Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Same Old New Hartford Games ...

Now the Town Board is hiding behind an undisclosed attorney's letter to justify transferring Fees in Lieu of Mitigation from one account to another for spending. And it looks like Woods Road work will receive a lot of the funding. Now just whom would be benefiting from that largess? New Hartford Business Park, perhaps?

Of course, the fees were taken from particular developers in lieu of mitigating the environmental impacts of their developments. And now the fees are being transferred to benefit another developer, rather than mitigating impacts. . . . impacts that are currently affecting people.

How much relief will the people in New York Mills along Royal Brook get from the runoff from Consumer Square by work on Woods Road?

Ms. Krupa, can you answer that question? It was a nice game you played for the home crowd last week over the budget, but we aren't stupid. You are an attorney and know that the Town fed selective information to outside counsel to get the opinion that the Town wanted. . . . the one that would allow funds to be used for something other than mitigating the impacts of the projects they were collected upon.

If I am wrong, then the Town should waive its attorney-client privilege to prove it.

We the People paid for this outside counsel's opinion, and also paid for inside counsel, the Town Board, and the Town Supervisor. Yet, somehow, we who pay and who are directly affected are not entitled to see this letter, or what was sent to the attorney to generate it.

There is a funny thing about privileges such as the attorney client privilege: When they are asserted to prevent disclosure of things that should be disclosed, they will support the drawing of a negative inference.

This Town Board and Town Administration still has something to hide.

PS... If anyone is acting under the delusion that things will be different under Mr. Tyksinski, you now have been given a reason to think again:

"Town Supervisor-elect Patrick Tyksinski said he doesn’t think any of the money should be paid back, no matter what the contracts state."

Just keep that statement in mind if you are thinking of entering into a contract -- any kind of contract -- with the Town of New Hartford during the next four years.


Hyman Hibiscus said...

One attorney's Opinion does not ALLOW the town board to use the mitigation fees anyway they wish.

I agree with Strike, in that in is how the town "couched" their request for an advisory opinion.

And...Yes...I do agree with Strike the contents of the attorney's letter belongs to town residents...NOT privileged. We are the town residents and we deserve the right to know.

I suspect that litigation will be entertained against the town demanding that these monies be returned.

Doesn't anyone find it intersting that the Town WAS IN THE PROCESS of already using the FILM monies...BEFORE the attorney's adviosry opinion was received?

Seems to as usual in the town and by town officials.

Greens and Beans said...

Why would the Town of New Hartford want to hide any correspondence on behalf of the people they represent? This covert behavior with surreptitious correspondence has a distinct odor of corruption. The Executive Director of the New York State Committee on Open Government, Robert Freeman stated that he believes that New Hartford is “within its rights to withhold the letter” of opinion from the Glens Falls-based attorney Mark Schachner due to attorney-client privilege. However, Strikeslip has a valid point. Who is the “client” but the people of the Town of New Hartford? The initial letter of request to Attorney Schachner and his response is the property of the people of New Hartford. The Town should disclose this correspondence to the taxpayers who pay the bills. Perhaps a FOIL should be filed to request the initial letter from the Town of New Hartford to attorney Mark Schachner. At least the FOIL’s explanation may prove to be interesting if not revealing.
The people of New Hartford should not expect the Town’s shenanigans to stop within the next four years, especially if Town Supervisor-elect Patrick Tyksinski keeps advocating his intent to breach contracts. It will be interesting to see how the Town’s attorney fees will break the bank from defending the resulting law suits these contract breaches will generate. Perhaps this may engender another hefty tax increase for the Town’s taxpayers. Mr. Tyksinski had better come to grips and open New Hartford operations to its citizens. For if New Hartford governmental operations do not change direction now, Commercial Drive and Sangertown Square just may become a giant retail ghost town. If the tax burden causes the retail sector of New Hartford’s tax base to collapse, (in conjunction with the Business Park’s Payments in Lieu of Taxes agreement contracts that curtail Town and School District tax remittance), the homeowners will have to make up the loss in revenue. This will result in even more exorbitant tax hikes in the very near future.
New York Mills better look into becoming its own township very soon.

swimmy said...

I submit that it matters not who you consider the client is, the government, or its people. Instead, look at it from a purely legal position. For example, in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff is denied claiming they were injured by defendant and hide behind the physician-patient privilege.

You have a similar situation here. The town is claiming their actions are legal based on an advisory opinion, once again conveniently NOT from the state agency whose opinion would actually matter to the courts.

If their actions were entirely legal, then why hide behind the attorney-client privilege? The fact that this advisory opinion is the crux of their decision to keep film monies and spend them outside what state law intended them for is all the reason needed to disclose the letter. The client, whomever that may be, WAIVED any privilege by virtue of using it as a reason to violate settled state law.

If one of the developers were to sue the town, the town would be obligated to disclose that letter. Otherwise, the courts would hold them in contempt, make a finding that an inference that disclosure would be adverse to their public position should be in effect, and preclude them from offering testimony contrary to that position.

swimmy said...

I have a question...

FILM monies are intended to mitigate unintended environmental impacts to development so the developers are exempt from suit. If the town returns the money, will the developers be on the hook again? If so, then by the town keeping the money, I doubt we'd see any lawsuits from the developers... get my drift?

Silence Dogoos said...

People, have you forgotten that we the people are government. Jefferson and the rest of the Founding Fathers would encourage a revolt at this point or at least tar and feathers. We need leadership now, not lawyers and opinions. Eventually the property taxes will prevent people from selling their properties and leaving.