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Harley Doles: His theater fundraising lies exposed.

United Monroe

Harley Doles: His theater fundraising lies exposed.

In our previous coverage of Harley Doles and his theater fundraising efforts, we presented the emails showing that his supposed charity efforts were nothing more than a way to exploit Monroe-Woodbury students to sell tickets for TMACC/The Monroe Theater.

This afternoon, we finally heard the other shoe drop on this story. That shoe? The official written response from Elsie Rodriguez, the Superintendent of the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District. That response was posted on the district’s website.

Theater fundraising

The response to the Monroe theater fundraising effort from Monroe-Woodbury School Superintendent, Elsie Rodriguez. Click to enlarge.

Superintendent Rodriguez diplomatically distanced herself and the school district from any involvement or sanctioning of Harley Doles’ attempt to save his theater. She also alluded to potential legal issues involved in Doles’ actions. Rodriguez put the nail in the theater fundraising effort on three specific counts:

  • Lack of prior approval. Perhaps Doles was ready to ask forgiveness rather than permission, but Harley Doles’ previous track record has never been to ask for either permission or forgiveness. He only deflects blame away from his own irresponsible and potentially illegal actions.
  • Using students to sell tickets…for an indefinite period. This is very different than the school fundraising for a specific purpose for a finite period, say for sports team equipment or to offset travel expenses. In this case, Harley Doles is subcontracting students to sell tickets, an effort that immediately benefits the theater. Whether the theater fundraising actually results in a donation to a school prom remains unknown.
  • Receipt of a gift of impermissible public funds. Guidance from the New York State comptroller indicates that such gifts must be within a local law that isn’t contrary to any other law.

The second bullet suggests that Harley Doles should have sought the advice of someone familiar with employment law, since the town would be indirectly using students as employees. It’s little surprise that Doles isn’t doing this, given his track record on municipal hiring around the outskirts of labor and civil employment controls. His use of friends and relatives, as well as the use of contractors to subvert civil service requirements, show his contempt for legal compliance.

Legal troubles?

theater fundraisingMore troubling is the third bullet, which suggests that someone else either isn’t providing the right guidance or is derelict in his own duties, neither of which are surprising.

That person? The town’s attorney, Michael Donnelly.

From what we can see, Mr. Donnelly is either not consulted on key legal decisions, or his counsel is potentially inept. We may not know those answers unless he explains his actions with respect to the town. However, under his his guidance, Harley Doles has continued behaviors that don’t always comply with New York Open Meetings Laws. He also continues to openly harass individual citizens at Town Board meetings. Nonetheless, those are issues for a future article.

Had the town attorney been both competent and consulted, he might have recognized the issues involved in using students to promote the sale of theater tickets as part of a theater fundraising effort. Doing this with students, had it been successful, might have exposed the town to child labor violations. A qualified attorney should have foreseen this and provided legal guidance on the issue. This is where we believe Mr. Donnelly is not acting in the best interest of the community, and possibly failed in his assigned responsibilities with the town.

What’s next?

Now that the theater fundraising effort has been exposed as a misrepresentation — or outright lie, perhaps — Harley Doles has some explaining to do to Monroe residents. Moreover, the State Comptroller might have some concerns over the town’s accounting. The sooner that happens, the better this might turn out for Monroe taxpayers.

The sort of theater fundraising that Harley Doles should be doing for the Monroe theater? Finding a private buyer who will restore the theater to the tax rolls, and stop the massive losses under town ownership. Only someone as deluded as Harley Doles would consider something that loses thousands of dollars of tax money each week to be “successful”.

Managing Editor