The town of Rotterdam has lost a principled legal battle and has been ordered to pay $4,980 to a contractor who’d helped build a veterans’ memorial at the behest of former Supervisor Frank Del Gallo, who’d promised taxpayers two years ago that the memorial wouldn’t be built with public money. But even though Del Gallo reneged and town board members were right to have waged the battle, it hardly seems worth appealing the decision. Time to move on.
Del Gallo used the excuse that since he’d forgone his $13,000-a-year supervisor’s salary, it was OK for the town to pay his political ally Jim Bradshaw $4,330 to cover supply costs he wasn’t reimbursed for through the donations that financed most of the project. City Court Judge Guido Loyola essentially agreed, which isn’t too surprising given that the town comptroller and state comptroller’s office had looked into — and signed off on — the arrangement.
Town Board Democrats, who’d had a nasty falling out with Del Gallo during his tenure, contended — reasonably — that once he refused his salary, he shouldn’t have been able to spend the money as though it were his own, without their approval. They wanted a contract for the project’s materials to be competitively bid.
Were they playing partisan politics, as Bradshaw asserted in Wednesday’s Gazette story? Probably. And petty politics at that, considering the amount of money involved. But that’s the way it’s frequently done in Rotterdam.
As a result, taxpayers are not only on the hook for the $4,330, but interest and legal expenses — a total of $4,980. Not such a big deal considering the small claims case has dragged on for more than a year.
The flap was always a tempest in a teapot, and even though the Town Board’s argument was basically right, it should let the matter go.