Posted by: Dawn Powell | January 8, 2013

Putnam Valley Town Board – December 2012

Closing out 2012.  Putnam Valley Town Board.

Bob didn’t bother.  Jackie ran the meetings, irregular and not.  She knows how to announce an executive session, something Bob-O hasn’t figured out.  There were 2 Town Board meetings in December, the irregular one and the regular one, and an oddly scheduled public hearing, two days after Christmas.

As far as the litigation for the backroom meeting and the Cornus, the Town seems to use the term litigation a bit loosely.  The term seems to imply actual litigation.  There hasn’t been any sign of that, or any public authorization.  They do take liberties.

And speaking of taking liberties, they spent $3604 on Christmas decorations, plus another $554 for a Christmas wreath.  Wasn’t there something about separation of church and state?  They took the money from the general fund, since it was such an important emergency expenditure.

And they did their usual Christian celebration at the Lake Peekskill community center….   Christmas is my holiday, but I really don’t want my town government involved in that.  The community center is owned by the Lake Peekskill district, but a group of Christians from out of the district commandeer the tax supported center to celebrate their holiday.  No regard for the rest of us. Lake Peekskill, you just got your tax bill.  You are paying for that.

And they brought Christmas to the Town Park too, at taxpayer expense.  Everyone just got their tax bill, tax cap overridden.  There are some things I do not need from government.

I have to make a correction.  I thought that Bob-O and Bill Zutt had failed to negotiate a contract for 2 years, but that the contract had expired a year ago.  They have failed for longer.  The highway guys have been without a contract for 2 years.  Bob-O and BZ got to tell their story.  Something seems fishy.  The public hearing was held on the Thursday after Christmas.  It wasn’t scheduled for the public to show.  The attorney for the union had said she wouldn’t be there.  Louie said that the highway guys had just pulled a 32 hour shift, something that should never happen.  There has been arbitration and a fact finder, all to no avail.  One of Bob-O’s sticking points has been that the guys have the day off after working a 16 hour shift, and he thinks that if they go home at noon, after working 16 hours straight, they should come in the next day.  I don’t imagine that he has ever worked a 16 hour shift, especially hard work.

Anyway, they are no closer to a contract, and BZ says that they can adopt the last contract for a year (that would be for 2011), and Bob-O says that that’s no raise? Then the process is supposed to start again for 2012 and 2013.  But BZ doesn’t want to do it that way, so he is asking the board to pass a resolution to accept the last contract for 2 years.  Again, with no raise?  The whole thing doesn’t sound right but it was all Bill’s explanation and solution.  Weird stuff.

A strike for the next snow fall?  More litigation?  Bob-O and BZ do like their litigation.  They went into an executive session at the beginning of the public hearing (is that like a “regular” Meeting?) to discuss the Triborough Amendment.

There are 25 employees affected.  That is enough to seriously affect the next budget, since any changes have not been budgeted for 2011, 2012, and 2013.  There was a NYS Public Relations Board mediator back in Sept. of 2011.  A fact finder was appointed in May of 2012.  Perhaps her formal written decision of December 26, 2012 will give us more information.  They are at an impasse despite her recommendations.

Bob-O thinks that because he praises the highway employees in public, he doesn’t have to actually negotiate a contract.

Perhaps there are necessary changes, and perhaps we need to renegotiate for a different economic climate, but that does not appear to be happening.

 

At the regular meeting, after the announcements, Jackie said, “Don’t change that channel.”  It was funny.

Sam-O reported on the county budget, yup, you just got that bill too.  County Exec Mary Ellen Odell had put 13 new positions in her budget.  Ya gotta love these small government Republicans.  Only 4 of those positions were approved by the legislature.  Was one of those Vinnie Tamagna’s new job as something of transportation?  Since he is term limited as a legislator, they are giving him a new $75K job with the county.  Why hasn’t the legislature been working on that stuff for the last thousand years, or at least 20?

And while we are talking about it, why is former Governor Pataki’s wife taking a salary of $69K from the taxpayers?  Couldn’t that salary go to someone who needs a job?  Isn’t  there anyone in Putnam County who needs a job?

And while we are talking about jobs, how about a fair and decent and open hiring process for the towns and county?  Was former legislator Tamagna the best person for that job, if the job was needed?  Or was this merely a patronage job created for a political friend?  What are his qualifications?  The Cold Spring trolley?  How much does that cost, and how many people use it?  Why wasn’t the position advertised?  Why weren’t resumes sought, and interviews held?  Putnam Valley’s Town Board just hired someone for the highway department.  They didn’t even announce his name at the meeting.  Where was the announcement of that job?  Jobs are filled before anyone knows they exist.  It’s just not right.

So the County budget was passed at a 1.38% increase, with the transportation cuts restored.  Those cuts would have been very difficult.  The County legislators at least stayed within the cap.

Sam O and Sheriff Smith both support armed presences at all the schools.  We have one deputy now.  I’m not convinced.  I really want children to be safe, but there was an armed presence at Columbine and at Virginia Tech.  It didn’t prevent those tragedies.

It is time to change our thinking about guns.

Jackie read a letter from Marie Zarcone at the beginning of one of the meetings.  I didn’t understand the point.  Marie likes Steve MacKay and the highway guys.

There is an important public hearing tomorrow night at 6PM.  Because it was scheduled just before the holidays, and it is too close to everyone’s return from holiday stuff, it won’t get the attention that it deserves.  It is about a new law on flood prevention to replace the existing one.  Bill Zutt just took the state’s model law.  There really needs to be some comparison and feedback from anyone who has been involved with flooding problems in the town.  We have plenty of them, and recently, it has become clear that we need to deal with them differently.

Wendy suggested that residents be notified if they are in a flood zone.  She was told that the flood maps would be on file.  I think she is right.  Flood mapping is of enough significance that residents deserve individual notice of their designation.  I know that costs money, but I think it is a much more important public expense than some of what the TB does.

The Town Hall roof and interior damage from Hurricane Sandy will cost $12,600.

Happy New Year!  I hope your holidays were peaceful, and that 2013 will bring wonderful things.

 

Adopt cats.  Buy bagels.  Save sea turtles.

DP

 

 


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