As Many of Our Readers Know, Getting Disclosure from the Village of Ravena is As Easy As Finding a Chicken’s Teeth!
Let’s see: Ravena Village Clerk. Isn’t the office of the village clerk an elected office? Let’s ask Kristine Biernacki or Annette Demitraszek, they should know, right? Actually, anywhere else, the village clerk would probably be elected. But not in Ravena! Village law allows the mayor to appoint and the village board to approve the mayor’s appointment to the office of village of Ravena Clerk. Smell INCEST here?
Ravena Village Trustee Nancy Biscone-Warner. Isn’t the office of village trustee an elected office? Well, is it Nancy Biscone-Warner? And what about the office of the mayor of the village of Ravena, that’s an elected office, isn’t it? Well, isn’t it John Bruno? Well, aren’t public servants, elected officials supposed to serve the community? Aren’t they supposed to serve the best interests of the community who put them in office? Well, can anyone tell us why Demitraszek, Biscone-Warner, Bruno are doing their best to stonewall? What are they trying to hide? Wouldn’t you think they could come up with the documents and the figures for the village of Ravena’s legal expenses? It’s public information after all!
Committee for Open Government (NY Department of State!) and Robert J. Freeman. Nancy Biscone-Warner is really working hard to keep it all under wraps, even upstaging the village clerk Demitraszek and passing on misinformation to a club member at the Committee for Open Government (now that’s a joke!), attorney Robert J. Freeman, who plays their cute little game with them. The incest club hard at work. Well Robert J. Freeman is a political appointee and has been occupying the executive director’s office of the Committee for Open Government for more than 36 years! Isn’t there something wrong with that? It sounds like somebody’s getting rewarded for some hefty favors, doesn’t it? Sorta like our own little nest of thieves rewarding Cathy Deluca with the Ravena Health and Fitness Center and the position of director. Right Nancy Biscone-Warner? Must be Nancy’s “Biscone” showing through. Right, Nancy? Stinks of raw sewerage from Albany all the way down to Ravena village hall. And you’re paying for it all…through the nose!
What’s theVillage of Ravena Trying to Hide?
The Request to Disclose Legal Fees Paid to Attorneys Between 2000 and 2013.
We have acquired documents served on the village of Ravena under the provisions of the New York State Freedom of Information Law (F.O.I.L.) that demand that the village of Ravena produce documents showing the amount and the recipient of legal fees and payments. In short the demand for disclosure and production of docments read:
“For the period of on or about January 1, 1990 to on or about January 1, 2013 all invoices, statements, requests for payment, expense reports, demands for payment, or vouchers, or such documents that otherwise authorize or show payment in an amount certain for legal services provided by the law firm or partners or associates of the law firm of Michael J. Biscone or the law firm of Biscone and Neri, or Louis Neri, Esq., or Michael J. Biscone, Esq., including but not by limitation any compensation for activity as a public official for or on behalf of the village of Ravena.”
Other parts of the F.O.I.L include similar requests for payments made to Joseph C. Rotello or any law firm of Joseph C. Rotello, or Joseph C. Rotello, Esq.; the law firm of John T. Biscone or any law firm of John T. Biscone, or John T. Biscone, Esq.; the law firm of Gregory Teresi or any law firm of Gregory Teresi, or Gregory Teresi, Esq., and further requests
“Please note that if the particulars (the attorney invoice number, the matter number, or the substance of the matter) of the service for which payment is requested is not stated in the voucher, this request also demands production of any document specifically identifying the specifics of the service (such as the attorney invoice) for which payment is being authorized but not the documents memorializing the matter itself.”
Having served the F.O.I.L demands, the requestor adds:
“Please find attached my demand for disclosure under the provisions of the NYS FOIL.“Please contact me promptly if you have any questions relating to this demand.”
“Please be advised that your request for legal services payments does not reasonably describe records in our possession because our vouchers are fiiled in chronological order not by subject.” (Kristine Biernacki, Village Clerk)
Isn’t that interesting? The request for “legal services payments does not reasonably describe records” in the village of Ravena’s possession.” And why? Because the village of Ravena’s filing system is in “chronological order not by subject.” Now, we’re not talking the Borough of Manhattan, we’re talking about receipts and vouchers for legal services paid by the village of Ravena. But you see where this is going, don’t you?
The requestor replies:
“The FOIL is not required anticipate, to comply with or to allow for record-keeping idiosyncrasies of the custodian of the demanded records; the fact that you state that records particularized and specified in the FOIL might represent a “request for legal services payments [that] does not reasonably describe records in our possession” is clearly insufficient grounds for refusing to produce the documents demanded in the FOIL. The fact that the village of Ravena maintains its payment vouchers chronologically does not reasonably represent an absolute impediment or imppossibility of production whatsoever. It simply means that your search will necessarily have to be made chronologically in the absence of a more crossreferenced or alternative system of records keeping. That has no bearing whatsoever on the demands of the FOIL in question. [emphasis provided]
“Can you please provide an update on the progress of your fulfillment of the production demand of the amended legal fees FOIL.”
“I am extremely busy right now collecting for Village water/sewer bills and I am working alone now with a part time person, so it will be some time before I am able to fulfill your request.”
Reading between the lines: I’m too busy right now collecting money for mayor Bruno to waste my time complying with state of New York laws.
The Requestor writes back:
“Thank you, Kris, for the heads-up. I appreciate it.“Please do keep me updated.”
“I am following up on the production in response to my foil below.“Can you please provide a date certain when you expect to have the Village’s response ready?”
“I need to know when I can expect the information demanded in the legal fees FOIL.” I am willing to wait until Friday, April 12, 2013, 12:00 noon for the full response; after that, I’m afraid I shall have to presume that the village of Ravena is refusing to comply with a lawful demand, and I shall submit a complaint to the Office of the State Attorney General together with a request for investigation.“My last two emails have gone unanswered and I presume that to be the village’s attempt to avoid responding.”
“I am not able to provide you with most of your FOIL request regarding legal services payments due to the fact that they can not be reasonably obtained. However, with respect to the records that can be accessed, I will provide them to you by August 2, 2013.”
Flabbergasted at this incredible response, the requestor writes:
“Am I reading this correctly? Are you telling me (1) that you can’t provide the village of Ravena’s records for legal expenses? That they are cannot be “reasonably obtained?” and (2) that the records that can be accessed can be provided by “August 2, 2013?” Or is that a typo?”
Per Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government, your demand for the legal services payments dating back to 1990 is not a reasonable request. The recent information that I can access will be provided to you by the date stated.
So, the requestor, patient and cooperative as always, writes:
“You could have said that earlier. I am amending the request to 2000-present.” Notwithstanding the amendment, I have been extraordinarily patient in working with the village of Ravena, and agreed to extend on your request for more time because were involved with sewer and water billing.“In future and in the case of any future FOIL demand, I would expect the courtesy of a timely response and timely advice if you or your office find a request unclear or “unreasonable.” The handling of this request has been unacceptable.”
“This is in receipt to your FOIL amendment. Again, I will have the information to you on or before August 2, 2013.”
The village of Ravena is saying that it will need more than 114 days to find it’s records on payments made to lawyers. By now the requestor is reasonably irked and writes:
“That, I repeat, is outrageous.” The FOIL continues as is and the village of Ravena is now in default of its affirmative obligations under the Freedom of Information Law.” I expressly do not withdraw the FOIL in its currently amended form. The amendment was offered as a courtesy and to facilitate the village of Ravena’s compliance within the time provided by the Freedom of Information Law. “The law is explicit and clear, Mr Freedman does not have legislative authority. The times set forth in the law are explicit and clear, as are the disallowed “excuses” for failure to comply.” I hereby demand immediate compliance or the village of Ravena’s explicit written refusal to comply.“You may want to pass this by Mr Biscone if he’s not too distracted by his sanctions battle. Yes, I’m watching that play out with considerable interest as I hope the local press is.”
This is incredible. It’s outrageous. It’s Ravena. By the way, Mr Robert J. Freeman is “executive director”, of the New York State Committee on Open Government. He’s been on the payroll of the NY Department of State since about 1974—a bit too long, in our honest opinion—Freeman has worked for the New York State Committee on Open Government since its creation in 1974 and was appointed executive director in 1976. He’s a bit too comfy in his little nest he’s created for himself. Don’t you think there’s something bizarre about a state employee being executive director for more than 36 years?!? Isn’t that a little, corrupt?
So here you have this guy, Bob Freeman, who’s really firmly established in what we can reasonably call his little nest for more than 36 years, bloated with power, and making decisions on who gets what from government. A snotty little turd if there ever was one. And guess who’s talking to him about the disclosure of Ravena’s payments to lawyers (Teresi, Biscone, Rotello, Neri): Nancy Bicone-Warner, wife of village justice and ex-cop Harold “Hal” Warner. The same Nancy Biscone-Warner who is knee-deep in Cathy Deluca’s little scam, the Ravena Health and Fitness Center. Yes, it’s the same Nancy Biscone-Warner who haunts the village of Ravena offices 25/7, who has everyone there by the short-and-curlies. Now she’s passing on inaccurate information to the Committee on Open Government, trying desperately to avoid having to disclose the village of Ravena’s payments to the local legal incest club.
We know that Nancy Warner was faster than lightning on the phone to Freeman trying to get out of producing documents in regard to another F.O.I.L. And Bob Freeman is playing right along with them. Committee on Open Government? Guess again! Apparently it’s a committee of one: Bob Freeman.
This Just Adds Another Nail to Ravena’s Coffin. The Village of Ravena Should Be Eliminated and Combined with the Hamlet of Coeymans, Administered by the Town of Coeymans.
Don’t hold it against Kristine Biernacki or Annette Demitraszek. They just do as they’re told— like good little soldiers. Imagine if they make waves or use a village first-class postage stamp on a private mail item, they’re on the street. Mummy mayor John Bruno and hatchet-woman Nancy Biscone-Warner don’t like people with brains (shows them both up). Ravena Mayor John T. Bruno and Nancy Biscone-Warner apparently don’t take prisoners, they just take advantage.
“Qui tacet consentire videtur ubi loqui debuit ac potuit.”
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