Thursday, August 19, 2010

Officer Witko

Today we continue to morn the passing of East Greenbush Police Officer Witko. Mr. Witko died doing what he apparently loved, riding motorcycles and helping raise funds for good causes. I did not know Officer Witko, but I am truly sorry for that and in his passing. What I have learned since his death is, he was a family man, married with children. I believe his son is the same grade as my daughter. He was a police officer both in East Greenbush and previously in Rensselaer. He was a Corrections Officer prior to that. He also served in Clinton Heights Fire epartment and at the time of his death, the East Greenbuhs Fire Department. As you ride home today and face the increased traffic and delays associated with his service, wake and funeral, take the time to reflect on what a loss this community has suffered. Officer Witko's family will be more inconvienced than an afternoon of increased traffic. Let us keep Officer Witko, his family, friends and coworkers in our prayers. Officer Witko put his life on the line everytime he put on a police uniform or a fire fighters turn out gear, Thank you Sir!

Rest in peace and my God's light shine upon you and your family.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Show me the money…….
The Town of East Greenbush has multiple issues to resolve, this one is called SCRAPGATE.
The Town Transfer Station accepts scrap metal for recycling. Here is how it works. Town residents can drop off any scrap metal they wish at the transfer station and the transfer station sells the scrap to a vendor. Sounds like a good plan but here is the reality.
Most people who have valuable scrap metal, such as myself, will bring it to the scrap yard ourselves and collect the money paid for it. I have done this multiple times with metals such as copper and brass. The metal is weighed and you receive the money from the scrap yard. What I bring to the transfer station is the junk metal. The transfer station collects it in a dumpster and because it is a mixed load with the majority of the weight more of the less expensive metals, the price per pound is less than if the load was separated, or even if we the residents placed the more valuable metal in with the junk.
I spoke to Joe, if you dump trash or anything else at the transfer station; you too have spoken to Joe. Joe and Reggie are the two guys who are usually there. These two guys are two of the nicest and honest people I have ever met. Joe and I discussed the metal recycling as it is a hot button issue in the Town. Joe showed me the log book in the transfer station office. This is the bound book that Joe writes every transaction in. Joe keeps meticulous records. Joe showed me the page where he tracks the dates when he calls the vendor to pick up the recyclable metal bins. Joe does this even though he has not been required to do so in the past. Joe would call the vendor and they would come and pick up the bin. The vendor would weigh it at his facility and calculate the price for the weight of the metal. Apparently under the current Town supervisor, that is where it all ended. Apparently, under the previous DPW Supervisor, Peter Partack, no records were kept on funds received from the vendor. Ann Taylor analyzed the financials for the transfer station and knew something was wrong. She brought it to the attention of Jim Breig, who looked into it and found we had not been paid since Oct. '08! Jim Breig brought it to the attention of the new DPW Commissioner (January 2010) Chris DeFrucio. Chris went to the vendor and claimed a small portion of the missing payments. The problem is there was never any checks and balances of when the bins were sent in, no one from the Town witnessed the weighing of the bins and no one noticed the lack of payments for two years. This is how Supervisor McCabe defines fiscal responsibility? Mr. McCabe, where are the monthly department reports? Where are the monthly budget reports? Where was the Comptroller who should have realized that an income line suddenly stopped receiving income? Mr. McCabe, you are the Town Supervisor and by law you are solely responsible fiscally for the Town to the residents. Why did it take over two years and someone from outside of the Town management team to discover this missing income? Thank goodness for honest employees who did more than required in book keeping at the transfer station and for the discovery by Ann Taylor and the efficient work of Jim Breig and Chris DeFrucio.

Monday, August 2, 2010

East Greenbush upcomming elections

The fall elections are quickly coming upon us. For those of you who have followed the last years shenanigans, bear with my while I recap. Last year two board seats were filled through the constitutional process of voter preference. This gave the conservative/Republican group a majority for the first time in quite a while. In an effort to circumvent the voters wishes, the democratic party chair (Town) filed a lawsuit to disallow two people currently elected to the Board who also were elected to the County Legislature to hold both seats. The committee chair, rightly cited a law that didn't allow this practice, even though they allowed it in the past when it was a Democrat who held both seats. The lawsuit was upheld (by a Democratic judge) but the County legislature (Republican) quickly passed an amended law to make it legal to hold both positions. A Town Board member from North Greenbush was also caught up in this lawsuit, but when the County Legislature passed the bill and the County Executive signed it into law, the North Greenbush Town Board quickly reseated their Board Member. It was an outright political move to undo the voters wishes in East Greenbush and keep the Democratic stronghold on the Town Board. The current seated Democratic Board members, Supervisor McCabe and Ginny O'Brien refused to entertain (that is second) any attempt of the lone Republican, Rick Matters, to reseat the duly elected individuals. They instead chose to keep putting up Democrats for Board seats. Rick Matters stood his ground and kept them from being able to usurp the voters wishes. This stalemate kept the Town Board to a nonfunctioning 3 members instead of the five it should have had. If you need more information on these events, please refer to the Cristo/Taylor blog; the Story (blog); the Advertiser and the Town's website. The Democrats also launched a very nasty campaign against Ann Taylor, who was running for a seat last year. So much for history, and actually the present as the nastiness has started again!

Today, there are four people who are running to fill the two "vacant" seats on the Town Board and to fill the remaining time of those two seats. The two from the right, (Conservative. Republican,etc.) are Mike Cristo and Ann Taylor. Both have been very vocal in the recent eight months about the issues facing this Town. They are, a $2.6 million debt; gas-gate missing records of who got gas from the Town pumps and for what vehicles, scrap-gate, the missing checks for scrap collected at the Transfer station and carted off to a vendor, stipend-gate where certain individuals in Town, both elected and appointed, received stipends in addition to their salaries for what would appear to be their regularly assigned task. We really will never know in that there isn't any job descriptions written for these positions. Ann and Mike have been very open in discussing what they would do to get East Greenbush back from the junk bond status we current have, how to get a balanced budget and an open and accountable government. Many citizens have also been asking very hard questions (simple ones really) but have not been given satisfactory or even consistent answers from supervisor McCabe.

The other two candidates are Rick Hendricks and Phil Malone. Both are Democratic candidates sponsored by the Democratic party that has given us the junk bond status, unanswered questions and all the other issues I will lump into McCabe-gate for brevity. Well, I am curious as to where exactly Rick Hedricks and Phil Malone stand on the issues? Neither have broken their silence except a small article in the Advertiser where Rick Hendricks clarified a reporting error from the Democratic party that stated he is a life long resident of East Greenbush. Congratulations Mr. Hendricks, I applaud your honesty. In full disclosure, I have know Rick Hendricks for many years. We were both employed by the City of Albany at roughly the same time, he as a police officer, me as as a firefighter. I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Hendricks and always found him to be forthright and honest. I have no disillusion that he still holds these qualities dearly to his heart. With that in mind, I ask you Rich, where do you stand on the pressing issues facing this Town? (I also lump Phil Malone in these questions as well). Are you McCabe-lite, wishing to practice the same old policies, regardless of their legalities and/or perception of wrong doing? Mr. McCabe has had a full seven months to present his financial plan to the public about balancing the budget and digging our way out of junk bond status and $2.6 million in debt. but hasn't said anything specific. All he stated was he has a seven step plan and the first five have been implemented. Really? what are they? Do you, Rich and Phil, have a financial plan? Mr. McCabe has not been forthright in answering questions from citizens about the stipends, salary increases (without benefit of a Board vote) or whatever you want to call the $60,000 that appeared in select Town officials, elected and appointed, bi-monthly checks and reported as pension counting income. Do you have answers as to why this practice was abruptly stopped after being brought to light or are you going to continue the same old policy, McCabe-lite? What about all the other issues facing this Town? Why haven't we heard anything from you, Rich and Phil? Please get your plan out to the public and discuss what you intend to do about these pressing issues, or are we going to be left in the dark and get more McCabe-gate from the two of you? You have an active and inquisitive voter public that wants to know where you stand on these issues and more. Without you addressing them, our only choice is to vote for what appears to be very sound, businesslike financial planning or more of the same old McCabe-lite. What will it be? Rich? Phil? hello? anyone there? hello......