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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Democrats Say "Not OK to Vote for your Brother's Lawyer"

Ashley Release on Recusal 210
Dan Ashley, the Chair of the North Greenbush Democrats, apparently does not agree with Councilman Spain's town attorney when it comes to the ethical propriety of voting to appoint your brother's free attorney to a paid town job. Apparently the town attorney is prepared to say its his opinion that a councilman can ethically vote to appoint an attorney providing free legal services to a councilman's brother to a paid town job, but if it were the councilman himself or his wife or perhaps kids, that might require recusal.

It's the new official guide for recusal in North Greenbush that does little to instill public confidence in a vote that makes Al Spain look bad, period. Elected officials should avoid taking any action which creates even the appearance of ethical impropriety and from our perspective, Al Spain will be well positioned for public criticism once he votes to appoint his brother's attorney to a paid town job tonight at the Town Board meeting.

There still remains the larger issue of refusing to appoint qualified town residents who want the job for non residents with the political pull to place them on the town payroll. Town residents should come first, not the out of town pals of board members. In the case of one of the attorney's on the agenda to represent us again in town court prosecuting cases, his only experience in town courts prior to his appointment was as a defendant. His conviction in Colonie Town Court has been well documented and we do not know if there are others in his background and apparently Al Spain does not want to know. What a great standard for Al Spain and the Town Board to set!

So tune in tonight at 7PM at Town Hall for the fun. We hope to have the vote on video for you tomorrow.

Desso's "Recusal"

It was odd to watch from the beginning when Councilman Desso announced he would recuse himself from participating and voting on the matters involving the residency law change and eventual appointment votes on deputy town attorneys. After making the announcement from the town board dais, he then participated in the discussion as if he had never uttered the words. He then voted on the matter only to retract his vote at the end of the meeting when he was questioned about the obvious contradiction.

Now he is in the Advertiser discussing the matter without regard for his pledge on recusal. Better yet, he hurls mis-statements in the passages regarding the town's fiscal plight and states that Democrats have criticized him for his position on the hiring on non resident attorneys along with Councilman Spain.

Perhaps there is a perception problem here but it seems to us that Democrats actually complimented Desso for recusing himself from the vote after admitting one of these attorneys was representing him in a civil case. It is Councilman Spain alone they continue to criticize for his refusal to follow Desso's apparent half hearted recusal given his continuing participation and comments in the matter from which he pledged non participation and recusal. Recusal means you admit to having a personal interest in a matter that requires you not to participate or vote.You don't take a position and you don't engage in debate, write letters or otherwise contradict your position. Let's see if he remains silent this evening or stays "recused" from the debate and vote.

On the budgetary side, we have to wonder from which planet his logic emanated when he complimented himself for not raising taxes for the past two budgets while reducing the town's deficit. The town is not supposed to be carrying a deficit, it is supposed to create a balanced budget under State Law. It's easy not to raise taxes when you refuse to take the steps to eliminate a deficit and that's what he is essentially bragging about.

The Town Board refused to make the cuts in spending needed to erase the deficit and has instead carried over like a bad lemon. The choices are not easy but that is what is expected, not finger pointing or pretending the problem does not exist. Let's wait and see if the Board finally realizes the magnitude of the fiscal crisis we are facing when we combine the deficit and looming cuts in State aid which need to be addressed sooner rather than later by cutting spending quickly and decisively.

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