North Greenbush Democrats

North Greenbush Democrats
Fighting For You!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

North Greenbush Democrats Vote to Approve Primary and End Caucuses

In a unanimous vote of 11 of the 15 seated members of the North Greenbush Democratic Committee who were present for a Committee Meeting on September 13, 2010, members approved the use of the Primary system to select Democratic candidates for all town offices and end the caucus system beginning in 2011.

North Greenbush becomes the first and only town in Rensselaer County where Democrats will be chosen on Primary Day instead of a Caucus, the date of which can vary. This vote was taken pursuant to State Election Law Section 6-108 requiring a two thirds majority and will take effect for the September 2011 Primary.
“We believe the time has come to make the selection process of Democratic candidates for town offices as expansive and inclusive as possible, stated Chairman Dan Ashley.

The Committee members felt that the caucus system limits the number of Democrats who can vote by restricting the process to a specific time, and fails to permit absentee voting which excludes those in military service and all absentee voters. In addition, the caucus system fails to protect the Democratic Party endorsement from Republicans who show they stand for nothing but wining by manipulating the electoral process and invading the opposition party’s caucus to hold every party line. This denies voters their right to make a choice at the polls in November serving no one’s interest but the candidate who wants to run without opposition or debate of the issues affecting our town.

The Primary system will provide Democrats in North Greenbush the same expanded voting opportunity that the Republican and other parties currently provide. They will select a Democratic candidate on Primary Day with expanded and more convenient voting hours than the Caucus provides. They will be able to vote absentee for their town candidates just as they can select a President or Member of Congress. Any Democrat who can qualify for the ballot can enter the Primary so that all 2000 registered Democrats in our Town have the opportunity to choose who should represent them at the ballot box in November rather than a couple of hundred who might attend a Caucus.

“I am especially proud that military voters can now participate in the selection of Democratic candidates from North Greenbush to represent our party in November”, stated Ashley who has had three sons in military service as well as his own service.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Who Will County Legislators Cheat in Game of March Madness?

Dan Ashley, Chairman of the North Greenbush Democratic Committee criticized Republican Rensselaer County Legislators for their sponsorship of a law that would permit some, not all County Legislators, to “double dip” by serving in two elective offices simultaneously. This law is being considered in order to reverse a State Court order that removed three legislators from town board seats they held in violation of State Law prohibiting the practice.

Taxpayers should oppose this “Double Dipping” law on philosophical and ethical grounds. “You can’t serve two masters, and passing a law to allow county legislators to serve on town boards invites double dipping and conflicts of interest which fail to serve the public interest”, stated Ashley.

Ashley noted the “double payday” that will result if the GOP approves this change in the current law. “It’s not just two public paychecks, it’s also a double hit on the State Retirement System, stated Ashley. County legislators generally report to the State Retirement System that they work 30 hours a week. Town Board members generally report 20 hours a week. That’s 50 hours a week in two part time public jobs. When you add the fact that each holds a full time private sector job, taxpayers should ask who is being cheated by holding so many jobs?

Recusal called for:

Since the legislation appears to be proposed for the benefit of three Republican Legislators removed by the Courts, they should recuse themselves from this vote if they intend to use this law to run again for town board seats, stated Ashley. Otherwise they create the appearance of a voting for personal financial gain.

The Rensselaer County Legislature should carefully consider the implications of permitting certain privileged legislators to double dip at taxpayer expense. If greed causes the law to be passed anyway, then voters in North and East Greenbush should reject county legislators as town board members and elect representatives on their town boards who serve only the interests of their respective towns.

Ashley pointed to budget issues which will conflict a county legislator with a town board member. “County Legislators must first consider the needs of the county in devising a sales tax formula that shares revenues with the towns and cities. Town Board members, on the other hand, have an obligation to represent the interests of their town constituencies when lobbying the County Legislature for a larger share of this revenue source. Clearly, you can’t serve two masters, stated Ashley, noting that a Legislator is conflicted on sales tax votes if he also holds a seat on a Town Board. In Desso language, it’s like coaching for both Duke and Butler in last night’s big game.

Double Dipping Double Standard

Ashley also questioned the bizarre double standard proposed by the GOP’s Double Dipping Law. “How can they propose a law that allows legislators from the towns to serve on town boards while refusing to permit legislators from the county’s two cities to serve on their city councils? Could it be that GOP legislators want exclusive rights to double dipping at public expense or would they concede that city legislators possess higher ethical standards, asked Ashley.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Spain Withdraws From Ethics Appointment

Dan Ashley, Chairman of the North Greenbush Democratic Committee announced today that Al Spain has told his allies in the Republican Majority Office of the County Legislature that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as their appointee to the County Ethics Board.

Apparently, Spain withdrew his name because he learned that Democrats on the City Council were considering a consolidation plan for City government that would eliminate his job as Personnel Director, turning the duties over to the City's Civil Service Commission. This is the same structure used in Rensselaer County government and would save the cash strapped city a significant amount of money.

Of course the root of the GOP plan to takeover the Ethics Board involves a plan to use it as a political tool to find against Democrats in ethics complaints being engineered by the GOP. This apparently included members of the Troy City Council who hold county related jobs which could be covered by the County Ethics Law and Board.

Spain's loyalty to the GOP however and willingness to assist their efforts both in the county and in North Greenbush have severely damaged his standing with Democrats who hold the keys to his needless city job. His use of his Democratic Party registration to support Republicans at every level has damaged his standing to the point where he has no support among Democrats.

"While I am pleased that Al Spain will not be used by the County GOP in their plans to make the Ethics Board a political tool, it is clear they may still intend to use another Democratically registered operative to accomplish this goal. I urge Democrats in the legislature to fight to keep the Ethics Board bipartisan and to insist that Democratic appointees be nominated from their Minority Office."

Monday, March 22, 2010

County Legislative Majority Undermining Ethics Law

Dan Ashley, Chairman of the North Greenbush Democratic Committee has written the Chairman of the Rensselaer County Legislature urging they take a step back from an attempt to impose the Democrats on the Ethics Board on the Democratic Caucus of the Legislature. You can read his letter below.

March 22, 2010

Hon. Martin Reid

Chairman, RC Legislature

1600 7th Ave.

Troy, NY 12180

Dear Chairman Reid,

I wish to express my concern over the effort of your majority to impose the appointment of registered Democrats as members of the County Ethics Board who do not enjoy the support of elected Democrats in the County Legislature. Such a move would erode bipartisan oversight and serve to make the Ethics Board a tool of one political party.

As you are aware, I served in the Legislature when the County Ethics Law was passed in 1992. The bill’s purpose was to create a formula for the ethical conduct of county employees and officials. Part of that formula was to establish a County Board of Ethics in which the Majority and Minority Parties would be represented by two Ethics Board members each. When Democrats held a majority in the Legislature, they accepted without reservation, Republican appointees. Until this past month, Republicans have also respected the nominees offered by Democrats as the minority party in the Legislature.

I am concerned that any effort by any majority party in the Legislature to impose Ethics Board members enrolled in the minority party will serve to erode public confidence in the bipartisan independence expected of the Ethics Board. It would also violate the clear purpose and intent of the statute as practiced and implemented over nearly two decades.

While I do not know one of the registered nominees enrolled as a Democrat being supported by your majority caucus, I am very familiar with the other nominee who is enrolled as a Democrat. Al Spain, an employee of the Republican administration in the city of Troy, enjoys no support from the Democratic Party either in his town of North Greenbush, the County Democratic Committee or the Minority Caucus of the County Legislature.

This is due to the fact that Mr. Spain has demonstrated time and again his affiliation with and loyalty to the Republican Party. While he remains enrolled as a Democrat by checking a box at the Board of Elections, he sought the endorsement of the Town Republican Committee for the office of Town Supervisor last year. He endorsed the four Republican candidates for County Legislature to the exclusion of the four Democrats who were incumbents at the time of his endorsement. He also endorsed the Republican candidate for State Senate and functions as the unofficial “Majority Leader” of the North Greenbush Town Board which includes two Republican endorsed Board members as his “caucus”. In view of Mr. Spain’s past political endorsements and status as an elected town board member, it seems clear he would have difficulty qualifying as an Ethics Board member if he intends to seek re-election and meet the minimum requirements set forth in Section 12 of the law which prohibits participation in any election campaign.

I also point out that Mr. Spain’s ethics record as a Council member in North Greenbush includes two votes to appoint family members to town committees or agencies and a vote to appoint his brother’s attorney to the town payroll in apparent exchange for free legal services for his brother from that attorney. This is currently the subject of an unresolved Ethics Complaint in North Greenbush.

If a Legislative Majority imposes Ethics Board members who are merely enrolled as Democrats while serving the political interests of the Republican Party, the Ethics Board would be rendered a partisan body consisting of four members supported only by the majority party. I believe such an action would violate the spirit and letter of the County Ethics Law.

I urge you to take a step back from further consideration of any enrolled Democrat whose name is not first forwarded to you and supported by the Minority Caucus. The Ethics Law was passed in a bipartisan spirit and the Ethics Law must be enforced in that spirit if the public is to have any confidence in its rulings and findings.

Dan Ashley

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Spain Should Recuse from Appointment of Attorney

At a meeting of the North Greenbush Town Board, Councilman Al Spain sponsored a Public Hearing on a Local Law that would allow he and the board to appoint non residents as deputy town attorneys. At the hearing Mr. Spain was asked to consider recusing himself from any vote to appoint a non resident attorney who is apparently providing free legal representation to his brother in a civil case involving his disbursement of nearly $5,000 in Democratic Party funds after losing control of the Committee.

Voting to appoint this attorney and changing the law to allow non residents in these positions creates the appearance that the Councilman is appointing the attorney to a town job as a quid pro quo for the attorneys free legal representation for a family member. Former Councilman Desso recused himself from voting on these matters before he was removed from the board by the courts. He did so because the other non resident attorney was representing him in his civil matter involving holding two elective offices. He saw the improper appearance created and recused himself. Councilman Spain should follow the example of Mr. Desso and recuse himself from making any appointment of an attorney who is providing free legal services to his brother.

Mr. Spain’s brother spoke at the public hearing and refused to state that he was paying the attorney representing him in Rensselaer City Court. He declined to provide a retainer agreement as well and declared that it was not anyone’s business what his attorney was doing for him.

Despite the fact that prior town boards made the same mistake in illegally hiring non residents in these posts, we should strive to appoint people who live here, pay taxes here and have a stake in North Greenbush. The friends Councilman Spain is trying to appoint to town jobs should only be considered if no qualified town residents are available. The town board meets February 11th at 7pm and may vote to appoint attorneys. The public is free to speak at that time.
Dan Ashley