Monday, October 22, 2007

Greenbush Party Support Stronger Ethics Law

The candidates for town office on the Greenbush Party, ROW F, in this November’s election, announced their support for a stronger Town Ethics Law that addresses dual concerns arising from the current experience our town government is experiencing.

While our current law prevents party chairmen from being paid a salary from town funds, it does not prevent them from doing business with the town. As such their ability to endorse candidates for town board and influence public policy public should be regulated to avoid the appearance that policy decisions are in any way a reflection of a desire to curry favor with elected officials to further the business interests of a political party officer.

Accordingly we support a provision to the Ethics Law that would state that the Town of North Greenbush shall have no business dealings with any political party officer or company which employs that officer. We point to the current situation involving Casale Excavating which has immersed itself in town politics and has managed to get Michael Casale installed as Chairman of the Conservative Committee.

They have endorsed their Vice Chairman Louis Desso for Town Board and have made a deal with the Chairs of the other 3 major parties to endorse the same slate of candidates and take charge of the town board which is responsible for administering an overspent and unfinished water district contract, now $740,000 over budget and counting. No contractor should not be permitted to nominate candidates to a town board and municipality with which he has millions of dollars in business contracts.

Secondly, the candidates announce support for an Ethics Law provision that would protect elected public offices from undue influence and conflicts of interest arising from holding elected positions in a party committee. The candidates support an addition to the current law that would protect public elected offices from such conflicts of interest by preventing any elected town officer from serving as a member of a political committee.

Dennis Bonesteel, running for Receiver of Taxes stated, “We believe it creates an inappropriate appearance for residents to be paying their tax bills to the Treasurer of a political party because he has chosen to wear two hats. It is time those wishing to serve the town in an elected office chose between holding the elected office or holding a committee seat which allows them to serve as a party officer such as Treasurer.” The current Receiver of Taxes is the Treasurer of the Democratic Party.

Jan Liberty, Candidate for Town Clerk agreed, stating that every elected office should be protected from such appearances that diminish public confidence or perception in that office. “We should not be paying licensing fees for marriages, etc or seeking any other service from the Secretary of a political party or a committee member of a political party”, stated Liberty. The current Town Clerk is the Secretary of the Democratic Party.

We believe these changes will protect the integrity of Town elected offices while protecting taxpayers from appearances of undue influence that have arisen under the current situation. Sabo, Marshall and Ashworth would support these changes to the ethics law and urge the current board to consider them.

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