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Decide What Matters

Brad Will ducks reporters at his Ethics hearing. Photo used by permission.

Brad Will ducks reporters at his Ethics hearing. Photo used by permission.

Brad Will is guilty.  The Alderman of Kingston’s 3rd Ward was judged guilty of knowingly and deliberately violating Kingston’s Ethics Law, discussing and voting on Pike Plan issues, and with lying about his knowledge of the law in order “to shield his conduct and intent from the Ethics Board.”  An extensive Order and Finding of Fact was delivered on October 6, giving specifics of Will’s intentional violations, and implicating Alderman at Large James Noble for his part in them.

Proof of his depth of knowledge of the Ethics Law is evidenced in a four-page memo from Brad Will to Alderman at Large James Noble detailing charges of conflict of interest, the appearance of impropriety, and disclosure of financial interests against Mayor Gallo.  The letter was written two weeks before Will began breaking the law.

After his testimony as a witness for Brad Will in the hearing, Noble complained that the Council will have to consider the law, saying they’ve never had to do that before.  He further suggested the taxpayers ought to bear the burden of paying for Brad Will’s lawyers.

In the wake of the Ethics Board’s findings, we have not heard one apology from Will for putting the people of Kingston through the time and expense of prosecuting this case.  We certainly haven’t heard him take responsibility for his actions.  We haven’t had any indication that he won’t break the ethics law again.  In fact, it appears that he has.

He has plenty of excuses, and blame for everyone but himself.  We have heard he was new.  Yeah, but Zweben never told him not to break the law.  He did it, but Gallo is out to get him.  Champ-Doran wants to harm him.  It’s just bad press.  He says it is the negativity of others.  Most tiresome of all, Brad Will still claims these charges are political.

Is it is political?  YES!  However, it is Brad Will’s political misconduct on which these findings are based.

There would be no conviction, no charges, and no additional charges coming if Brad Will did not continually break the law.

Instead of pointing to any evidence, facts, or conclusions in the case, Will and his lawyer scurried off to the local papers, pushing the same lies debunked in his hearing.  Spinning yarns not based in fact, and minimizing the seriousness of his wrongdoing, his press junket was designed to dupe the intelligent citizens of Kingston.

Members of the fair press have FOILed the court stenographer’s transcripts of Will’s hearing.  The taxpayers paid more than a thousand dollars for them.  Petitioners have been told no and blocked, because only Brad Will has the power to release them, and he has chosen to keep the public record hidden.  I emailed Brad directly, asking for the release of the hearing transcripts for public transparency.  As of this writing, he has not responded.

Release the transcripts.  I have no doubt that people might not like what they read from your lawyers and your witness, most pointedly from Jim Noble and his testimony under oath, especially if they hear it before the election.  I understand why Will wouldn’t want that to get out, and the politics behind his obfuscation, but it’s part of the record, and there is no compelling public good in covering up evidence of misdeeds.

In addition, Brad Will has repeatedly impugned the integrity of the Ethics Board while he hides the actual proceedings. He has an obligation to be fair, and let the people served by the Ethics board know the facts and testimony they had to work with, and from whence the judgement was issued.

With a campaign sign on your fence glaringly promising and declaring your integrity, your openness, and your communication, where is the holdup?  Do the right thing, Mr. Will.  Again, your own words, from your campaign slogans, evidence you know what constitutes that.  Put some integrity behind the transparency you advocate.

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In It Together -KingstonBarn Photo

In It Together -KingstonBarn Photo

Brad Will, resign.

Jim Noble, resign.

Less than a week after being handed the guilty verdict, Brad Will has apparently broken the law again.  In a violation of the Standards of Conduct in the law, Will appeared on behalf of his business client in front of the Kingston Planning Board.

This was not the first time violations of this provision have come up.  Will was listed as representing a different client of Ashokan Architecture in the May and June meetings of the Kingston Heritage Area Commission.

It is political misconduct

When you reach the point that you refuse to live by the law, can’t be bothered to uphold your Oath of Office, would rather swear out lies on behalf of your cronies than root out bad apples among your members, you should resign.

When your personal interests lead you to make your colleagues look bad, and when you are more worried about your political career than serving your constituents, resign.

Political misconduct and lies should matter to all of us.  Corruption does not start in Albany or Washington.  It starts locally, when one guy gets caught breaking the law, and another lies enough to cover up what they both did.  Somebody gets away with it, convinces some people it’s not that bad, and he does it again.  The cycle repeats.

After a while, people forget to care.  The party machines get their guys elected higher up, and the crimes and the money get bigger.  The regular person starts to think there’s nothing to do, and corruption wins.

Revising Kingston

Revising Kingston

We have an obligation that goes beyond the ballot box.  Corruption gets a foothold when good people do nothing.

If this is where it starts, then this is where we can stop it.

-Andrew Champ-Doran

*Editor’s note:  All documents referred to in this post can be viewed by clicking on the highlighted document titles, or by visiting KingstonBarn’s “The Documents” page.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Why I Would Vote Yes

Kingston City Hall, Monday night in a crowded Finance and Audit Committee special meeting, Conference Room 1.  The moment is now.

The Committee Report

The Committee Report

Time to openly vote on moving the sinkhole project ahead, finishing it off, once and for all.  What does Brad Will do?  Chair Mary Ann Mills calls for “Yes”; our 3rd Ward Alderman says nothing.  The vote is called for “No”, the room goes silent.  Only when the report is passed for signatures do we get an indication of Mr. Will’s intent.  Quietly, he adds a column, “Abstain”, and makes his mark.  At some point, before the meeting is adjourned, and without comment, he covers up his abstention, and makes his vote “NO”.

Late that night, he posts on his facebook, “…Why I Voted No”.  It rings hollow. Frankly, I am mystified.

I would vote YES.

My Alderman voted no, he writes, because he “was not confident that the best – and most cost effective – alternative was put forward.”

My Alderman voted no, he writes, because he wants “a short pause of a week or two.”

I have been at the public meetings, the committee meetings, and spent much time with neighbors of the sinkhole, and people that are affected by this every day.  I am one of those people.  Each person I talk to wants the same thing.  Fix it.  Fix it right, fix it now, fix it forever.  Do you know of one person that wouldn’t say they’d spend the million more than a half-measure, incomplete, risky Option B to fix it if they never had to deal with it again?  No.  And I’d vote YES.

August 13 last year, the two engineering firms, GEA Engineering and Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers  submitted a report to the City, outlining the history, problems, and four proposals to fix the problems of our Washington Avenue Sinkhole.  I asked for that report and permission to distribute it to 3rd Ward neighbors, and I did in early October.  Those 44 page reports were handed out at the October 21 meeting, where speakers from those firms laid out four options, A through D, and explained in fairly clear terms how effective, how expensive, and how comprehensive those choices might be.

Recommended by the firms that built the World Trade Center Towers and Memorial:  Option A Shown as our best “home run” chance for a permanent end to the Sinkhole Nightmare, by the foundation designers of New Yankee Stadium and Citi Field:  Option AOffered as our “safest option” by the team that built the ConEd tunnel under the Harlem River:  Option A.

Option A is 7′ thick supporting sides, a 15′ thick roof, and 150′ long, all anchored to bedrock, protecting the repaired and supported tunnel as it travels from one mined end to another.  It’s 50′ deep, twice-compacted soil densification supporting the roadway above.  It is a relined, redesigned shaft, swirling storm water down, exchanging and balancing air to allow water to flow, and not hammer down.  It is a system designed to let overflow cross under Washington and find it’s natural way down.

I’d vote YES.

Washington Avenue Do we want another year? -KingstonBarn Photo

Washington Avenue
Do we want another year?
-KingstonBarn Photo

We don’t have to trust Mayor Gallo on this.  We don’t have to trust City Engineer Ralph Swenson on this.  In fact, long ago, when they found out the real extent of the problem, they both said this is a bigger problem than we can handle.  We need the real pros, they said, and they asked the Council for help.  They went out and got the companies that built Bronx Terminal Market and the South Transitway Tunnel under Boston’s Russia Wharf.  I put my trust in them.

If my Alderman had shown his as-yet-unnamed Engineer “very close friend” as having the same depth of experience and wealth of expertise as these combined companies, we’d have more to hang our hats on.  But, until he does, I’m trusting these guys.

I put my faith in Fran Hart, whose home has been hit hardest of all by the sinkhole, Tannery Brook, and all the efforts to repair the damage done.  She says she doesn’t care about the noise, she can live with the work, she just wants to use her garage, have her driveway and yard back, and get her century-old house back up to livable.  She wants the sinkhole done right.

I put my faith in Richard Van Kleek, who is tired of waiting for it to end.  He doesn’t trust it can be done by the end of the year, but he’s willing to try.  He wants the sinkhole done right.

I put my faith in Art and Barbara Althiser, who have seen their Red Sox win three World Series, but feel like they will never see the end of the sinkhole.

The Future of Tannery Brook-KingstonBarn Photo

Tannery Brook as it runs through Kathy Eberlein’s yard. Neighbors just want it to be done.
-KingstonBarn Photo

I put my faith in Kathy Eberlein, who wants to work in her garden, in Sharon Becker, who wants to keep the bluestone patio and garden her late husband built, and in Joyce Barnes, who is against the project.  They are all willing to let the city work on their properties, just to put an end to flooding for their neighbors on Tannery Brook.  They want it done right.

I put my faith in Renato DiBella, who, against tremendous losses, keeps his business going here when he could just move it out.  He wants his business back.  He wants it done right.

We have lived on their faith for too long.  It’s time to show them some of ours.  For all of these people, and all of the people of Kingston living with the specter of this dangerous hole in the ground, I’d vote YES.

Putting it off for a week or two delays the Common Council vote by at least a month.  A month added to the schedule means we don’t have a chance of finishing by Thanksgiving.  If we don’t finish by then, the ravages of another Winter take their toll.

When the question is called again on Tuesday night, I want my Alderman to stand up, speak for us, and vote YES.

Yes, the moment is now.

-Andrew Champ-Doran
 
Editor’s Note:  Documents referred to in this article, including the GEA/Mueser Rutledge Powerpoint presentation from Monday’s meeting, and the August 2013 Kingston Report can be found on our new page, “The Documents”.
 
 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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