Mr Sante Debacco of the Ravena Building Department Responds

17 Aug

Mr Sante Debacco, part-time in the Village of Ravena Building Department, and part-time in the Town of Coeymans Building Department, and full-time in the Albany International Airport Fire Brigade, took the time to respond at length to our recent post, “Is Nancy Warner Suffering PMM (Post-menopausal Mania) AGAIN?“. Mr Debacco , to his credit, was civil and apparently honest in what he had to say. In fact, we thought his message was so worthwhile we are reproducing it here together with our responsive comments.

Good Evening Editor of the Smalbany Blog,

I would like to pass along some comments regarding the Smalbany blog and a recent blog that was posted about an employee of the Village of Ravena.

It’s at first unclear whether Mr Debacco is referring to Nancy Warner or to Mr Ron Holman, since he’s commenting on an article that is about Nancy Warner; nevertheless, the subject of Mr Debacco’s communication becomes obvious as we read on.

First of all, I do not read the blog. I have never been interested in it, because I have been told that it contains mostly negative and derogatory comments about our public officials – elected officials, employees, etc.

I was told that there was a recent post about Village of Ravena Zoning Enforcement Official Ron Hohlman. As you are aware, I work part-time in the Village of Ravena Building Department. With that said, I went on the blog to read the post about Mr. Hohlman. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not sticking up for Mr. Hohlman. Sometimes I don’t agree with his tactics and the way he does things, but I am not his boss.

We’d like to say that we are not impressed by Mr Debacco’s admission that he doesn’t read this blog because he’s “never been interested in it.” That is unfortunate because that would indicate that Mr Debacco is uninterested in what is going on in the community where he lives and where he works, at least part-time. We would think that Mr Debacco would be interested in a publication that is about his community, that is, if he’s really interested in what the world is reading about his community and, at times, about him.

We find it also unfortunate that Mr Debacco relies on hearsay and gossip to make a decision about what we write on this blog. That’s simply ignorant. We’d like to think that Mr Debacco and people like him would be interested in the “mostly negative and derogatory comments about our public officials,” since that knowledge might make them think about what’s wrong with the community and might lead to getting things fixed. But Mr Debacco is typical of the mindset in Ravena-Coeymans, New Baltimore, and in general, the entire Capital District. That’s why there’s so much apathy, anxiety, and so little improvement in the situation. People allow themselves to be told what’s what, and they avoid anything that rocks their little boat. Then they wonder why they are suffering. Yeah, we know: It’s the blogger’s fault. Kill the messenger; ignore reality.

Bu then Mr Debacco gets to his point:

Which leads me to my comment/question for you: why doesn’t the blogger bash Joe Burns on the blog? Joe Burns is the department head of the Village of Ravena Building Department. He is responsible for all that goes on in our office. In defense of Mr. Hohlman, he only works 2 days a week, at about 4 hours a day. I, as assistant to Mr. Burns, only work on the average of 8 to 10 hours a week, usually average of 2 afternoons a week. We (myself and Ron Hohlman ) are just workers.

Mr Debacco does what comes naturally for people who attempt to avoid responsibility and accountability by pointing the finger. The usual solution in American politics from the American family to municipal government right on up to the office of the POTUS: Point the finger; avoid responsibility and accountability. Here, Mr Debacco, while already cautioning that he’s not coming to Mr Holman’s defense, is throwing his boss, Joe Burns, under the bus.

While we do agree that the fish rots from the head down, we are aghast that Mr Debacco wants to wash his hands of any responsibility, personal or professional, and wants to tar and feather Burns for anything and everything that goes on in the Ravena Building Department. Perhaps Mr Burns is a dud, but that fact does not relieve Mr Debacco or Mr Holman from personal responsibility and accountability, just because they are part-timers and “just workers.

That excuse didn’t work for the defendants at the Nuremberg trials when they claimed they were just doing their jobs or just “following orders.” The message sent was that everyone is responsible for his or her own actions regardless of what higher ups say or do. So forget the B.S. about just being “workers.” You are just as responsible for what goes on in the Building Department as the Supervisor or the Mayor, regardless of how many hours you work. You are public servants and you are being paid by the public. That means you have the duty and responsibility of ensuring the best interests of the public no matter what. If you don’t understand that Mr Debacco, Mr Holman, Mr Burns, Mr Misuraca, empty your desks!

In my real job, as you know, I work as a firefighter at the Albany International Airport. I work (2) 24 hour shifts per week. My shifts fall on different days of the week as we rotate through the calendar. We are allowed to sleep at night while on duty, similar to the routines of a city fire department, and obviously we must get up and respond to a call when a call comes in during the overnight hours. Most career firefighters have entirely other side careers going – such as I with my jobs in Coeymans and Ravena. Such is the advantage of working a 24 hour shift in the fire service. In between my work shifts at the Airport, I work at my part-time jobs at the Town of Coeymans and Village of Ravena. Incidentally, I was told several years ago that I was bashed on the blog because I work so much. Not that it is anyone’s business, including the blog’s business, but I have always been a hard worker to support my family and make sure they are taken care of. If it is true, I don’t understand why I had to be spoken of negatively on the blog for working to support my family. In the fire service, I am extremely dedicated, highly trained with 35 years of serving the traveling public at the Albany Airport, and I have nothing but unmitigated pride for my profession in the fire service.

While we object to Mr Debacco’s use of the term “bashed” we do admit that it is Mr Debacco’s personal feeling being expressed; accordingly, it doesn’t necessarily have to be accurate, and we won’t dwell on his word choice but more on his content. Mr Debacco informs us that he works 2 twenty-four hour shifts at the airport; that’s a 48-hour week in our math. Debacco then puts in, as he states above, “8-10 hours a week” in the Ravena Building Department as “assistant to Mr Burns,” making a total of 56 hours a week. But he’s also part-time in the Coeymans Building Department but doesn’t say how many hours. What does bother us, though, is while Mr Debacco is putting in about 56 hours a week at his several jobs, he claims that he is doing this “to support” his family and to “make sure they are taken care of.” That is, in Mr Debacco’s mind, something admirable, but it does raise the question of what Mr Debacco thinks is “support” and being “taken care of.” Where’s the father in the family? Where’s the parenting? How much can Debacco be clearing from his part-time jobs to make it worthwhile to be away from his family all that time. And then we wonder why local kids are failures? Come on! Let’s wake up, people!

In your “real job”, Mr Debacco? Given the money you’re drawing from the public treasury in the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans, YOUR “REAL JOB.” Let us remind you Mr Debacco, that your part-time jobs in the Ravena and Coeymans Building Departments are also “real jobs.” And don’t you forget that for a minute!!! Those jobs are just as “real” as your firefighting job at Albany International Airport, and you’d better take them just as seriously.

Here are some of the figures: Debacco was paid $8,410 in 2017 for his activities in the Ravena Building Department (Building Department Supervisor Joseph “Joe” Burns was paid $61,705 for the same period). Debacco was paid $14,138 for his part-time job in the Town of Coeymans. (John G. Cashin, Debacco’s supervisor in the Town of Coemans Bulding Department received a salary of $41,960 in 2017.) Debacco’s claim to be employed at the Albany International Airport as a firefighter for some 35 years may be true, but he doesn’t come up on any of our searches in County, City, or State agencies, but we have no reason to doubt that what he says is true, so we have to assume that he’s pulling a bundle as a firefighter with 35 years of experience. So why the other two jobs? Greed? Hates being home? Guilt?

Mr Debacco’s statement, “Not that it is anyone’s business, including the blog’s business,” was really the wrong thing to say. And YES, Mr Debacco, it IS our business to know, because you are being paid by taxpayers. Your jobs and your earnings are a matter of public knowledge because you are a public servant, a public employee! It IS our business because you are receiving our money!!! We hope you are clear about that now, Mr Debacco, because you are receiving more than $22,000 a year of taxpayer money from the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans. That’s a fair amount of money and some poor bastard trying to support a family on a shoestring could use a portion of that — especially if he’s not getting a firefighter’s salary and benefits!!!

But then we all know how hiring is done in the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans, don’t we? It’s not a matter of who needs a job or who can do the job, it’s whether you are in the incest club, isn’t it?

Moving on…

This leads me to my point I initially wanted to make. In the fire service, we follow a chain of command. The fire chief is ultimately responsible for all that goes on at the scene of an emergency. Even though we have officers such as lieutenants, captains, assistant chiefs, etc. still the chief is ultimately responsible for everything. Even non-emergency functions the chief is ultimately responsible. In the Building Department, Joe Burns is our “chief”. He is responsible for everything that goes on in the Building Department office. If there was an issue with the actions of Mr. Hohlman, I feel as though the writer of the blog should have gone to Mr. Burns with his concerns. After all, Mr. Hohlman is not a supervisor or decision maker. He is a worker who only does what he is assigned to do.

Once again, we have to emphasize that pointing the finger or claiming that you are “just workers,” does not relieve you of your duties to your employer or to the public and your obligation to conduct your job activities with professionalism, competence, accountability, and fairhandedness. We do not accept the assertion that Mr Burns should be responsible for your conduct, Mr Debacco, nor for Mr Holman’s, and that whatever you do on the job is Mr Burns’ responsibility . That’s just too childish a logic to be acceptable. It is your responsibility to know your job and your boundaries. Of course, if you or Mr Holman are unclear about your job or how it has to be done, you must consult with your superiors, or you must request guidance or training. Mr Burns cannot take responsibility for your attitude towards your job.

That having been said, it is Mr Burns’ responsibility to supervise, evaluate, and to discipline you and Mr Holman should Mr Burns become aware of relevant facts. It is also Mr Burns’ responsibility to ensure that you receive adequate training and supervision to ensure the best interests of the public. It is also Mr Burns’ responsibility to diligently investigate any complaints relating to your performance or Mr Holman’s.

Incidentally, Mr. Burns may tell you that Ron Hohlman reports directly to the mayor or a board member. That cannot be true. An employee must report to a supervisor within the department or a department head – such as Joe Burns. Only a department head can report directly to an elected official.

In the Village of Ravena any confusion in the chain of command or who reports to whom would not come as a surprise. No one, it appears, has any concept of boundaries, so If Nancy Warner gets it into her head that Mr Burns’ personnel must report to her, or if Mayor Mouse Misuraca thinks he needs to bypass Burns and run the Ravena Building Department, we wouldn’t doubt that for a minute. And if Village of Ravena employees are getting mixed messages about the person from whom they take their orders, that would be par for the course. The point is,you and Holman know who your supervisor is: Joseph Burns. Not William “Mouse” Misuraca, Bill “Babblin'” Bailey, or Nasty Nancy, but Joseph Burns, it’s your responsibility and Holman’s to go to Burns if there is any question. Period.

Thank you for your time and attention.
Sante DeBacco

And Thank YOU! Mr Debacco for your comment. We hope that it gets to the right ears and that it will serve to improve the situation in the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans.

We’d like your feedback on this article.

The Editor

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Posted by on August 17, 2018 in Uncategorized


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