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Friday, December 10, 2010

Paranoia Rules


The only thing for certain about Lou Desso and Al Spain is the obvious paranoia driving their actions and conduct both on the board and in their interactions with those they consider adversaries. Last night they were in a foul mood. Stung by criticism of their budget deals and the manner in which they concluded the budget process.

Desso and Spain would like to think that folks are playing politics when they detail how the budget was changed behind the back of the Supervisor and Comptroller's Office. They call criticism of undisclosed pay raises and actions which resulted in a cut in the salary of the Highway Superintendent more of the same politics they deplore. Yet they play the game they say they deplore at every move.

Poor Lou and Al. When they put the screws to people its "good government" and when people described what they do in a public forum, its "politics". Sorry guys, that just won't cut it, and neither will their empty explanations for the manner in which they changed the budget and never had any discussions with other board members who saw it for the first time the night it was adopted 4-1, or the Supervisor whom you have shown a total lack of respect.

Last night the Board tabled a resolution that would have corrected a clerical error resulting in a $1,700 salary cut for the Highway Superintendent. They tabled it because they were intolerant of the Superintendent's criticisms of their budget changes which hurt his department.
Of course they can accept no responsibility for any of the cuts to the Highway Department anymore than they can admit that the effects of their changes transferred funds from the highway budget to the general fund to pay for a good old fashioned spending spree with raises for their pals which they never bothered to disclose when Lou Desso marched in to the meeting with a newly reprinted budget no one had seen but Desso and Al Spain. Councilman Bott admitted as much when he was questioned about when he saw the budget revisions. Guess he didn't realize the implications of his statement which stripped Spain and Desso's arguments to a fig leaf.

Now they want the Highway Superintendent to send them a written explanation for the clerical error which resulted in cutting his salary $1,700. In other words they want some kind of confession that they are not responsible for the budget vacuum they operated in which permitted mistakes to go unnoticed just like the pay raises they dished out to their friends. They are angry about Premo's criticism issued in a letter to the media, yet they seemed to forget they began the finger pointing with their own letter attacking Premo as if he were responsible for spending increases over the years in his department which this and prior boards set and approved. Al Spain looked none to pleased when reminded about the press release he and Desso "authored" which was more than likely the work product of a particular staffer at the county legislature. No wonder Spain forgot about his earlier attack. He probably never read it before it was sent to the Advertiser by his Republican allies.

The real explanation for their refusal to fix the clerical error that cut Premo's salary can be found in an exchange of words Al Spain had with the Supervisor last Friday at town hall. Spain informed her that neither he nor his majority would support a bill that corrected the salary of Premo until he publicly retracted his criticism of their budget changes.

That was as reckless an action as possible. Some who are aware of the comments say they come too close to a definition contained in New York's Penal Laws. S155.05(viii) defines "extortion" as “Using or abusing a position as a public servant by performing some act within or related to his official duties, or by failing or refusing to perform an official duty, in such manner as to affect some person adversely;” Al Spain should know that demanding an act in exchange for his vote to restore a salary crosses the line, ethically and legally. But then, this is a guy who relies on Lou Desso, who just voted to approve a county budget and tax increase without a required 2/3rds vote of the legislature because he either can't calculate 2/3rds of a 19 member body or has no respect for the laws which govern it.

No wonder North Greenbush is so screwed up and thank the Lord for the coming November elections.

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