There are several items on tonight's agenda of the Town Board that spark controversy. There is a Resolution which if passed, would renew the Town Assessor's waiver from the State Civil Service Commission permitting him to receive his full town pay and his full State Retirement check. The appointee, John Harkin, was at one time a Town Comptroller and his last position on the town payroll was a a Councilman, a job to which he was appointed and lost in a general election.
The current waiver granted to the appointee was granted after the former Supervisor falsely certified to the State under penalty of perjury that "there are not readily available for recruitment non retired persons qualified to perform the duties of such position". That false declaration was signed by Mark Evers on 5/20/07 on Form CSC-20 Section A, posted here in the first page of the window above. The criteria are fully explained by State Civil Service representative Daniel Glissen in a letter to Mr. Evers dated June 4, 2007 posted in the window above on pages 2 and 3.
Why is it a potentially perjurious act? Because there was another non retiree available for the position, willing to take the job and even more qualified at the time than the eventual appointee by virtue of being a "certified" assessor. The Town Board fully considered his candidacy and voted 3-2 not to hire him. His name was Philip Malone and he attended the Town Board meeting in which that vote took place hoping to be appointed. Mr. Evers handled the problem by writing a misleading letter to the State to erase that disqualifying history of events. The letter is also posted here in page 4 of the window above, in which Mr. Evers falsely stated the problematic candidate, Mr. Malone, had submitted his application past a deadline and was therefore not considered. We guess he forgot about the vote, including his own vote not to hire him in an effort to defraud the State Retirement System to the benefit of his friend.
Now that waiver needs to be renewed. Supposedly, without a Town Board vote directing a new round of advertisements be placed to re-advertise the position, some kind soul took it upon themselves to re-advertise the position so that the appointee could apply for a new waiver. Where it was advertised remains a mystery and how it was advertised, the size and placement are critical to be properly seen by the public.It was never placed on the town's own web page, adding to apparent effort to keep the matter from being properly exposed to the public and potential applicants.The type of publication is critical too if you truly want responses. Trade journals and the State Reporter are commonly used for this purpose. We'd like to tell you when an ad was run and where, but no one saw the rascal. And that might have been the plan of those behind placing the ad without a directive from the Town Board. A "fine print" ad in the newspaper of record without anyone knowing it was coming.
We'll see tonight.We'll also see if a majority of the new Board is willing to pretend that two non resident Deputy Town Attorneys are legally in their jobs even though they are automatically vacated under the Public Officers Law. Hey we set a precedent here of ignoring the residency laws so that means we can ignore them until we fix it for our political pals, right? After all, there isn't one single attorney here in North Greenbush who is qualified or deserving of consideration for these positions, right?
Besides, Al Spain probably owes Attorney Ehrlich a favor for the free legal defense he's providing to his brother Jeff in Rensselaer City Court where he's fighting the Town Democratic Committee's demand that he reimburse $5,000 in party funds he gave away last year after he lost control of the party.Ehrlich has a stellar record for town court as you can see here. And Lou Desso probably needs to thank the other attorney they appointed who is currently representing him in a lawsuit involving the holding of two elective offices. He's a former Troy judge removed from the bench by the State's highest court for misconduct. Great choices hey? But the question remains are these attorneys providing free legal services to a Councilman and a Councilman's brother and are the Councilmen's votes a way of "paying them back" with a town job and salary?
Anyway, going through the process of exempting two politically connected non residents from the residency laws while telling every attorney who lives in North Greenbush and pays taxes here they aren't qualified to work in the courts has to have a justification politically. It just makes no sense to vote for somebody who can't vote for you, whose family can't vote for you, who pays no taxes here and has no stake in the town except a pay check and some bumps from the Retirement System unless you are getting some benefit you don't want to disclose. We'd all understand if we couldn't get town residents who wanted the jobs, but these guys don't even want to put an ad in the paper to see. To the contrary, they apparently put ads in the paper people can't see!
We pretty sure that the three new Board members know some attorneys who live here in North Greenbush and can actually help them build the kind of political support they need to govern effectively and win another election. It appears that neither Al Spain and Lou Desso can say the same to the many attorneys in North Greenbush who might seek these positions if asked. Their votes are likely based on what these two appointees can do for them or a family member.
Altogether, these two Resolutions become an important first test for the three new Board members along with a Resolution to restore a full time secretary to the Supervisor to keep the office open during normal business hours. We'll have the results tomorrow, hopefully with our Pipeline Radio as well.