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McWatters Waffles on Monroe Council Bid

Dennis McWatters

McWatters Waffles on Monroe Council Bid

It seems a while since our last commentary (see our 6/2/15 ICYMI column), but it’s not been due to a lack of topic matter. Anyone who attended the Public Comment session for the Kiryas Joel Annexation Draft Generic Environmental Impact Study (DGEIS) on the 10th will attest to that fact.

But there’s been more occupying our minds. In short, there is much to consider and the next few commentaries will focus on those points. Today: Dennis McWatters.

Politics & Corruption

Dennis McWattersWhile this may seem a swipe at United Monroe, it’s really more a statement on politics and how it corrupts those who are weak and lack conviction. The Town of Monroe took a stand and supported someone not backed by the main Kiryas Joel voting faction. Even this website backed Mr. McWatters’ candidacy based on his background and experience with the town. It was a decision that now seems the lesser of two evils, though not by much.

Since taking office, the faith and promise that we had in someone that represented the interests of those other than Kiryas Joel’s theocracy quickly vanished as we witnessed position after position quickly meld into consensus with the rest of the town board. While McWatters campaigned on a platform of financial accountability and open-meetings law, his record on those points has been unremarkable.

Instead of voting to oppose expenditures to the theater based on the lack of a sound fiscal plan, he went along with the town board to cast a unanimous vote in favor of spending taxpayer money without due diligence, then lamented that he “made a mistake”.

Mistake?

Hardly. It’s pretty easy to state your convictions on having accountability for the taxpayers, and much more difficult to follow through. And even after seeing the very flawed financial plan for the theater, McWatters — who works for an accounting firm and has some financial background — again went along with the bogus numbers and voted to continue down a path that will cost taxpayers around $500,000 in subsidized losses.

But when it came time to demand accountability, he sure made a point of doing so at the expense of having safe roads during one of the iciest winters on record: He complained about the overage spent on salt to treat Monroe’s roads in the face of a 30% price increase and the need for more salt due to a winter filled with more ice than snow. McWatters played directly to the cameras as the “tough fiscal champion”, although he looked more like an angry old man in the process.

The message:

McWatters supports Harley Doles’ theater and its losses, at the expense of the road safety, and he’s supporting the Harley Doles agenda that threatens to bankrupt Monroe with irresponsible spending.

His voting record?

When given the chance to question the finances of the town, and the diversion of funds across accounts by our town comptroller to cover losses on the theater and swan boats, McWatters has been lazy. No challenges. No questions. Not even a review of the financials. That’s something even Board Member Ric Colon routinely questions as a majority member of the board.

Granted, McWatters took a role for which he’d serve for only a year before re-election. His lack of follow-through on the trust from his election prompted United Monroe to discuss who they would support for the 2015 campaign, and according to Chairperson Emily Convers’ public statements, McWatters even offered to step aside if the committee desired that. When United Monroe accepted that offer, McWatters didn’t step aside, but decided instead to seek the Republican line on the ballot, a nomination controlled largely by Kiryas Joel. After he received it, and noted the public reaction to his change of heart, he issued a withdrawal from the ballot. That, too, would prove short lived as he once again rescinded his prior withdrawal from nomination.

Indecisive much?

Who does he represent?

But it was his reason for reconsidering that proved a slap in face to all of those who supported him: After watching the Kiryas Joel DGEIS session, he decided that he needed to represent ALL of the people of Monroe and was ashamed of the stance taken by those who did not support the KJ Annexation. Oddly enough, the promise he made when he was elected in 2014 was to — you guessed it — represent ALL of the people of Monroe.

ALL of the people of Monroe? Or just ALL of the people who will keep him in office?

Staying in office appears to be the only motivation for McWatters, regardless of how. To all of those who campaigned for him to represent the majority of Monroe, and to now be a representative of the nominating committee of KJ constituents while turning his back on those previous supporters is simply spitting in the eyes of that majority who supported him. It’s sour grapes for not following through and turning his back on his supporters.

It’s also disgraceful and shameful.

The Bottom-Line:

We can only hope that McWatters has yet another change of heart and drops out for the benefit of the entire town, not just those politically connected in Kiryas Joel government. Perhaps he will, since he’s shown his indecisiveness before, and it’s that lack of conviction that hurts him as someone who could help steer the direction of the town rather than letting it run adrift without asking the right questions.

And this website hopes that the United Monroe decision to endorse Tony Cardone and Mike McGinn represents the right direction for our community, and especially for EVERYONE in our community, and that means listening and weighing the interests of those both north and south of the Quickway, and ensuring that the interests of one do not infringe the rights of another.

We wonder if $17,000 a year — the standard stipend for serving as on Town Council — is worth Mr. McWatters selling out the interests of those outside Kiryas Joel purely for the benefit of a few, or purely for his political ambition.

Or if something more was on offer.

Responsible replies invited.

Managing Editor