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: