Monday, May 25, 2009

Raining Nickels and Dimes . . .

No one seems to know exactly where the $2.6 Million from New Hartford's "Rainy Day" fund went, but Cathy at NH Online Blog documents where at least some of NH's outlandish spending has gone by posting the invoices from the Town Attorney and the CPA firm hired to assist the Town with its finances.  

Interesting reading!

On the Town Attorney's invoices, I was struck by the number of entries "Memo to Town Board: DC Powerline - NYRI" and similar wording re the NYRI situation.  I counted about 40 such entries between 1/1/2008 and 6/30/2008 alone, totalling 7.9 hours or $1185 at the attorney's $150 hourly rate before I stopped because I got tired of counting. A quick scan, however, revealed that  the pattern continued for the rest of the year and into 2009. That's a lot of memos!

NYRI was an important issue, and the action before the Public Service Commission generated a lot of paper (I have boxes of it). 

But WHY would the Town Attorney be writing memos to the Town Board on NYRI?   

There is no evidence that he actually did anything in particular in representing the Town on this issue. The Town's interests were represented by the Gilberti firm out of Syracuse through the Town's participation with Communities Against Regional Interconnect. 

Although his name appears on the official PSC service list to receive official documents, so does that of the Town Clerk, so the Town was always kept informed directly by the PSC and all the other parties of their actions ... so why the need for constant memos?

FOILing the memos should be an interesting experience if anyone wants to try. It will probably result in a response that it is protected by Attorney-Client privilege . . . but the Client (in this case the Town Board) can always waive that. Will the Town Board demonstrate that it obtained useful information from the money paid to the Town Attorney? 

In this regard it is interesting to note that the Town Board is mostly Republican and that the Town Attorney is also the Chairman of the Town's Republican Committee, wielding a lot of influence over which candidates for Town Council and Supervisor receive Party endorsement.

There appears to be a pattern of "nickle-and-dimeing" of the Town Taxpayers by the Town Attorney for services re NYRI, the value of which is not evident on the record.  I'll leave it to others to see if the pattern prevails on other issues.

Nickels and Dimes add up.


clipper said...

Just one more case of taxpayers putting the money in the pot and NH administration splitting it up among their patrons and friends. Not a surprise to me.

clipper said...

Great job Strike. The world owes you and Cathy Lawrence a debt of gratitude for uncovering the dirty dealing, just as fast as the Reed regime can attempt to bury it.

Cathy's blog not only contains interesting financial info, it contains the very evident fact that the WHOLE board needs to be replaced. It is not just Earle Reed, it is an entire "Reed regime" that needs to be replaced.

Time to swing the ballot like a bat, and squash the corruption in NH politics.

Anonymous said...

The implication of the possible utilization of the NYRI issue for make-work billing purposes, is serious and potentially criminal. The authorization had to come from somewhere, the Town Board or someone, the Supervisor. The fact that the Town Attorney is also the Republican party head is disturbing, to say the least. An outside, independent public review of the entire financial conduct of the Board ought is necessary. As one woman mentioned at the parade yesterday, " they treat the money as if it is theirs". Well, it is not.

Greens and Beans said...

The residents of the Town of New Hartford need to have an investigation conducted regarding these matters. It just may be time to make the call to the 64th New York State Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo. He is the highest ranking law enforcement officer for the State, responsible for representing New York and its residents in legal matters.

Office of the Attorney General
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224-0341

SmallBizMan said...

This whole mess is playing out like a bad movie.
Just picture....
In the rolling hills of the Mohawk Valley, in the quaint little community of New Hartford; a corrupt town shepherd and his wolves set up shop, and commence to shepherd the sheepish residents out of millions of dollars.
Whilst occasionally prone to bleeting their discomfort at being squeezed, few dare to question the shepherd or his cronies, fearing being labeled a black sheep.
However, the bucolic community unravels and the bleeting intensifies, as local printers dare to take on the shepherd and his wolves. They print details of the sinister shepherds deceptions and plans. The shepherd becomes unnerved and quietly slips out of town, while the wolves lay low in their dens hoping the bleeting sheep will forget and become content again soon...

Anonymous said...

In yesterday's od story on the missing funds the comment was made that "the funds were lost". Lost? That's an interesing way to explain away over $2 million dollars of tapayer money that can't be accounted for. The whitewash begins.

Anonymous said...

So in a heartbeat they hire a new financial expert from (Basile)$150.00 per hour to (Mowat)$38.00 per hour. Did we get taken? Must be working day and night now to show a surplus before elections. I still want to know where the Town money was invested. Why don't the rest of the board members do the right thing and call for a State audit of all Town affairs and financial practices. Being right or wrong it is the best way to go. The only honest solution. It would clear the air and make everyone own up to his or her voting ways. Reed should not take the blame for the whole show. It falls back on those who vote in concert with each other.

Geno said...

Reed should be held accountable for using his office like he was the ultimate authority on everything that was wrong for the town.

Earle Reed used his political office to bully anyone or have a close family member be threatened with job loss. Yes, this is fact not fiction.

Earle Reed repeatedly used his position of authority to destroy the very livelihoods of those who wanted open and honest government.

When will this man be taken to task?

Anonymous said...

The New Hartford situation goes from bad to worse. There should be a full public accounting of the financial debacle. That will never be accomplished through a political hiring. A non political, non partisan approach should be demanded by town taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Check out the new post and the new blog.