Koetzle, Glenville board, must do more to restore credibility
At the most [Dec. 4] Glenville Town Board meeting, Supervisor Chris Koetzle noted the board’s efforts to inform the public about changing the supervisor’s position to full-time.
He stated the board provided several opportunities — more than legally required, in fact — over several weeks. I believe he’s right. But I also believe that most (if not all) of these meetings were scheduled after the announcement was made to change the supervisor’s position — an announcement, as I recall, that unfortunately did not contain any reference to a referendum to let the voters decide.
Several times during the meeting, the supervisor mentioned he “didn’t understand” why so many people were still upset, especially after all the effort by the board. I’d bet the public does not turn out in droves at Town Board meetings expecting free food or for the excitement of passing resolutions. People take time away from their homes and families during the holiday season and come to board meetings because they feel angry, worried, concerned, or they want information.
The meeting room was packed. From this, the supervisor and the board should realize something went badly wrong. It is apparent from the surge in attendance that they unintentionally misplaced the trust of the people. The supervisor and the board should understand the crowded meeting room shows their efforts to date were not enough to win back that trust, and they need to do more.
For example, the supervisor presented salary information from neighboring towns. Clifton Park, Bethlehem and Guilderland all have full-time supervisors — and all have higher costs. Rotterdam and Glenville have part-time supervisors — and lower costs. The supervisor claims this proves Glenville’s efficiency.
To me, the supervisor’s numbers show governments with part-time supervisors cost taxpayers less than governments with full-time supervisors. I hope our supervisor can see how his contradictory presentation could confuse people further.
The public needs better reasons and better explanations. To provide them, I suggest the town create a page on its website dedicated to this issue. The page should include questions by the public with answers from the supervisor and board. (This will certainly attract political hacks, who will pose impossible questions. The public will see through them.)
Since holding a referendum depends on the public delivering a valid petition, the web site should clearly state what makes up a valid petition. The town should create and post an example of an acceptable, valid petition. As laws permit, the town should accept forms from any Glenville resident and count them as part of the valid petitions received.
The supervisor won re-election with 70 percent of the vote. However, he also created the present political storm that since has eroded his credibility and that of the board. They now need to work harder to promote the petition and hold the referendum fairly in a nonpartisan way. They need to erase any appearance they backed into this as a means to justify an end and convince the public a full-time supervisor is truly in our best interest.
Taxpayer-financed elections go too far
While New Yorkers are paying some of the highest state and local taxes in the country, Albany is attempting to push another unfunded liability onto taxpayers disguised as “campaign finance reform.”
The rhetoric of campaign finance reform seems well-intentioned, as Albany wants us to think that this proposed system of taxpayer-funded campaigns will end political corruption in Albany and restore the public’s confidence in government. Special interests want to enact a system under which New York taxpayers will subsidize political campaigns: Candidates for state office would receive $6 in public money for every $1 they raise from eligible donors.
Taxpayer dollars have no place in political campaigns. If I want to voluntarily contribute, I should be given this choice. New York City operates currently under this faulty system, and public money funded embattled mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s campaign, despite him getting 5 percent of the vote.
Taxpayers are burdened enough already. Political parties and candidates do not need public subsidies from taxpayers, which amount to an open checkbook. No one can really predict the cost.
The solution is more effective enforcement of our current election laws. The governor-appointed Moreland Commission’s preliminary report includes a number of recommendations that would include more transparency in our political system and restore public confidence without the additional infusion of public money. It should be noted that according to a 1995 state Court of Appeals decision, the state constitution prohibits the state from subsidizing political organizations. Does this proposal not violate our state constitution?
Taxpayers should not stand for this additional taxation burden with little perceived benefit.
State reneged on promise for school aid
Last month I attended a presentation on state aid for education at Queensbury High School. I guess I’ve been living under a rock, because I was stunned by what I heard.
I knew the state had decreased its share of aid to schools, and I knew about the new 2 percent tax cap, a law enacted two years ago to limit how much schools can raise their tax levy from year to year. I also knew about the uproar over the new Common Core and APPR [annual professional performance review] requirements the state has imposed. But I had no idea that the state hasn’t even given schools aid it already promised them five years ago.
Most schools in the state are currently operating with severely restricted budgets. To think that they planned for aid that has not come is unconscionable. No one thinks education is unimportant, so how can this happen? Maybe it’s because most people don’t even realize the depths to which our state government has relegated education aid.
If New York state wants to realize its goal of improving public education throughout the state, it must provide reliable aid to support the efforts of all local schools.
Please sign my petition to Gov. Cuomo, the state Legislature, and Board of Regents, asking them to eliminate all Gap Elimination Adjustments for the 2014-2015 school year and thereby restoring aid already promised.
You can find the petition on the Galway Central School District’s website [www.galwaycsd.org/].
The writer is a Galway Central School District parent.
SCCC jazz, percussion groups gave great show
After reading your Dec. 4 arts brief, I went to the percussion and jazz ensembles’ concert at SCCC [Schenectady County Community College].
What a joy it was to see and hear students so dedicated to their music and so happy to play and entertain. They were professional in every way. The directors must feel very proud.
It will be a pleasure to go to many more of their performances.
Patricia Poersch Robbins
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