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Barbara Finke, Interim New Baltimore Town Clerk, For Example…

07 Oct
wind blown

Blown Away!

A short time ago we wrote that this country is no longer a two-party democracy. No, we’re not suggesting it’s even a multi-party country because the two major political parties, the Republican and the Democratic, are no longer unified nor are they much different. The many minor political parties are either whack-jobs or simply different flavors of the mainline parties. In other words, our politicians from both parties are practically indistinguishable in their double-talk, and they can be distinguished only by the self-serving personal agendas, pretty much power and greed. These characters can’t even be trusted to stay in one party and they move from one side of the aisle,  blown by whichever wind is coming through the window.

There Can Be Only ONE “Best” for the Country

Big Problem for our Elected Officials Epidemic Incombetence from the Local to the National Level

Big Problem for our Elected Officials
Epidemic Incompetence from the Local to the National Level.
And it starts locally!

Elections are just around the corner: It’s time to start asking questions.

There can be only one “what’s best for the country,” and there can be only one truth but somehow our politics has been stuffing any number of “bests for the country” and many versions of the “truth” down our throats for a couple of decades now. Why haven’t we choked on the lies yet? Well, we can look locally for one of the answers to this question and to the national problem. We’re too stuck on ourselves and have lost any sense of community. Instead we rally behind empty slogans like, “It’s for the kids!” and then bitch and moan when our elected officials start picking our pockets. Ever ask yourself why that is?

poof2The POOF! Phenomenon: Here’s another farce of our so-called democratic process. On the campaign trail, our candidates for public office tell us everything we want to hear. They sugar coat everything, promising anything. Then they disappear. POOF! They’re elected and then conveniently forget everything they said. Why is that? Here’s why: We don’t hold them accountable! We don’t take them by the scruff of the neck and shout their own slogans and empty promises into their hairy ear holes! That’s why.

Single-candidate Elections? And while we’re on a roll, how is it that our mainline political parties can’t come up with at least two candidates on a ballot so that we voters have at least the illusion of choice. How dare our political parties not put up a candidate to oppose the incumbent or a candidate who is running unopposed! Where’s the choice when there’s only one candidate and that candidate is unopposed. How is it that at the very least the two mainstream parties can’t cough up a candidate.

Our System is Just a Logrolling Contest.Just Two Lumps on a Log.

Our System is Just a Logrolling Contest.
Just Two Lumps on a Log.

We are fortunate to have some correspondence that clearly illustrates much of what we are talking about. It’s very obvious when we take a local example and trot it out for the public to read and make their own decisions.

North Korean Election Practices in New Baltimore. We are experiencing that little embarrassment in New Baltimore, where the current appointed, interim New Baltimore town clerk, Barbara Finke, is apparently being run by the Republicans with Independence Party endorsement, unopposed by the democrats or any other political party. But is this good for the town and its residents? Isn’t running one candidate endorsed by all parties what they do in North Korea?

Barbare Finke was an absolute dud when she was on the New Baltimore town board during the O’Rorke dictatorship, and she frequently sat like a little mouse while the lunatics had their way with the town. When she decided not to run for town board again, and the previous town clerk was forced to resign, Finke was appointed by supervisor Dellisanti and his board majority to be interim town clerk. Was this all planned in advance, we have to wonder?

Our elections have become farces for the political parties! Now, the office of town clerk is basically an administrative/file clerk office; it doesn’t require a hell of a lot of smarts in a town like New Baltimore. So maybe it’s a custom-made job for someone like Finke but why don’t we get a choice? Finke apparently will run for election to be New Baltimore town clerk but if voters don’t have a choice in another qualified candidate, it’s like Finke is being appointed to an office that the law says should be elected. Smell a rat?

north korea election

During these past several months that Barbara Finke has been the appointed New Baltimore town clerk, we have asked her several times to tell us what she’s been up to and what improvements she’s been making in the New Baltimore town clerk’s office. Finke refused to respond to our several requests. In fact, when she and board member Jeff Ruso were wandering around New Baltimore hamlet collecting signatures on Finke’s Independence Party ballot petition; Finke does not have the Independence Party line, though (What happened, Barb, Jeff? Apparenty you guys pissed off George Acker, Greene County Independence Party Chair, and they threw your petitions out?), they were again asked to provide some positive press for themselves: Send us an e-mail telling us what improvements you’ve made in the New Baltimore town clerk’s office. Their response: 0

Editor’s Note: When we hear the line, “She’s been working really hard!” we say that can mean one of two things: Either she’s working real hard but spinning her wheels because she hasn’t a clue what’s going on. Or she’s working real hard and getting a lot done. Well, the fact that Ms Finke and her keepers were unable to or declined to provide any information on what’s being done, innovations, improvements, changes, etc. means only one thing: The wheels are spinning but there’s no progress!

What’s even worse is the fact that Finke doesn’t appear to realize that she’s on “probation” these past couple of months, and you’d think she’d be doing back-flips to make a good impression. Nope. Not in New Baltimore!

You’ll recall a couple of weeks ago we announced that US Congressman Gibson was rumored to be appearing in New Baltimore (See our article: Beware: Residents Are Asking Questions). So a resident contacted the town of New Baltimore through the clerk’s office–after all, the interim clerk, Barbara Finke, is a member of the Republican party (Anonymous New Baltimore board member: “Republicans appoint Republicans!”) and also a member of the New Baltimore Republican Club and works with Jeff Ruso, town board member and president of the New Baltimore Republican Club–since Finke would certainly know about the visit of a US congressman to the area. Wouldn’t she?

So a New Baltimore resident [name is unimportant] sent an innocent email to the New Baltimore town clerk asking about Gibson’s alleged visit:

“Good morning:
Can you confirm that Congressman Chris Gibson was in New Baltimore on Thursday, September 4, 2014.
Where was he and at what time?
Where and when was his visit announced?
Thanks very much for your PROMPT response.”

And it’s a legitimate question for a resident to ask, isn’t it? Does the New Baltimore Town Clerk have any information on the congressman’s visit. Pretty fair question, isn’t it? Well, not according to Barbara Fink. So Barbara Finke, helpful little public servant that she is, writes back to the resident:

Barbara Finke's Notion of Service.

Barbara Finke’s Notion of Service.

“Thank you for your recent email.  The information you are requesting would be better addressed by the office of Congressman Gibson as they would be aware of his schedule.

This is an official email account of the Town of New Baltimore and it is improper for receipt of this type of email via this town account.

Thank you,
Barbara Finke”

Nice response, right? If that’s the way Ms Finke is responding to residents as interim town clerk, even before she’s actually elected by voters (= appointed by default), dare we even speculate on her arrogance when, if she’s actually elected to be New Baltimore town clerk? Wouldn’t it have been nicer if she simply lied and said something like, “I’m sorry but I have no information on a visit by Congressman Gibson. You might want to try contacting his office for his schedule”? Yeah, that sounds better, doesn’t it?

The resident responds to Fink with the following:

“Dear Ms Finke:

Excuse me, Barb, but if a member or member of the town board of New Baltimore is (1) phoning residents to announce the Congressman’s visit and (2) the Congressman’s visit is taking place on town of New Baltimore property or public property it seems to me that the acting town clerk of New Baltimore (YOU!) would be informed and would be able to answer responsively. Moreover, if an elected official, the Congressman, is visiting the town of New Baltimore, it would seem appropriate that the board–and the town clerk would be so informed–and would want the residents of the town to be duly informed. I may be wrong, but that would be a reasonable assumption. Unless there were (1) some sort of miscommunication in town hall, (2) some sort of discriminatory or unethical practices going on, (2) inappropriate use of town properties, or (3) you may want to inquire with your supervisors, Dellisanti or Ruso, who may be able to inform you on what’s going on in the town.

How is it that the phrase “[Possible Spam}” occurs in the subject line of your response? The original e-mail was sent from my personal e-mail to a single addressee, your town e-mail. How can that be “possible spam”. You may want to revisit your e-mail settings on that account to avoid future problems. I’ll address this in another forum at some convenient time in future.

While you may be correct about Congressman Gibson’s office being aware of his schedule, I may be correct in assuming that you might be aware of what’s going on in the town of New Baltimore, where you are town clerk.

I am aware that the email is “an official account of the Town of New Baltimore”, and as a resident/taxpayer in the town of New Baltimore, I have every right to avail myself of its use for good faith inquiry and business. Your comment is entirely out of order and unappreciated. Moreover I don’t need you to provide that sort of information, just the information I requested is all I require or your statement simply that you do not have that information, or more apparently, that you are too arrogant to provide it.

And PLEASE don’t lecture me on your opinion that “it is improper for receipt of this type of email via this town account.” I doubt very much that you would survive a debate in town or municipal law with me so I’d advise you to be more prudent in your feeble attempts at burocratese. Know your place! Your pedantry is not appreciated.

That having been said, please be assured that I am not impressed by your performance nor by your presumptive arrogance, and that fact may not bode well in an election. You would do well to accept some tutelage from your father-in-law. Your response is totally inappropriate and if that sort of response signals what your response would be IF elected to be town clerk, you might as well resign now.
Thank you for your attention.”

New Baltimore town board member Jeff Ruso, who is also president of the New Baltimore Republican Club, got involved and wrote back.

go play your games

Damage Control. Pick up the pieces and continue playing your games.
(He’s giving you the “Sign of the Anus” Mr Ruso.)

“I wish these message were to me instead of others, I can clear things up.
1. I organized the meeting for Sept. 4th.  It was a Rep. Club event.
2. I sent an email to a number of people in the town.  It was not town business and I kept it on my personal account as a result.
3. Mr. Gibson was not there, and there were no plans or expectations of his being there.  A representative of his campaign was indeed there.
The club meetings are seldom well attended.  The most frequent topic for those meetings is to plan for our major events i.e. corned beef dinner.  We do occasionally have an outside speaker, maybe once a year.  
If there are other questions I would be best to clear them up.
Jeff”

To which the resident responded:

OK. Let's Play Whatk-a-Mole.You're the mole!

OK. Let’s Play Whack-a-Mole.
You’re the mole!
(Did that hurt, Mr Ruso?)

“Nothing really to clear up…now. should have been cleared up before it happened. But stuff starts to happen when:

  • Fragmentary information or inaccurate information gets out w/o clarification
  • No information gets out officially, but gets circulated “on the street”
  • No official statement is published on an event
  • Public servants/interim appointees to elected offices get drowned in their own egos and become arrogant (pissing off potential supporters)
  • The pubic is left in the dark have to find their own answers and draw their own conclusions
  • Political party offices are held by sitting elected officials; the water gets murky and interests get ambiguous etc.

When you write things like: “I wish these message were to me instead of others…” I really have to wonder what is going on in your head. How in hell is the public supposed to know who the “me” is? How in hell is anyone supposed to know it’s a “Republican club” event? How in hell is anyone supposed to know if it’s Chris Gibson, a Chris Gibson aide, or Shirley Temple or Barbara Walters who’s going to appear? If the events are poorly attended have you ever asked Why? and What can be done to improve attendance (really not an issue in the seminal problem)?

It seems that the much-mouthed “transparency” has become a bit obscured, doesn’t it? Now I don’t want to be the one to tell you “elected officers” how to govern but perhaps a short announcement in one or two of the local rags might have pre-empted any misunderstandings?

Perhaps a more forthcoming, polite, professional response by the interim town clerk might have been more appropriate?

Perhaps complying with commitments might be more conducive to dialogue.

You guys need to address residents’ concerns and stop the politics, LISTEN, and pay attention to yourselves; otherwise it’s going to backfire badly. If this keeps up you will not enjoy my support. Ms Finke has already overplayed her hand and is about to pay the piper at a high cost of political capital squandered. I sure hope you have a viable candidate in the wings.

Maybe the problem is that we were given to expect a lot, maybe too much. Maybe the board and its members just aren’t up to doing better than most of their predecessors. Again, maybe a bit of self-reflection might be the prescription; like the Desert Fathers taught: “Pay attention to yourself” ; in other words, take a critical look at yourselves and many of the problems can be eliminated.

In the meantime, you’ll be on stage and under scrutiny just like surrounding communities. Seems to get them moving…

Just trying to be helpful.”

So, the lesson is this: We have to constantly remind our elected officials that they are public SERVANTS. We have to constantly remind them that the are where they are because WE put THEM there. We have to constantly remind them that they are paid with our tax dollars and if they don’t behave, they’ll be out on their dumb arses! It also becomes a problem when a sitting board member is also a sitting officer of a local political club. Remember our comments in an earlier essay to the effect that a candidate may run with political party endorsement but once elected he or she serves everyone, not just his party. Do you think these guys and gals have forgotten that fact. We haven’t and November’s approaching real quick and we won’t let them forget it either.

Maybe if more residents responded like the resident above, the community might be in a far better way than it is when residents just sit on their hands.

Hello! Anybody out there?!? The Editor
Hello! Anybody out there?!?
The Editor

This is not the end.

Those in National Politics would benefit from taking this message to heart…and maybe to Washington, too!
Stay tuned for upcoming installments on local politics and elections!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 7, 2014 in 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 2Luck.com, Abuse of Public Office, Accountability, ACLU, Albany, American Civil Liberties Union, Andrew Cuomo, Arlene McKeon, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Barbara Finke, Bitter Bob (Ross), Bob Knighten, Bob Ross, Candidate, Carver Construction, Chris Gibson, Chris Gibson, Chris Norris, Christopher Norris, Coeymans, Coeymans Police Department, Coeymans Town Board, Eleanor Luckacovic, Eleanor Oldham, Elected Official, Elections and Voting, Eliminate Coeymans Police Department, Eric T. Schneiderman, FBI Public Corruption Squad, George Acker, George Amadore, Government, Greene County, Greene County Board of Elections, Greene County District Attorney, Greene County Elections, Hudson Valley, Hypocrisy, Incompetence, Independence Party, Indifference, Investigation, Jean Horne, Jeff Ruso, Joan Ross, John Luckacovic, Misconduct, Mismanagement, Misuse of Public Office, Monitoring, Moose Misuraca, New Baltimore, New Baltimore Conservancy, New Baltimore Democrats, New Baltimore Elections, New Baltimore Elections, New Baltimore Republican Club, New Baltimore Town Board Member, New York, New York State Board of Elections, Nick Dellisanti, NYS Assembly, NYS Senate, Official Misconduct, Paul Tonko, Pete Lopez, Politics, Port of Coeymans, Public Corruption, Public Office, Ravena, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Republican in Name Only, Republican Party Committee, Sean Eldridge, Selkirk, Shame On You, Shelly van Etten, Small Town, Stephen Flach, Tkaczyk, Town Board Meeting, Town Clerk, Town Supervisor, Transparency, William Misuraca

 

One response to “Barbara Finke, Interim New Baltimore Town Clerk, For Example…

  1. CKP

    October 7, 2014 at 10:42 am

    George Washington warned about the “baneful effects of the spirit of party” ages ago. Ralph Nader’s criticized the two major parties as both “feeding at the same corporate trough.” Aside from that, regardless of which major party is in office, or independent-minded major party candidate, or third party candidate, or write-in candidate, etc. there are some things that don’t change. Under any administration civil service employees are represented by the corrupt organization that calls itself the Civil Service Employees Organization.

    “Albany Donna Bottari was so steamed that a fellow Saratoga Springs school bus driver reported her erratic driving in May 2002 that she told a co-worker she was going to arrange a ‘hit’ on him, according to a court decision released Thursday. Not a good idea. Following a two-year court battle, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Bottari must be fired. The 4-0 decision reversed a move by Saratoga County Supreme Court Justice Thomas D. Nolan Jr. to reinstate Bottari last summer. […] ‘We’re disappointed with the decision,’ said Therese Assalian, a spokeswoman with the Civil Service Employees Association. ‘We agree with the lower court, and we’re considering our options. ‘That might include taking the case to the Court of Appeals, she said.'”
    Bolton, Michael Morgon. “Bus Driver Firing Upheld” Albany Times Union. January 30, 2004: B4. http://albarchive.merlinone.net/mweb/wmsql.wm.request?oneimage&imageid=6274649

    “IG: State worker, boss built secret party lounge at Plaza; Janitor allegedly ran marijuana delivery service.” Albany Times Union. July 2, 2010. http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/IG-State-worker-boss-built-secret-party-lounge-546332.php

    “The New York State Inspector General determined that New York State Office of General Services (OGS) employee Gary Pivoda sold and used cocaine and marijuana during working hours at the East Parking Garage at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. The Inspector General further found that Pivoda’s supervisor, Louis Marciano, rather than disciplining Pivoda or reporting him to the appropriate authorities, observed and condoned Pivoda’s cocaine and marijuana dealing and actually snorted cocaine and smoked marijuana with him. Moreover, instead of performing their state work, Marciano and Pivoda spent most of their shift sleeping, socializing, and watching television in an unauthorized break room of their creation, colloquially known as the ‘man cave.'”
    http://www.ig.ny.gov/pdfs/Lack%20of%20Supervision%20Enabled%20Creation%20of%20Man%20Cave,%20Janitors%20Complained%20of%20Racial%20Taunts.pdf.

    “Petty Tyrant.” This American Life. November 12, 2010. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/419/transcript [about CSEA official Steven Raucci’s terrorism]

    “Capital Region CSEA spokeswoman Therese Assalian said the Schenectady CSEA Local 407 chapter had been placed in ‘administratorship’ on Monday, which means that the state CSEA will take over day-to-day operations of the bargaining unit. She said the local chapter also has a vice president, treasurer and secretary, but state CSEA believed it was best to step in as a result of the allegations against Raucci. Assalian believed Raucci has been president since 2001 and receives no salary for the position. She was not aware of any issues at the local chapter. She said the local chapter functions fairly independently, although it receives support from the regional and state organization. Assalian said it was somewhat unusual — though not unheard of — that Raucci would be union president while holding a management position. ‘It’s not something we can control or change.’”
    Cook, Steven and Michael Goot. “Raucci charged in Schodack case; Alleged arsonist Steve Raucci posted $200,000 bond Tuesday and was released — into the waiting handcuffs of a Schodack police detective.” Daily Gazette [Schenectady, NY]. February 25, 2009.

    “On August 31, Kelly Fahrenkopf, former vice president of Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Local 316, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York to one year in prison to be followed by three years of probation for embezzling more than $11,500 in funds from the West Coxsackie, N.Y. union. She pleaded guilty in April to the thefts, which occurred during August 2006-March 2007. Fahrenkopf also must pay $11,500 in restitution. CSEA represents New York state and local government employees and is affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME.”
    “Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA)New York Public Employees Ex-Official Sentenced for Embezzlement.” December 2, 2010. http://nlpc.org/category/keywords/civil-service-employees-association-csea

    “Donna Caltabiano was resourceful in skimming union funds. Now she’ll have to put her talents to a different use. On Wednesday, March 25, Caltabiano, formerly president of Local 888 of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), a New York State public employees union, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York to felony embezzlement. She had been employed as a secretary at the local, which represents nursing assistants, nurses’ aides and other employees at Columbia-Greene Medical Center in Catskill, N.Y. CSEA is affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).”
    “Upstate New York AFSCME Local President Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement.” May 15, 2009. http://nlpc.org/category/keywords/civil-service-employees-association-csea

    “Carol Bruno pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court and agreed to pay restitution to the Civil Service Employee Association. The 53-year-old Albany woman now faces up to a year in federal prison and a fine of up to $10,000. She’s free on bond until her sentencing May 6.”
    “Ex-CSEA treasurer admits stealing $16K from union.” Daily Gazette. January 8, 2009. http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2009/jan/08/0108_csea/?print

    “Police say Vinson stole $71,000 from June 2005 until August 2008 while serving as president of the CSEA Local 659 in albany.
    “CSEA represents more than 70,000 public workers and is New Yorks largest union.”
    “Former local union president arrested for embezzling.” February 18, 2010. http://www.news10.com/story/12007227/former-local-union-president-arrested-for-embezzling

    And so on ad infinitum. It’s not at all hard to find other examples.

    There’s certainly some good people who are represented by CSEA; I have some friends who are, in relatively lowly positions. The organization’s leadership, or considered as a whole though… they steal from the taxpayers and they steal from their own rank and file members, and (as in the Bottari and Raucci cases and no doubt others) they engage in terrorism.

    Why does corruption continue to exist regardless of which parties are in office? I’d again posit that it’s because CSEA remains, regardless of who is in office.

    CSEA has been, unsurprisingly, one of the top political and campaign donors in the state. They give “donations” (i.e. bribes and payoffs) to both parties, if I’m not mistaken. They have members working in victims’ services, as police dispatchers, in the court system, etc. Not good if one is a victim of a corrupt CSEA official and one wants to report the CSEA official’s crime to the police and have them put on trial.

    NY’s top court made a decision favorable to CSEA terrorist Raucci just last year:

    Gavin, Robert. “Raucci can keep pension, court says; High court says victims can’t sue convicted felon to confiscate his pension.” Albany Times Union. February 20, 2013. http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Raucci-pension-ruling-reversed-4289845.php

    I’m sure a decision made in favor of a convicted bomber further injuring his victims had nothing to do with CSEA having given money to the parties (perhaps even the specific people) who appointed the judges of the Court of Appeals, or all the CSEA-represented people in the court system.

    “CSEA represents 5,700 employees who work in the Unified Court system statewide. They perform a wide range of duties, from clerk and administrative work, to court officers and reporters.” http://www.cseajudiciary.org/contract

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