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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Media Also Questions WD 14 "Big Dig"

A picture of incompetence or a picture of greed, one or the other appears the explanation for a town officials excusing the failure of the contractor in Water District 14 to properly bury a main water line by boring under a stream and instead taking an inexcusable, but cheap, shortcut across the Wynantskill Creek.

The Troy Record has apparently sent one of its own reporters and photographers to the remote site where the contractor who runs the town Conservative Party, apparently saved a considerable sum of money taking a questionable, if not unlawful, shortcut across the Wynantskill Creek with a completely exposed water line. You can read the Record's story here.

What an irony as the Record determined that ENCON provided the funds that ultimately paid for this despoiling of the Wynantskill Creek. We are sure they are amused reading how their grant money was put to use. It's also amusing to see the courage exhibited by town inspector Paul Patti and contractor JR Casale who made themselves unavailable for comment. They left Mr. Evers to look foolish and hold the bag for them with the absurd explanation that the pipe had been correctly buried only to surface due to erosion.

We can imagine that enterprising town officials could earn a great deal of money by permitting construction shortcuts and oversights. They could also make a great deal of money when shoddy work is repaired by simply paying private contractors to make repairs and not billing the primary contractor. Lots of opportunity here.

You would expect a prudent town board to start asking questions rather than making excuses for such conduct if evidence were to support those questions. What if, for example, records proved that expensive repairs to water district construction that were caused by faulty construction were "excused" by having taxpayers pay for the repairs and never, NEVER charging back the contractor who installed the original work? What if those records were "fixed" so that there was no indication that a repair to a sewer pipe, for example, was caused by the water contractor damaging sewer infrastructure, while installing water pipes? Who would know and what would such favors be worth to a contractor?

Yet town officials, including the Supervisor don't ask such questions. They don't ask to review the repairs made to Water 14 to see if the contractor they favor for his political endorsement in the Town Conservative Party, has ever been asked to pay for repair work to his original construction which has a warranty. Last October, for example, we showed you this picture of repairs being made on Streamview Lane which included damage to the sewer line caused by the water contractor's installation of Water 14 piping. The contractor was never charged for the repairs we believe to be in excess of $5,000.00. Instead his damage was paid for by taxpayers of the Wynantskill Sewer District.

So let's see if the town board starts asking to review all the claims for repairs in Water 14 and see if even one repair was picked up or charged back to the contractor. Perhaps, when they find those records show no bill backs to the contractor, they will ask town employees why and better yet, why they bend over backwards to defend the contractor almost as if they were on his payroll and not the town's payroll.

Ultimately, we are likely to see that town board members will not ask these questions so we can only hope that a federal inquiry by say the Albany Office of the FBI looks at the books of the town of North Greenbush pertaining to water district construction.

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