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Monthly Archives: September 2017

Denis Jordan Avoids Duties to Serve Special Friends: The Case of the Disappearing Creek

Denis Jordan’s incompetence is legendary. His appetite for spending the public’s money and wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars because he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing is ruining the Town of New Baltimore and causing untold damage to public confidence and even to private property. Jordan is like a bull in a china shop, doing more damage every time he makes a move. Jordan is New Baltimore’s elected Town Superintendent of Highways at a salary of more than $55,000.00 with benefits and no formal training whatsoever. How does something like this happen? Ask New Baltimore voters!

Town Equipment and Crews, Materials Used to Improve Private Property

We have followed up on leads relating to yet another Jordan abuse of his elected office and the misuse of Town of New Baltimore employees and equipment. This time it’s conspicuously right out in the open, he’s so stupid he has gone beyond plowing friends’ driveways in the early morning hours to abusing his office in broad daylight.

The Case of the Disappearing Creek by Denis Jordan, New Baltimore Highway Department

We’ve reported on the several instances of Notices of Claim and lawsuits resulting from Jordan’s incompetence. We’re reported on the jerry-rigged drainage in the Hamlet and the damage caused to private property because of Jordan’s negligence of his duties to repair and maintain drainage installations in the Hamlet. And we’re presently investigating the botched up paving operations done by Callanan Industries, Inc., a contractor hired by Jordan and who was supposed to be supervised by Jordan or by Jordan’s deputy, Scott vanWormer, and who dropped what we estimate to be 2-4 times more black top than was necessary for the repaving of several Hamlet streets. You paid for the blacktop to the tune of more than $180,000. Our question is why were so many extra truckloads, tens of tons of unnecessary blacktop deposited on Hamlet Streets? Who got the gifts and kickbacks?

The figure above shows the satellite images for the concerned property, and shows the creek’s path before it was re-routed by the Town of New Baltimore Highway Department and covered over. Note that it runs under Lydon Lane and across the private property owned by Mr Donald R. Bullock (Parcel No. 16.00.2.73 at No. 29 Lydon Lane) , and from that property runs along, feeding two ponds. Why did they bury the creek?

Well, we are now reporting on a recent incident where the Town of New Baltimore Highway Department under the authority and supervision of New Baltimore Highway Superintendent Denis Jordan, dug up a stream on private property, reportedly a “friend” of Jordan’s property, installed culverts, covered the culverts, finished the surface, all using Town of New Baltimore employees and equipment.

We have investigated the leads and here’s what we found.

We recently received reports from local residents that the Town of New Baltimore Highway Department and Highway Department crews were observed to be digging on a parcel of property on Lydon Lane off of Route 51. Apparently, residents were curious and concerned what the New Baltimore Highway Department would be doing on the property and why they were digging in that particular area. We later received information that the owner of the property located at 29 Lydon Lane, parcel No. 16.00.2-73, one Donald R. Bullock is allegedly a “friend” of Denis Jordan, New Baltimore Superintendent of Highways.

Given Mr Jordan’s reputation and past abuses, we decided to take a closer look into this little project.

We located the property and the area dug up by Jordan using New Baltimore Highway Department equipment and employees. The area is on private property and in a small creek bed running across Lydon lane but the area dug up doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the road or with the creek. The reports we received from residents were that Jordan was installing culverts to cover over the natural waterway, a natural creek, so that the owner of the property could mow without the inconvenience of the creek. Our inspections proved this to be the most likely scenario. No other explanation seems feasible.

Since the excavation, installation of the culverts and the finishing of the terrain do not appear to be in relation to a road, drainage or even to the residence, which sits atop a knoll, we could only confirm the reports that the work was done to cover over the creek and to level out the grassy area, facilitating mowing.

We demanded production of documents relating to the New Baltimore Highway Department and its activities and found confirmation in the documents produced by the Town of New Baltimore that Mr Jordan lists in his so-called monthly report for May to July 2017, “Installed 40 feet of 30 inch culvert on Lydon Lane” and “Installed 40 feet of 18 inch culvert on Lydon Lane.” The problem we have with this report is that the culvert was not installed on Lydon Lane but on private property on Lydon Lane, that is, on property belonging to Donald R. Bullock.

The photo above shows the road surface at the edge of Bullock’s property. The road surface is undisturbed which indicates that no portion of the road was excavated for installation of any culverts under or around the road. The only disturbed surface is well on the private property where the creek ran into the wooded area at the top of the photo. In other words, all of the excavation and resurfacing of the excavation, apparently after the town’s culverts were buried, is not private property owned by Bullock. There is no evidence that there would have been a drainage problem here threatening the road or any private property, because any drainage would have entered the former creek bed and would have run off with the creek’s water.

The photo above shows the Bullock residence high above the area of the former creek bed, but now, instead of a creek bed, there is a flat, graded area connecting the one side of the property with the other. This is consistent with residents’ reports that the work was done to level out the private property owner’s lawn to make it easier to mow! This photo is taken from the road opposite the property at 29 Lydon Lane, showing the relationships of the creek in the left side, the excavated area of the installed culverts in the center, and the house atop the knoll, obviously with plenty good drainage downhill. It also confirms the reports we received that the creek was covered and filled so that the owner could more easily mow his lawn!

The photo above provides another perspective of the relationships among the house on the knoll, the excavated and filled-in creek bed and the Lydon Lane roadway. There is obviously no drainage problem in this area, much less on the Bullock property, which rules out any necessary repair, maintenance, or preventive road work or drainage repair. No area of the paved area of Lydon Lane is disturbed, indicating that no culverts were installed under the road, the only disturbed ground is on the Bullock property. Also on the opposite side of Lydon Lane, no surface is disturbed. The only excavation and installation work that was done was done on private property, on the Bullock property. The work done is reported in Highway superintendent Jordan’s report for May-July 2017. (Just to be complete, we explored the length of Lydon Lane up to its termination in a dead end, and found no evidence of new culvert installation or disturbed surface, ruling out any work done on Lydon Lane that was not done on the Bullock property.)

Considering the fact that Mr Jordan has totally ignored the nuisances and hazards he and his contractors have created on New Street, the continuing and ongoing damage to private residential structures on New Street in the Hamlet because of Jordan’s incompetence and negligence in failing to maintain the drainage installations in the Hamlet, the outrageous waste in his unsupervised paving operations to the tune of more than $180,000, and Jordan’s refusal to correct the new hazards and drainage problems he created this past year on New Street, we are at a total loss that he could possibly have found time to do this work on private property and that he had the time, the personnel and the money to make an entire segment of creek disappear!!!

The fact that so many questions arise in this situation has led us to demand answers from the Town of New Baltimore and we have filed a demand for production of documents under the New York Freedom of Information Law. We want to know:

  • Why was this work done? What was the justification for doing this work on private property?
  • What sort of engineering studies or inspections of the site were done to justify the Town’s work on the Bullock property?
  • What were the costs to the town, to town taxpayers for the labor by town employees, the equipment, fuel, materials, etc.
  • Who actually did the work? We want names of the workers, the supervisors, etc. What were the costs for personnel?
  • What requests for funds were submitted to the Town Board by Jordan or his deputy, vanWormer for this work?
  • What are the itemized costs done by Mr Jordan for this work?
  • What investigations, inquiries, analyses, examinations were done by the Town Board before approving this work?
  • If this work was not covered by the provisions of Town or Highway Law, what special duty assignments were imposed on the New Baltimore Highway Department by the New Baltimore Town Board for this work?
  • Did the Town Superintendent of Highways, Mr Denis Jordan, even inform the Town Board that he was doing this work on the Bullock property?
  • Where did the money come from to do this work? Which budget line did the money come from?
  • Was the owner of the property, Mr Donald R. Bullock, billed for this work? If so, how much of the bill did he pay?
  • Did the property owner, Donald R. Bullock, apply for any necessary permits to do the work? Did the New Baltimore Highway Department apply for any permits to the work on the private property?
  • Given the fact that a natural water body, a creek, was re-routed through town culverts and then covered over, was the Department of Environmental Conservation informed? Were any permits required or any studies required as regards conservation or environmental impact of the work done?

Once we get the answers to these questions, we’ll do a follow-up report on what the Town says about all of this.

Cough up some answers, Mr Jordan!
The Editor


Editor’s Note: We are in the process of preparing an Application for Removal of Denis Jordan from Public Office, and intend to file the Application with the New York State Supreme Court, Appeals Division, and with the Greene County District Attorney. We want to hear from you if you have any knowledge of any suspicious conduct by Mr Jordan, misuse of Town of New Baltimore equipment, employees, or materials, or any knowledge of other misconduct by Jordan or his operations in the Town of New Baltimore Highway Department. Please let us know confidentially by writing to us at rcs.confidential @ gmail.com.

It’s up to us citizen residents because New York State law prevents the Town Board from filing an application to remove an elected Highway Superintendent. Either a citizen resident or residents or the county DA are the only ones who can file the application for removal.

Stay with us! Thank you!


 

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

New Baltimore Town Highway Superintendent Harasses Local Woman; Demands Removal of Fence

For some time now we have been investigating the operations of the Town of New Baltimore Highway Department and New Baltimore Highway Superintendent Denis Jordan. We have requested confirming documents and information from the Town of New Baltimore on several key issues. We are reporting on one of those issues in this article. The second issue, that of Mr Denis Jordan’s use of Town of New Baltimore equipment and employees to do work on private property is also included in the following article (Denis Jordan Avoids Duties to Serve Special Friends: The Case of the Disappearing Creek).

Normally, in a small town you expect cliques to develop around political issues and local interests. At the same time, you’d expect that there’d be a certain neighborliness and concern for the community; after all, we are a community. Right? And we’re all neighbors. Right? 

Fence seen from Corner of County Rt 54 and High Mount Road.

Well, things are a bit different in the Town of New Baltimore. You see, you may be a property owner and taxpayer, but the fascists in the New Baltimore Town Administration don’t give a shite about you or your property. They’re too busy promoting their own interests, pushing outsiders to use our town facilities, doing favors for friends and supporters while the rest of the community watches as their property is damaged and the town purse is plundered. What are we getting for some of the highest taxes in the state? Abuse, Abuse, and more Abuse! And for taking care of your property? More abuse, More Abuse, and More Abuse! You might as well move to Coeymans!

Denis Jordan, the illiterate bully Superintendent of Highways in the Town of New Baltimore, can’t seem to find the time to supervise his contractors or to learn how to maintain town drainage but has plenty of time for private projects and harassing local property owners. His recent harassment of Ms Patty Hildebrandt and his defiance of the Town Board and NYS law is sending a very disturbing message out to all residents and property owners in the Town of New Baltimore.You may be next!

The backstabbing in New Baltimore is not limited to town officials and employees cutting residents’ throats, the blood flows in rivulets in Town Hall and between Town Hall and the New Baltimore Highway Department.

New Baltimore Superintendent of Highways Denis Jordan has lost a lot of political capital and credibility in the past couple of years. During that time we have investigated and reported on a number of unethical and unlawful activities that have been going on in the Jordan Highway Department. Those abuses range from retaliation and punishing of Highway Department personnel to misuse of town employees and equipment, and noncompliance with the laws regarding proper record-keeping and contract operations.

The first item in this report concerns a local property owner, Ms Patricia “Patty” Hidebrandt, who has been selected by Denis Jordan and harassed because of a so-called privacy fence she put up. This is no ordinary property owner but one who is highly visible on Route 51, a county road, and High Mount Road, a roadway owned by the Town of New Baltimore. Ms Hildebrandt has been a New Baltimroe resident for more than 40 years and takes immaculate care of her property; she lives in a cute little house in a highly visible spot on the corner of the two roadways. Her home is picture-perfect and the grounds are always manicured and planted with seasonal flowers. The property is an example of how we’d like to see all property in New Baltimore kept.

But Denis Jordan, a Neanderthal, has some vendetta or an ax to grind with this poor woman. You see, he’s hand-picked Patty Hidebrandt out of the hundreds of other properties in New Baltimore, and has been persecuting her for months because, as Jordan alleges, she put up a fence on town property. Jordan wants her to take the fence down and has been harassing her for months.

But there’s no reason for Jordan to make such a demand. The New Baltimore Town Board even agreed that it was not a problem,and  even if the fence is on Town property it’s not in any way posing a nuisance or obstructing any Highway Department operations or plans. Jordan just wants to throw his weight around and it’s easier to bully a woman rather than go after someone else. Bully!

Denis Jordan Spells BULLY

Jordan got former code enforcement officer S. Mantor to send the property owner a letter informing her of Jordan’s claimsand telling her the fence has to be removed “from the town’s right-of-way.” Mantor never went after Ms Hildebrandt because no one really cared; only Denis Jordan cares.

Ms Hildebrandt appeared before the New Baltimore Town Board and the Board approved a temporary “license” allowing the an exception to keep the fence where it was. Jordan brought in his lacky, former New Baltimore code enforcement officer, John Cashin, live-in partner of former corrupt New Baltimore Town Supervisor Susan O’Rorke (D). Cashin decided to hit the road after his live-in partner, Susan O’Rorke, lost re-election for supervisor to Nick Dellisanti. Our guess is that Cashin couldn’t handle the honesty and integrity Dellisanti brought to New Baltimore, and so Cashin decided to join disgraced ex-judge Phil Crandall’s mob in Coeymans, where hiypocrisy and corruption still have a home and are thriving. Cashin appeared with Jordan at a Town Board meeting and spouted some unsubstantiated garbage about the Town Board not having the authority to allow the property owner to keep the fence. The Town Board responded that the matter was researched by the Town Attorney, Tal Rappelea, who wrote up the resolution. This was not good enough for Jordan, so he got his own attorney to critique Rappelea’s findings and the Board’s action.

At the June 26, 2017, public meeting of the New Baltimore Town Board, a vote was taken after Mr. Jordan brought in his own scheister attorney Meave Tooher of the Albany law firm of Tooher and Barone, who read his opinion to the Board. Jordan also told the Board he’d be having the property surveyed. Nice neighbor our Superintendent of Highways, Mr. Jordan, isn’t he? Nice guy to have to work with, too. Just ask the Town Board.

Well, at the June 26, 2017, Town Board public meeting, the Town Board carried the motion by a unanimous approval by full board, to allow the property owner, Ms Hildebrandt,  to keep the fence, saying:

“the Town Board has determined that the location of such privacy fence, notwithstanding having been constructed on town-owned land does not imperil the motoring or pedestrian traffic nor des it impede or interfere with the maintenance of said High Mount Road and…the Town Board has determined that the cost for Ms [name redacted] to remove such fence would create an unnecessary hardship on her.”

The license is temporary and the resolution states explicitly that if, in future, the town needs to use the area, Ms H. would remove the fence at her own expense. The resolution further states that Ms H. would insure the property and hold the town harmless for any claims involving the fence. Sounds pretty fair to us. But That was not enough for Jordan.

The Fence from Directly Across High Mount Road.

Denis Jordan continued his harassment and is continuing it as we write. The result: The Town Board was forced to withdraw its resolution. When the vote had to be taken but before the vote Town Board Member vanEtten stated, “I feel terrible doing this…” Deputy Supervisor Ruso abstained from the vote saying, “I’d prefer more time to consider this so in the meantime I’m going to abstain.”

Several neighbors and friends of Ms H. appeared before the Town Board at the public meeting to express their support and opposition to Mr. Jordan’s harassment, and Town Board members and town attorney Rappelea even pointed out significant errors in Jordan’s attorney’s letter, but Jordan was out for blood and wasn’t going to stop.

Jordan’s Attorney Meave Tooher of the Albany Law Firm Tooher & Barone LLP Can’t Tell A Drainage District from a Right-of-Way!

Meave Tooher, Jordan’s Attorney. Hey, girl! Who doesn’t your hair?

Nevertheless, Mr Jordan dragged his buddy ex-code officer defector John Cashin to another meeting as “concerned resident.” If Cashin had an ounce of integrity and real concern for the town or even the law, he’d find another low-life to hang out with but that’s Cashin, bald, aging, unwanted, and hooked up with another loser, Sue-Sue. Actually, two losers: Sue-Sue O’Rorke and Sue-sue! Tooher. Bla-bla-bla gibberish Cashin and Duh-duh-duh Neanderthal Jordan, so they bring in Crazy-Hair Meave Tooher, the third member of the New Baltimore Stooges. Now they have three. Put them all together, shake them up, add water and you come up with a little less than half a brain. Not bad for three shit-for-brains.

Back to being serious…. A number of residents and neighbors have appeared on Ms Hildebrandt ‘s behalf and addressed the Town Board. One resident, Ms D. Davis, who spoke from experience with Denis Jordan. Ms Davis tells the Board, “I think he’s a bully. If he doesn’t like you, he’ll make your life hell. I personally witnessed him doing favors for private residents using Town equipment…I also witnessed him…” At this point Mr Dellisanti interrupted Ms Davis with, “Dot, we’re not going to listen to this.” Normally, persons making comments during the public comment period have three (3) minutes for commenting. Ms Davis — regardless of what they’re commenting on as long as they’re orderly and civil; it’s part of the democratic process, Mr Dellisanti —  had not used her three minutes before being interrupted by Mr Dellisanti, in fact abusing her rights of free speech in public session. That was wrong. It was wrong because Ms Davis was commenting on personal experience as a witness of Mr Jordan’s unlawful conduct; her comment was not hearsay. (Editor’s Note: In fact, we are reporting on Denis Jordan’s misuse of Town equipment to make improvements on private property in our article, Denis Jordan Avoids Duties to Serve Special Friends.)

Interrupting and muzzling Ms Davis was doubly wrong because Mr Bla-bla Cashin was allowed multiple opportunities to comment, and was speculating, inaccurate, repetitive, and obviously had an agenda. We would question Mr Dellisanti on this unfair conduct in public session.

When asked directly by the Board why Mr Jordan wanted the privacy fence down, Jordan waffled. Apparently he was unable to come up with a good lie right away. First it was because he claimed it caused a problem with plowing but soon realized that that wasn’t going to hold any water; it was a bare faced lie, in fact. Just looking at the fence in the photos proves that. Jordan then decided again to lie to the Board by saying he has received complaints. When asked what kind of complaints and from whom, Jordan answered, “I’m not going to speak. I’ll have my attorney. Councilmember vanEtten persisted, “So you’re not going to tell us anything about the complaints?” and Jordan answers, “No.”


Jordan to Board

Editor’s Note: New York State Consolidated Laws, Town Law does give the Town Board certain investigational powers including subpoena power, examination of witnesses, etc. We expect that if the Town Board were to have the Town Attorney research this, Mr Jordan could be forced to keep the Town Board properly informed. Letting Jordan get away with his criminality only aggravates an already unbearable situation, undermines the Town Board’s ability to govern, and erodes trust in local government. We would recommend subpoenaing Mr Jordan to provide the information demanded by the Town Board.

Besides, since when does a Highway Superintendent defy the Town Board and bring in his own attorney to mislead the Town Board. Who’s paying for this scheister from Albany? Are we taxpayers and residents paying for Jordan’s fun and games. We’re pretty certain he’s taking the money from the public purse. Attorneys don’t work for nothing unless there’s something in it for them.


As we reported above, Jordan has been the subject of a number of investigations that adversely affect his credibility and his fitness for office. In fact, the public has shown that they don’t trust him as evidenced by the fact that he was re-elected in 2015 by a margin of only one (1) vote! There is reason to believe that his opponent would have won if there weren’t some irregularities in not counting absentee ballots. We’re also investigating that possibility.

Jordan Has a History of Abuse of Public Office…and a Shithouse Lawyer…

Nothing to worry about! Meave Tooher’s on the case…hmmm…Yup, she is. I heard a flush.

Commenting on Meave Tooher’s, Jordan’s hired-gun attorney’s, letter, Town Attorney Rappelea noted in the minutes:

“I took a look at the letter that was provided [by Jordan] and it was off baseThe case law that was cited didn’t have anything to do with fences or right-of-ways or anything of that nature. And the section of law, Section 198 of the [New York State] Town Law has to do with the creation of a special drainage district. That’s nothing to do with fencing or right-of-way licenses. But the point is that we have have this one line, one sentence in our zoning law, and we have to abide by it.”

One sentence in the 119-pages of town zoning law. Get a grip people! Rappelea caved and admitted he made a mistake. The Town Board repealed its decision granting Ms Hildebrandt the temporary “license” to keep the fence. The Board with No Balls!

So dear readers and neighbors, we have Mr. Jordan harassing a local property owner for no reason at all. But this doesn’t affect just one property owner, it affects anyone with a fence, a stone wall, anything that Mr. Jordan thinks is in his definition of right-of-way. You’re all at his mercy now!

Even if Mr. Jordan’s attorney’s are better at bullshit than law, and even if Mr Jordan’s engineering consultants hired with your tax dollars report that in New Baltimore water runs uphill! And even if Mr. Jordan’s attorney Meave Tooher of the Albany law firm of Tooher and Barone, can’t tell the difference between a fence or right-of-way and a special drainage district, Mr. Jordan does have a special talent for avoiding his duties and obligations in favor of, well, doing favors for friends. That’s the subject of the following article. Click here to read about it.


Editor’s Notes: The source of the information above is from the official minutes of the New Baltimore Town Board in public session. Other information includes documents produced by the Town of New Baltimore in response to our demand for the production of documents under the provisions of the New York Freedom of Information Law.

Denis Jordan’s wife, Diane Jordan, is currently working in the New Baltimore Town Administration as Town Tax Collector, and is running for re-election this November. Diane Jordan is also a deputy town clerk in the Town of New Baltimore town hall.

We are currently investigating Denis Jordan’s relationship with Callanan Industries,  Inc., the company who provided the paving materials for the recent paving of Hamlet streets. The were supposed to lay two (2) inches of blacktop but raised the road surface 4-8 inches, in some spots up to 12-18 inches, creating safety hazards and nuisances, reducing the road width by about 18-24 inches, and causing problems with snow removal operations, according to a New Baltimore Highway Department plow driver. That’s really magic: quote to provide 2 inches of surface and raise the road bed by 8 inches! Wow! That’s fine, though, Denis Jordan has a close relationship with his suppliers. This time to the tune of more than $180,000. And George Amadore, our NYS Senator for the 46th Senate District hands over more than $142,000 from the NYS Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) to waste on truckloads of unnecessary blacktop!!! Somebody’s making money on this deal and it isn’t the taxpayer or property owner!


 

Albany Police: Keystone Cops “To Disserve and Abuse”

This just in: An Albany, NY, resident witnesses the Albany Police Department in action. The resident was so irked that s/he sent in this story for publication. We think it’s worth the space and want to share it with our readers.


Editor’s Note: We don’t want to distract our readers from the current lead stories: but we don’t want this important story to go stale. Please read this and learn; then go back and read our current lead stories: Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Board of Education Disses 911 Remembrance!!! and A Toothless Town Board? New Baltimore Board Works for Hwy Super!


Keystone Cops Gang-Pursue a Homeless Man and Expose Motorists to Unnecessary Danger

While a gang of Albany cops pursued a sole black man, they put motorists at risk of an accident by unlawfully and carelessly parking an Albany Police Department patrol car No. 117 kitty-corner on the main drag New Scotland Avenue. When advised by a citizen that it was parked dangerously with no signal or warning lights, the driver occupant of the patrol car ignored the citizen. Albany’s best in blue. (The photo below was provided by the citizen, and shows the patrol car and another of the three patrol cars responding to an upset homeless 66-year old black man!)

Albany Police Patrol Car No. 117, Parked Dangerously on Corner of New Scotland Avenue with NO LIGHTS!


I am writing this to your blog because I feel you have a real interest in your community and in people. I also believe that if there’s going to be a better world we have to act from the individual on up to the community. Each of us has to tow the mark and stop being like a bunch of liberal drama queens looking for acceptance while losing all self respect.

Today, on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, a little after 5 p.m., I was sitting with a friend in front of the Ale and Oyster on New Scotland Ave., in Albany, NY. (I’m mentioning that because if there is an investigation, the time and location will be important.) It was a beautiful day and we were sitting outside at a table, and had just finished our meal and waiting for the check.

I noticed a slim black man walking down the street towards us and, so prone to stereotypes as our society is, noticed he was carrying the de rigueur large bags, and so judged him to be homeless.  That’s my problem, though. As he was passing, I didn’t avoid his gaze, and he cautiously approached and pulled up a chair. If we had just started our meal I would have been more proactive and asked him to please allow us our privacy. But we were finished and almost ready to leave so what was the big deal.

The man knocked my socks off when he started to speak because Poof! Gone! was the stereotype. He was articulate and well spoken. Very genial and mannerly. It is in my character not to be so dismissing of those less fortunate than myself and we engaged in a very robust and open conversation. He told me he was 66 years old and lived beyond his time; he had a moving story. My partner apparently thought I had gone completely nutz ,because he didn’t say a word and just looked at me, avoiding the man, who noticed and politely commented that he didn’t smile very much and looked like a professor. I had to laugh.

After about 15 minutes, the man, uninvited, got up and said good-bye, without any sort of pitch or gig.

I wished him well and blessings and he left.

About 5 or 10 minutes later, I heard him speaking in a loud voice and saw him exiting a Stewart’s shop just a couple of doors down the street. He had made a complete 180 degree turn in his manner, and being in a profession and trained in human psychology, I wondered how that could have happened. He was obviously very upset.

Long story short, about five minutes later, at about 5:30, I note an Albany Police Department police cruiser racing towards us and making a U-turn, parked at an angle at the opposite corner, and two patrol persons exited, raced towards the Stewart’s shop, and then down the street. Not minutes later two more patrol cars raced to our vicinity and now 3 more cops were in hot pursuit of this skinny black man, with his two bags, and his ironically Law Enforcement cap. I couldn’t believe my eyes!

We lingered to see what was going to happen next, what with the one patrol car posing a hazard to traffic, and five cops in pursuit of a frail black man. As I waited, I became more and more reflexive about the situation, and wondered what I should do.

The waiter returned with the receipt and my guest decided it was time to leave. We got up and I headed for my car but, halfway there, turned around and decided I could not overlook the cops’ irresponsibility at leaving the patrol car parked like that with no warning or signal lights on. It was bound to cause an accident.

So I turned around and headed in the direction in which I observed the cops to have headed, identified one of the occupants of the offending vehicle, a gender ambiguous person of equally ambiguous ethnicity, could have been male or female, Oriental or Hispanic. I waited cautiously until s/he knew I was there and then approached saying, “Don’t you think you should get some lights going on your vehicle. You might have to deal with an accident if you don’t.” Shooting me a contemptuous glare only like a cop can do when confronted by common sense, s/he simply said “OK.” And disappeared around the corner. I started back to my car, and noticed that s/he was standing across the street talking to someone, and hadn’t  even bothered to put any lights on on his/her vehicle. By this time I had had enough of the Keystone-CSI comedic drama, and decided that if I couldn’t assist the unfortunate creature they were after, I would at least point out the indifference of the Albany police to public safety and, risking my own security, openly photographed the patrol car on the corner. I am providing you with that photo.

Judging from the man’s conduct when he was conversing with me at my table, I can only surmise that he had been maltreated in the Stewart’s shop and became indignant. He had his dignity and, when treated with dignity, obviously was gracious and polite. Anyone, including myself, if abused would react and respond appropriately. In this poor man’s case he was stereotyped and apparently didn’t appear to the Stewart’s people, staff and customers, to be worth human dignity. Their answer apparently was to abuse him and then play the victims, calling the police.

This entire scenario irked me for several reasons. The man and I had just discussed the virtues of simplicity and humility, and what it meant to him. I treated him with dignity and respect and he treated me with dignity and grace. The Bible-toting Christians preach that we should see Christ in the least of our brethren; the liberals teach that we are all equal and have human dignity. The problem is that no one practices what they preach.

I saw that paradox first hand today and it affected me deeply; I vowed to make a statement about it.

On another note, most people avoid getting involved, especially when there are police on the scene. They won’t get involved out of fear or some other poor excuse but certainly out of fear for themselves. I chose to get involved if only minimally. I regret that I didn’t get more involved and because of that I feel a bit like a hypocrite (surprisingly, something the man and I had also discussed).

The police claim to be public servants. The mouth the slogan “To serve and protect.” But it doesn’t seem to be true. Here we had a law-abiding citizen drawing a law enforcement person’s attention to a dangerous situation created by the law enforcement person, and the law enforcement person not only ignoring the citizen but further ignored the hazard s/he had created to the motorists having to make the turn onto the street. That was just not right.

Albany mayor Kathy Sheehan is running this year for re-election. As mayor she is the chief law-enforcement officer in the city and the Albany Police Department reports to her and the Common Council. I hope that she and the Acting Police Chief Robert Sears of the Albany Police Department see this letter on your blog, and that an investigation is launched to explore the reasons for this clown show I experienced today.

Is this a complaint? I guess it might be. You decide whether you want to send it in. Right now I’m a bit sour on Albany and the Albany Police.

Thank you!
[Name withheld by request]


This story raises a number questions about what kind of culture we have become, and how much of the great lie we actually live. PC, political correctness, literally a lie, a denial of the obvious. Gender-benders who confuse the hell out of anyone making an honest attempt to identify whether it’s male or female. But even more troubling is the obvious exclusivism, stereotyping, discrimination, unfairness, and inhumanity that we can observe at every level of our society. We have not evolved much from the animals we once were.

We really need to get a grip!

Worse still, we see an example of how the once respectable and admired men and women of law enforcement have become bully careerists. It’s now just a job and I’ll put my time in for this week’s check, and bide my time til retirement and my pension. I’m law enforcement and the law doesn’t apply to me. Whatever I do, I’m immune. Stay out of my way or I’ll hurt your ass.

Luckily there are still some human beings left out there who practice what they preach and who are willing to step forward and try to correct the indecency that floods our world and our lives.

We hope some of you might learn something from this story. We can only hope.

It’s time we started admitting and correcting the unpleasant truths!

The Editor

 

Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Board of Education Disses 911 Remembrance!!!

All over the United States, in schools, churches, government offices, courtrooms the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, were being remembered by observing a moment of silence.

The Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Board of Education Disses 911 Remembrance

It’s all over the place in the RCS school district: The schools of the RCS Central School District refused to remember the victims of the 911 terror attacks with a moment of silence. Even the students are outraged as we receive reports of Facebook posts posted by RCS students and expressing their outrage that there was no moment of silence on Monday, September 11, 2017. We find this disgraceful but are very impressed that kids who weren’t even born yet or were infants at the time of the attacks express such compassion and sensitivity to be outraged by their adult handlers’ lack of compassion and sensitivity to a national tragedy that resulted in multiple wars that are still causing misery and suffering at home and abroad.

What’s next?
Will RCS start flying the Saudi flag?

What’s next parents, residents, taxpayers? Do we start pledging allegiance to the flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? Will we next see the Saudi flag raised at the high school?

Most of us will remember 911 with a certain disbelief even today, years after the attack. We all know that the terrorists who planned and executed the attacks were from Saudi Arabia, a country with a long record of anti-West sentiments and whose human rights crimes are legendary. That’s Osama bin Laden’s home country and his family are affluent citizens of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia where Sharia or Islamic law requires women to be completely covered and still features public beheadings as their preferred capital punishment.

SABIC’s Flag Flies in Selkirk!

Right in our midst we have SABIC is a global leader in diversified chemicals and whose headquarters are in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian government owns 70 percent of SABIC shares, with the remainder held by private investors in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.Check out their website and tell us it’s not scary! SABIC is located in Selkiirk/Feura Bush and has recently been granted substantial school tax incentives locally. The plot thickens!

According to a 2014 Times Union report by Brian Nearing, “Selkirk plastics plant hit with third environmental fine in three years,” the Saudi company was fined $16,000 for those violations but in 2011 and 2013 paid $241,000.00 in fines for environmental violations. But then that’s mere pocket change to the Saudis. More improtantly, apparently the Saudis are not happy just killing Americans and destroying American property, they aim to destroy American environment, too, starting right in our own backyards. The plot thickens even more!

So why are we so concerned about a Saudi chemicals company in Selkirk who, like so many American companies, is intent on destroying our environment and our health? After all, it’s just a country several thousands of miles away with terrorist ties and human rights violations. Not much unlike so many of America’s “friends”. So what you might be thinking.

So what? Here’s why:

The property owners in the RCS Central School District pay millions in taxes to support the now more than $46 million school budget for the district, while local towns are giving companies like Sabic and Selkirk Cogen tax breaks. The residents of the RCS Central School District vote for the members of the RCS Central School District Board of Education. According to the RCS CD Board of Education website, the board is:

“A local board of education is an agency of New York State that is governed by state law and the regulations of the commissioner of education.”

The BoE website also states the five main responsibilities of the RCS BoE to be:

  • to establish all school district policies;
  • to develop an annual budget for public approval;
  • to approve or disapprove the superintendent’s recommendations regarding personnel matters and the many contracts the district must enter;
  • to review courses of study and textbooks;
  • to act as a two-way communications link between residents and the superintendent

The site also states that: “The decisions of your elected board of education affect your child, your child’s future, your tax rate, and the well-being of your community.

RCS BoE President James Latter is a SABIC Employee; Jason Hyslop, a BoE member is a SABIC Employee!!!

In 2013, we published two articles on this blog with very serious warnings: James Latter: Why He’s A Bad Choice and Latter-Hyslop-Brown: The VERY WRONG Choice! but somehow Latter and Hyslop got elected to the board, and it’s been downhill ever since. You see, both James Latter, RCS BoE president, and Jason Hyslop are employees of SABIC. Where do you think their loyalties lie? In their paychecks or in the interests of the school district?

So now you have two RCS Central School District Board of Education members, its president, James Latter, and a sitting board member, Jason Hyslop, both employees of Saudi-owned SABIC, “establishing school district polices” and to “review courses of study and textbooks“, and keep in mind that, according to the Board’s own statement, “the decisions of your elected board of education affect your child, your child’s future, your tax rate, and the well-being of your community.

So now that we have informed you AGAIN that you have two SABIC lackies on your board of education and you put them there, we hope that at the next meeting you will propose that courses for conversational Arabic be offered the elementary, middle and high school curriculums, because you’re going to need it to pledge allegiance to the Saudi flag. After all, the RCS CD Board of Education does establish all school district policies and their decisions affect your children, your child’s future, and the well-being of your community.

So why do you think there was no moment of silence in RCS schools on September 11, 2017? Do we really have to answer that question?

Here you go, we’ll get you stared. Repeat after Mr Latter:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله
lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muhammadun rasūlu-llāh
“There is no god but God: Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”


Get the Saudi Companies off our Board of Education!!!

The Editor


Let your RCS Central School District Board of Ed members know what you think!
James Latter, President of the RCS-CD BoE and SABIC Employee
Teddy Reville
Bray Engel
Tina Furst-Hotaling
Kristin Hill-Burns
Jason Hyslop, BoE member and SABIC Employee
William McFerran
William McFerran
Peter Ross

Email all board members

 

A Toothless Town Board? New Baltimore Board Works for Hwy Super!

The list of misconduct and abuses grows and grows and grows for Town of New Baltimore Highway Superintendent Denis Jordan (D). The New Baltimore Town Board just sit and stare into space, wide-eyed, clueless while Jordan makes threats, harasses residents, creates dangerous hazards, damages private property, causes lawsuits against the Town, and even threatens the Board itself. Why does this craziness continue? why hasn’t the Town Board taken action against Jordan as provided under New York State Law? Politics? Cowardice? Ignorance? Indifference? Maybe a little of each but the incompetence and stupidity is damaging the entire community!

Why doesn’t the New Baltimore Town Board read the writing on the wall?


The entire New Baltimore Town Board met in public session on September 11, 2017. Supervisor Nick Dellisanti, Deputy supervisor Jeff Ruso, board members Shellie vanEtten, Chuck Irving, and Scott Brody were all present. Mr Denis Jordan, the under-fire New Baltimore Highway Superintendent, was sprawled in the last row. Four residents, three of them women, all with complaints against Jordan, were also present.

All four residents have significant claims against the Town of New Baltimore and all the claims are based on Jordan’s abuses, incompetence, and unethical practices. The four appeared at the meeting as a show of solidarity. One of them was to read a public statement into the record demanding answers to explain how Jordan has managed to keep his job while perpetrating all sorts of incompetent and crazy schemes.

We have the text of the resident’s public statement, and we’d like to share it with our readers now:


September 11, 2017

The Town Board of New Baltimore
New Baltimore Town Hall
3809 County Route 51
Hannacroix, New York 12087

Ladies, Gentlemen, Neighbors:

Subject:        Remarks addressed to the Board in Public Session.

I am here this evening to address the New Baltimore Town Board directly and to get answers to the many questions I have placed before the Town over the past year and a half regarding the lamentable performance of the Town of New Baltimore Highway Department under the authority and supervision of Mr Denis Jordan, Town of New Baltimore Highway Superintendent.

The Town of New Baltimore, in addition to the numerous email notifications and photographic documentation I have provided, has made at least one on site inspection visit of New Street, a roadway owned by the Town of New Baltimore, in response to the ongoing problems of runoff water drainage and the failure of the New Baltimore Highway Department to maintain gutters and storm drains. There is an at least six-year record of the incompetent installation of culverts, drains, and ditches and the resulting damage to private property in and around New Street.

In 2016, the town supervisor and deputy supervisor, as well as board member vanEtten personally visited the site of damage to private property. Mr Ruso himself discovered a culvert that was so poorly maintained that one end could not be identified. Two days after that inspection, Mr Dellisanti, Mr Ruso, Mr Jordan and Mr vanWormer were provided with a tour of the New Street and Madison Avenue East problem areas.  Shortly, thereafter, NBHD crews arrived to clear drainage ditches that had not been cleared of debris and vegetation for at least 2-3 years. They proceeded to identify the blind culvert and uncovered a drainage grate from under 2-3 inches of soil. Mr vanWormer remarked that he had no idea the drain was there, and he’d been with the department for at least 17 years. The department dug up the road, replaced the mystery culvert, installed culverts under two residential driveways, and left a so-called catchment hole and several bizarrely crafted storm drains. The runoff drainage problem was not cured.

The drainage problems were not cured and the department managed to create new hazards and aggravate the drainage situation.

In 2017, the town of New Baltimore Highway Department and its contractor Callanan, appeared unannounced and commenced paving operations in the Hamlet of New Baltimore. I personally sought out and questioned Mr vanWormer about what was planned, since residents were not provided with information, and the Town website merely stated that details would be announced; that notice still appeared even after the paving had been started and even after it had been completed.

The most recent operations of the NBHW department can be characterized best by saying it is half-assed done by halfwits! The epitome of jerry rigging.

Not only were the operations on New Street largely unsupervised by the Highway Department, upon arrival on the day New Street was done, I was practically speechless when I returned home at about 3:00 p.m. to find that the roadbed had been raised an average of 8-15 inches, a huge drop prevented one from using the front entrance to my home, another 10”curb made use of the second entrance a significant hazard. There was a raised sloped edge along the street on the East side measuring some 12-15 inches. You could not exit a car at the roadside and safely get out because of the slope and the drop-off.  The road has been substantially narrowed such that when unloading my car another car cannot safely pass by.

The highway department attempted to cure the drop-off to the residential parking areas by dropping crushed stone. That jerry rigged solution has failed because the stone is either compressing or washing away, leaving the dangerous curb exposed again. It’s incredible but the Department on the West side of New Street, right across the street and opposite the No 18 New St. parking area, deposited a blacktop ramp from the roadway onto the lawn of the Arndt property, apparently so that Ms Arndt can drive her car up onto her lawn. Even more bizarrely that ramp actually fills the drainage ditch along the West side of New Street, preventing runoff from draining along the ditch into the drains.

In another incompetent attempt to remedy the hazards caused by the deposition of untold truckloads of blacktop on New Street, the Department had to pour concrete steps supposedly to allow our entrances to be used. The concrete steps were not provided with a foundation and now vegetation is growing from under the steps. No doubt water can seep under the steps and frost will heave them. The concrete or cement mix used is obviously not the correct mix because the edges are already disintegrating, crumbling. At the top of the steps there continues to be a raised hump of approximately 6-8 inches in height, causing a significant hazard of tripping, and which will pose a particular problem in winter with ice and snow buildup. This needs to be corrected.

The Deputy [Highway] superintendent has already commented that the raised, sloped edge of the road will cause a problem when plowing in winter and will complicate snow removal.

In an apparent attempt to cure the raised edge of the roadway at the garage of No. 10, the Department dropped blacktop to form a sloped grade into the driveway. This sloped grade now forms a conspicuous channel along which runoff from the roadway is conducted into the foundations of No. 10 New Street. We continue to use sandbags there.

In short, ladies and gentlemen, not only has the Department created hazard after hazard, they have each time created a new problem.

There is no explanation why truckload upon truckload of blacktop had to be deposited on New Street to the extent of raising the road surface at least 8-10 inches above the pre-paving level! How much has that cost the taxpayers of this Town?


Editor’s Note: By any standard we consulted, the blacktop deposited by Mr Jordan’s contractors, Callanan Industries, should not have exceeded 2-2½ inches maximum. We can only speculate that the reason between 6 and 10 inches of blacktop was dumped on New Street was because Callanan Industries sells blacktop. What was in this excessive use for Mr Jordan, we might well ask?


And where was Mr Jordan when all of this was going on? Well, at 3 p.m. on the day New Street was being literally dumped on, Mr Jordan left early to attend a wake…regrettably not his own.

In the meantime, request after request after request has been brought to the Town to cure the hazards and remove the dangerous situations. The town has shown only indifference, and the incompetence and waste continues.

Rather than respond to residents’ concerns Mr Jordan prefers to harass a local woman property owner because of a privacy fence. Rather than cure the problems and remove the hazards created on New Street and elsewhere, Mr Jordan is off installing culverts on friends’ properties. I have heard of at least two such preferred operations going on in the Town over the past couple of months.

The glaring questions persist: Where is Mr Jordan getting the money to hire his own attorneys when the town has an attorney? Where is Mr Jordan getting the money to hire surveyors to continue his harassment of local property owners. Where is Mr Jordan getting the money to hire Delaware Engineering as consultants to establish that New Baltimore is the only place on Earth were water runs uphill? Where is the accountability? Where is the leadership? Where is the responsibility? Where is Mr Jordan getting the wherewithal to confront this board with his own threats of litigation? What has the board done in response to Mr Jordans now infamous refrain, “Let them sue us!”

Mr Jordan must be made accountable for the untold damage he has done as Superintendent of Highways not only in terms of incompetent roadwork, corrupt contract practices, but also to the trust and confidence of residents in this local government, a town board whose responsibility is to steward the public treasure and to act in good faith and fair play in performing their fiduciary duties to the residents of this town.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr Jordan must be held accountable. Mr Jordan must GO! And he must go NOW!

Need I remind you that this is an election year, and some of you are seeking re-election.  It doesn’t look good.

I am providing a copy of these remarks for the record and ask that the Clerk conform them as part of the record of this September 11, 2017, public regular session of the New Baltimore Town Board.


 


Mr Jordan was re-elected two years ago and won by ONE vote. With the public outcries and public knowledge of Denis Jordan’s years of misconduct and incompetence, waste of taxpayer money, abuse of residents, and his alleged favors being done for “friends” of Denis Jordan by Denis Jordan using Town of New Baltimore resources. Jordan’s neglect of his duties and obligations, his ignorance and incompetence, his questionable contracting procedures, and his refusal to respond to good faith questions posed by residents has been brought to the attention of the New Baltimore Town Board for almost 10 years now, multiple notifications, hundreds of photographs and yet Jordan is still there. Granted, two of the town boards were dominated by Democraps (under supervisors David Louis and Susan O’Rorke) and they wouldn’t lift a finger against their fellow Democrap, Denis Jordan. But now we have a Republican-dominated board and still nothing!!!


Editor’s Note: We have reliable and credible information that Jordan won the last elections by one vote because the Republican and Independent election leaders did not count the absentee votes for that election!!! If that is factually true, someone’s head has to roll. So much for the democratic process and we wonder why people don’t vote.

We have personally inspected the damage and situations described in the resident’s public statement, and we can verify those facts as being true. We have F.O.I.L.ed supporting documents from the Town of New Baltimore and those documents do not paint a pretty picture of the operations of the Highway Department much less of Mr Jordan’s management skills…they’re zilch! We have also spoken to the woman being harassed by Jordan. That woman keeps her property immaculate and takes great pains to keep it beautiful; Mr Jordan made the claims, stating that he had received several complaints about her property but would not say who made the complaints. In fact, he first made the complaints and only afterwards collected any facts. Sounds like harassment, putting the cart before the horse again, Mr Jordan.


We agree with the resident’s public statement and call on the New Baltimore Town Board to commence legal proceedings to remove Denis Jordan from office, to audit his performance and his recent dealings with Callanan and their paving operations in the Hamlet of New Baltimore, and to prosecute Jordan and his accomplices if illegal activity is revealed!

We want justice and compensation for those New Baltimore residents who have been injured by Jordan and his incompetent operations!

This book should be required reading for the Town Board!

The Editor

 

Does your funeral home provide customer service or human service?

An Op-Ed Republished with Permission


As a provider of psychospiritual care to the bereaved, as a professional bereavement chaplain, theologian and thanatologist, I firmly believe that some things just have to be delivered locally and face-to-face; these include sex, making friends, spiritual care, funeralization services. Not necessarily in that order or priority ranking.


Grief work is not achieved in three days nor with an online consult. That’s purely and simply idiotic.

The saying goes thus: “Death is the great equalizer.” We are all equal in death. Presidents, kings, supreme court justices, movie stars, athletes all die, all decay, all go the same way as the homeless man on the corner. But would you think of direct burial or direct cremation for a president, a queen, Mohammed Ali? So why skimp on grandpa? We celebrate the deceased’s achievements in life, not the fact of his or her being dead. And we do it with pomp, ceremony, rites, ritual, tradition, dignity and respect. Virtual mourning is none of the above and the grief work is not achieved in three days nor with an online consult. That’s purely and simply idiotic.

Furthermore, a death is a social, political and community event. The emotions involved in the acute grief experience are far too complex and idiosyncratic to be amenable to one method, one technology, one dose. As a social, political and community event death care requires real community involvement, hands on, and that means a local group understanding the local cultures, a “neighborhood,” if you prefer. This is a physical community, complex, deep, involved, alive; not a virtual make-believe, conjured up community.

One more thing: We have to stop giving Jessica Mitford and her estate post-mortem kudos for a book and a sequel book that was not only self-serving and conflicted in its interests, but a masterpiece of biased muckraking appealing to the titillation lust of the masses and their denial of death anxieties. Mitford couldn’t attack Death itself nor could or would she attempt to attack institutionalized religion, so she went after the next best thing, the funeral services industry. I’ve cited Mitford several times on my various blogs so I won’t waste bytes on her here.

I place Mitford in the same category as Kübler-Ross in that neither of them can claim any objective or scientific credibility but their main contribution to Western, particularly American society, was to get people talking about death and deathcare services. That, my friends, was a big step in a society frozen in preadolescent fascinations, psychosocial pathological denial, anxiety and narcissism, steeped in materialist humanism and addicted to corporate-fed consumerism.

It’s progressively gotten worse with the public health problem of Internet Addiction Disorder and the pathological subset, Facebook Addiction Disorder, and the emergence of the multistate funeral services groups like Newcomer Funeral Services Group, Service Corporation International and their alter ego Dignity Memorial, and StoneMor, who have all added greed and indifference to the corporate mix of tastelessness and deception of the consumer public. and their dead Again, I’ve commented extensively on these ghouls of the funeral services niche so I won’t waste time or words on them here.

Newcomer, SCI/Dignity Memorial, StoneMor
Ghouls of Corporate Death Services

They want your money not your brains!

Like it or not, death is inevitable for every mortal creature from cockroaches to presidents and kings. No matter how you define or think about it, you will have to some day deal with death so get a grip. How you deal with the death of a significant other in your life, whether that loved one is a pet or a parent or a child–or your own death is a matter of what I will term befriending death. No, I don’t mean the superficial, make believe, virtual “befriending” most of you are addicted to on Facebook and other social media. I mean the kind of be-friending that involves learning about, nurturing an intimacy with, even trusting, welcoming into your world, and frequent contact. Being at ease with, acknowledging, being aware of death is key. That may sound a bit bizarre so let me explain.

Technology has evolved faster than we as human beings have done. We lag far behind technology in our understanding of it and our ability to wisely and prudently steward it. In fact, technology has overrun us and has taken over our lives; this can’t be denied. This fact has been used to the level of Dr Strangelove proportions by corporations and big business, and even by individuals with pathological ambitions like Donald Trump on Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg with the Facebook phenomenon. The medical, psychological and ethics journals are full of reports on the so-called Internet Addiction Disorder, which was described back in the 90’s, and now there’s a subset of that disorder termed the Facebook Addiction Disorder and the Internet Gaming Disorder, which all share the same symptoms as alcoholism and street drug addiction like heroin or the like. Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it, just go to Pubmed and plug in a couple search terms and you’ll get all the proof you’ll ever need of this fact.


Editor’s note: For those of you who are not familiar with Pubmed, it is the database and search engine maintained by the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health; it provides access primarily to the MEDLINE database of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. (Access Pubmed here. )


You have to admit you have a problem when you need Facebook to help you grieve!

The stimulus for this editorial, however, is not Newcomers or SCI. Nor is it Twitter or Facebook. The funeral service corporations and the social media and networking evils do figure in the theme of this communication, however.
If presidents and perverts have discovered social networking and social media, neither of which are social in the benevolent meaning of the word but serve a more sinister, asocial purpose of getting people hooked and then controlling them, just as the word “service” is used deceptively when used in conjunction with such greed mills as Newcomers or Service Corporation International.
The stimulus for this commentary is, in fact, an article that appeared in Forbes online, “Customer Service In Deathcare: How The Funeral Home Industry Cares For The Living” (contributed by Micah Solomon, MAY 26, 2017).—

Mr Solomon describes himself as a “customer service consultant” and “consumer trends expert,” — he doesn’t say how he got those credentials, though — catchy phrases but a bit too catchy to inspire any confidence or credibility. I’m a bit at a loss not at the What? but at the How? when Mr Solomon then goes on to say:

While some of my own work with the death care industry as a customer service consultant and consumer trends expert has been on innovation in the deathcare customer experience (methods for serving today’s far-flung bereaved customers by using connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies to allow them to take part in memorial/celebration of life service) most of the work I do in this industry and that matters the most, in my opinion, is simply aimed at improving the customer experience, which, of course, is for the living.

Likewise unclear is Solomon’s terminology “far-flung bereaved customers” and “connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies” to involve them in the “memorial/celebration of life service“. Maybe it’s Mr Solomon’s sense of compassion that is represented by his use of the term “far-flung” to describe the unfortunate mourners who are separated by distance from the event. Describing the bereaved as “customers” further chills the atmosphere he’s creating. Technical jargon like “connectivity, videoconferencing, and recording technologies” somehow put a damper on my sense that this guy has any clue about the nature of bereavement, acute grief, mourning, tradition, spirituality, cultural sensitivity, or even the characteristics of the vocation of funeral director. I’m therefore at something of a loss how he, with his frigid and disconnected technospeak, can improve the customer experience! This he leaves to the funeral directors he’s interviewing. Wisely so.

But even more poignant ar the three phrases caught my attention in that unimaginitive and deceptive title: “customer service,” “deathcare,” “funeral home industry.”

We alone, as moral agents and social actors, are responsible for what we do and how we do it

Inserting a bit of Kantian deontology that I’d like you to keep in the back of your mind while reading this, I’d like to say that we are not measured by what the other guy or gal does, but by what we do; we alone, as moral agents and social actors, are responsible for what we do and how we do it. It’s the quality of our values, morals and ethics that govern our behavior. As moral free agents we alone are responsible for what standards are used to guide our conduct.This applies not only to our inner forum, our conscience and how it guides us, but to the external forum, the community in which we live, work, and may disinterestedly interact.

Human service becomes “customer” service when an goods or services transaction forms the basis of the interaction

Customer service is at its most basic human service, service to human beings, human interaction, relationship building. By human services, I mean a broad range of interdisciplinary services whose commitment is jointly and individually to improve the overall quality of life in diverse populations through guidance in meeting basic human needs and support remediating real or perceived social challenges.  Human service becomes “customer” service when a goods or services transaction forms the basis of the interaction but it is still a subset of human services. Accordingly, customer service cannot separate itself from the humane aspect, the relationship aspect of its nature. The problem I have with the Forbes article is that, true to the materialist consumerist interests of Forbes, the article defines customer service purely in terms of selling and purchasing relationships but in the context of the so-called, malapropism, funeral service industry. Customer service must be human service, especially in the funeral services professions. Human service and hence customer service in this framework is near impossible on a corporate or industrial scale for reasons I’d be happy to substantiate in another article, if required.

Try doing this on Facebook or in cyberspace!

The second term that raised my suspicions is “deathcare.” We can defined death care as the care given to the dead or as post-mortem care. This would involve respectful and dignified custodianship and preparation of the dead body for whatever funeralization rites and rituals are appropriate as defined by the deceased individual during his or her life or as requested by the survivors. We must not oversimplify deathcare with the deathcare services businesses and industries that commonly provide services related to the dead body and death traditions, that is, preparation of the dead body (removal, embalming, cosmetology, etc.), funeral rituals, disposal (burial, cremation, etc.), and memorialization. The deathcare business includes for example funeral homes and their operations, including transporation services; containers like caskets, coffins, urns; accelerated decomposition services such as alkaline hydrolysis, cremation, etc.; cemeteries and burial plots, and headstones, markers, etc. What we most neglect in the discussion of deathcare services is psychospiritual care, and here we must include the professional bereavement chaplain and some but not most clergy.

The phrase that most raised my hackles is “funeral home industry.” First of all, the funeral home is not an industry. It may operate like a business but it is a professional operation requiring very specific training and licensure in most places. Most states require a trained and licensed funeral director to at least oversee the operations of a funeral home. The term “funeral home industry” is grossly misleading and deceptive because it creates an image of the traditional funeral home with all of its warmth and amenities together with the dignified and compassionate professional funeral director at its helm. Nothing could be farther from the truth if one looks at the funeral services industry, the more correct designation for the funeral services groups and corporations such as Newcomer Funeral Services Group, Service Corporation International (Dignity Memorial) or StoneMor, who operate more like waste disposal business than funeral homes. Remember corporations operate according to policies, procedures, protocols and most of all the bottom line and shareholder satisfaction. No room here for stuff like compassion, empathy, much less “human service”.

Their focus is twofold: dignified care of the dead and compassionate care of the living.

The traditional, community funeral home is a hub of interdisciplinary teamwork.

The role of the funeral services provider, more accurately the funeral services team, is just that: to provide human services. Those human services are provided by a team of specialists that range from the funeral home cleaning and maintenance person(s), to the housekeeper, the groundskeeper, the funeral home assistants, the behind the scenes professionals (the cosmetologist, the hair stylist, the embalmer), to the front of house staff (the assistants, the funeral director(s)), to the psychospiritual care provider (the funeral home chaplain or associated clergyperson). Their focus is twofold: dignified care of the dead and compassionate care of the living. The human services aspect persists far beyond the care provided with the first call, the removal, the arrangements conference, the chaplain visit and consultation, the visitation or the funeral; what happens at any of these milestones significantly affects the survivors during, immediately after the services, and well into the future, perhaps for years. That’s what the funeral services industry, the large groups, the corporations can’t provide but what the local family-owned funeral home pride themselves in: the human side of funeral services. So be clear on this point: once you start talking “industry” you are not talking “human”. Period.

So far I’ve taken issue only with three phrases that occur in the title of the article alone. But what about the remainder of the so-called article at issue? Well, there’s not much to say about it because the bulk of it is made up of questions put to three selected funeral directors and their responses. Their responses are totally acceptable in terms of the language, and to be honest I can’t find much with which I’d tend to disagree. The funeral directors seem to have their acts in order and say the right things. They are in a highly competitive business and have to be realistic, not necessarily traditional. Read into that what you like.

It should be clear by this point that I do not advocate virtual or technological or corporate solutions to anything as profound as the death experience or any occurrence of acute traumatic bereavement. Electronic signals, bits and bytes, virtual compassion just do not and cannot replace the warmth of human spirit, the compassionate embrace of a friend or loved one, the immediacy of the death experience, the real-ization of the death and its sequellae. The funeral home and its resident and on-call team members are the experts in offering compassion and comfort and no social networking scheme, no corporate disposal package, no virtual event and no DVD can replace the authenticity and true empathic response of face-to-face, human-to-human, verbal and non-verbal communications, the symbols and rituals that give meaning to this most mysterious of life events, death.

… some things just have to be delivered locally and face-to-face; these include sex, making friends, spiritual care, funeralization services.

This is what we do.

The Editor

 


Editor’s Note: Solomon’s self-description reads line a narcissist’s mini-bio: “I’m best known as an author, keynote speaker, consultant, and thought leader in customer service, customer experience, company culture, leadership, hospitality, innovation, entrepreneurship and consumer trends. I travel nationally and worldwide, and home base is metro Seattle. Reach me at 484-343-5881 or micah@micahsolomon.com or http://www.micahsolomon.com” We’ve contacted him for a comment on this editorial.


Acknowledgement: I’d like to extend my special thanks to my colleagues on LinkedIn, Ms Linda Williams M. Ed., M. Th., who describes herself as an Entrepreneur, Virtual Event Planner and Facilitator, Instructional Designer, Educator, Inspirational Speaker”.” Ms Williams describes her business, In-Person Away Virtual Events, as an operation that provides “our clients, their families, and friends with a virtual alternative to come together in an engaging, realistic and meaningful way, as well as host and attend social events, without breaking the bank on travel expenses.” Ms Williams does not advocate virtual resources as a substitute for real presence but only as a valuable alternative affording an opportunity to share where no other viable options are available. I agree.