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.
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.