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Friday, July 10, 2009

Spain Blows His Cork, Again.

Just 48 hours after Al Spain embarrassed himself with his refusal to permit public comment at a meeting of the Comprehensive Plan Committee which he chairs, Al lost his cool again as he tried to hijack the Supervisor's Chair and take over the town board meeting.

Mr. Spain does not like public comment and he does not like, perhaps can't stand, to hear criticism of his conduct of meetings. Once again the town cameras were turned off so you couldn't see the action on the Time Warner Public Access Chanel, but the Pipeline Radio was on the job making a digital recording which you can listen to here.

At about 8:59 into the recording, CB Smith comments on the Board's cancellation of two Public Hearings which were asked for by Spain and his non quorumed Comprehensive Plan Committee on June 2nd. Yes indeed said the Supervisor, that's what we are now being asked to cancel. Why you say? Because Spain had indeed failed to follow the Open Meetings Law in requesting the Town Board to hold those hearings.

But Spain didn't want to hear any of it, just like he didn't want to hear the same information last Tuesday night when he refused to allow the same comments from his new fan, CB Smith. Spain hijacked the Supervisor's responsibility to chair and govern the meetings by attempting to stop Smith from saying any more. Your time is up, your done, stated Spain to a surprised Supervisor and board at about 14:20 into the recording. "I'm the time keeper" he declared. causing Smith to congratulate him and then ask whether his "clock" had stopped the other night! The Supervisor quickly recovered his Chair as he gently put Spain in his place, forcing Spain to listen to the rest of the comments.

You'll hear more damaging commentary at the end of the meeting as Smith dissects the competence of the consultant hired with a $40,000 no bid contract who gave Spain the incorrect advice to schedule hearings without a required quorum. The contempt Spain demonstrated for public comment and the right to speak at last night's meeting served as the template allowing Smith to ask the Board whether they had selected the right person to chair the Comprehensive Plan Committee. This is a public body which can only succeed by encouraging and accepting generous public input and that is clearly not possible with a Chairman who contemptuously attacks anyone who offers criticisms of the committees conduct.

Think carefully Board members who appointed Mr. Spain to this position, especially Mr. Desso who defended Spain with a virtual blank check at the end of the meeting. Listen carefully to what you are defending Mr. Desso. Contempt for public comment, a committee that functions without any regard for the Open Meetings Law which governs all public bodies and a Chairman who has skin thinner than paper when forced to hear something he does not like.

Voting to approve Spain's Plan with its unexplained changes to the original document is a vote to disregard his committee's failure to uphold the Open Meetings Law and S 242a of the Town Law. It's a vote to allow 16 people who were permitted to operate without respect for the rules that govern public bodies, to change a Comprehensive Plan and its Land Use Map while offering NO EXPLANATION for their actions, votes, if any, or decisions, because they didn't bother to take minutes, require quorums, or follow the law until they were forced to.

Is this how you would run the Rensselaer County Legislature Mr. Desso? You'll make a lot of happy political opponents when you vote to endorse Spain's Folly, Al's Comprehensive Plan, over the one that belonged to the citizens of North Greenbush until Al Spain hijacked it as if it was a town board meeting.

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