How is it that we allowed our town officials to replace our retiring receiver of taxes without holding interviews and looking for the best candidate? They merely selected a friend and also a relative of town board member Leanne Thornton. Handpicked is another way to say just another backroom deal that did not deserve an open-government agenda.
It is now our choice to show them they did not pick the most qualified person available. Don’t support these backroom deals, don’t allow them to service their own family members. Make the right choice for them.
The big top
Since I was unable to attend the last town board meeting, I watched it on cable TV, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
It reminded me of the big top circus, with ringmaster/dictator Kelly Myers walking back and forth, microphone in hand, rambling on and pointing her finger to stacks of files on the table — and just generally grandstanding. The only thing missing was a big red nose and clown shoes. Her behavior was unbelievable. She was argumentative and disrespectful to other board members.
Then she attempted to introduce a motion to remove Mary Lou Dengler from employment.
I have known Mary Lou Dengler both personally and professionally for more than 25-years, having worked side-by-side with her in the police department. Mary Lou has dedicated many years of her life to working for the town of Saugerties and has proven herself to be one of its most dedicated, honest, sincere, polite and respectful employees. In fact, Mary Lou Dengler is one of the kindest, nicest persons I have ever met and she routinely goes out of her way to help others.
How dare Kelly Myers even think of removing Mary Lou Dengler from her employment and deny her legal right to due process? How dare Kelly Myers have the gall to put herself in for a $15,000 raise?
Can you believe the audacity of this woman! People are losing their homes, people have lost their jobs, gasoline is more than four dollars per gallon, and she wants a $15,000 raise! Instead of giving herself that $15,000 raise, perhaps that is what should be deducted from her current salary and returned to the town in repayment for her incompetence.
Shame on you, Kelly Myers. You’ve proven to be an embarrassment to this town and the political parties that backed you.
No doubt in my mind
On this election day we certainly will have some tough decisions to make. Luckily, there is one one name on our local ballot that requires no second thoughts. Suzi Filak is the obvious choice for receiver of taxes. A lifelong resident of Saugerties and tax office employee since 2006, Suzi is endorsed by both the Democratic and the Conservative parties as well as the former receiver of taxes, Peggy Nau.
Since her unanimous appointment by the town board in June to succeed Mrs. Nau as receiver of taxes, Suzi has already made cuts to her 2013 budget. I have long admired Suzi’s energy and commitment to the Saugerties community. From her past roles as PTA and PTSA president to her tireless efforts and volunteer work with the Saugerties Little League, Suzi has exemplified dedication to our small town.
There is no doubt in my mind. Our support is best placed in her as we enter the polls this November.
The only way to go
I have known Cheryl DeForest all of my life. She is a dedicated and hardworking individual who will provide superior service to our residents when elected. Cheryl DeForest has the most experience and highest education that makes her the right choice to be your next receiver of taxes. She will also be orienting in the town of Plattekill in order to provide for a seamless transition.
Let’s move forward, not backward.
Tempering one’s biases
Much is being made of the attorney-versus-citizen issue in the Saugerties town justice race. The issue has been thoroughly dismantled by other writers. Mr. Gilligan, the Republican Party nominee, still insists that it is his experience as a lawyer that sets him apart from his worthy opponent, Claudia Andreassen. Notwithstanding that New York has a rich tradition of citizen judges, Mr. Gilligan must understand that with the positives come the negatives.
Arguably, the main attribute of a good judge is fairness. But fairness is always tempered by one’s biases, whether conscious or unconscious. We all strive to limit our biases in our daily lives, and lawyers, of course, are no different. The legal profession, by its very nature, owes its survival to the client’s ability to pay and the deep pockets of those being sued.
Lawyers often hold allegiances to the profession and to one another, and their networking is confined to the exclusive club of lawyers and judges. These biases often manifest as courtesies and favors which transcend individual cases and courts. For Mr. Gilligan to be a fair, and therefore an effective town justice, he would need to keep these biases under control..
I come now to the experience of the probation officer, a profession that truly lends itself to the next level of public service. To disclose my own bias: I was a probation officer from 1984 to 1989 in Delaware and Ulster counties, and it was during that time that I first met Claudia. Not to appear self-serving, but I truly believe that probation officers are the unsung heroes of our justice system. The probation officer is trained for and strives to maintain the delicate balance between the rehabilitation of the offender and the safety of the public.
I have seen Claudia advocate for probationers trying to improve their lives, and I have seen her recommend state prison for those who fail to participate in their own rehabilitation. The process is incumbent upon communication with the courts. Probation officers work hand-in-hand with judges, clerks, victims, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, social workers, families, schools and employers. Contrary to the lawyer’s narrow and cloistered club of legal professionals, the probation officer maintains a vast network of contacts and resources, and with it built-in cost-effectiveness. And let us not forget that probation officers are peace officers, putting their lives on the line every day.
For town justice, I’ll take a probation officer, please!
I am sure Mr. Gilligan is a fine and decent man, but If attorney is his best attribute, it falls short to the experiences of Claudia Andreassen. In addition to her career as a probation officer, she married a good man, raised a good family, and unceasingly gave herself back to the community. The qualities I admired in 1989, like honesty, integrity, and, to those of you who know her, that way she looks you in the eye, dissects your arguments, then gives you a strong dose of common sense, are the same qualities that will make her a respected town justice. I wholeheartedly urge you to vote for Claudia Andreassen.
Timothy J. Trossen