Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Running With Your Past
We were struck by just how upside down the world of politics has become after reading this article from the Troy Record published Sunday. Stephentown is in the midst of a values election in which a former town official convicted of 24 felonies is again running for office. Naturally, he doesn't want anyone else on the ballot. Would you, if you had 24 felony convictions, all attained while you were in elective office and worse, all involving your conduct of that office?
According to the article, some folks were put up to challenging a Democratic Party Caucus endorsement on the convicted felon's behalf in order to knock the competitor off the ballot. This would have denied voters a choice and assured the convicted felon of winning the election. Does that sound familiar to North Greenbush voters?
In the case of the Stephentown Highway Superintendent, the felonies are current. He was convicted in October 2008 on 24 felonies, including 12 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and 12 felony counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.
In the case of another Republican candidate for the County Legislature, the felony conviction goes back 30 years or so to the candidates twenty's. It was a felony DWI charge. But newspaper print from the period shows a string of arrests for the candidate.
12/4/75 Troy Record, charged with Sodomy by Officers Burns and Maselli; 5/22/76 Troy Record charged DWI, possession of controlled substance; 9/24/79 Troy Record, charged 3rd Degree Assault, 4th Degree Criminal Mischief, 11/28/79 Troy Record, charged 2nd Degree Assault. There are many other articles and many other charges, not all of which have corresponding articles detailing the ultimate disposition of the charges.
Many of us know who the candidate is and to be fair, we'll leave the name of the candidate off the press because at least in this case, the legal entanglements happened 30 years ago and beyond. But County Republicans seem to have a glaring double standard when they endorse a current candidate for the Legislature with a felony conviction, another who owes thousands of dollars in back taxes to the State for sales tax collection in a Troy business she and her spouse ran, all the while running an ad claiming Democratic Legislator Kevin Harrington claimed he was honorably discharged from the military, when, according to the ad, he did not receive an honorable discharge.
Let's state up front, that this claim has nothing to do with felonies or crimes but rather is an assault on one's character. The reality is that Harrington was honorably discharged. The specific type of discharge, and there are numerous definitions and categories, was a General Discharge under Honorable Circumstances. Republicans feel no shame in twisting the truth and splitting the language into their spin machine and care not that they are going back to this candidates early twenties. But God help us if Democrats start to ask questions about all those arrests and potential additional convictions of one of their candidates which may go back 30 years, but none the less, can be judged in the court of public opinion by voters. Unlike Harrington, this GOP candidate was not entering the military to serve his country. He was getting himself charged with some pretty serious stuff.
And if you enter the contemporary realm of their Legislative candidate from Troy, Ms. Vandenburgh, her family business has failed to pay thousands of dollars in taxes collected for the State in sales tax from a bar they ran in Troy called Pips. Last we looked, the place shut it's doors just after she was appointed by Republicans to the Legislature from Troy. The State has an outstanding tax lien on the place and Republicans once said she deserved a "Blue Ribbon" for keeping the place open in this tough economy. Daaaa! Kept it open by not paying the taxes owed to the State and now apparently stiffing the State for the money. Again, its not as serious as a criminal conviction, but rather reflects on character.
We profiled these cases because voters need to see the double standards applied by politicians as they run the gauntlet for elective office. Voters are smart enough to examine all the facts in each of these cases and decide for themselves if these candidates merit their trust. We're confident that voters will figure it, so long as they are not denied a choice at the polls. You can read Harrington's response to the attacks in the Times Union Local Politics Blog here.
Town Clerk in a Fit
It apparently doesn't take much for Town Clerk Connolly to loose her cool these days. Last week it was long time Post Master Raymond DuFour who found out the hard way that Ms. Connolly is easily uncorked. Dufour came in to the office and wound up in a testy exchange with the Clerk. He knows a lot of people and carries a lot of weight.
Incidentally, the Clerk has yet to find the time to write a one sentence certification of a copy of the June 2, 2009 Comprehensive Plan Committee meeting she provided pursuant to a FOIL request. There is only one reason she might no be able to write that sentence certifying the copy as a true copy, and that's if she fabricated them. It's called falsification of public records and that's a crime in some States and at least a violation of the FOI Law.
The Clerk is also refusing to provide a copy of an overtime report written by the town comptroller and sent to the town board on September 24, 2009. It lists a great deal of unbudgeted overtime expended in the Clerk's Office. Ms. Connolly is thus far refusing to release the report despite admitting having it,(the Comptroller sent it to her to release) and she's refusing on the most ludicrous of reasons imaginable. She's says its inaccurate! Now had she said it was embarrassing and damaging, we would have agreed, but she still has an obligation to release it and her belief that a public record is "inaccurate", is no basis for denial of access to any document. Time for a change in the Clerk's Office. More to come.
Posted by The North Greenbush Pipeline at 6:00 AM