Accuracy? Just a nuisance to Monroe town government.
If the last couple of years have taught residents of Monroe anything, one of those lessons has been that accuracy is lost on our government leaders, and that those minor details are lost on political officials who have an agenda that doesn’t include representing their constituents. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the oversights, gaffs, and outright mistakes that are a part of the daily routine in all levels of Monroe Town government.
Our recent article on the Monroe Theater represents one of the best case examples (see the original article here). Budget? Schmudget! So far no one has been able to explain where we’ve gotten all this influx of funds to pay to run a theater at a loss, plus continue to repay the bond principal and interest. And Peter Martin math hasn’t stopped his pompousness in those who’ve questioned the outright and obvious calculation mistakes.
So if the money wasn’t budgeted for the theater, how did it appear? “Reallocation”. Any Town Board meeting involves a series of budget line transfers to move money “From the A Fund to the B Fund” and vice-versa, or to swap budget between lines in order to cover off unplanned expenses. While these are bound to happen occasionally in municipal government — certain lines will exceed the planned costs of others — they’ve become regular occurrences in Monroe’s Town Board meetings where a long explanation is offered to simply confuse those in attendance. As a result, shifting hundreds of thousands of dollars between lines without oversight or much explanation is the rule rather than the exception.
But what happens in a true emergency?
The winter of 2015 is a great example of where the town had much less snow to be plowed, but more needs for road treatments (salt, calcium chloride) to ensure the safety of the streets for travel. But Heaven forbid that the Highway budget ever exceed the top-line estimates regardless of weather, since that is cause for Town Comptroller Peter Martin to take Highway Supervisor Anthony Rizzo out to the woodshed, a task better questioned by Town Supervisor Harley Doles himself versus a public dressing-down of the Highway Department head over his use of a budget that has been squeezed to pay for extraneous frills.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that Monroe has so many road plates and pot holes, since throwing Mr. Rizzo under the bus at least gives him a place to conveniently hide versus being run over.
And who could be so inept as our Town Comptroller to not see this as performing a dirty task for Harley Doles, a man who saw to Mr. Martin’s own ousting from the Town Board some time ago? Scruples? Ethics? Both qualities seem to be lost on our government.
But wait, there’s more.
This extends beyond just the Town Board. We live in Monroe where it’s not only perfectly acceptable to remove people on committees to fill the vacancies with cronies. It’s elevated to an art and becomes the accepted practice. Enter newly appointed Planning Board Acting Chair, Elisa Tutini. If that name sounds familiar, it should. Tutini was the Democratic candidate for State Assembly in the district covering Monroe and a cross section of southern Orange County. She lost marginally to Karl Brabanec after an extended vote count, but during the campaign she failed to address her qualifications to hold public office. This was a behavior she repeated when she was placed on the town’s Planning Board, so instead of correcting this on the open-record, she added them to the minutes off-the-record and asked that they be passed when her background and qualifications were never discussed.
But don’t take our word for it. Let’s roll the video tape.
- “Accuracy of statement is one of the first elements of truth; inaccuracy is a near kin to falsehood.” – Tryon Edwards
Just another event in beautifully corrupt Monroe, isn’t it? So what exactly IS Elisa Tutini’s qualification to serve on a Planning Board? Does she have experience in such a setting? Has she worked for a firm that has done land planning and zoning? The answer to most of those questions is either “no” or it’s unknown. All we know about Ms. Tutini is that she worked as a cable splicer for Verizon and is now a contractor hired to administer the Monroe Dial-a-Bus program. Oh, in full-disclosure, we should also state that Ms. Tutini is the girlfriend/domestic-partner of Town Councilman Dan Burke.
None of this suggests that Ms. Tutini is a particularly bad person. But the video presents her as not particularly competent, and rather reactionary to being challenged in her ‘authority’. Not the even-handed presence needed for committee or board leadership, but we come to expect unhinged personalities in Monroe.
After all, just look at what Councilmen Burke and McQuade handed out in Kiryas Joel prior to the last election. Another great example of the Harley Doles approach to ‘clean hands’ or ‘having others do your dirty laundry’, Why be surprised now? Accuracy? It’s just a nuisance to the story our town officials want to present to the public in their continued distortions. Let’s cite a few other choice quotes for the record:
- “Don’t listen to us, we’re criminals.” – Dan Burke, July 7th, 2014.
- “United Monroe is the anti-Semitic, anti-KJ party”. – Gerard McQuade, stated after Blanca Johnson lost her council challenge to United Monroe-endorsed candidate, Dennis McWatters. (Note that McWatters received approximately 1,800 votes from citizens within the village of Kiryas Joel).
- “The Monroe Theater will show first-run, blockbuster movies.” Harley Doles, prior to the selection of Downing Film Center to procure films for the Monroe Theater (Note: Downing’s film selections are mostly independent and foreign films of limited distribution).
All accurate quotes. All available for viewing on video via the United Monroe YouTube page where full videos of town board meetings are maintained.
- “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.” – George Bernard Shaw
But it isn’t just your town.
And it doesn’t just stop at the town level. Far from it. A look toward Goshen will find that the County has also tried to occlude the truth from view. And chief among the violators is County Executive Steven Neuhaus, who appears ready to say or do anything to get votes or coddle the bloc vote of Kiryas Joel.
A video recently discovered shows Mr. Neuhaus’ Official Facebook Page, and how within a period of three (3) hours it went from 1,000 ‘Likes’ to more than 2,500. While that sort of momentum seems reasonable for a national political celebrity, a la Hillary Clinton, the meteoric growth for Neuhaus lacks credibility. We’ll share more about this in coming weeks, but for now, let’s roll the video tape.
Care to know how your County has also been spending value time and money? By using the County Attorney’s office to block a civil rights action that would permit open voting inspections in the Village of Kiryas Joel. Voting irregularities were observed in the 2013 elections, most of those taking place in Kiryas Joel. As a pre-emptive measure, 9 individuals requested assignment to KJ voting districts and were blocked. Those 9 brought suit against the County and the Board of Elections (OCBOE), and the hot potato game was on. The Board of Elections quickly tossed the potato to the County Attorney’s office, headed by Langdon Chapman (coincidentally, the former Town of Monroe attorney and Independence Party broker), who quickly tossed it over to the County Executive. Neuhaus wouldn’t answer questions, time and again, throwing the hot potato back in the hands of the OCBOE until a formal suit was filed to gain an injunction for 6 of the nine to serve as poll inspectors in KJ for the 2014 elections. The civil rights action continues to present, and the County Attorney continues to file to quash the case and protect their interests in the KJ bloc vote.
And what of Neuhaus’ grandstanding on the issue of KJ Annexation and requiring an “independent review by the county”? He’s already taken action to ensure that KJ gets the necessary sewer capacity by initiating a study of capacity in Sewer District #1. He’s also gathered his top county officials for a public forum in Central Valley on April 16th, a time at which he will probably talk about how the process needs to be thoroughly vetted but not specifically speak against it. Neither, do we expect, will his officials in attendance.
So is there accuracy in our government?
The questions you’ll probably want to ask are whether there are both accuracy and transparency. In both cases, we believe there are not. And the mantra of the day/week/month/year appears to be “ensuring your own political survival by appealing to the KJ Bloc vote”. We realize that the prospect of one organized voting bloc is a powerful force, and can bring significant influence to bear upon the political process. However, as we are beginning to see in the expansion of that bloc and the prospect of it overwhelming an already strapped town and county budget, the citizens of the Lower Hudson Valley need to stand in opposition to that influence, not because they dislike the citizens of KJ, but because their own interests are not being fairly represented.
Fairly or accurately.
- “Fact is fine, but accuracy is everything.” – Wyatt Earp.