What is highway superintendent hiding?
I write this letter concerning a disturbing trend by one of our elected officials in the town of Saugerties, the current Highway Superintendent Mr. Myer. Mr. Myer has embraced a position of indifference and dismissiveness to his duties under the law.
As we are all aware, Mr. Myer is running for reelection for the position that he currently holds that of town of Saugerties highway superintendent. He and his supporters have based much of his reelection on the fact that Mr. Myer has been fiscally responsible and in Mr. Myer own words, “I think the taxpayers would rather have me in the office managing the budget rather than on the road.” That is his prerogative as an independently elected official, and a personal management style. However it should be noted that this is a management style that former highway superintendents did not practice as a normal course of business.
Since Mr. Myer has based his campaign on “fiscal numbers,” a series of freedom of information requests have been submitted requesting copies of public documents that would provide taxpayers with information that can be reviewed outside of political statements by a candidate. This is the exact reason that the freedom of information law (FOIL) was enacted and an important part of the public officers law. Most importantly, this is a critical part of the checks and balances that voters/taxpayers have over our hired help. Additionally, these are laws that Mr. Myer in his oath of office swore to uphold. Perhaps he would take a moment while in his office managing his department to review what is required of him by reading the public officers law. As many a taxpayer has learned, politicians will say just about anything to get reelected. Now I make no claim that anything is incorrect or incomplete with the numbers that candidate Myer puts forward in his campaign, but would rather make that determination outside of his public political statements.
As of this letter, Mr. Myer has refused to make any copies of paperwork in regards to FOIL request. He has sidestepped the town clerk who is responsible as an information depository and FOIL officer, and given the request to one of the town’s attorneys in an attempt to slow up or stop the transfer of information. This is predicated on his personal belief that all of this is a waste of time, and he has made this feeling known to other elected officials in the town. This section of the law which he feels is a waste of time was enacted not to burden the elected official, but to make them accountable to the voters/taxpayers.
I was hoping that this effort to retrieve public documents would not have to have gone down this road. It is bothersome and annoying when the “hired help” decides that they need not be accountable. So now I must ask, and my apologies to the reader for using a cliché, “What are you hiding Mr. Myer?”
Steven J. Guerin
Aiello unfairly targeted
I am responding to the column and the article that was written by veteran columnist Hugh Reynolds in the Saugerties Times last week. I was very surprised to see that in this edition Mr. Reynolds had not only one article but two regarding the hours submitted by legislators under state law for pension purposes. This mandatory reporting of hours is dictated from the state, not some group of Ulster County legislators that want to claim more time than deserved for their part-time positions as elected officials.
In his political column Hugh seems to forget that there are more legislators than Bob Aiello representing the constituents of Saugerties. He has repeatedly targeted Bob Aiello in his columns if not for one thing than another. Hugh never seems to run out of ideas to slam dunk Bob when he can. The example that Hugh used was in a mock conversation Bob was having with a constituent where the word “ka-ching” was used. When used in this context the word “ka-ching,” which is slang, gives the impression that someone is doing a deed solely for the money.
Anyone who knows Bob Aiello knows that he does not take his legislative duties to a personal level just for his own reward. Last week, Bob met with a constituent that has extreme concerns over the smart meters that are being installed in Saugerties for both water and gas and electric. She called Bob and he met with her and her family and an investigator from New York City and ended up spending about three hours discussing concerns and possible outcomes for this upcoming situation. This should be of concern to all of us due to the potential health risks associated with such devices. Last year it was six months of meetings on Lyme disease that have gone absolutely no place.
Bob Aiello helps people because they need and ask for it. I know how much time he spends on emails and phone calls and time spent at various scheduled meetings. I have been married to him for 42 years.
Hugh, find another target in the future.
State must address Esopus turbidity
The Esopus Creek flows right through the village of Saugerties which is the heart of my legislative district. I have experienced firsthand the economic and environmental implications this “impaired waterway” has had on my community. Not only has this adversely affected fish, wildlife, and vegetation, it took a tremendous toll on the economy of Saugerties. Anglers cannot fish, tourists were turned off, and homeowners along the creek cannot sell their houses. I have watched the state’s progress in addressing this issue patiently and respectfully but I can no longer accept the continued disregard for my community and the residents that I serve.
On June 19, 2012, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) held a public hearing regarding the draft Consent Order which attempted to address the New York City DEP’s turbid releases into the lower Esopus Creek. No public communication has been received since then.
In January 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decreed the Lower Esopus Creek be classified as an “impaired” waterway and required the New York State DEC to take action to reduce the turbidity levels of the water. The following month, the DEC and the City DEP met with representatives from Lower Esopus Creek municipalities. Again, no communication to the general public on these required actions has been received to date.
I find the lack of communication to be unacceptable and I have requested a written update and/or status report from Commissioner Martens of the New York State DEC on the administrative process of the Consent Order as well as the EPA required action to reduce the turbidity. Recent news articles report the DEC is expected to release the Consent Order later this month.
A lawsuit may be the only way to ensure the rights of the Lower Esopus communities as was done for the Upper Esopus communities in 2001. I have been advised the completion of the administrative process is required prior to a lawsuit.
Ultimately, the constant delay and lack of communication with the public must stop in order for the impaired Esopus Creek and our communities to begin the process to heal.
Barringer doth protest too much
I read with great interest the letter written by Krista Barringer in the Times July 26. I was a member of the Saugerties Democratic Search Committee. The committee’s job was to conduct interviews of prospective candidates and to then make recommendations to the Saugerties Democratic Committee for its endorsement. Those names would then be entered into nomination at the caucus. Nominations would also be taken from the floor and those with the highest votes in contested races would be given the nomination and win the right to be on the Democratic line in the November election. Very fair; very democratic.
I was and still am a very strong supporter of Ray Mayone for highway superintendent. Ray did not win the endorsement of the Search Committee despite my efforts, but I did nominate him at the caucus and a fair vote was held. As a candidate you can’t ask for any more than that. Krista was afforded the same opportunity. She lost. Apparently she isn’t familiar with the old adage that “You win some, you lose some and some are rained out.” You don’t cry about it.
A prospective candidate’s motivation to hold office is as important to me as their experience and philosophy. In Marjorie Block I saw a woman who has, for years, been a foot soldier in getting jobs done that benefit the entire town. She has worked in the trenches, so to speak, to make real things happen through her countless hours of volunteer work on town and village committees. She is motivated by a very strong sense of community and the role of government to enrich that community.
In Krista, on the other hand, I saw a person who has spent a great deal of time working for government. Whether it be a political appointment to work for the County Legislature or working in the Office of John Bonacic. She is a student of the political game. Krista speaks in generalities of the role of government from a top-down perspective. My impression is that it is more about power and influence for her than principle. She wasn’t my choice.
There were no requirements made for nomination at the caucus by anyone and certainly not the Chairman. “The lady doth protest too much.”