North Greenbush Democrats

North Greenbush Democrats
Fighting For You!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Ashe Votes three times to pay his Boss’s Wife

North Greenbush Democratic Chairman Dan Ashley called Councilman Ashe’s conduct at the March 24th Board meeting an arrogant disregard for the ethics law. He stated that Ashe’s three votes to enrich his boss’s wife were “a slap in the face to a pending Supreme Court decision on the legality of his first vote to pay her a $25,000, 62% retroactive lump sum raise.”

“$25 grand is apparently not enough to satisfy the boss’s wife”. Rather than tabling the cryptic last minute addition to the Holy Thursday agenda until a judge has ruled on the legality of Ashe voting to enrich his employer’s wife, Ashe together with his loyal colleagues Councilman Styczynski and Supervisor Tazbir voted to reward the Town Attorney with an additional blank check pay raise which will allow her to earn unlimited money on top of her salary.

They were so anxious to reward the boss’s wife that the trio quickly voted to pay her an additional $150.00 an hour to defend them in two lawsuits. Last November they were planning to give her just $100.00 an hour. One of these lawsuits was caused by the town attorney’s poor legal advice and conduct in mishandling a petition filed with the town. Now she gets to make a pile of money because of her conduct. The trio has put into place for the town attorney, an incentive to litigate since she now will get paid on top of her salary for litigation. She must be busy because she did not attend the meeting which is part of her duties so taxpayers had to pay her deputy $100 per hour to take her place.

Most people did not know that the two resolutions to hire an attorney to handle these cases meant a paycheck for the town attorney. But the council majority knew and they also knew that they could not pass these two resolutions until the first law was filed with the New York Secretary of State. Therefore their vote to hire her was premature and illegal since the enabling law, just passed, had not been filed with the Secretary of State. The Town Clerk has this duty and has 15 days to do so.

“This whole matter revolves around the ethics of Councilman Ashe using his office to enrich his private sector employer’s wife which is at the core of a lawsuit initiated by Councilmen Fennelly and Mihalko.”
Ashe’s three votes send a message to the Court that he doesn’t care what the judge thinks about his ethics, he’s going to vote more pay raises for his boss’s wife and doesn’t care if the Court says he has a conflict of interest requiring recusal.”

“What’s being added to the Councilman’s pay package at Bonded Concrete this time”, asked Ashley? What will he receive in exchange for his vote, more vacation time, a raise, free use of a company vehicle? Whatever the reason for his blind obedience to his boss’s wife, the perception such a vote creates is more than enough reason to abstain. It’s bad judgment, the same kind of bad judgment that cost him his police career and found him on the receiving end of two misdemeanor convictions prosecuted by the District Attorney.

Ashley concluded by criticizing the arrogant behavior of Councilman Styczynski. His vicious personal attack on Councilman Fennelly’s personal life has no place in politics or a town board meeting.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Councilmen seek DeFreestville Post Office and Zip Code

North Greenbush Town Councilmen Richard Fennelly and James Mihalko are seeking support for a DeFreestville Post Office and Zip Code. “We are writing to Postmaster General James Potter as well as Congressman Michael McNulty in an effort to lobby support for the proposal”, stated the councilmen. Both men stated that while the idea has been talked about off and on for more than a decade, a concerted effort has yet to take place to sell the need for a post office branch to serve the Defreestville side of town.

“This is a time when many DeFreestville residents feel that the town board’s development policies have seriously divided the town. A Post Office will promote unity while recognizing DeFreestville’s unique identity.” DeFreestville is a growing community as evidenced by the many new housing developments which have arisen since the last time a Council member suggested such a move more than a decade ago. A trip to the nearest Post Office should not be long enough that it must be planned with other chores as is the case in DeFreestville who must go either to Wynantskill, Sand Lake, Rensselaer or East Greenbush for postal services.

A Post Office not only provides a vital community service, but equally important, it enhances a community’s identity”, stated Fennelly. “I can’t think of a better way to show the residents of DeFreestville that there are voices in town government that recognize the need to protect and enhance the identity of this important part of our town while working with them for a better community,” “This is one idea from town hall that will be met with applause and not a lawsuit”, stated Councilman James Mihalko.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Ashley calls for review of court security

North Greenbush Democratic Chairman Dan Ashley is calling for the appointment of a Courtroom Security Review Board in the wake of the second tragic incident in a week involving judicial personnel or their families.

The case in Atlanta Georgia is nothing short of shocking, stated Ashley. “Court room security must be reviewed here in North Greenbush, Rensselaer County and throughout the state”. The question must be asked, “Are there uniformed standards and training for court security personnel which would help prevent an incident like the one in Atlanta which resulted in the murder of a judge, court reporter, and two law enforcement officers, while wounding a third officer. It would appear the answer is no, for security procedures and training are varied from court to court, stated Ashley.

It is apparent that there must be a comprehensive review of the security procedures and training aimed at ensuring that no one will be in a position to grab an officers pistol and shoot those in their view. It is also critically important that the courts be staffed with trained personnel and not be subjected to political considerations as is the case in some jurisdictions. The issue of Court Security must be taken seriously and not subject to political patronage.

Ashley noted that the Federal Courts appear to employ the greatest common sense keeping armed Marshals’ weapons out of view and under the cover of clothing. This is in stark contrast to the situation in Atlanta and the past practice here in North Greenbush where a side arm has been clearly visible and an inviting target on the security officer, who until a recent gun accident, had been working in the town court. It might also be wise to remove guns from the court rooms altogether as it would invite a lower level of potential violence should an incident occur.

A Court Security Review Board empanelled at least at the county level and preferably at the State level could review security procedures and make urgent recommendations on the manner in which court personnel carry their weapons and the training necessary to correct current procedures.

A review of this problem may prevent a tragedy here such as that which occurred in Atlanta. “I urge county and state officials to act immediately to empanel a group of qualified law enforcement officials such as our elected Sheriffs and local Police Chiefs, members of the judiciary from the state, county and town level and members of the BAR Association to review court security and recommend uniformed standards of protection.