Tuesday, April 20, 2010

OUR TOWN by Ray Mooney

The federal government has accumulated huge deficits – in the trillions of dollars. So, too, has New York State – into the billions of dollars. You may well and truly feel powerless to do much about those.

Our town, East Greenbush, has also accumulated a mountain of debt – into the millions of dollars. Hard to believe – but true. Years of too much spending have caught up with up with our town. If you read the Times-Union, the Advertiser or follow any of the four blogs devoted to our town you probably have a sense of the wide array of other issues facing our town and our leaders.

However hopeless you might feel about events at the federal and state level you should not, and hopefully do not, feel powerless about events in our town. You can, and should realize you can influence things.

What does it take to influence what goes on here in our town?

• First off – please attend the May 12 meeting of the Town Board at City Hall at 7:00 P.M. You will meet a number of friends and neighbors who are interested and committed to working to address our town’s problems. You do not need to speak out – just listen. You can decide later to what extent you want or need to get further involved.

• Next – read everything in the Advertiser, everything available on the town’s web site and everything on the four blogs devoted to our town. As just one simple example – on the town’s web site you will find under documents available for downloading the recent financial consultant’s report on the state of our town’s finances. Well worth reading if you care about your tax dollars at work – past, present and especially future.

• You can interact, in today’s day and time, with your elected officials. Letter writing campaigns are no longer the “in” thing. E-mail is faster and easier. Some of our elected officials are gracious enough to respond.

• You can vote – every time. The future votes that will take place here in our town are probably the most important town event that there will be in our lifetimes.

Your political affiliation or political party interest does not matter – your involvement most certainly does.

Please attend the May 12 Town Board meeting. Your very presence will provide support to the people that care deeply about what is happening now and will happen in the near future here in our town.

May Town Board Meeting

As things heat up in Town politics and things seem to be heading to something decisive finally happening, please be sure to attend the next Town Board meeting on May 12th at 7:00 pm. It is our hope to pack the meeting with so many concerned citizens, regardless of political party, beliefs or affiliation, that the Board members have to take notice.SO tell all your friends and educate those who are not aware of the disarray the Town is currently in. WE ALL NEED TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT OUR COLLECTIVE FUTURE AS A TOWN OF FINE AND DIVERSE PEOPLE!!!!

MAy TownBoard Meeting

As things heat up in Town politics and things seem to be heading to something decisive finally happening, please be sure to attend the next Town Board meeting on May 12th at 7:00 pm. It is our hope to pack the meeting with so many concerned citizens, regardless of political party, beliefs or affiliation, that the Board members have to take notice.SO tell all your friends and educate those who are not aware of the disarray the Town is currently in. WE ALL NEED TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT OUR COLLECTIVE FUTURE AS A TOWN OF FINE AND DIVERSE PEOPLE!!!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Invitation to education (Town policies and politics)

I don't particularly care about what party someone belongs to or if they switch mid stream or anything else. I have been educating myself, with the help of many people, to what is supposed to be happening in town government. It is nearly impossible to attend every board meeting for every department to stay informed with what is happening in this town and to have any kind of personal life. Some of the Towns concerned residents have formed a group currently called the East_Greenbush_Tea_Party. This was originally my idea and I wanted to have a protest in front of town hall to show that citizens do care about what is happening. That first meeting, it became very clear that most in attendance wanted an education and a place to discuss issues within the town. We meet every other Monday at the East Greenbush Library at 7:00 pm and generally go until 9:00 pm (closing time for the library). The next meeting is April 19th. THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL PARTY SPONSORED OR AFFILIATED GROUP. We have and want more people from all parties, philosophies and ideals to come together and discuss what is happening in our town and how we can make changes.

I personally don't want politicians there. Currently Mike Christo comes and so does Ann Taylor. Neither of them are currently town elected officals, if that status changes, they will be asked to no longer attend.

I have also asked people who are diabolically opposed to my conservative leanings to come and be members. I am pleased to say, some come and have brought a valid different view of how things should be. We need to have open discussions with all point of views to move forward. This one particular gentleman, has brought his ideas, been given time to express them and has taught me much. I don't understand his reasoning for wanting bigger government, but that is something I hope to try to understand through discussion at a different forum. What he has stated and I agree with totally is we have to move the governing of East Greenbush forward. Name calling and witch hunts will not let this happen. We need civil dialog and honesty and integrity from all our elected and appointed people. I have expressed ideas I have had and vetted them in front of this group. After listening to their feedback, I have changed tactics in order to make my points more appropriately. Our group is a great place to spend a couple hours every two weeks to get educated and meet fine individuals from different political perspectives.

Please join us, come and say or don't say anything. I am not the leader of the group. I am the "facilitator". We are a group of adults who can manage to fill two hours with information from those who attended meetings and those who have particular expertise in areas of concern.

No vacancy

That is the sign that should appear over our Town Board meeting hall if the County votes to amend the law regarding the holding of multiple elected positions simultaneously. I have said in the past, I do not condone the practice, but this should have been resolved prior to the elections. The voters of East Greenbush and the legislative district, have decided to allow two individuals to hold dual offices. Whether the voters ASSUMED those elected to the legislature would give up their local seat or not should have been asked prior to voting. Once again, as voters, we have shown our lack of understanding of the issues. We MUST educate ourselves and become and educated voting group.
What law specifically grants the town board, or anyone else to choose people to complete terms on the board? I know it has always been done that way, but is it legal?
If the court system removed the two individuals, once the reason no longer exists, simply retake your seats gentlemen. It is what the voters wanted.
scuss things and learn.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

the final decision

The use of the "Irish Mafia" may or may not be insensitive. I for one, don't give a dam about political correctness. I think it is a concept that is way out of control. However, I don't think name calling is going to solve anything. I, am an American. I have german, russian, polish and a few other heritages thrown in, but I call myself an American. My father escaped Nazi Germany and I have no ties to the dominant pedigree that runs through my veins. We all come from different countries, even the native Americans migrated from other continents, so give it a rest. We are mutts, end of story. There is no reason you can't be proud of your heritage and celebrate your family, but be an American!

If you speak about national, state or local politics, the two major parties have been so bastardized that it really doesn't matter what the affiliation is. I am living in the present and in this day, we have a Town Supervisor who appears to me to be inept and has no idea what his responsibilities are or what the requirements of the job is. He continually shrugs off questions regarding the financial matters of the town and relies on the "we have always done it that way" form of leadership and governance. Well there is a growing group of concerned residents in this town and we come from all nationalities (heritage), political parties and as discussed Monday night at the East Greenbush Tea meeting, most of us are new to politics and really are getting concerned about our town, our taxes and the values of our homes. If you are concerned, please join us every other Monday (next meeting is April 19th) at 7:00 pm at the East Greenbush Library. We discuss what is happening in town, get reports from people who attend various meetings held in the town so we each don't have to go to every meeting, and hopefully a getting educated on how a Town in the State of New York is supposed to be run. We, as a group, are NOT backing specific candidates, but from the discussion will support a candidate independently from any party who runs on principal, integrity and fiscal responsibility.

Those who are new to all this or an old-timer please join us. You are not asked what party you are with or even your name at the East Greenbush Tea group, in fact last night, as we were made aware, we didn't even acknowledge one great lady until she asked if we were going to continue to ignore her! We are interested in YOUR input, thoughts and questions to make the group stronger.

I am seeking an education and then plan to take that knowledge to my neighbors so we can have an informed electorate.

Last nights meeting was a general discussion, mainly about two topics. 1. finance; where a group member explained just how close the Town was to bankruptcy last month when only one bank bid on securing our bonds as the bid went out on the same day as the junk bond rating and no other bank dared to take our debt on. It was believed the one bank that bid was unaware of our bond status. Had that bank not picked up our debt, ALL of the debt would have been due right then and there. That means we would have to come up with 2.6 million dollars on the spot! Without being able to obtain a loan. Bingo! insolvency and the town goes away and the State runs it. The second topic was what happens now with the two board members who have been suspended. Suspended is my word as the court decision gave a clear and direct path to change the restriction of holding two positions at once. I have stated in the past and will state here again, I don't think a single person should hold more than one elected position at a time, however, the voters decided that it was ok for these two fine gentleman to do just that as we voted for them. Whether you thought they would give up one to accept the other or not, they won the popular vote. To quote Mr. McCabe, "it was always done that way for the last 20 or 30 years"". Even Mrs. O'Brien held both seats in the past. If the County changes to law with a resolution, law, amendment or whatever it is called, I believe the only prudent thing to do is to have Mr. Danaher and Mr. Christo retake their seats on Wednesday night. It was the courts who removed them, it is the courts who showed the legislature the "fix" to the problem and once the issue is removed, they should return to their elected positions. End of story. Neither the remaining town board members, nor the town supervisor removed them from their seats, so how can they keep them from returning to them once the issue is cleared up? If the county legislature approves the court suggestion, the issue is solved.

At last months meeting, I asked the three remaining board members if they would initiate or second a resolution to return these individuals to their seats, Mr McCabe said no. Mr. Matters said yes and Mrs. O'Brien scampered off the topic with, it is a pending court case and she couldn't comment. Well that points back to the courts decision and its remedy is the final say.

It is time to put all the shenanigans aside and let the elected officials serve their full remaining terms.

On another note, Mr. McCabe is the Town Supervisor, but he is part of the legislative branch of the Town government. He is NOT in the Executive Branch. The only difference between him and the other board members is he has the further responsibility to handle the day-to-day operation of the town. This is where I believe he is in way over his head. He does not report on the budget during the town board meeting, he allows the department heads to submit a written report prior to the meeting and state "they have nothing further". Well as a taxpayer and voter in this town, I am the boss and I want to hear their report. I don't think it should be required for me to go to the Town offices and ask (and probably need to foil) to see the department reports. Either the department heads should report the status of their budgets, or the supervisor should report on the budget, current spending and percentage of usage vs. amount of fiscal year that has passed and wether we are above, below or on budget and if above, what steps are going to be taken to get it back on budget, or cause the town comptroller to report this information. A simple one page report showing each budget line, current spending, budgeted amount and balance, period. The Supervisor should have this on his desk, updated almost on a daily basis or at the very least a weekly basis as our spending is far exceeding our income so it should be no big deal. If he doesn't have this document or refer to it on a VERY regular basis, he has failed to meet one of his major responsibilities of his position, fiscal manager. State law, allows him to delegate the work, but he is solely responsible for the fiscal health of this town under STATE LAW!