I think one of the most important provisions in the final Ethics Code draft is this one:"(g) The following officials are prohibited from serving on a political party committee: members of Town Board, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Ethics; Commissioner of Public Works; Town Comptroller; Assessor; Director of Planning and Zoning; and Deputy Supervisor."If you examine the "linkages, mechanisms and interdigitations" which the machines and insiders used to "drive the bus" in East Greenbush, connections on Planning and Zoning were essential. This dynamic may well be responsible for the lack of growth in the past. Development needs to be de-politicized.
Geez, when are you going to get it that government, any form of government, can not be "depoliticized." JTT are as "political" as any political party. Why? Because they are a political organization working towards ends of their own. I'm not saying they are up to no good, quite to the contrary, but they have their politics just like everyone else. Also, it seems exceedingly hypocritical that the man who quit the ethics board years ago and walked away from it is now back to trying to micromanage every word of the code. This means that JTT are definitely driving a bus of their own. Again, I'm not saying they are doing a bad job. Quite to the contrary. Compared to their predecessors, they are heaven sent.
When I used the "de-politicized" term, I was referring to removing the behind the scenes machinations and the wink and the nod processes which controlled much of the decision making in previous administrations. Good examples are the Plat "approval" for Thompson Hill without a meeting or resolution from the Planning Board. Another is the first casino resolution showing up out of the blue at that first board meeting without anybody but a few insiders knowing about it. Another is the PB "report" white-wash of the 1 Cooper Ave. construction. Transparency is the key, and I think JTT are making some significant progress in that regard.
There are still no doubt "behind the scenes machinations" going on because that's a fact of life in the business world. There can only be so much openness and transparency in the business of government. For this reason, we residents must not allow ourselves to fall back to sleep because we think we have intelligent, honorable people running the town. Politicians work best in front of an audience; it keeps them on their toes. If they think they are completely trusted to make decisions, it opens the door for trouble. For example, it seems clear eight months into their first year, this board is perfectly comfortable with spending money, especially for salaries. The new DPW Commr. is pulling down a whopping $85,000 even though the scuttlebutt is that he was paid $10,000 less for doing the same job in Troy. Is a DPW Commr. with no water and sewer experience worth $85,000? This remains to be seen but the town board decided the salary "behind the scenes" and will do the same with the 2017 salaries of town employees as well including unionized employees. For this reason alone, we, the taxpayers, must stay interested, involved and on our toes. If not, we must take the punch to our wallets without complaining.
Well, the DPW commish and Assistant DPW commish combined made over 116,000 in base salary alone under Langley. Add in retirement contributions, SS and Medicare, health insurance, etc. and I think that JTT are saving quite a bit of money. Nice job!
There was no DPW Assistant Commissioner included in Langley's 2016 town budget.
Thanks to the residents of EG, there was no Langley in Langley's budget either. Good deal.
Stay tuned for the fireworks between Supervisor Jack Conway and Councilperson Matters and Democratic Chairman Pete Stenson at the upcoming Ethics Public hearing. You won't want to miss the show. Word on the street is that Matters and Stenson are working in tandem on this one.
8:23 a.m. Fireworks? You won't want to miss the show? Is the upcoming EB public hearing being held on Sept 21st, 2016 or July 4th, 2017? But seriously, if you think town board meetings are there for your entertainment, then you need to get out more. TB members are elected to conduct the business of the town, they're not here to entertain you. They won't always agree, which is what a democracy is all about, and why there are five of them instead of just one.
@ Anonymous August 30, 2016 at 10:47 AMYou are clearly mistaken if you think that the unions aren't involved in contract negotiations, when it comes to members salaries, and benefits. You are %100 accurate to now know what can happen a sleeping community. Let that be a lesson that won't happen again.
Unfortunately, EG FIRST is only a temporary fix. All the ambitious and necessary changes they are making, including to the ethics code, are temporary, too. As soon as the infamous JTT term ends in 2019, and the casiNO campaign has lost it's ability to anger and rally town's people, and those same town's people have long since returned to their unsuspecting, busy lives, the town board will slowly, over a period of time, morph again into a composite of one major party or the other, and then everything EG FIRST has done will be changed slowly over time to suit the preferences of the new regimes. Hopefully, however, major political committee chairs have taken serious stock of the errors of their ways for decades that caused them to lose control. Hopefully, they have sobered up from the shock and awe experience of EG First shoving them aside like rag dolls last November and they will seek to attract candidates in the future who at least give the appearance of being EG FIRST-like in their behavior, qualifications, and appearance. Running a town with a $20+ million budget is NO JOKE and that money isn't anyone's to squander or stipend away under cover of darkness. As Supervisor Conway has said so many times in the past, the government belongs to the people, not to the few individuals who happen to make up a "majority" on the town board.
9:02- Time waits for no one. FYI. As a result of the Langley/ DeFruscio Smart Way Forward Debacle, I will never again vote for a candidate for Town Office endorsed by the East Greenbush Republican Party. They had their chance and they blew it.
10:47 I've learned to never say always or never. All we can do is vote for our candidates of choice and hope for the best.
9:02 AM, following your logic, every election is a "temporary fix", which is probably what the founding fathers had in mind and is also fine with me. Let's hope that, in the future, all elections have good high quality candidates regardless of what support system brings them forward. I disagree with your comment that we will return to yesteryear and accept the same old from whomever the new political bosses are. You also misjudge the people of East Greenbush if you think they will relinquish their responsibilities as citizens after what thy witnessed and corrected from Langley, McCabe, Matters, Malone et al. Attendance at meetings is not an adequate barometer to judge what EG1st accomplished or what their future will hold.Regarding professionalizing the workforce and adjusting salaries for certain offices, this is a matter where there could be fair and honest disagreement. The 2017-2019 elections could focus on this matter. The people of EG are capable of making the decision and have demonstrated that they would much rather consider legitimate issues than suffer through a personality based mud slinging election.
12:14 p.m. Exactly right, all elections are a temporary fix; it's the nature of the political beast. Of course, the electorate WILL vote for the slates of candidates put forward by the political parties in the future and they WILL relinquish their responsibilities as citizens to the members of the town boards just as they always have and STILL ARE DOING. I say that because now that the old guard regimes have cleared out, the board meetings and blogs have gone quiet and people have gone back to their lives, trusting their elected officials, not paying attention, not taking an interest. It's the same old, same old, nothing has changed. The same two or three concerned citizens show up to the meetings. Everyone else stays home and, true to form, hopes for the best. The political climate has changed for now but it's not sustainable, it's a glitch in time, it's temporary, so enjoy it while it lasts.
12:14 you talk about "personality based mud slinging," but you could not resist mentioning people's names in your post. Maybe you are part of the problem.
Don't discount the intelligence or memory of our community. Many of us are guilty of letting the politicians do what they wanted, & then paid no attention to the constituency when we spoke up about our concerns. We could easily say we were laughed at. So, don't be fooled, YES, things have changed, & will remain changed for a long time. Don't kid yourself, this is not, by any means "a glitch in time". So it's not for us to enjoy, it's what the tax payers of EGB deserve. It's past time, that you get a reality check, and open honest government is here to stay in EGB . The players may change but never the values & integrity of this town! Remember it's "Liberty and Justice FOR ALL".
Had Enough, time will tell. In November, the country will be asked to choose between Hillary and The Donald. Some choices, huh? But still, one of them will be president. It's no different in local govt. Everyone sits back and waits for someone else to step up. The odds of the JTT, casino driven regime lasting for years, decades even, are slim to none. The casino scare is over! People have gone back to sleep and will slumber blithely for the next four years. Wait and see.
Yes the casino is over, many of us fought for 2 years starting with the casino to rid EG of the same stink in politics that was getting us no where. Don't be fooled, itay appear we're asleep not attending meetings or being as involved as we were be fooled. That doesn't mean we're asleep. It simply means we elected officials that we trusted to do the job we were doing in our fight. It's their time to do the work, we are very aware what's going on and we will surely get out of our rest to fight again if need be.
Yes, you fought for the casino but where were y'all before that? Where was your outrage through six years of McCabe and in 2011 and when Langley was elected? Langley and virtually all of his predecessors systematically ruined the town and brought it to no bond status and the brink of bankruptcy. The casino organizers brought you all out of your homes and lives because you were paniced by the thought of a casino in our town but not by all the bad government going on before that and JTT were simply smart enough to seize a golden opportunity to sweep themselves into office on its coattails but that excitement has died down, it's history now, old news. Life goes on.
Some of us were there for a good long time. Place holders for when the casino BS hit. The electorate got a good picture of what happens when the watchers sleep. Never again. I think that JTT will deliver a good record in their terms, and invite some to join them in the next election. Like I said....Never again. We just can afford the insider corruption which has sapped this town for way too many years.
2:16pm. When you get a chance, why don't you ask Rick McCabe and Keith Langley (if you can find him) where we all were before the casino. Many of us supported Langley in his victory over McCabe in 2011 and then very few of us supported Langley in his epic defeat in 2015. I'll admit we were fooled by the Smart Way Forward crowd in 2013, but that won't happen again. By the way JTT didn't "sweep themselves" into office. They were elected by we the people in the largest landslide in the history of East Greenbush.
Gadfly 8:45PM, it's clear the best person to join JTT in the next election is former Councilperson Rick Matters. JTT will benefit from his help and guidance on the Town Board for the final two years of their terms. Here's how I see it. We all get behind Rick Matters for Town Board next year and back him for Supervisor in 2019 when Jack Conway retires again. Jack is perfectly capable of holding things together until Rick can take charge.
Former Councilperson Rick Matters had a chance to help lead a newly elected official when Langley got elected and he made no attempt to save Keith from his failed policies. He sat quietly for two years. Before that he made some simplistic amendments to the resolutions of others and sat quietly otherwise. I have no memory of Mr. Matters demonstrating any leadership on the Town Board. Ms. Tierney and Mr. Grant have both demonstrated more leadership in their first 8 months in office. While Mr. Matters should be heard as well as any other citizen should be, he has no special pass to be an unelected advisor.As far as Supervisor Conway goes, he was elected by an overwhelming majority of citizens to represent us in the best way HE knows how. If Rick Matters is coveting the Supervisor's position, he should think twice. It is unlikely that, Rick Matters could earn the mandate that Mr. Conway earned. Jack is not holding things together for anyone; he is doing the hard work of governing.
change for changes sake isn't always good wait till the bill comes
@2:16, clearly you were not part of the EG1st movement. I don't mean that as an insult, but those of us who were fought for far more than stopping the casino. Whatever happened before is irrelevant, what many of us were awoken to will stick with us for a lo6n, long time. The "business as usual" bunch wish it was old news. Ask Langley how soon we forget and just move on".
You all don't get it. Who's going to organize you for future elections? I ask that because JTT is adamant that EG FIRST is NOT a political party. So again, who is going to organize you? Where's your good government committee absent the ones who rallied you all together for the casino fight? That's why it's unsustainable. Get it? Don't get me wrong, I'm for you. I'm 100% for good government and no return, not ever, to the municipal management atrocities of the past but I fear you can't hold on to this. By the way, there's a Planning Board meeting tonight and the subject is Regeneron. How about we town's folk show up and show strong interest and support for our town.
It was EG1st who organized themselves. All it takes is a little hard work, another thing that we are perfectly capable of without the help of any old fashioned pols who "don't get us". JTT are busy serving the town, as promised. New candidates who "get it" can organize, do the hard work to get elected and then devote themselves to the work necessary to govern. The casino victory can easily be left in the past serving as an example of what can happen without good government. There is a lot of work for good government advocates in the future. Also, please be aware that EG1st is welcoming to all and has unlimited potential for growth.
Is it unreasonable to expect the Planning Board meeting agenda to be posted on the town website prior to the meeting. Remember the open and transparent government we were all promised by JTT?
5:44 PM- The movement behind EG 1st and the successful campaigns of JTT were far more powerful than the established political parties. Who in their right mind would want to run as a Repub in this town? In case you forgot, the three Repub candidates for town board were the three lowest vote getters in the last election and the Dems didn't do much better.
9:32pm here....exactly 6:59!!! Just because we are sitting back enjoying our lives again now that we fought hard for a trustworthy group, does not mean we will not fight again, twice as hard. Like I said, what awoken and impassioned so many of us opened our eyes and we can never go back or allow our town to go back to what we uncovered.
September 6,2016 9:20AM - Also Known as MaryAnn...You need to be a little less obvious in your comments. It's nice that you want to promote your husband but, as I recall, he was part of the Board when most of the recent problems arose.MaryAnn, while it may be clear to you that Rick is the best person to assist JTT, it's very unclear and even laughable to many of us. One thing JTT has proven is that this town needs new blood and different ideas and less of the same old, same old.JTT can do very well without guidance from Rick and is proving it everyday. Jack will be supervisor for as long as he wants, then it will be Tom Grant or Tina Tierney up next. Nice try little lady!
Rick couldn't decide about FEDEX and then after it was approved he put a letter in the Advertiser supporting it. Not a leader. He just can pull the trigger when necessary. Rick's a nice guy, but as an energized leader....not gonna work.
Sept 6 2016 at 9:20 am -- who says Jack Conway is going to retire in 4 years? And who says Rick Matters is capable of leadership? He went along with a number of Langley proposals merely because the supe was a Republican. Rick cares about the County Republicans - he does not care about the East Greenbush taxpayer. Personally I am getting tired of candidates who run and use the office to pad their state pensions or - get health insurance. Anyway - he never left office. Seems like he coached Mary Ann at many Town meetings - he even approached her during a meeting to whisper helpful hints to her. What an embarrassment.
Is this the same Rick Matters who wasn't allowed to run for office by a Federal Judge due to his politicking on the job? No thank you.
There has been much discussion (by one person) about the section of the code that limits party committee members from being a town employee. That person should produce a rule, regulation or some such law at the town, county or state level that prohibits this proposal or stop ranting about it. This Town has seen too much "special-dealing" in the past. Let's move on.
There doesn't have to be the se law at the county or state level, local ethics law is allowed to be more specific.
I will say that to "trust" any majority of elected officials (i.e. politicians) on a town board, including the sainted Jack, Tina and Tom, to oversee a $20+ million budget without mistakes or shenanigans of any kind is a huge mistake. The only thing that keeps politicians on the level is voters who are paying attention to the money, how it is budgeted, and how it is spent. If you think that three inexperienced board members who have never done this before are not going to make mistakes, then think again. From what I've seen so far, these folks are big spenders! So, get ready for a tax increase next year. Just the notion that they are TRUSTED to do the job makes me scared. Also, saying you trust politicians to do a job is just another way of saying you're too lazy to get involved or even to come to a board meeting once a month. The problem isn't with politicians, it's with a totally naive, disinterested electorate.
4:20 p.m. I do go to the monthly meetings and pay attention and saying they are "big spenders" does not appear to be untrue. At the meeting this month, there was almost $77,000 of new purchases for all kinds of things that weren't previously written into the 2016 budget. Add the $22,000 playground from earlier this year and the generous DPW boss's salary and things are adding up. But if the extra expenses weren't in the 2016 budget, then where does all the extra money they are going to need come from? So, yes, they appear to be very comfortable with spending taxpayer dollars and, yes, we should all be paying close attention. I agree!
I'd think that you'd at least have to say that you can track the spending and make judgements as to its value. Sure beats the graft that was going on in previous administrations. What did stipends, illegal sick leave and longevity get you in value?
Gadfly, nobody knows better than you, the importance of a budget. Spending may have "value," but was it budgeted? If not, the next logical question is how are they going to pay for it?
To 4:20 & 8:30, the difference is we know and can see what our money is being spent on. There has always been money to better our town, ironically there's a decade or so of mismanaged funds and nonexistent trails of the flow of our tax dollars and nothing to show for. It's about time to see our money going to actual use! By the way, in case you've forgotten taxes actually increase with time.
11:40 p.m. The town takes in plenty of money. If managed properly, there shouldn't be the need for a tax increase. This also includes stricter management of overtime costs for police and DPW, which costs the town hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. But keep an eye on the spending. It's nice to have big salaries and cadillac everything but nothing is free. It's all on our dime!
Your first two sentences sound rather grandiose, don't they? How do you know?
With no disrespect, Jack Conway told everyone in town during his campaign that the town takes in plenty of money. Hopefully he is able to reduce our taxes by the 15% he claimed he could when going door to door last year this time.
How would taxes be reduced by more than they even are? People, wake up....an increase in taxes is inevitable, in amy situation or town. Not to mention that we have to pay for the previous mismanagement of funds, where do you suppose the money comes from? People are going crazy over the new DPW Commissioners salary, and I have to admit that I was taken back because it was such a large increase. But, then I looked into avaerage DPW commissioner salaries to other towns, both large and small, and it appears we had just been in the dark ages these last few years and now are caught up.
9:59 AM-Now you are just making things up!! I followed the last election very closely and I can tell you that none of the candidates for ANY Town office who came to my door claimed there would be a tax reduction of 15 percent.
Anon: @ 11:43Call Jack Conway at Town Hall and ask him. You must have missed that part.
9/30 @ 10:58 a.m. If you were taken aback by an $85,000 salary, try a $110,000 salary on for size. Yup, my friend told me that they offered one guy $110,000 for the DPW job but he turned it down. Now, just where do five people get off saddling us tax payers with that kind of a price tag for a town employee? Don't take my word for it, ask the supr next time you see him. I'm telling you, these guys are tax and spend liberals. Is our town behind? Yes. Do we need things? Yes. But they can't totally fix everything in the first year. It's too expensive. It takes time to catch up. And for all the money they're spending this year, does anyone know if our comptroller is still using his famous "broken beyond repair accounting system" that he complained about over and over again last year when Langley and he were dodging questions about the finances? I haven't heard anything about that but at least we are spending thousands to study water in the town park.And 9/30 @ 9:08 a.m., the town budget is posted on the town website. That's how I know. Some of us take an interest in these things because we are tax payers.
There is nothing difficult about managing the affairs of a town as small as EG. The problems are obvious: Bruen, overtime for the PD and DPW, health benefits for all union employees are unsustainable long term, pensions are unsustainable long term, assets need to be properly accounted for, there are too many fire districts with too much equipment, the waste treatment plant is a series of bad decisions. In recent days nepotism, stipends, special interests all took their toll on the good people of the town. The issues that need to be tackled are big. But they have to be faced. If not some future generation will face everything I have named.