“If you want me to do my job, you’ll have to pay me more…”
That seems to be the mantra of the leftovers from the O’Rorke mob in NewBaltimoreTown Hall.
Former Town Attorney, David Wukitsch tried it and it got him fired!
New Baltimore Town Clerk Janet Brooks
Balks at Keeping Regular Office Hours
It seems that re–elected New Baltimore Town Clerk, Janet Brooks, has had a pretty easy time in recent years but the newly elected team under Nick Dellisanti has diligently reviewed past practices and is busy correcting abuses.
One recent resolution that was deliberated at the New Baltimore town board meeting of February 10, 2014, was a resolution to “Establish the Hours of the Town Clerk’s Office.” Seems like a reasonable thing to do. But our question is: Didn’t the Town Clerk’s office have regular working hours? Apparently not! That’s exactly why the new board had to bring a resolution.
Town Clerk Janet Brooks and Lisa Benway and Chris Norris OPPOSE the Resolution to Establish hours of operation for the Town Clerk’s office. Why?
The actual resolution seems to be reasonable in all respects. In fact, it reads:
Town of New Baltimore, County of Greene
February 10, 2014
Resolution to Establish Hours of the Town Clerk’s Office
RESOLVED that the Town Board of the Town of New Baltimore hereby sets the hours for the Town Clerk’s Officer from 9:00 AM–4:00 PM Monday through Friday and meetings by appointment on the second and fourth Monday of the month from 5:30—6:45 PM.
In the past, the present re–elected New Baltimore Town Clerk, Janet Brooks, was supposed to be a full – time (at least 37.5 hours per week) employee. For that position, Ms Brooks received $28,560 salary plus benefits in 2012, $28,846 (an increase of $286) in 2013, and $29,669 (an increase of $823) is budgeted for 2014. When Ms Brooks took to the campaign trail to run for re – election in November 2013, she must have known that her position was full – time and that she would be expected to be in the clerk’s office full–time to collect a full – time salary. Right? Isn’t that reasonable? But Ms Brooks, Ms Benway and Mr Norris, with the loud–mouth support of Ms Diane Louis, New Baltimore Democratic Committee chairperson, and a handful of childish locals with placards intended to read “We Like our Town Clerk”, ready to put on a disorderly display of stupidity and ignorance, which was obviously planned well in advance. But try that in my meeting and you’ll find your arses and your silly-signs escorted by a sheriff’s deputy to the parking lot and maybe even get charged with disorderly conduct or interfering with a public assembly!
In response to the board’s decision to set hours for the town clerk’s office, Ms Brooks informed the board that if she had to be in the office during regular hours, she wants more money! Fancy that! Remember when David Wukitsch, former New Baltimore Town Attorney, used that line when asked why he didn’t advise the town about illegal purchasing practices? That’s why he’s “former” town attorney.
Let’s be clear on several points: Ms Janet Brooks has allegedly had it very easy in the past and has allegedly not been putting in her time at town hall. Ms Janet Brooks also has the support of at least 2 deputy / assistant town clerks. Why so much assistance? Well, when the elected town clerk is not in the office somebody has to do her job.
We’re talking about a 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. job for more than $30,000 (if you count the generous benefits and pension) isn’t bad at all for a cushy job like town clerk, and amounts to 6 ½ hours a day (allowing for a ½ hour lunch break), which more than compensates for the clerk’s attendance at town board meetings.
Problem is, old bad habits die hard, especially when you’ve been caught with your mitts in the cookie jar!
Brooks and her minions very loudly opposed the establishment of regular business hours for the clerk’s office. Brooks even read from the New York State Town Law. But Brooks’ interpretation of law is a bit self – serving. Here’s why:
Brooks has been New Baltimore town clerk for at least 8 years now and has run for re–election at least twice, both times while the local country–club democratic clique was running things down the tubes (during David Louis’ terms and then during the O’Rorke dictatorship). Didn’t Brooks know she was full–time and had to be in the office during regular hours? Didn’t she know that when she ran for re – election in November 2013? Or did she think she’d be able to call the shots now, too, and get a full–time salary for part–time attendance, while having two monkeys to do the work?
Time’s Run Out for Crooks and Corruption in New Baltimore!
New York State Town Law makes the town board responsible for policy:
§ 51. General powers of town board.
The town board of a suburban town shall be the legislative, appropriating, governing and policy determining body of the town and shall have and exercise all such powers and duties as are conferred or imposed upon it or are necessarily incidental thereto…
This means that the New Baltimore town board has the power to set reasonable hours of operation for the town clerk’s office.
The section of New York State Town Law that applies to town clerks has some interesting points, too:
§ 30. Powers and duties of town clerk. The town clerk of each town:
1. Shall have the custody of all the records, books and papers of the town. She or he shall attend all meetings of the town board, act as clerk thereof, and keep a complete and accurate record of the proceedings of each meeting, and of all propositions adopted
Well, if Ms Brooks wants to read the law, she should know that she must attend “all meetings of the town board.” No question there.
Here’s where we get into the sticky issue of deputy town clerks and this is where Brooks might be shooting herself in the foot:
10. (a) The town clerk may appoint, and at his or her pleasure remove, a first deputy town clerk, who shall serve without compensation from the town unless otherwise provided by the town board…such first deputy town clerk shall possess the powers and perform the duties of the town clerk during the absence or inability to act of the town clerk…the first deputy town clerk shall take and file the constitutional oath of office…
The law then goes on to say:
the town clerk may appoint, and at his or her pleasure remove, up to two additional deputy town clerks whose duties and responsibilities shall be established by the town board. The town board, in its discretion, may delegate to the town clerk the authority to establish the duties of the additional deputy town clerks. Any such additional deputy town clerks shall serve without compensation from the town, unless otherwise provided by the town board.
So, New York State Town Law gives the Town Board the power to establish policy and legislate in the framework of governing the town. New York State Town Law also allows the town clerk to appoint a first deputy, but that appointment will not be paid by the town unless the town board approves such payment. The New York State Town Law also allows the clerk to appoint up to two additional deputies but, again, those deputies serve without compensation unless the town board allocates funds to pay them AND the town board decides what those deputies are to do.
The town clerk is an elected town officer but is not elected to govern and has not voting power on the board. The town clerk’s job is, simply, to keep records and file reports.
So, our advice to New Baltimore Town Clerk, Ms Janet Brooks, is this: You ran for re – election knowing full well that you are full–time and you are drawing a full–time salary. You have no business whatsoever complaining that the New Baltimore Town Board intends by resolution to establish regular office hours for the clerk’s office. Office hours from 9:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. are not exactly forced labor and a salary including benefits of well over $30,000 / year is hardly slave labor. So, Ms Brooks, no more part–time or no–shows for full–time salary and benefits. You’re going to have to go to work and show up, Ms Brooks, and the New Baltimore Town Board has the legal authority to set the clerk’s office hours, to decide whether or not to pay any first deputy clerk, and to decide whether to pay any additional deputies AND to decide their duties.
Of course, if any first deputy clerk is appointed by you, Ms Brooks, you will have to show clear and convincing justification why you need a first deputy, and why you cannot do the job. We won’t even address the issue of any additional deputies.
The New Baltimore Town Board has found it necessary to establish the hours of the town clerk’s office because of the casual way the office has been allowed to function in the past and because of the abuses of the public’s trust and money. The New Baltimore Town Board is fully within its authority to protect the public’s interest and to enforce a policy of regular operating hours for the New Baltimore Town Clerk’s office. If Ms Brooks can’t accept that, maybe she’s in the wrong place.
Also on February 10, 2014: Highway Superintendent Denis Jordan submits request based on incorrect figures. Hey, guys! He fills potholes; he doesn’t do math! Benway and Norris object to office hours and correcting typo’s in the purchasing policy. Hey, they don’t read the stuff and they didn’t follow the policy! Why should they start now?
“Qui tacet consentire videtur ubi loqui debuit ac potuit.”
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