkins

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Unethics Code

By Ray Mooney

Lately, when I write about our town, I am frequently frustrated and often angry. I am this way because I see what is best for our town being trampled by the tyranny of a majority that so often fails to put their duty before their personal interests. I have written this article full of that frustration.
I am also upset and embarrassed for the five hard working members of our Ethics Board. I attended many of their meetings. I watched and listened to each of them put forward an ethics code that actually made sense; that would have been good for our town. And with the tyranny of the majority of O’Brien, Mangold and Malone I see all that good, hard work being flushed down the toilet of selfish personal interests.

The personal and preferred version of an unethics code has finally been made by public by the Town Board majority of Ginny O’Brien, Sue Mangold and Phil Malone. I refuse, as a matter of principle, to label what O’Brien, Mangold and Malone have created an ethics code – because it is not.

After more than a year’s hard work and patience the Ethics Board’s version of their recommended ethics code has been sent to the trash bin.

Financial disclosure and nepotism in hiring Town Board member’s relatives, no surprise, got banished to that very same trash bin.

Sue Mangold needed to be relieved of any responsibility to make public her financial interests in her multiple family businesses that benefit directly from Town Board resolutions. She got that.

Ginny O’Brien and Phil Malone needed to be relieved of any limitations on putting their immediate family members in taxpayer’s wallets and purses through nepotism appointments. They got that.

There is a sham public hearing on the unethics code on June 20 at 6:30 PM. The public will have 30 whole minutes to ask questions and make comments on an important law that the majority of O’Brien, Mangold and Malone has screwed the Ethics Board royally on and screwed the public around on for more than a year.

Public hearings, in this town anyway, are as much of a public farce as this unethics code is. The decisions are already made. Board Majority Leader O’Brien and her two cronies are going to do exactly what they want regardless of what is best for the town and for the town’s citizens and regardless of anything asked or commented on at the public hearing. Those are harsh comments. But how can Majority Leader O’Brien call something a public “hearing” when we, the public, are not actually heard? How else can scrapping the ethics code recommended by the Ethics Board possibly be explained?

The October 13, 2010 Resolution 161-2010 that created the Ethics Board required, as a matter of a law that the Ethics Board recommend an ethics code to the Town Board. The Ethics Board did exactly that. That same resolution requires that the Ethics Board’s recommended ethics code amendments include financial disclosure provisions. Ginny O’Brien voted in favor of Resolution 161-2010 and it was passed unanimously.

As they so often do the Town Board majority said to hell with the inconveniences of law.  So, the Town Attorney, in what he has already described as a conflict of interest, wrote the unethics code we now have before us. In a further display of complete arrogance for the law the majority, led by Ginny O’Brien, dropped any requirements that the ethics code include the financial disclosure provisions required by Resolution 161 – 2010. How does that work anyway Ms. O’Brien? Vote for something into law, make yourself look good politically and then pretend the whole thing never happened so you can do what you want? Is it kind of like a speeding ticket if you have the right political connections? Is it kind of like sticking your hands in taxpayer’s wallets and purses for a job if you have the right political connections?  Can ordinary citizens and taxpayers pick and choose what laws they will follow and what laws they will ignore without any fear of consequence like you do so often?

So, the Town of East Greenbush will have, very soon, what should forever be known as an unethics code.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Report on the “Special Town Board Meeting”
By Ray Mooney and Don Johnson

Taxpayers got mugged again yesterday afternoon.

In the face of junk bond ratings, no financial turnaround plan, a non functioning CFAC, our lack of money to properly upgrade the waste treatment plant, our inability to legally pay back our inter fund borrowing, our inability to account for the savings associated with blowing $500,000 of taxpayer’s money, our deceiving taxpayers with paying fines and all the rest of the mess OBrien, Mangold and Malone pretend is governing, we added two new and additional patronage and nepotism jobs to town payroll yesterday.

There is not a taxpayer in our town, who, faced with similar family or personal financial problems, would do what OBrien, Mangold and Malone are doing to us and to our town.

 There is not a business, in our town or anywhere else, that would make the moves that OBrien, Mangold and Malone keep making. In the private sector business world these three individuals would be fired for incompetence and malfeasance.

 Special Meetings, as responsible taxpayers have come to learn, usually means the Town Board majority wants to slip something by citizens and keep things as under the radar as possible.

 This was certainly true for yesterday afternoon’s meeting.

 Yesterday afternoon’s Special Meeting was for OBrien, Mangold and Malone to make two (2) new and additional patronage and nepotism appointments to the DPW in the Highway Department.

There was no public comment portion of the meeting and no opportunity to ask questions. Ray had submitted an e-mail note to the Town Board earlier this week but that e-mail, and its list of questions, went unanswered. There was no indication that the CFAC had provided any input to the Board in making this decision. There was no indication that the staffing, work requirements and work load of the DPW staff was analyzed in any business-like way.

 Voters are left to wonder why these two new and additional patronage and nepotism appointments were left off of last week’s full Town Board meeting, but if you are thinking that deceiving taxpayers and avoiding having to answer obvious questions is a factor you are very probably correct.

 Supervisor Langley, in his legal role as the town’s Chief Financial Officer, spoke to our town’s overall poor financial condition and our debt. He voted against the resolution to add two additional patronage and nepotism appointments. Thank you, Mr. Supervisor.

Board Member Matters spoke to our illegal status in re-paying back inter fund borrowing and our inability to meet the legal requirements of last year’s early retirement resolution that cost taxpayers a cool $500,000. We cannot account for the legally required savings from that expenditure of taxpayer money and by constantly adding staff we are blowing any possibility of ever meeting the legally required savings requirements. Board Member Matters voted against the two additional patronage and nepotism appointments.

Supervisor Langley and Mr. Matters are to be commended for thoughtfully approaching this issue.  They both made it very clear that their decisions had nothing to do with the persons involved, but with what they knew to be the financial realities facing the Town.  We’ve had no evidence of a miraculous financial turn-around. 

In his remarks supporting the hiring, Mr. Malone addressed the need to upgrade the sewer infrastructure.  He remarked that since the EPA was now involved, the fines would be getting higher.  Ms. Obrien mentioned MS-4 obligations.  We thought it strange that sewer and storm water issues would be used to support Personal Service positions in the Highway Department.  Don’t the Sewer and Water Departments have their own Personal Service Rosters?  Ms. Mangold advised that these two permanent positions would mean less seasonal hiring this Summer.  HUH???  What’s the bottom-line financial saving in that?  

Bottom line – the Board majority was unable to make a sound business and financially clear case for hiring two new permanent employees in the Highway Department.  This is the same kind of “thinking” that was behind the cool half million spent on the “retirement incentive.”  What we got out of that was the cost of the incentive, the retirement bill and the cost of some of the newly retired hired back as “consultants.”   

The last Certified Audit look at the financial position of the Town was the UHY audit for 2009.  And it wasn’t good.  We haven’t seen balance sheets for 2010 or 2011 yet.  The majority of Malone, OBrien and Mangold make no reference to necessary resources like these for their business decisions.  This is not competent municipal leadership.  No recovery plan, no knowledge of financial position, no workload analysis……Good Grief.