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Monday, January 24, 2011

Censoring the Town Web Page

The Town Supervisor has published a column in the Troy Record, which you can read here, that reflects the growing frustration she feels with conduct of the Town Board and the Town Clerk. Civility is not a part of the vocabulary. Mrs. Ashworth also offers an apology for what are characterized as "personal attacks" on the Assessor which have appeared in local publications.

While it is not clear from the column, the so called personal attacks are likely contained in the letters to the editor which have been linked for you in the post of January 7th which you can read here. A review of the letters posted here shows letters expressing concern over the conflict of interest created by the Board's decision to place the Assessor in a conflicting post as Comptroller. While we see little that qualifies as a personal attack, we note that a standard tactic of folks receiving criticism is to engender sympathy by referring to the criticism as a personal attack. When the Town Clerk goes into a tirade at a meeting and calls the Supervisor "worthless" and that she should resign because she has "done nothing", that's a personal attack. When you criticize public policy concerns with clearly defined examples, it is hardly personal and should not be construed as such. Nonetheless, everyone's perception is not the same and all are entitled to their opinions.

The Supervisor's column also reports that the Board majority led by Lou Desso and Al Spain are taking a page from the playbooks used by totalitarian regimes by "approving" what is allowed to be published on the taxpayer funded town web page at townofng.com .

At the last Board meeting on January 13th, there was a public discussion concerning the content of the town web page and apparently, all content must now go through the town clerk for posting. If she finds something, say in the monthly Supervisor's Report, that she thinks would concern the Board, she will run it by them for approval.

Obviously such a policy is censorship pure and simple. This kind of totalitarian nonsense has no place in town government or anywhere else in this country, yet here we are with just such a discussion taking place in North Greenbush at a town board meeting.

Limiting dissent and information may be viewed by an insecure public official as a way of protecting themselves from negative publicity, but in the end it causes them more harm than good as people begin to take a more serious look at the reasons for their fear of their political opposition.

Come November, voters will have a chance to clean things up in town hall and regardless of whether the monthly reports of the Supervisor are allowed on the town's web page, they can't stop the information from being made available on the internet. So we will publish each monthly report here beginning with the January 2011 report which was published in the Advertiser's January 13th edition and which has not yet been posted to the town web page.

The report speaks for itself and echos the many concerns generated by the foolish decision of the majority to fire the Comptroller and give the job to the town's full time Assessor. To say Al Spain, Lou Desso and their two tag a longs did not think out the problems created by this decision would be an understatement. But to censor the Supervisor from being freely able to present her views on the town web page is an act that will not reflect well upon them.

The Town Clerk also deserves some attention for her conduct at the last board meeting. Apparently when there is no video camera present, the civility disappears, replaced with a vengeance created by frustration and intolerance for anyone who stands in the way of their lust for power or criticism of their actions. Clerk Connolly once again went over the line calling for the Supervisor to resign. Apparently this ingratiates her with her friends on the Board who do nothing to put here in her place. It's our humble opinion that if anyone ought to resign for their outrageous conduct at Board meetings it's the Town Clerk. Enough said.

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