Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Thank You Rick Matters

Rick Matters ended his tenure on the EG Town Board tonight with the same principle and character which has informed his entire time of service.  He acted in the interest of Town residents in acting to NOT approve a contract with Bruen, which in his analysis needed further review with the Board.  He offered a three-month contract with an adjusted quarterly payment while additional issues were being reviewed which was rejected by Malone and Mangold. So both resolutions failed for lack of a majority.

The fact is that there are a host of issues which have been cited by the State Comptroller's office in audits of the Town's Ambulance District which have not yet been acknowledged or implemented.  (Bringing the financial operation of the Ambulance District under the control of the Town Comptroller is just one of them.)  The proposed Bruen contract still calls for quarterly payments of about a quarter of a million dollars to the Squad.  Something like this has been going on for a long time.  And there has NEVER been an audit of the Squad's financial operations.  A million a year in tax levy and insurance payments collected and disbursed by an entity which has never been audited. 

So in his final official act as a Town Board member, Rick did the right thing in making sure that a contract was not approved pending further review.  I hope that this is a sign of what we can expect from the new majority. 

Thank You Rick Matters!!!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Labor Union Negotiations

----  By an Anonymous Guest Gadfly

The topic of labor union negotiations has reared its head.  This is often times considered a “taboo” subject in East Greenbush.  The elected officials appease the Unions and the Unions agree to back certain parties, as is evidenced by the political contributions made by some of our town unions.  Visit the BOE site and peruse the political contributions to each Party and/or candidate for the past 5—10 years and you will see a pattern.  East Greenbush has found itself in a financial pickle, of which there is no doubt.  The information shown at the end of this thread pinpoints the evidence of that.  

Do we, as residents, want to see the Political Parties negotiating the contracts?  Chances are they will “negotiate” favors and gifts with our tax dollars and we, the taxpayers, will pay the price for the gifts that we had no intention of giving.  Maybe it is time to play a neutral position with the Unions and NOT a political position.  The fact is unions do not want their pensions touched, none of us want our financial futures toyed with and gambled.  It seems, due to a recent court decision regarding Detroit, our Town’s poor financial condition can be used to the Town’s advantage…maybe there is a silver, (or at least a pewter) lining to the East Greenbush decrepit financial condition.  East Greenbush is NOT declaring bankruptcy however, if the finances continue on the downward side of the slope than who knows how things can turn out and that benefits NONE of us, including the unions.  Very few thought Detroit would go bankrupt.  

You are asked to review the information regurgitated below.  Then, after review ask yourself, do YOU want political cronies involved in the Town’s union contract negotiations?  Do YOU want the Political Parties beholden to the Unions?  Do YOU want prudent contract negotiations between individuals that do NOT have a political stake in how our tax dollars are spent/squandered?  To the Union leaders and members, do YOU want your pensions put on the line?  Do Union members want to worry about their pensions’ futures due to political games and favors?  Do union members want their pensions safe from financial ignorance?  Do union members in East Greenbush want the security of knowing Detroit is not East Greenbush’s ugly financial cousin?  Think about all of that and then ponder this……who is involved in contract negotiations on behalf of the Town and on behalf of the Unions?  Are they people we can all trust to put the interests of tax payers ahead of their own political gain and put the safety of union pensions ahead of their personal goals and aspirations?  Scroll through this information and it will cause you to take pause at what is happening with the Town’s finances and Union negotiations.  It will cause you to ask questions.  

Read that link and you will understand why the current East Greenbush labor negotiations and contracts are so important to residents as well as the union members.  Due to a court’s ruling regarding Detroit’s situation, the union pensions are NOT protected from the city’s declaration of bankruptcy.  What was once considered a “sacred cow” is now open for negotiations with municipalities?  The article begins as follows:

A federal bankruptcy court’s decision in Detroit last week putting that city’s constitutionally protected public pension on the table for cuts cracks the door open for pension reductions in New York.
The concern among unions is that the assurance that New York’s public workers have operated under since 1938 — that pensions “shall not be diminished or impaired” — could now be threatened by local governments fighting off insolvency.
“It’s a turning point. ... What has been sacred — pensions — are not sacred anymore,” said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who has been a leader in seeking action to save New York’s distressed municipalities from insolvency. That has so far been avoided through higher taxes and layoffs and reducing services.
The Detroit decision could give struggling municipalities leverage in negotiating other concessions to avoid bankruptcy court.”
Please keep in mind, in August 2013 the following was printed:
WSJ editorial writer Stephen Moore, on the conservative Newsmax  website, is wondering if East Greenbush and Newburgh of all places may be the new Empire State poster children for unsustainable municipal governments.
He notes that the Albany suburb of East Greenbush has a record of “questionable employment contracts and illegal payments to town officials, and Newburgh has a $2 million budget gap in its schools and 26 percent of the population below the poverty line.” 
The article continued, “The East Greenbush consideration may not be that far off, I recall doing a story a while back about how their police pension costs in 2009 caused their credit rating to fall to junk bond status and my colleague Alysia Santo has noted the town’s other problems

2. East Greenbush, N.Y.

A New York state audit concluded that years of fiscal mismanagement — including questionable employment contracts and illegal payments to town officials — left East Greenbush more than $2 million in debt.

In conclusion I will again ask both residents and union members, “WHO DO YOU WANT INVOLVED IN NEGOTIATING UNION CONTRACTS?”