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Smells Like Team Smear It

21 May

In a hastily released memo, City Hall tried to catch up to a story broken by Mid Hudson News Network, followed shortly by Cahill on Kingston, and the Daily Freeman.  Earlier in the week, and without public notification, Mayor Steve Noble sent out letters to every member of the Kingston Board of Ethics, informing them that their services were no longer required.  Effectively, he had dissolved the Board.

Crumbling in the Shadows -KingstonBarn Photo

Kingston Booth House Crumbling in the Shadows
-KingstonBarn Photo

It was beginning to look like the Kingston version of Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre.

The press release, issued days after the deed had been done and hours after it began appearing in the press and local political blogs, makes little sense.  In fact, it may be a violation of the Ethics Law to fire the entire board with the intent to leave the seats vacant. Look under Chapter 49-10, “Board of Ethics”.

Mayor Noble said, “I have decided to relieve the board members of their duties so that we may complete the Ethics Law revisions and launch a board appointment process that is most effective and appropriate.”

This statement gives us an indication of the desperate rush to get it out, but does little to illuminate the shadows it casts.  We know that at least one of the board members’ resignations was accepted early this year.  Why did the Mayor convince him to come back, only to fire them all?

The planning board has not been disbanded during the making of the Kingston Master plan.  The Zoning Board has not been disbanded during the rewrite of the Zoning laws.  I haven’t heard the Mayor call for resignation of the Common Council while the administration tries to gut key provisions of the Ethics law.

There is no reason this board cannot continue to “function effectively” until after the current law is changed, unless their mere existence as a board is some sort of impediment or threat to the administration’s political goals.

The Ethics Board serves at the pleasure of the Mayor.  It is obvious that this board did not please Mayor Noble.  Without transparency, or even the common courtesy of thanking them by name, these are the public servants Mayor Noble dismissed

Chairwoman Jean Jacobs, former School Board President and 2011 candidate for Mayor.
Karen Clark-Adin, Owner of uptown’s Bop to Tottom.
Reverend Doris Edwards Schuyler, Pastor of Riverview Baptist Church.
Brad Jordan, Owner of Herzog’s and the Kingston Plaza.
John Reinhart, Officer in the Kingston Fire Department.

They have served on this board since its inception.  It is disrespectful and disingenuous to the board, and a disservice to people of Kingston, to praise the board while dissolving it, and to tell us they cannot serve honorably while this Mayor makes “revisions” to the Ethics Law.

These changes look like an attempt to hide conflicts, and make it easier to sell public office for personal gain.

This smells like retribution and political shenanigans.

-Andrew Champ-Doran

*Editor’s note:  Find more stories and see documents referenced by clicking on the highlighted links, or going to KingstonBarn‘s “The Documents” page.  KingstonBarn posts and comments reflect the opinions of the authors only.

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7 Comments

Posted by on May 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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7 responses to “Smells Like Team Smear It

  1. gerald berke

    May 22, 2016 at 6:28 am

    This needs more. Has there been any activity at all with the ethics board? If the first thing I hear in two or more years on the matter of ethics is that the ethics board is being replaced, that seems to be a non starter…
    Is there anything pending before the ethics board? Are there any rulings that are being ignored or reminded? Does this have anything to do with Brad Will? Are matters still pending?
    How long has the city had an ethics board, how long has the existing form of the ethics board been in place, how long will the city be without an ethics board?
    What nefarious dealings would you suggest are being covered up?
    A little help here, please?
    And the mayor could be asked, what’s the problem with the way the board is set up now?
    I think he wants to get rid of at least some of the people and wants to get new ones and wants and needs a better process to set a better ethical view of their selection.
    If this is really a transparency issue, that would be serious.

     
    • KingstonBarn

      May 22, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      Mr. Berke,

      Most of your questions can be answered by clicking on the links in the post. The Mayor’s press release tells you there is no pending action, and that he doesn’t intend to replace the Ethics Board until such time as the council changes the law. Since some of the changes the Mayor has called for (including how to appoint members of the Ethics Board) can’t be done without changing the City Charter, the earliest we could hope for is December or January after a referendum.

      Let’s say someone wants to file a complaint about anything against Mayor Noble, or his uncle, Alderman Jim Noble, or Corporation Counsel Kevin Bryant. With no Ethics Board, there is no one to receive the complaint.

      And, I am sure you see the huge violation and conflict the Mayor’s appointment of a “temporary” board in such a case would present. But, that’s exactly what the Mayor says he will do.

      The Ethics Law was passed in 2013, and that is when, according to the law, Mayor Gallo appointed the Ethics Board. Link to Chapter 49-10 to see the establishment section of the law.

      I don’t know what neafarious dealings are being covered up, or what Brad Will has to do with them. I intentionally commented only on the dissolution of the Ethics Board.

      One commentator on CahillonKingston.com suggested this was the “Brad Will committee”, appointed by Mayor Gallo to deal with the one Alderman. I see where the suggestion is trying to lead us, but I think we are all more thoughtful than to be fooled by it. When the law was brought before the Common Council, Brad Will was living in Bearsville, NY. When it was passed, Brad Will hadn’t even turned in a nominating petition to run for office.

      I will tell you this. Brad Will resigned from office while facing a myriad of charges under local, county, state, and federal laws. According to Kevin Bryant’s report, Brad Will admitted to all of the charges. Illegally representing clients in front of City Boards and voting on issues he has a financial interest in were only the start. Would you expect a transparent government to at least tell us about the seriousness of those charges?

      I would submit that this is a transparency issue. City Committees entering closed sessions to consider changes to the law is a transparency issue. Leaving us without an Ethics Board is a transparency issue.

      The Mayor took this action last Monday, but he did not release the news to the press or public about it until hours after local news and blogs started publishing the story on Friday. I’d say that’s a transparency issue.

      -Andrew Champ-Doran

       
  2. Joe Ingarra

    May 22, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    Ethics are important unless those in power determine that it is not

     
  3. Gerald Berke thegenerousweb

    May 23, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    I’d say this is a good topic to keep active…
    I’d suggest a Facebook page on the subject…to track the progress on this.
    I do not understand the reasoning behind this. I brought up Brad Will because he was nailed by the ethics board and Jim Noble was strongly supporting Will…
    As to Gallo, I thought he was a very very competent executive but toxic in all aspects of communication: it cost him a second term.
    Meantime vis a vis communications, I’ve seen the various event the mayor has attended (which were well covered by Raleigh Green under Gallo) but not much relating to city government.
    On the other hand, a letter to the mayor moved swiftly to the appropriate department head and a very productive meeting, so that’s a huge change!
    I don’t know if you meet and talk with the mayor… one on one. I hope you’ve done that on this matter.
    You say he is appointing a temporary ethics board? I assume their actions are still public?

     
    • KingstonBarn

      May 23, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      Mr Berke,

      The Ethics “Waiver” announced by Mayor Noble and given to Brad Will could result in a payday of $200,000 to over $300,000 on the Irish Cultural Center alone. If Assemblyman Cahill’s website is correct, much of that will be paid for by the public via state grants obtained by the Assemblyman for the project. Please bear in mind that this is only one of the private clients Brad Will admits to illegally representing in front of City of Kingston boards while serving as Alderman.

      We should also remember the Irish Cultural Center had a different architect on the project. Sometime after Assemblyman Cahill announced his grant, and while Mr. Will was serving as Alderman, the ICC fired the original architect and hired Mr. Will. The project has nearly tripled in square footage since then, and construction costs have gone up commensurately. I am sure other architects, without an inside track to local government, would have liked a shot at the job.

      In my opinion, all of this gives the appearance of selling your office to the highest bidder. This is what the “Revolving Door”, “Future Employment”, and “Inducement of Others” statuytes are supposed to prevent, and this administration has proposed we throw them all away.

      As for his “Temporary” appointments, Mayor Noble’s Statement ends with this, “… in the event that a complaint is brought forth prior to the new board appointments, I will respond accordingly by appointing temporary, emergency board members.

      All of this can go horribly wrong.

      -Andrew Champ-Doran

       
      • Gerald Berke thegenerousweb

        May 23, 2016 at 7:13 pm

        Ah, so Mayor Noble has not only disbanded the Ethics Committee but has over ruled it? Or did he over rule it by disbanding it? And how is it that is permitted? He wants to change the procedure but he can’t because he needs the Common Council to amend the charter but he doesn’t need them to disband the Ethics board? The charter permits the mayor to do this?
        What does Rebecca Martin say about this? Have you written to Kingston Citizens? They have given the charter careful reading and worked to alter it where it was weak.
        How about Corporation Counsel?

         
      • KingstonBarn

        May 23, 2016 at 10:34 pm

        The members of the Ethics Board serve at the Mayor’s pleasure. He may replace any of them at any time, but the Mayor must maintain a five member board. It’s all under Chapter 49-10 Board of Ethics. Click on http://ecode360.com/6723075 to read the relevant portions.

        Andrew Champ-Doran

         

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