Councilman Al Spain's efforts to appoint a non resident attorney who is apparently providing his brother free legal representation in small claims court in the City of Rensselaer will result in the filing of a complaint to the Town Ethics Board. You know, that's the board Spain and his fellow board members haven't bothered to appoint for the past two years despite Town Laws requiring their appointment.
No wonder! There are several provisions of the Town Ethics Code in potential conflict with Spain's actions not the least of which is S13-4 "No town employee shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or others” .
In this case, Spain appears to be using his official position to appoint an attorney to the town payroll and to pass a law so that he can legally appoint him to a job he has held illegally for the past two years.In exchange for his vote, the attorney is providing free legal services to Spain's brother.
Spain is rushing through a residency exemption law which he will probably be bold enough to place on the agenda immediately after the Public Hearing this Thursday at 6:45 PM. The Town Board Workshop takes place immediately after the hearing and despite good judgment and past practice that has caused past town boards to wait a period of time before acting on the subject of a Public Hearing, Spain will likely demand an immediate vote the same night as the hearing. Gee Al, waiting a few days after a hearing before voting makes the public think you really considered their comments and care enough to weigh public opinion! (Don't you just wish the Troy City Council worked that fast?)
But then again, what are friends for, right? You have to pay the attorney with a town job for all the free legal work he's doing for your brother Jeff, right. Brother Jeff decided to give away nearly $5,000 in party funds to several charities AFTER he lost control of the Democratic Committee in 2008. The Committee voted to sue and hold Spain accountable for the funds and yep, Jeff needed a lawyer so he went to his favorite election lawyer whom he helped land a job on the North Greenbush payroll as a deputy town attorney even though he wasn't legally eligible for the job as a non resident.
But wait, these are "Spains" and laws should not apply to them as a "royal family" of North Greenbush. So we wait for Al and company to appoint a non partisan Ethics Board to hear a complaint to be filed shortly asking if Spain should recuse himself from these votes under the circumstances creating the appearance of a clear quid pro quo.
Here's a little more unwanted publicity from that newspaper that is not supposed to write about things in North Greenbush.
Open Meetings Law
Town board members should be aware that the Open Meetings Law prohibits more than two board members from different political parties from meeting as a group to discuss town business or legislation. The only time a majority of a town board can assemble for this purpose is in a party caucus, meaning that each member must be a member of the same political party in order to assemble in private to discuss town business. That means that "Democrat" Al Spain cannot gather with his so called majority, one a Republican and one a Conservative, as a caucus. No more than two of these three members can hold a meeting in private on town business at the same time.