Spain is apparently upset that Councilman Lou Desso may be on the wrong side of a State Law which prohibits County elected officials from serving on town or city elective bodies. As a result, he sponsored a budget amendment last night at the Town Board meeting to retailate against the new Town Supervisor by slashing the one and only staff member of the Supervisor's Office, a confidential assistant, to a part time job and salary. That means the Town Supervisor's Office will be CLOSED 20 of the 40 hours the office is suppposed to be open for business, serving the public.
Spain is demanding, lets say EXTORTING a demand from the new town supervisor that she order what he perceives as her puppets in Rensselaer County, to withdraw threatened litigation that would enforce County Laws which prevent a Legislator from serving on a Town Board and require that the Town Board seat be vacated once a Board member assumes a County elected office.
Never mind that this is a question of law that is yet to be settled by a judge, and never mind that the new Supervisor has no control over those threatening the litigation. What matters is that Al Spain claims to control the votes of both new board members, his personal puppets, as well as the vote of Lou Desso, the Councilman who may be in violation of the law in question once he takes office on January 1st. Both Desso and Spain changed their votes from a week ago in order to retaliate against the new Supervisor.
Last time we looked, extortion is not the way to deal with demanding action from town board members. Spain is letting his well documented temper stand in the way of rational decision making. We can only hope that new board members Hoffman and Bott have more sense and maturity than to allow Al Spain and Lou Desso to order them to follow them off this political cliff.
You might have been reading about the budget war in Troy where Democrats control 7 of 9 votes on the City Council. That's a two thirds majority plus one and Democrats enraged the mayor by cutting the mayor's spending plan along with some of his more politically connected staff. The mayor says he's going to court and Democrats are said to be looking at more ways to save money by closely examining other positions in the city that may be unnecessary.
One area on the the list is a possible consolidation involving the City Civil Service Commission with the Personnel Director. Seven votes means the city council can further amend the city budget and decide whether to eliminate, say, the Civil Service Commission or the Personnel Director. Folks point to Rensselaer County which has always governed with either a Civil Service Commission or Personnel Director, but never with both departments.
You may recall that a few years back, the County Legislature amended the Charter to eliminate the County Civil Service Commission in favor of a Personnel Director. The person appointed to that job under then County Executive Henry Zwack was Christina Mahoney. Mr. Zwack didn't like Ms. Mahoney after just a short time on the job. She was a bit miffed at political interference and threats made against her if she did not perform certain discretionary acts to benefit political deals being made by Zwack.
Eventually, Zwack was indicted, in part because of Zwack's threats against Mahoney or her staff. After the trial, The County Legislature decided they didn't like a Personnel Director and instead returned to the Civil Service Commission to manage personnel for the county.
Troy, incredibly, has both a Civil Service Commission and a Personnel Director. Clearly the City does not need both. Which way the Council will go is anyone's guess. But did we mention that the Personnel Director doesn't even live in Troy. No, he lives in North Greenbush where he boasts control of 4 votes on the North Greenbush Town Board. Last night, he was one of 3 votes cast to cripple the new Supervisor's ability to keep her office open to the public during the normal 40 hour work week, cutting the Supervisor's assistant to a part time 20 hour a week job..
For what its worth, our recommendation to the City Council is hire from home. Since those on the Civil Service Commission live in the city, make the cuts where they don't hurt Troy residents. You have to wonder if Troy's Personnel Director is paying much attention to the details of his job, especially residency laws which are being ignored by a certain friend. Perhaps the time being spent on the North Greenbush Board is distracting him from his duties or letting council members know of residency law violations right under his nose.
Maybe as a bonus, Al Spain will learn a badly needed lesson in civility as he counts his 4 votes and the Troy City Council counts its 7 votes.