ICYMI: The November Month in Review in Monroe.
If you seriously slept through the past month in Monroe, you’re sleeping very soundly. November in the Lower Hudson Valley represented the month that would not go quietly, when those exposed to the most corruption finally stood up and spoke up. And we remember this past week as the third anniversary of the event that began it all: The town’s purchase of the movie theater. Now for the Month in Review.
Month in Review: Election Day
In case you missed it…let’s begin with the Town Board election. It was no surprise that the people of Monroe were fed-up with the politics of the Monroe Town Board, and they made those voices heard at the ballot box. Republican & United Monroe candidates Mike McGinn and Tony Cardone won their bids over incumbent Dan Burke. While expected, the big surprise was the vote margin: 2:1 against Burke, who received all but a few of his votes from the Kiryas Joel voting precincts. More surprising? Burke did not carry all of KJ, and the margin of voting by the dissident faction of Kiryas Joel once again broke away from the main voting faction, helping to deliver a landslide victory against the incumbents. And that group — the KJ Alliance — delivered another 700 votes compared to the 2014 elections.
This was not the news that Supervisor Harley Doles wanted to hear.
January 1 will mark a change in the demographics of the town board with the advent of two new elected candidates, two entrenched councilmen with ties to the main Kiryas Joel voting bloc, and a potential swing vote in Democrat Ric Colon, who Harley Doles has made a special effort to alienate for the past two years. Let’s hope Colon is smart enough to recognize that.
Month in Review: The countdown begins
The prospect of a new board, and the potential of Doles and Gerard McQuade being a minority, meant that Doles entered damage control mode, moving to make as many sweeping changes during the next 2 months of Dan Burke’s lame-duck tenure.
First on the docket: Hire a new driver for Dial-a-Bus. And after deliberation, the town found a potential driver and put him through “screening”. Apparently, that was a literal term as a lot slipped through the screen, including the past history of the driver in question. We can vouch that he can drive, or at least has driven. Unfortunately, so can his mother-in-law, someone whom this individual ran over in 2007 after a New Years party turned ugly.
A Google search revealed this information quickly. It makes the screening process for employees in Monroe seem very suspect.
Next up was “Local Law #2”. Aptly named, that’s exactly what the law was designated to address: Canine waste. Dog Control Officer Edwin Diaz would have been the local enforcer, or the #1 in charge of your dog’s #2. Fortunately, someone actually put some thought and background into this law, but neglected to give the same definition to the next law:
Harley Doles: Real Estate Mogul.
For months, there has been speculation that the town would engage in a transaction to assume the ownership of the Temple Eitz Chaim on Orange Turnpike. The town announced that it would enter into a lease for the property for two (2) years at $100,000 per year. There is an option to purchase afterward for $2.8 million, which may be greater than market value. The town has yet to address many questions about the original town hall, which Doles has deemed as “inadequate”. And while the town insists that insurance has paid to remove the mold, there is no further information on what the town will do with the property, though it seems unlikely it wants to reoccupy it.
Why do that when Harley Doles can have a nearly new toy to play with?
The Harley Doles Gestapo.
The next up on the docket was the prospect of a local law to hire constables, directly accountable only to the Town Supervisor, and permitted to make arrests and remove attendees from Town Board meetings. At least in addition to any other duties which Harley Doles might assign.
The text of the law consisted on perhaps 2 paragraphs, and nearly no governance. While this website has known for some time that the Monroe Supervisor has wanted his own police force, this was the first visible sign of that becoming reality. If you thought the town was angry at the polling booths, they were especially livid about the attempt by Harley Doles to assemble his own personal “Gestapo“. “Constables” would have been appointed without clear criteria beside age and “good moral turpitude”.
Our question, among others, is whether Harley Doles is the deciding vote on their moral compass.
Election revenge and Zoning Laws
With less than two months with a friendly town board, Doles also saw an opportunity to make wholesale changes in town zoning. Those changes would have eliminated the option of building a “grandmother” apartment on your property, and would also have changed the code so that “hotels” could be built on any 3 acre property within the town.
Yes. Hotels. Of course, much like the Harley Doles Gestapo Law, there isn’t much definition around what qualifies as a hotel, or whether it might be a more permanent residence. It’s actually an end-run attempt around the annexation legal actions, permitting the development of the existing land within the 507 acre annexation area near Kiryas Joel. And it was a rush to change the law that most understood to be a way of Doles trying to exact revenge on the KJ Alliance for not supporting Dan Burke while changing the laws to benefit land speculation.
But it was the way that Doles chose to introduce it that created more controversy, since he used a photo of a multi-family property that had been approved by the Zoning Board under the direction of — wait for it — Harley Doles himself. And had it not been for the next shoe to drop, it might have slipped through.
Dan Burke’s damage control.
At a recent Town Board meeting, the entire meeting was posted in video form to the town’s transparency portal. It gave new meaning to transparency, and lent exceptional insight to the Town Board of Monroe’s attitude toward its own constituents. With the cameras still running, every word was captured, including the post-meeting banter by the councilmen.
Harley Doles began the dialogue by identifying a resident as a “dead woman walking”, and noted that the picture shown of the multi-family dwelling was “worth a thousand words”. It didn’t stop there.
Dan Burke provided us with what he felt might be a taste of his post-political career, in a series of comments he later described to News12 as “Dan Burke doing stand-up“. The video snippets captured luridly describe the board’s very overt attempts to run meetings past midnight in an effort to get people to leave so they can “do whatever (they) want”.
But Mr. Doles is correct on one point: If a picture is worth a thousand words, this video is priceless.
(Video courtesy Youtube / United Monroe)
Dan Burke’s attempt at the obvious damage control lacked two key aspects:
- Any damage control.
- An apology.
The behavior by the board, minus Mr. Colon, was nothing short of distasteful on all counts. But let’s remember that “Puppy Dan” is old hat at making really poor decisions. Earlier in the month, and as a response to the no-confidence vote by the Monroe Democratic Committee, Dan raised an objection to the Orange County Democratic Committee over the retracted endorsement, resulting in a scathing rebuke by Monroe Democratic Chairman, Tom Kemnitz.
In what has seemed to be a saving grace — at least on the surface — Doles recently declared that the zoning law changes should await the seating of councilmen-elect Cardone and McGinn on the town board on January 1st.
Month in Review: Oops?!?
In a bit of unfortunate news that turned even more unfortunate for some, an 18-year old Kiryas Joel resident was shot in the arm during a convenience-store robbery in Harriman. This took no time to be called a “hate crime’ rather than the “robbery-for-drug-money-gone-wrong” when a Hasidic Satmar twitter account cited the issue as anti-Semitic, and fueled by hatred from groups such as United Monroe. In fact, they even had a suspect photo within hours of the crime. Just one minor issue:
They faked the suspect.
The suspect picture they used was, indeed, the result of a crime. In Joliet, Illinois. Not in Harriman, New York. It didn’t bring the sympathy desired.
Apparently, the owner of that Twitter account doesn’t understand how to use Tineye or Google image search. Or perhaps he assumed incorrectly that no one would fact check. Reporter Blaise Gomez of News12, however, fact checked the information.
Note to @HQSatmar: You aren’t that bright. And apparently, you can’t fix stupid.
Month in Review: Closing out the month…
Among other month in review news…
- Representative Sean Patrick Maloney seems to be feeling especially vulnerable in the wake of Orange County political sentiment. In addition to accepting the Kiryas Joel bloc vote in a close election — one that would have elected Nan Hayworth had the impact of that been removed — Maloney held no less than three (3) telephone “Town Halls”, more than he’d held in the entire year before. Yet despite being asked about the impact of Kiryas Joel’s actions, the Congressman and his staff flatly refuse any questions. Perhaps it’s time that Rep. Maloney be given directions that include the rest of Orange County, including Monroe outside of KJ. Or it’s time for “Phony Maloney” to go back to Manhattan as local Republican Dan Castricone has begun mounting a grass-roots challenge for the Republican line.
- A footnote on the Monroe Theater came from Monroe-Woodbury CSD Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez, who immediately refuted any involvement in Harley Doles’ previously noted theater fundraising advertisement.
- Four municipalities have challenged the permit for the Mountainville well for Kiryas Joel, citing poor oversight and review by the NY DEC.
- Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was found guilty on all counts of corruption in his federal trial. Though he vows an appeal, it looks like he’ll live out his remaining days at Club Fed, and the likelihood of indictments against Governor Andrew Cuomo are almost a certainty.
- And it was three years ago this month that the “Save the Theater” movement began, setting the foundation for the past few years of citizen awareness of town politics and potential corruption. While the theater has since reopened under municipal ownership, it has been a financial failure. So have the duck boats on Round Lake and other attempts by Harley Doles to turn Monroe into a theme park. And the politics of Harley Doles have resulted in both the division of Monroe and the further division of loyalties in Kiryas Joel. We commemorate the Save the Theater movement and what that has become, and hope that groups such as United Monroe and Preserve Hudson Valley continue to raise awareness of the issues facing Orange County and the Hudson Valley environment.
And that ended an eventful month in Monroe. As for December, we regret to inform you that the Monroe Theater will not be showing “A Very Brady Christmas”. Instead — and it only gets worse — they’ll be presenting “A Very Elvis Christmas Spectacular“. And we wish we were making this up.
For the love of everything in good taste, please — sell the theater, Harley Doles.
That’s November’s Month in Review. See you next month, and Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah.
(Picture credit to Scotty D.)