Monroe Reorganization yields changes and surprises.
This past Monday marked several events in Monroe, and yielded several surprises at the Town Board’s annual Monroe Reorganization meeting. Among the bigger surprises were who was appointed as Acting Supervisor in the absence of Harley Doles.The Reorganization meeting began with the swearing-in ceremonies for all new elected officials. Justice Steven Milligram, Highway Superintendent John Scherne, Town Clerk Mary Ellen Beams, and Councilmen Mike McGinn and Tony Cardone each took their oaths of office. The business of reappointing and retaining personnel was next on the agenda. The night’s first surprise came courtesy of Councilman Ric Colon, who nominated newly elected Councilman Cardone as Acting Supervisor, unseating Harley Doles appointee Gerard McQuade.
The next surprising act was a unanimous vote in favor.
Illustrations by Scotty D.
For the first time in several years, the Town of Monroe had a Board that represented the entirety of the town’s constituents.
Among the other highlights:
- A vote was taken to not retain the services of Peter Tilem, the criminal lawyer who had been serving as the town’s municipal attorney. The vote was 3-1 with McQuade being the lone dissension. The theme would be repeated throughout the evening.
- Attorney Brian Nugent, a municipal attorney, was appointed by 3-1 vote to serve as Interim Counsel.
- A decision was made to select a new firm to represent the town through a “Request for Proposal (RFP)” process.
- Michael Donnelly would continue in his current role serving the planning board and responding to the legal actions of the annexation.
- Speaking of the annexation, there was considerable discussion over the role of Gedalye Szegedin with the Town Clerk’s office. No immediate decision was rendered.
For the Zoning Board of Appeals:
- Gary Abrignani was retained by the board.
- The expiring appointments were designated as holdovers until new appointees were selected.
- The current Chairwoman is also a holdover until a decision is made.
Next order of business was to re-establish the long-dormant Board of Ethics:
- Current member Matt Hoeninger resigned his position on the board.
- Appointed were Ann Marie Morris, Michael Egan, Tommy Sullivan, Kathy Hoefnaker, Lance Whitman, Paul Phelan, Susan Pendergast, and Peter Neubauer.
- Nominated by Gerard McQuade were Abe Muller, Jonas Hoffman, and Judas Spitzer, none of whom were seconded. The nominations were denied.
- John Ebert was reappointed as Chairman.
- Bob O’Neill and Bonnie Franson were reappointed, with a remaining vacancy to be filled. Resumes should be sent to Mary Ellen Beams for consideration.
All other appointments were deemed as holdovers until action was taken. This includes the Town Comptroller position currently held by Peter Martin.
In other business…
- Public comment without an agenda requirement was restored for all future Town Board meetings.
- All future Town Board meetings are to be held at the Monroe Senior Center. They will no longer be held at the TMACC.
- There was discussion about the potential future sale of the Town of Monroe Arts and Civic Center. Michael Egan presented figures pointing to a $700,000 loss for the 7.5 months that the facility has been open. When Peter Martin was asked for his accounting, he could offer no specific expenses and revenues.
- Questions were asked about the boathouse concession. It was revealed that petty cash in the amount of $500 was kept inside a lockbox at the boathouse. Deposits and reconciliations were done on a weekly basis.
- When asked if the Town has had an independent audit performed recently, Comptroller Peter Martin replied that it had not since the town was not in compliance with the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Sections 34 and 45.
- Attorney Brian Nugent indicated he would investigate finding an independent auditor.
- Mike McGinn and Ric Colon were appointed to head the Moodna Basin Commission.
- Town Board liaisons were appointed to interact with several departments. Each department would meet with the Supervisor on a monthly basis.
In other business, public comment yielded questions on the “missing Glock handgun”. It was surmised that the town could not legally own the firearm, and its registration to Security Officer Joe Brown clearly indicated his ownership. The topic of reimbursement for the town’s expense was discussed to address the confusion.
The need for additional security was also discussed, and the consensus appeared to indicate there was no need for a massive security presence at town board meetings. This reversed a hallmark of Harley Doles to utilize security to suppress public comment or intimidate citizens. Monday’s meeting signaled a major change in that approach. Councilman Cardone indicated that all security for the town would be placed under review.
Also during public comment, several in the audience remarked at the civil and collaborative tone of this meeting versus those led by Supervisor Harley Doles.
It appears that McGinn and Cardone — running on a platform of transparency and accountability — are quickly fulfilling their campaign promises, and have stated that more changes are in store this year. Stay tuned…
Video Highlights (courtesy Marc Miller/United Monroe):
Complete Video of Meeting (courtesy Marc Miller/United Monroe):
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