OpEd: A Tale of Two Monroe Supervisors.
MONROE: In less than one month, Monroe has begun the process of unwinding the mismanagement that its residents have suffered for nearly a decade under Monroe Supervisors Harley Doles and Sandy Leonard before him.
This is not a small undertaking. The process of governing of Monroe has been a task kept out of the hands of true representative government, something that became very clear over three years ago with the purchase of the Monroe six-plex movie theater by the town, and the election of Harley Doles as supervisor by bloc voting and election mishandling.
Two years later and the landscape has changed.
Doles no longer has a lock on both voting factions of Kiryas Joel, and his remaining hold on the main voting faction – Anash – is tenuous at best. And the Town Board’s vote in favor of the KJ annexation created an even larger rift, if that was ever possible.
Fast forward through two years, and an election that overwhelmingly ousted a Doles crony — Councilman Dan Burke — shifted the balance of power back to the citizens of Monroe. Within just one month in office, the progress on restoring faith on town politics is astounding. So we thought it was appropriate to compare the records of the two Monroe Supervisors during their respective service to the town.
First, let’s examine the record of Acting Supervisor Tony Cardone in the first 25 days on the job.
Tony Cardone and the Current Town Board:
- Election of an Acting Supervisor in the absence of Harley Doles.
- Restoration of an active Ethics Board.
- Open selection of town residents to fill vital planning board vacancies.
- Moving town board meetings back to the Senior Center from the movie theater.
- Removal of the town attorney and filling of the vacancy with a qualified municipal attorney, along with a transparent process for fair selection of a new attorney.
- Greater representation by women on town committees.
- Review of security toward reducing the “gestapo” presence at town meetings.
- Institution of Public Comment at all Town Board meetings, and no editing or censuring the content or presenters.
- Agreement to sell the Chevy Tahoe that was purchased for Harley Doles two years ago.
- Agreement to begin a comprehensive audit of the town’s books and records, the first time since 2011 this has been even discussed.
- Major steps toward restoring public trust in Monroe government.
- A civil atmosphere at town board meetings, and healing of the divide created between several resident groups in Monroe.
- A Highway Department that was on top of the recent snow storm, and positive feedback from Monroe residents.
Harley Doles and the past two years.
- Created major divisions between residents of Monroe, including residents of both major Kiryas Joel voting factions.
- No action or appointments to an Ethics Board. In fact, no real action toward any Ethics Board.
- Appointment of political cronies and friends to fill planning board vacancies, including Lisa McQuade and Elisa Tutini.
- Creating more contention around the theater by moving all Board Meetings into Cinema Room 6 at the TMACC.
- Appointing an attorney with no municipal experience, and using that attorney to fight any dissension from residents by more than $2500 of consults on First Amendment rights and public comment.
- Representation by women limited to Kate Troiano, Elisa Tutini, and Lisa McQuade.
- Creating of a “public safety force” and “peace officers”, as well as establishing armed guards at meetings and creating the “gestapo” atmosphere.
- Censuring of public comment, limiting to specified meetings, and restriction of comments to “agenda items only”. Comments often stopped or ridiculed by Doles, Burke and McQuade.
- Purchase of the Chevy Tahoe in 2014 without specifying a reason for the vehicle.
- No auditing or financial transparency, and no explanations about the town’s accounting of funds. Especially, no accurate statements on the revenue or deficits of the theater, how those deficits were paid, or what was not funded to keep the theater operating who it lost money.
- Elimination of public trust in government. Any statements made to the Supervisor were deflected in another question, not answered, or responded with inaccurate propaganda (“FACT”).
- A contentious atmosphere in town meetings because the supervisor and board members conducted business in a manner that betrayed public trust. Often, meetings ran until after midnight when actions were voted on and most citizens had left. (See the Dan Burke video on “Training Puppies”).
- A Highway Department that was always at odds with the Town Comptroller, the Town Supervisor, and most people in the town on how it operated.
The “Harley Doles Sick-Out”
Since December 22nd, Harley Doles has been on a “medical leave”, reportedly unable to conduct town business according to reports in the Times Herald-Record and The Photo News. As a result, the town has had to appoint an “Acting Supervisor” to act on the town government’s responsibilities in the self-imposed absence of Mr. Doles. Tony Cardone was elected as that Acting Supervisor on January 4th by a unanimous vote of the remaining board. Since that time, the progress in unwinding the damage done by Doles’ poor decisions and incompetence has been remarkable, and Councilmen Cardone, McGinn, and Colon rightly deserve that credit.
But the question that Mr. Doles will not answer is whether he is or is not working as Supervisor. When it suits him, he claims that he is. When it doesn’t, he’s unavailable. He has gone on record asserting that he cannot perform any “sustained activity”, although examples he’s given include his appearance at the town’s theater to greet a group of the disabled (no information is available about the name of the group) and driving to and from an attorney to discuss the KJ Annexation Case.
In other words, Harley himself has decided what is and is not sustained activity. He’s chosen to cherry-pick what work he does. And one of his recent choices was to create more conflict with his fellow town board colleagues on how to govern, asserting that he is still in charge but performing none of the obligations.
Leave it to Harley Doles to create divisions and rifts between people without directly addressing the underlying facts. In one example, the facts included ridicule on the Acting Supervisor for signing checks prior to being out of town during payroll processing. Never once did Mr. Doles examine (a) why is payroll processed in such a manner that manual signatures are required for payroll, and (b) the underlying reasons for someone else signing checks: Namely, that Mr. Doles had chosen not to do so based on his cherry-picking of work.
Never willing to leave things alone, Harley decided to inflict more damage to the town. When the board requested an explanation on “what duties Harley Doles could perform with his current medical condition”, Doles sent a rambling note to the members of the board, and copied the local media, insisting that he would fight the unfair questioning that was designed, according to one source, to “fire (him)”.
A Tale of Two Monroe Supervisors
So it seems we have two (2) Monroe Supervisors. One that is collecting a $64,000/year paycheck and decides arbitrarily what work he wants to perform — whatever suits him — and another who is only receiving his normal councilman stipend of $17,000 and performing his normal job, plus anything that Harley Doles didn’t feel like doing. One is repairing all of the damage done during the previous two years of office of the elected supervisor, and the other insisting that he’ll eventually return to act against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Monroe residents who simply would wish him out of office.
One who is gradually restoring the Monroe that we knew, that we love, and in whose government we want to trust. The other perfectly willing to create even more drama and make himself look like an incompetent and arrogant buffoon, and who simply will insist that his purpose is to destroy the character and fabric of this town.
One who is acting in the best interests of Monroe. The other acting in the best interests of a handful of leaders in Kiryas Joel who are losing confidence in his abilities. Frankly, most of Monroe has already lost confidence.
One who is accountable to the citizens of the town. The other accountable only to himself and his KJ Puppet Masters. One who has credibility. The other who lacks any credibility with anyone.
We don’t need two Monroe Supervisors, though it’s perhaps a blessing that we have one Acting Supervisor who is a very competent manager. Monroe would be best served by “the other” stepping aside if he truly cares about the community as much as he professes. The one who should step aside is Harley Doles, and it’s clear that this election has turned him into a lame duck.
The true bottom-line is that Doles hasn’t returned to work because he knows that he no longer has the support of a majority on the town board, and will no longer be effective in any vote. As a result, he’s taken his marbles and left, deciding not to be an adult and face the same adversity to which he has subjected the rest of the town’s citizens over the past several years. It’s time that Doles act as a responsible and rational adult and face that adversity. Knowing that he won’t, however, it’s time for something more drastic.
It’s time to resign, Harley Doles.
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