The worst kept secret in town hall since the Courts ordered former Councilman Lou Desso's removal from the town board has been his refusal to completely leave. Desso has hung around town hall and has been calling on employees to provide all sorts of information just as if he were still on the board. Last week's Advertiser even contained a public relations piece from Desso, the banner of which proclaimed him as a Town Councilman. It was written during a period of time in which he was removed from the town board.
We presume town employees are responsive to Desso's requests because they fear reprisals for not treating him as if he were still on the town board and it is likely that he will be voted back on the vacated seat by his three allies on the board at the meeting of April 22nd. That is of course presuming that the clearly unconstitutional law is signed and filed with the Secretary of State before that board meeting.
The big elephant in the room for Desso's re-election remains the massive town deficit he helped create. $171,000 in reductions requires significant layoffs, without which the deficit will grow during this fiscal year. Any claim that the 2011 budget can be balanced without a tax hike absent significant layoffs will have no credibility with the public. So that challenge requires either voodoo accounting to erase it or tough action in the next 30 to 60 days.
The other problem facing Desso is the perception of greed arising from his irrepressible demand to return to the town board while collecting a $25,000 a year pay check from the financially strapped county as a part time, 30 hour a week legislator. Desso also reports another 20 hours a week to the Sate Retirement System as his work week as a town board members. The combined 50 hours reported to the State sweetens the pension he would receive if he stays on a public payroll long enough for pension eligibility.
Of course there are only so many hours in a week to work and he, like so many legislators, has a full time private sector job that supposedly demands 40 hours a week. With the State facing an 8 billion dollar deficit, the town facing $171,000 deficit and the county perhaps several million in deficits this year, it tough for the public to watch a county legislator with so little to do at the county and with so little concern for its finances, that he's about to spend a great deal of time campaigning in North Greenbush for another pay check and another feeding at the State Retirement System. It's called Double Dipping at taxpayer expense. It's a practice we've criticized by town employees with health insurance buyouts and apparently, Mr. Desso wants to get in on the action.
We mentioned that the county law passed last Tuesday is unconstitutional. Research provided to us details the failure of this law to comply with the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution which provides for "equal protection of the law". The law passed by the county legislature fails to provide equal protection and application of the law to all 19 county legislators. It discriminates against county legislators by virtue of their residency in a city as opposed to a town. It allows legislators residing in towns to serve on town boards but fails to allow the same privilege to legislators residing in the county's two cities from serving on their city councils.
Now there's a law Al Spain can be proud to support. A double dipping law that violates a basic constitutional tenant.
Former Councilmen Need Not Apply
Word has it that Democrat Al Spain refused to support the Supervisor's choice as a Democratic representative on the Town Ethics Board. Her choice, former Councilman Alan Michaels, was rejected by Spain at the last board meeting. Spain wants to put his own special Democrat on the Ethics Board, one he controls and not one who might show independence. After all, Spain has an ethics complaint looming against him which has gone unanswered and the last thing he wants is someone on the Ethics Board who might not see things his way. So, once again the Town Ethics Board is incomplete and neutered just as it was for the past two years under Al Spain and Lou Desso and their former ally, Mark Evers.