Once again our Town Board led by Lou Desso is dragging the reputation of the town through the mud. This time the TU notes the difference between open government and one which disallows public criticism of it's emperor. And don't worry, even if you continue to enforce this new gag rule interpretation of the town board's own rules on public speaking, there's no way anyone would consider your actions on public comment "government business", right?
Congrats to Lou, Al Spain, Joe Bott and Kelly Hoffman, for setting the example criticized here.
No wonder they don't want the meetings broadcast on TV.
Well guys we have to congratulate you for putting North Greenbush's banana republic government on the front page of the Times Union with your childish ill conceived actions suppressing the First Amendment right to speak at a town a meeting by ignoring your own Board Rules.
It's not often a community gets itself on the front page of a regional newspaper and it's too bad it wasn't something that put the town in a good light. In the process of trying to protect Lou Desso from his conduct stealing money, $6270.00 from Moscatiello's restaurant, you've all managed to let Lou taint each of you.
That First Amendment is a cornerstone of a free speech and thankfully, newspapers fight vigorously to defend it. But you when the constitution states that Congress shall pass no law abridging freedom of speech, that applies to every government in the country, state or local. And while we realize you didn't pass a law that allows you to stop free speech at board meetings, you certainly acted as a group to deny this basic right and you continue in the Times Union to insist that your rules stating residents may speak on any topic means only town business and that means you're in for a fight next month at the next board meeting.
Incidentally Lou, you think the stuff you're doing helps in the job search? Think Senator Marchone will find a spot for you in the Senate or maybe a Democrat you're begging may get you a job in the State? Good luck with that.
Editor's note: Check out the comments and give a listen to the third link to talk radio on the mess Desso created and his total lack of common sense. Photo submitted by a reader.
Perhaps the Town Board members who joined Supervisor Desso last evening in gagging public comment about Mr. Desso's continued refusal to obey a court order to pay Moscatiello's Restaurant $6,250 were afraid of the exercise of free speech when they ignored their own duly adopted rules allowing for public comment on "any topic" and became "human shields" protecting their Supervisor from hearing criticism of his conduct. Then again they might have forgotten their own rules passed each January at their Organizational Meeting which provide the order of public Town Board meetings including these words, "Residents may speak up to three minutes on any topic".
When seeing those in the audience it's pretty clear the Supervisor changed the rules when allowing public comment. Instead of a 30 plus year tradition of comment on any topic, Mr.Desso invited comment on "any town business". Sorry Mr.Desso, at the beginning of each meeting the rules of the Town Board invite comment on any agenda item, which is naturally, town business. But fear can do strange things to one's judgement. So a plan was obviously hatched with his allies to prevent anyone from criticizing his conduct in what has been a two plus year effort to steal $6,250 from Moscatiello's Restaurant, and utterly fail to report the money on his State Financial Disclosure Reports as either an "In Kind Contribution" or a payment. Falsifying these reports is a misdemeanor under State Law. But apparently Mr. Desso got Councilmen Spain and Bott to go along with a plan if needed to prevent anyone from speaking about this. If he saw a threat in the audience he would change the rules to permit comment on "town business" not "ANY TOPIC" as provided for in the adopted rules of governance. Councilmen Spain and Bott became his human shields, interrupting each of two speakers and Supervisor Desso joined the chorus by demanding the speakers stop. Councilwoman Kelly Hoffman remained quiet during the charade leaving only newly elected Councilwoman Sabo to wonder why the speakers could not speak.
You can find all of the documents related to this ongoing disgrace of the Supervisor dragging the town through the mud for the past year, refusing to pay the bill, falsifying his Financial Disclosure forms by first not reporting the money as a payment or a contribution, then when questioned by the press, trying to claim all the money by filing a report listing the entire $7,000 bill as an "in kind" contribution, then deleting it upon realizing that $1,000 is the maximum contribution allowed by law.
After a Judge heard Mr. Desso play victim in sworn testimony, touting all the favors he did as Supervisor for the Moscatiello family, all the business he brought there, the gift certificates he bought, the Court ruled decisively that the bill had not been paid and ordered full restitution, $6,250.00
But apparently, majority Board Members don't think the Supervisor's conduct is "Town Business" the way it was many year's ago when a board member was charged with murdering his wife. Having lived through that time, a board member's personal conduct was sure town business as all demanded he resign over the charges.
Freedom of Speech cannot be taken for granted, anymore than Lou Desso paying his restaurant bill. Instead, he performed a "Dine and Dash" caper worthy of the Guinness Book of Records.
So when Al Spain, Joe Bott and Kelly Hoffman paid to go to Lou Desso's Fundraiser back in July of 2015, they must have expected Lou to keep nearly all the money they paid him and stiff the restaurant for most of the bill. Otherwise they'd be just as angry as the restaurant owner and most folks in this town who always pay their bills when they go out to eat or pay for goods and services. Why else would they be protecting him from his own conduct as our Town Supervisor by joining him in stopping public criticism of his ongoing inexcusable conduct?
North Greenbush residents should realize how much they have to loose and voice their opinions.Al Spain should realize that no one wanted a press release out of last evenings disgraceful conduct. But instead of 10 people in the board meeting hearing two people criticize Desso's conduct, 60,000 people will read about it in the Times Union, not only about Desso's misconduct but Al Spain, Joe Bott and Kelly Hoffman stepping on the right of every citizen to speak at town board meetings, the First Amendment Al, read it.
The Times Union has published an article you can read here. Congratulations Lou, Al, Joe! Instead of a few people hearing about it at a meeting last night, the entire Capital District is reading about your sophomoric behavior.
See Updated story in Times Union by clicking link below...
Yesterday was judgment day for Lou Desso, a day that he could have prevented so easily except for his greed and corrupt campaign practices using his office to raise campaign funds. Because his attitude seems to be that campaign funds are like his personal bank account, he has kept money that does not belong to him, refusing to pay at least one vendor, Moscatiello's Restaurant and who knows if there are others. The total he must pay is $6,250.00.
A City Court Judge has ruled he must pay IN FULL, the longstanding nearly 3 year old bill for a fundraiser he held in July 2015.Above is a picture from that event. The facts have long been published in this blog. Desso had nearly 500 people at the event and paid $1300.00 listing it on his Financial Disclosure Report as a "partial payment" for the gratuity for the event. He never paid the balance but he understood what a partial payment was. He falsified his State Financial Disclosure Report by failing to list the balance as an "In Kind" contribution as required by law. When confronted by the Times Union about the issue he listed the unpaid balance as an in kind contribution, amending his financial report. Then he amended it again, deleting the entry, probably because he was told it was unlawfully high.( $1000 is the maximum contribution allowed by law.)
So there the twice falsified and incomplete report sits. Falsifying a report is a misdemeanor under State Law and Desso has yet to have that reckoning with the State Board of Elections. Desso failed to report the unpaid bill as a contribution as he is required to do and by so doing he attempted to steal the money from Moscatiello by also failing to pay the bill.
You can read the decision below and you can read a statement from North Greenbush Democratic leaders. Also you can read an online report from the Times Union.