School lawyer flouting how many laws?

Well, well. Shari Greenleaf, attorney for the Schenectady City School District: Yes, she was driving

Well, well. Shari Greenleaf, attorney for the Schenectady City School District: Yes, she was driving with a suspended license after failing to pay a traffic ticket, and yes, she was also driving with an expired registration, as we found out last week.

But she was also cited last year by the city Bureau of Code Enforcement and threatened with an arrest warrant for keeping the outside of her house in deteriorated, unmaintained condition, something that she has failed to correct to this day.

What’s more, she failed to make two property tax payments in 2003 and 2004, so that the city of Schenectady put a lien on her property, a lien that was later sold to the private company that handles these matters for the city, and what with interest and penalties she owes that company $3,153.

And to top it off, for the past five years she has failed to pay the state registration fee to practice law, which is $350 a year. She didn’t pay it in 2005, 2007 or 2009, according to the Office of Court Administration.

This first came to light in the Times Union, and I have confirmed it. We hate to have Schenectady news come to light in a Colonie newspaper, but I will give credit where credit is due. They did a good job.

So it’s quite a picture that emerges of the person who provides legal guidance to the Schenectady school board and adminstration. It’s a picture of a person who repeatedly flouts the law, even when government representatives explicitly tell her what she must do, like pay a parking ticket or clean up her house. She just flat-out doesn’t do it, which I must say squares very nicely with the attitude of the school superintendent, who in his own way is equally defiant. It’s clear they make a good pair.

You ought to see her house. I checked it out yesterday after reviewing the Code Enforcement files at City Hall, and I couldn’t believe it. What a dump! It’s on a nice block, at 1174 Sumner Ave., between Rugby Road and The Plaza, a couple blocks from the high school, but it would fit right in on some derelict street in Hamilton Hill. The shingles are falling off, exposing the underlayer to the weather, and those shingles that remain are shedding their paint. The masonry work looks like it belongs in Beirut or Baghdad. Dead branches are strewn in the driveway and across the lawn, front and back, visible even through a thin layer of snow. An old backboard and basketball hoop hang forlorn from the garage, and more dead branches decorate the garage roof, a souvenir of a last year’s ice storm.

It looks like she hasn’t done a lick of maintenance since she bought the place in 1996.

Her next-door neighbor, Jim Goldsmith, who finally got tired of the mess and of her refusal to clean it up, is the one who reported her to Code Enforcement last summer. He says if she mows the lawn once in the course of a summer that’s a lot.

I wondered out loud if the place is so slobby on the outside what it might be like on the inside, and he took me down his driveway to the back of his house, which is right next to the back of Greenleaf’s house and where you can see a glassed-in back porch that she has, and it looks like a landfill in there. Just a heap of papers, boxes and indescribable junk.

The inside, of course, is her own business, but I think it tells us something about her.

I was struck by all this because an inspector from the Bureau of Code Enforcement examined her property twice last year, on May 20 and again on Sept. 1, and cited her for specific violations like “dry vegetation piles in the rear yard and on the garage roof,” “accumulation of construction debris in the rear yard,” plus peeling paint and deteriorated mortar, and took photographs to document all these violations. And when I looked yesterday, five months later, it was all exactly the same.

She hadn’t so much as picked up a branch. She hadn’t done a thing.

So this is not just a busy person who missed something.

“There are a lot of various aspects in my life,” she told me last week when I asked about her suspended driver’s license. “Obviously I overlooked one detail.”

We can now see it’s not a matter of overlooking one detail. It’s a matter of refusing to obey the law even when government agencies demand it of her, not to mention refusing to be neighborly and not to mention living like a slob.

Nor could it be a matter of affordability, as far as taking care of the house goes. She makes about $120,000 a year as the school district’s lawyer. For a few thousand dollars she could get a handyman to clear the debris out of her yard, replace missing shingles and patch busted masonry, if nothing else.

And do you remember the little car accident she had, which led to her suspended license and expired registration being discovered?

Her neighbor says it was not so little. He says he was just drifting off to sleep, about 10:30 p.m., when he heard the crash and looked out his window to see that she had rear-ended a parked car with enough force to propel the car forward. He said other neighbors also were aroused.

That was just after pulling out of her own driveway and traveling maybe 50 feet or so. Baboom!

So when you put it all together, you get quite a picture, don’t you?

And quite a team — superintendent, school board, lesser administrators and of course the celebrated Steve Raucci, about to stand trial on charges of arson and terrorism.

Shari Greenleaf was, and still is, legal counsel.

“Creepo city,” is what longtime gadfly Vince Riggi calls it, and I wouldn’t argue with him.


If you’re wondering if I tried to get Shari Greenleaf’s side of this story, the answer is yes, I did. Here is her complete response, by e-mail:

“I received your messages seeking comments on matters in my personal life unrelated to my services as School Attorney for Schenectady City School District. Although commenting on your inquiries would shed light on the particular matters you raised, I am electing not to comment.

“I will not comment on these personal matters as my comments could appear to sanction The Gazette’s decision to publish in tabloid fashion any information regarding my personal life.”

Categories: Opinion

Leave a Reply