North Greenbush Democrats

North Greenbush Democrats
Fighting For You!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Premo asks Town Board to return Highway Funds used for Ashe relative

North Greenbush Highway Superintendent Mark Premo has written the town bard asking that nearly $17,000 in expenditures from the Highway Department Budget and tax rate used to improve the privately owned property of a relative of Councilman Robert Ashe be returned to his budget. The expenditures include more than $6,700.00 for storm sewer pipes and $4,000.00 to restore blacktop and concrete which he surmises was purchased from Councilman Ashe’s employers.

The commercial property on Bellemead Street was improved with drainage pipe during the month of June by a private contractor hired by the town. Efforts to deceive the media by stating that this expenditure was required by a non existent DEC consent order have been exposed as a sham. “As I publicly stated when this took place, it is wrong and illegal for public funds to be expended on improvements to private property.” Now it appears that the board is attempting to take the money from the Highway Department budget forcing town taxpayers to shoulder the burden for this irresponsible expenditure of public funds at the direct expense of highway services.

“As Highway Superintendent, I will not authorize such an expenditure from my budget and I request that these funds be transferred back into my budget codes immediately.” To the best of my knowledge, the town board never specifically authorized the expenditure detailed here for these improvements to the Bellemead Apartments. Frankly, if Councilman Ashe wants to spend tax dollars improving his in-laws property, he and his fellow council allies should publicly vote to authorize the expenditure and take the responsibility for disbursement.

Premo forwarded the correspondence to the Office of State Comptroller and Attorney General in the hope that some independent action and audit may be initiated to restore these funds to town taxpayers and the Highway Department budget. He also asked that an examination of the funding mechanism be explored to see whether any State or Federal funds may have been involved in this expenditure.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Democrats react to Court decision declaring Re-Zone of 4 & 43 illegal

Democratic candidates for the North Greenbush Town Board reacted to the Supreme Court decision declaring illegal their opponents re-zoning of the Rts 4 & 43 intersection to accommodate the wishes of their developer supporters as “a major victory for the people of this town and a clear setback for the development interests running this town board majority”.

The candidates made a pledge if elected to repeal the local law which permitted the box retail project pushed by Nigro Development called Van Rensselaer Square, thereby rendering any appeal moot. Nigro was the developer behind the controversial Oak Hill Apartments and recently made significant illegal campaign contributions to a Republican Committee fronted by this majority with their spokesperson Richard Crist fronting as the Treasurer. He was one of 13 contributors connected directly to development interests out of the 15 contributions made

They called on the majority NOT to appeal the decision and funnel more money into the pockets of the town attorney who is being paid extra for all legal work on top of her salary. “The Courts are the last protection that town residents have until the November election when voters will have an opportunity to take their government back from the developers currently running the town board majority.”

Once again in this latest decision, the Courts have found that this Majority acted to deny the rights of citizens in order to accommodate the developers which control the North Greenbush Town Board. The actions of this board have divided our town because there is no effort to secure community support for zoning and development. We support growth that is pursued by listening to town residents and developing community based consensus for the projects we pursue.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

North Greenbush GOP Slate funded almost entirely by DEVELOPERS

Committee raised nearly $8000 in illegal campaign contributions last
March by failing to register with County Board of Elections

One week ago, the North Greenbush Democratic Committee announced its slate of candidates and warned that the GOP team represented “government of, by and for the developer”. At the time, not even we could have imagined how well we hit the nail on the head.

On July 15th, a committee calling itself the North Greenbush Victory Committee filed $7,590 in itemized illegal contributions from 15 donors. Illegal because before the group could legally raise money for candidates, they needed to register with the Board of Elections and list their depository and bank account. The fundraiser was held last March and only now are we aware they even existed! Of the $7,590 collected, only $498.00 came from 3 corporations not tied to developers. Talk about “concrete evidence” stated Ashley, not one contribution came in the category of “individual” donors meaning that not a penny came from a town resident reaching into his own pocket to support these candidates. This may as well be called the “DEVELOPERS VICTORY COMMITTEE” stated Ashley. The cash should be returned immediately!

It is painfully clear that the team of Ashe, Styczynski and Desso is fueled entirely by developers and the corporations which thrive on development be they law firms, engineering firms or private contractors. This should serve as a warning that DEVELOPERS are running and pulling the strings in North Greenbush, not the people who live here. Leading the pack was Oak Hill Apartments who just got fined $75,000 by the State because they couldn’t spend the time and money to properly construct drainage but had the time and cash to give Councilman Ashe’s shadow committee $2,500.00 Oak Hill also managed to get an undeserved 2.1 million dollar tax break from Ashe’s friends on the county IDA.

The list goes on to include a local contractor who was the recipient of a $300,000 political favor paid for by Water District 14 taxpayers after the low bidder was thrown out and the contract was re-bid to award it to a pal and now grateful contributor, Casale Construction. They gave a $900.00 contribution. How ironic that we get to pay $300,000 more for this district than the low bid Bob Ashe and his majority threw out as a political favor and now the contractor says thanks with what is sure to be the first of many outrageous contributions.

It is also noteworthy that the Treasurer for this cadre of development money is none other than the Ashe Campaign Spokesman who is also the campaign spokesman for the Rensselaer County Legislative Republicans, their candidates, the Republican candidates for Troy City Council , Nassau Supervisor advisor, North Greenbush Town Board Majority and co-owner of Victory Lane, LLC, Richard Crist. Apparently Mr. Crist and this laundry list of candidates he represents is only too happy to be the bag man for the development community that desperately wants to make North Greenbush, the “Concrete Capital of Upstate New York”. This certainly explains why so many people in DeFreestville want a village of their own.
Ashley also noted that the Town GOP Committee violated the law by failing to file a Financial Disclosure Statement.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Boss’s wife receives another big pay day

North Greenbush Democratic Chairman Dan Ashley released copies of the latest bill being submitted by the town attorney to her husband’s employee, Councilman Robert Ashe, for payment. The bill is a direct result of the decision by a Republican Supreme Court judge that allows political appointees to reap unlimited payments in addition to their salaries. The decision is being appealed to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court.

After Ashe and his GOP colleagues Styczynski and Tazbir voted to give the town attorney a lump sum $25,000 pay raise of 62%, town democrats went to court to protect taxpayers from exactly what is now occurring, unlimited fleecing of the public treasury. This time the sum is $11,388.30 submitted on June 16th for legal work that used to be considered part of the job for which the town attorney was paid a salary.

No more, stated Ashley, this decision opens the floodgates and Councilman Ashe can’t wait to make his boss happy by voting to pay out large sums of public money to his spouse, the town attorney. And what of the obvious conflict of interest presented by using your office to award money to your employer’s wife? Without an Ethics Board to hear the complaints Councilman Ashe will spend the next 5 ½ months dishing out the payments with no one to tell him he’s wrong except voters in the November election.

Ashe and his majority have refused to permit the appointment of an Ethics Board and have ignored the Ethics Law they promised to strengthen as candidates three years ago. How much is enough? That’s for voters to decide and we can only hope that the decision which allowed this practice is overturned before there is nothing left when Ashe’s term is over December 31st.

Friday, July 15, 2005

North Greenbush Class of 2005

Mark Evers, Alan Michaels and Ernie Kern

North Greenbush Democrats endorse candidates

The North Greenbush Democratic Committee has announced their endorsements for offices in this fall’s election. Endorsements include Town Supervisor, two Council seats, Justice, Highway Superintendent and Clerk.

“These candidates will change the face of town government, long at a crossroads on issues of development, ethics, and credibility”, stated Chairman Dan Ashley. The committee endorsed a platform which guided these recommendations to a caucus to be held in the near future. That platform is posted on the internet at The candidates were selected in part by their commitment to this platform as a roadmap for the future direction of town government. “The three Republican candidates are more government of, by and for the developer which has deeply divided North Greenbush”, stated Ashley.

The Democratic Committee is endorsing a “unity ticket” of highly qualified and deeply committed citizens with diverse backgrounds. We stress unity because the Republican Majority’s policies have deeply divided our town and the fact that their ticket resides entirely within the 12198 zip code is evidence of their insensitivity to the to the concerns of DeFreestville residents. “We present three generations of leadership who will guide this town with the candor and civility that will serve to unify this community long divided by a board majority that has put development interests ahead of town residents”, stated Ashley. “ Corporate nepotism and profiteering from public office is about to come to an end.”

Mark Evers for Town Supervisor:
Leading the ticket for Supervisor is Mark Evers, a Conservative who resides in the DeFreestville area. Evers, 52, resides on Paul Art Lane with his wife Kathy. Together, they have raised 5 children. As a boy, he grew up in the Wynantskill area graduating from Wynantskill School, LaSalle Inst. 71' and from Siena College 75’ with a Bachelors of Business degree in Marketing. Evers has an extensive background in coaching youth having spent 10 years in the Twin Town LL and senior league programs along with being on both boards during those years. The Democratic Committee was impressed with his extensive business background in sales management with several corporations, such as ConAgra Foods, Nestle and Kraft. He is currently the National Account Manager for Transpacific Foods. Evers has both managed budgets and sales for territories in excess of $50,000,000.00 and been responsible for up to 9 people while also managing various Regional Food Brokers. He has received several awards over the years and has completed industry sales and negotiating courses along with teaching them.

Alan Michaels for Town Couniclman:
The Committee has also endorsed Alan Michaels, a Democrat who resides on Thomas Drive in the Snyder’s Lake area. Alan is a graduate of Siena College and received a Masters Degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and a Law Degree from the Syracuse University. He is 34 years old. He and his wife Vicki, a physician, have two children, Xander, 3 and Tyler, 8 months. Alan’s leadership skills are found in an impressive resume from Eagle Scout to service as an Assistant Attorney General in Rhode Island prosecuting crime and the State’s representative on the Federal Anti-Terrorism Task Force. He is currently serving at the request of Mark Premo on his Highway Advisory Committee.

Ernie Kern for Town Couniclman:
Also endorsed for the Town Board is Ernest Kern, 69, of Dobert Court in Wynantskill. Ernie is retired from the Times Union where he worked as a printer for years. He and his wife Shiela have one son, John. He is a Conservative. Ernie will give senior citizens a special voice on the town board. We were impressed by his concern for those who are most impacted by the high taxes which exist in our State.

Rounding out the ticket are incumbents Raymond Elliot for Town Justice, Mark Premo, Highway Superintendent and Katie Connolly, Town Clerk. Each of these individuals have served the residents of North Greenbush with distinction and our committee is proud to endorse their re-election bids.

The Committee also commends County Legislator Bill Dedrick who is retiring this year after a long and distinguished career. Bill had seriously considered entering the race for a town board seat but after much consideration, decided to devote more time to his family. Best wishes to Bill with our gratitude.

Friday, July 08, 2005

N. Greenbush Police Department brought to full strength

Councilmen Richard Fennelly and James Mihalko joined Supervisor Paul Tazbir in a special town board meeting to appoint Michael Merola to his home town police department on Thursday July 7th. Michael was appointed from the list of eligible residents provided by the Rensselaer County Civil Service Commission. He joins two other officers appointed last month and brings our department to full strength for the first time in many years. The 3 to 0 vote with Councilmen Ashe and Styzcnski absent, will allow all three new officers to attend the Zone V Police Training Academy’s next class which begins July 13th and will graduate in December.

Attending the special meeting and swearing in the new police officer was Town Justice Raymond Elliot who did the honors while his proud parents County Clerk Frank Merola, wife Nina along with family and friends cheered following the ceremony. We were delighted to join Supervisor Tazbir in recognizing the need for this third position to be filled in time for the July 13th training class deadline, stated Fennelly and Mihalko. In this post 9-11 era there is no greater priority than providing for the safety and security of our citizens. Our local police and fire departments along with other first responders must be given the necessary staffing and equipment to do their increasingly difficult mission of public safety.

It is clear also that our town is witnessing an increase in population from development which will continue to increase the demand for police and emergency services. We hope that these recent appointments to our police department will make us be ready when called upon for help. We are certain that all town residents join us in wishing these new officers success as they begin their police careers here in North Greenbush.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The 4.2 Million Dollar Question

North Greenbush Democratic Chairman Dan Ashley is calling on City of Rensselaer Officials to return land signed away to the city by Councilman Ashe and his majority on what is apparently a promise never made by State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

Ashley was reacting to a warning from Bruno in The Record Newspaper that if Rensselaer didn’t move on the project which would benefit developer, U.W.Marx, the promised 4.8 million in State Aid would “go elsewhere”. “Well, it sure doesn’t appear it is coming to North Greenbush taxpayers who were told by Councilman Ashe that Bruno promised a similar amount to the town in exchange for his vote to give our land to Rensselaer”, stated Ashley. “Once again the Senator has denied making the pledge in order to get his Republican friends on the North Greenbush Town Board to vote to give away the land”.

Ashley asked whether it is the Senator or Councilman Ashe who is telling the truth about the land vote for state aid boondoggle that found Ashe ignoring repeated warnings NOT to vote to give away the land without “contingency language” in the resolution. This language would have protected North Greenbush taxpayers requiring the receipt of the 4.2 million in State aid in order for the vote to take effect.

“Frankly, I believe the Senator, stated Ashley, but it’s clear someone is not being truthful and North Greenbush taxpayers are taking it on the chin”. Taxpayers have been forced to bond the costs of the water tower which Ashe claimed was to be funded by 2 million of the 4.2million in promised State aid. “About the only people happy are Ashe’s employers who managed to profit from the sale of all the concrete for the water tower construction”, stated Ashley.

Serious questions arise from this controversy:

· If the Senator did not make the pledge for State money in exchange for Ashe’s vote, why did Councilman Ashe along with his boss’s wife as Town Attorney giving legal advice and drafting the resolution, use a hurriedly called special town board meeting to give away our land?

Why did they refuse the get the pledge in writing or insert the protective contingency language in the bill as repeatedly requested?

Could it be that Ashe didn’t get it in writing because there was no such pledge of 4.2 million in exchange for his vote?

Could it be that the real motivation for giving the land away rested in corporate profits for Ashe’s employer who could sell a lot more cement in a massive Rensselaer development project than the 17 truckloads sold in the water tower construction?

Then there’s the 4.2 million dollar question, IF THERE WAS NO PLEDGE, WHY DID ASHE DO IT?
The answer may rest in concrete. Smile when you pour!