RSS

Category Archives: Business

Who are the Thought Police in Your Community? Do you know?

“As members of a community, even as citizens of a nation, we are frequently exposed to and have to cope with what is known as groupthink, a phenomenon that may seriously compromise our image of ourselves, our relationships with family, friends, neighbors, community leaders, and may also compromise our moral rights of personal dignity and autonomy. And yet, groupthink is precisely what underlies much of our “training” in how to be good citizens and in the so-called education programs and our social organizations, and is pandemic in most of the institutions in which we work. Groupthink,  shamefully, has been a part of our religious institutions since time immemorial. Agendizing, brainwashing, programming.”

Anonymous Contributor.

We, as citizens, as members of our community, parents and educators, as human beings we are told that we have an inherent and guaranteed right to speak freely and openly about most subjects without the stigma that might apply to a person living and working in a different country. We would like to think that people, especially our elected leaders and our educators, tend to listen to us and give some weight and importance to what we have to say; consequently, we can and should play an important and proactive role in deciding how we live, work and are governed, and in order to do this, we must make our leaders aware that we are aware of the groupthink phenomenon, its dangers and risks, and implement ways of avoiding this insidious, infectious, and fatal phenomenon in our communities and in our lives. Once people are made aware of the groupthink phenomenon and ways to identify it and prevent it, we are on the path to reclaiming the efficacy and authenticity we once enjoyed but lost in the wake of the development of corporate control of our institutions and the chilling of interpersonal relations by online social media.

Groupthink.[1] It’s everywhere and it’s toxic! It’s dehumanizing. It perpetuates lies and factoids. Yet you love it! It makes things so much easier when you don’t have to use your own brain and you allow yourself to be programmed to think, speak, act, perform according to the in-group’s agenda.

Irving Janus mainstreamed the term in 1982. [2] According to Janis, groupthink

“[h]appens when in-group pressures lead to deterioration in mental efficiency, poor testing of reality, and lax moral judgment. It tends to occur in highly cohesive groups in which the group members’ desire for consensus becomes more important than evaluating problems and solutions realistically. An example would be the top executive cabinet (the president and vice presidents) of a firm, who have worked together for many years. They know each other well and think as a cohesive unit rather than as a collection of individuals.” [my italics]

We can find groupthink in our workplaces, churches, schools, social media, government, and Yes! even in our homes.

Janis identified eight symptoms of groupthink, which are noteworthy and which I will briefly describe below.[3] Persons affected by groupthink may exhibit any of these symptoms:

  1. An experience of the illusion of invulnerability. This illusion produces an unreal sense of optimism and the sense of empowerment to take risks, sometimes extreme, which the individual would not otherwise take.
  2. Acceptance of a collective rationalization. The individual ignores the red flags and warnings and refuse to reassess their biases, prejudices and assumptions regarding reality.
  3. Belief in the inherent morality of the group. The individual and members of the group are convinced of the righteousness of their beliefs and become indifferent to the ethical or moral effects and consequences of the group’s decisions and actions.
  4. Establishment and adoption of stereotypes of out-groups. Stereotypes are a facile way of dealing with the “others” and do not require thinking or decision-making. De rigueur negative presumptions and characterizations of the “enemy” render rational and effective responses to conflict unnecessary. Cookie-cutter responses are the result.
  5. The imposition of direct pressure on dissenters. Any deviation from the presumptions and dictates of the group results in sanctions. Individuals, group members are discouraged from expressing alternative views, or representing positions conflicting any of the group’s views.
  6. Requirement of self-censorship. The individual and members of the group are required to ensure that any questions, doubts and deviations from the group’s “consensus,” program, or agenda are not expressed. The individual must “watch his/her mouth” or be sanctioned.
  7. The illusion of unanimity. The views and judgments, decisions and actions of the “group” or of the group’s statutory and declared leader(s) and majority are assumed to be unanimous, justified and reliable.
  8. The presence of self-appointed ‘mindguards’. Certain members isolate and “protect” the group and its leader(s) from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions. These are the “thought police” who ensure that any information that can potentially threaten the group or its leaders is filtered out and neutralized.

In other words, the phenomenon of groupthink seems to have grown out of and fits perfectly into the framework of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “Nineteen-Eighty-Four,” with its implications of superpower invulnerability, collective processing of carefully cooked data and information, a sense of moral superiority of the group’s decisions and actions, the facile handling of non-members by the application of stereotypes, direct suppression and sanctioning of any opposing thought or expression — the individual “watches his mouth” to avoid attracting attention to himself and possible sanctioning —, all communications and indicators seem to indicate that “everyone is on the same page” and “stands united.”  Finally, the self-appointed “mindguards,” the Orwellian “thought police,” ensure that everyone toes the mark, knows his place, and follows the “party line.” Sounds awfully much like PC, political correctness, doesn’t it?

The Thought Police or Mindguards ensure that you don’t think out of the box.

As I mentioned above, groupthink is easily observed in our schools, churches, public servants, social groups, the workplace, etc.

Here’s an example that comes from my college days when I worked as an encyclopedia salesperson. We were trained to ask potential purchasers questions that they could not disagree with, such as, for example: “You do care about your children’s education, don’t you?” or “You want your children to have the best available information for school, don’t you?” Once they answered in the affirmative, they were cooked. It was sort of like asking a veteran the question, “You do love your country, don’t you?” Or a clergyperson asking a dissenter, “You do believe in God, don’t you?” Ask those sorts of questions and you get a commitment to groupthink; the rest follows once the individual is on the slippery slope to group membership, willingly or not.

It’s certainly easy enough to self-test yourself by asking yourself if any of the above symptoms could possibly apply to you…but be aware of the sneaky symptom of “self-censorship” because you might actually be unaware that you are self-censoring; you may actually believe that what you say you believe is in fact what you believe. (Please go back and reread that last part. It’s important and you really didn’t understand it, did you?!)

Everyone connected to the same “brain”, the core-group’s!

Here’s a real example: I was at my fitness center and struck up a conversation with a guy who was working on a neighboring piece of equipment. The conversation started out on muscle groups and doping, use of anabolic steroids, doping scandals, and how natural fitness was desirable over and against taking performance enhancers. The conversation drifted to the inquiry, “What do you do?” The guy was intelligent, apparently well-read in the subject of performance enhancers in athletes, and was no dummy. He responded by telling me he was a “personal income tax auditor” for the state of New York. What followed was a textbook example of groupthink. He commenced by telling me how interesting his job was because he was making sure everyone stayed honest. Everyone should pay taxes. Not everyone was honest, some people were honest but ignorant. The tax department and auditors were there to protect the public. He was happy doing what he was doing, and he liked his work. He was protecting honest citizens from the crooks and the parasites. New York state took care of its people unlike those states with no personal income tax, states that provided sanctuary to people who want to keep their fortunes but not share by paying personal income taxes. Basically, you can’t argue with this guy because what he is saying is superficially true, ethical and moral. But, and there’s the clincher, his thinking from one subject to the other was schizoid! He was very individualized, independent, even liberal when discussing the social and personal impact of performance enhancers on non-professional vs. professional athletes, and the use of performance enhancers in the guy-next-door who works out to stay healthy or attractive. His lock-step “tax department” jargon and speech, almost soapbox preaching, was groupspeak, the product of groupthink. Can you identify the symptoms?

Here are two more examples I found on a professional networking site, LinkedIn, which is slowly morphing into a Facebook-type social media space. Whereas LinkedIn was originally intended to be a forum facilitating networking among professionals, the parasites slowly infiltrated and started their social justice preaching and religious proselytizing.

One characteristic of social justice and religion is that both are fertile ground for a bumper crop of groupthinkers. Example 1: Social Justice. This example is remarkable because it is so homogeneous in the majority responses and because of the sheer number of responses: 5,013 Likes, 321 comments! Synopsis: A young woman with Down’s syndrome appears in what is obviously a staged video, in which she receives a call from a fast-food chain, Chik-Fil-A, in which she is offered a job paying $11.50/h. It is her first real job and she is elated at the offer and accepts.

The groupthink: Actual comments: “Awesome!” “Wonderful!””Isn’t Chik-Fil-A a great company!””The story brought tears to my eyes!” “It made my day! We need more stories like this!” But many of the comments were condescending: They mentioned “learning disability” and how remarkable it was that this young woman had “won,” how employment “is a right,” and other misguided slogans associated with what we know as PC but was described by Janis as groupthink. The censorship/sanction/thought police action: A commenter posted some reasonable, dissenting, conflicting thoughts about the reality of the situation in terms of stereotyping highly functional Down’s syndrome  persons as having “learning disabilities,” a bucket term that stereotyped them unfairly. That she was hired on her merits and if she didn’t have what Chick-Fil-A needed and wanted, she would not have gotten the call. That Down’s syndrome persons are highly desirable in service jobs with customer contact because of their personality characteristics, as was pioneered by McDonald’s some time ago, and that these corporations are exploiting vulnerable persons with Down’s syndrome because they are perfect for these low-paying jobs, and it creates a very positive social image for the corporation, so-called “organizational health.” (See the McKinsey report below.)

Needless to say, the “mindguards” were quick to respond, and butchered the commentor for being “a Grinch,” for not “caring” and for his “dripping sarcasm.” Not a single comment out of more than 300 comments and replies accepted the truth of what the commenter wrote; almost all condemned him for not sharing the majority’s groupthink. (Click here to read the actual comments made by the commenter and some of the replies.)[4]

The value of hiring persons with Down syndrome is not lost on the corporations![5]

The economic benefits of hiring persons with intellectual challenges is not lost on the corporations, as is demonstrated by the McKinsey report[6], but we’re not supposed to talk about the dark side of Julia’s hiring because the group think won’t allow anyone to pop their bubble of denial or distract them from their happy, be nice, love fest by suggesting reality. That’s groupthink.

Here’s another from the same site, LinkedIn. This time it was a religious fanatic known popularly as a “Jesus-freak,” someone who posts an inflammatory statement about how Jesus is the truth and everything else is a lie. First of all, such posts are more Facebook quality and have nothing to do with professional networking, so it shouldn’t have been on LinkedIn in the first place. So the original post by one David Wood, who describes himself as the “Executive Producer Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Resurrection of Jesus Christ LLC, School Of Hard Knocks,” and his project as:

“The Resurrection Project unites the Body of Christ, to launch a global love movement, a feature length movie, and a video game, and tell the story of Jesus’ Christ resurrection and the 40 days that followed. “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ” is the greatest love story ever told.” www.theresurrectionofjesuschrist.com [Author’s note: My italics; I have not undertaken any editing of Mr. Wood’s English.]

His post was simply:

That was it. My first reaction was that Islam never claimed that Muhammad was God. Nor does Buddhism teach that Buddha was a god. The name applied to God in Arabic, and hence in Islam is Allah, which is merely an equivalent of the English, God, so that point is really moot. And the fact that Wood claims that his Jesus is the “only one God” reveals a bit of tunnel vision, even religious and theological ignorance. This is groupthink at one of its worst moments!

My point is this: Approach that post as I did, with the above reasoning, and you will obtain a clear lesson in groupthink.  The post received 51 Likes and 15 Comments but was seen be hundreds, perhaps thousands who didn’t want to “offend” by responding. (Or perhaps because religion is not as popular as Down’s syndrome? Or because the message was so bizarre? Who can say for sure?)

Those three examples should suffice to convince even the hardcore groupthinkers of their affliction.

The kinds of groups that are particularly at risk for the groupthink phenomenon are, of course, groups that we could characterize as cliques, whether consisting of 3 or 3000 persons. Cliques don’t need to be small and a whole company or department may become a clique. The group or clique should be cohesive for groupthink to develop; cohesive factors may include ethnicity, similar interest, and physical appearance. Members of a clique often isolate themselves as a group and tend to view the clique as superior to anyone outside the clique.

Cliques can form in any age group but they are most associated with groups whose members have gotten stuck in an adolescent or late childhood developmental stage, the stage when individuals normally form and become members of such groups. Accordingly, groupthink is characteristic of individuals who may have gotten stuck in a pre-adult developmental stage.

Facebook is a well known huge groupthink-collective in which groupthink can be diagnosed at various levels in the interactions from the very top, where the Facebook Standards and the thought police are active censoring deviant thinkers, that is, anyone who may not agree with Facebook or its policies, to the smaller yet equally repulsive “groups,” which may be “open,” “closed” or “secret”. The problem and real danger associated with Facebook and other social media that functions by exploiting the groupthink phenomenon is the sheer numbers of people who can be and actually are affected by the clique(s).

The proven disorder of Facebook Addiction or Internet Addiction Disorder make the problem even worse because once subscribers are addicted, they are captivated by the groupthink phenomenon and cannot escape.(See our article on Facebook Addiction Disorder on this blog.)

It’s the beginning of the end of open communication, autonomy, and due process.

Another problem is what I would call the “Room 101” factor[7]:  the fact that in terms of groupthink, when Facebook decides to deactivate an account for one reason or another, whether for a period of time certain (days, weeks, etc.) or permanently, this “punishment” practice has a psychospiritual effect on the affected individual, similar to being shunned or banned froma group or a clique. It is a powerful motivator to keep people under their thumb, a control strategy, that works extremely well once Facebook has hooked a person, and the person is sufficiently invested in Facebook in terms of time spent online and digital friends collected, such that the now addicted subscriber will feel the psychosocial pain of being “deactivated.,” in a sense placed in isolation by Facebook without the benefit of due process. Yes, it’s the beginning of the end of open communication, autonomy, and due process. Similar, in fact, to “vaporizing” a dissenter in Orwell’s “1984” where the dissenter is simply made to disappear, as if he never existed. [8]

The recent reports of Facebook’s cooperation with the US and Israeli governments to deactivate certain Facebook pages because their messages are “inconvenient” is a very disturbing step taken in the direction of thought control, Thought Police and Mindguards. That’s why we’ve been trying to get through to our readers to campaign against social media like Facebook! (See our articles on Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg‘s ambitious agenda to become God. Once he’s got a fifth of the world’s population addicted to Facebook and can control what they read, hear, see, and say, he’s well on his way to become the next Dictator in Heaven.)


The same “vaporizing” occurs when someone “unfriends” or “blocks” another subscriber who may have violated the group-leader’s or the group’s groupthink policies. Have you been Facebook vaporized recently? You wouldn’t know if you had been because Facebook strategically keeps it a secret; only the vaporizer and Facebook know it. Same applies when someone has a grudge against you on Facebook: they simply report you for such-and-such, and you find yourself deactivated. Groupthink à la Facebook!

The groupthink phenomenon can be avoided but only if the clique or the group is willing to acknowledge the phenomenon, to recognize it in their group, and sees the benefits of avoiding the phenomenon.

Fred Lunenburg (2012) proposes a number of possible ways to avoid groupthink in a group, including[9]:

  • Encouraging group members to state and air objections, doubts, and questions,
  • Promoting impartiality rather than stating preferences and expectations of the group at the outset,
  • The group leaders should periodically discuss the group’s policies and practices and report their transactions back to the group, inviting feedback,
  • Members should be invited to challenge the views of core members (and leaders),
  • At least one member should play the role of devil’s advocate, expressing objections or critiquing group policies and practices, and beliefs,
  • Where there is devil’s advocacy, members should spend time and effort evaluating the warning signals of developing groupthink inherent in adverse responses,
  • Alternative scenarios should be constructed by group leaders in evaluating any rivaling intentions,
  • In the case of a member who appears to consistently rival the group’s polices or practices (Red flag! Think groupthink!), the member should be asked to express as vividly as he can all his residual doubts,
  • Group leaders or core members should present the entire issue to the group to elicit feedback and insights before making any definitive choices or decisions.

Group coherence and decision making has clear benefits over individual decision making. This is especially true when a decision must be made under conditions of uncertainty.[10] Some of the benefits described by Bonito (2011) include[11]:

  • Improved decision quality
  • Higher level of creativity and creative thinking
  • Improved decision acceptance and organizational learning
  • Increased decision understanding
  • Enhanced effectiveness in establishing objectives, identifying alternatives
  • Greater decision accuracy and avoidance of errors and glitches

Admittedly, these benefits may be less related to the actual outcomes of decisions than they are to group morale and satisfaction; we can agree that groups should and probably do perform better when

  • Group members present a variety of relevant skills that differ sufficiently but do not create constraints or conflicts;
  • There is a division of labor or effort, input;
  • Individual inputs can be “averaged” in such a way as to arrive at a group “position.”

Are you controlled by the Thought Police, the Mindguards from the cradle to the grave?

By now you might be asking yourself the question: “That having been said, and while applicable to business decisions or to Facebook and other moderated social media, how does that apply to spiritual care or to our lives in our communities and the nation at large?” Well, in order to answer that question, I have to ask you to step out of your stall in the sheeple box, and think about the environment in which you live. Ask yourselves if you can identify groupthink in these situations:

  • In your church or faith community. (Hint: How do you talk about other faith or belief groups)?
  • In the Sports Association or Social Club. Do you have to toe the mark in what you talk about?
  • In your political or social club (Hint: When at a Republican Club or Democratic Club or American Legion occasion, are you careful what you say?)
  • In your children’s schools (Hint: Do you speak your mind at a Board of Education meeting or just sit simmering? At a PTA meeting what do you feel you can discuss? Do you even attend any of these?)
  • At town board or village board meetings (Hint: Do you speak your mind at a board meetings or just sit simmering? Do you even attend any of these?)
  • Have you ever avoided going somewhere or doing something because you were concerned what “they” would say?
  • Are there subjects or topics or language that you avoid specifically to avoid being stereotyped or labeled? Do you choose political correctness over truth and honesty? Do you do that out of fear of the Mindguards?

Are you being stalked by the community or social media Thought Police, the Mindguards?

At home do you have open discussions with family members or are some subjects simply avoided or off-topic? Are the Thought Police at work in your home? Or are you letting the Facebook and social media thought police do their work for you? Have you seen your kids today?

When is the last time you looked at what your schools are teaching to your children? Have you ever openly questioned what they are being taught? Or are you letting the Mindguards manage your kids’ minds?

At work do you challenge social injustice or do you simply turn your back hoping it won’t hit you next? Are you open in discussing what you feel needs to be considered for change? Do you suggest improvements? Or are you living in constant fear of being “vaporized,” “unfriended,” “blocked” by your employer or even your workmates and coworkers?

Have you been castrated by the Thought Police, the Mindguards?

Most of us will find ourselves interacting throughout our entire lives with employers, educators, community members, governing bodies, committees, or just with our families. We take these interactions for granted; that’s a big mistake..Each of these environments is at high risk of the groupthink phenomenon, and we need to start thinking about the nature and quality of those interactions. Can you identify the symptoms of groupthink in any of your relationships or interations?

We frequently say that “emotions are contagious,” but we don’t frequently admit that not only emotions but the environment created by the attitudes and thinking of leaders and core members in a group are just as contagious in the form of groupthink.

Organizations like schools, religious institutions, government, social organizations are hotbeds for the groupthink

Those of us who are aware of our lives will admit that each group or community has its own culture, and if we are to work effectively with the members and effetively serve the ourselves and our community, we have to be aware of the groupthink phenomenon as it most certainly exists in that group or community. Ask yourself if you feel your teachers, your administrators, your elected officials, local law enforcement are listening to you and your concerns and their attitude towards the “necessary evil” of your opinion must be tolerated rather than facilitated. That attitude extends to all the members of the community, including educators, elected officials, law enforcement, etc.,  and the symptoms of groupthink can be quickly and easily identified if you care to look. How do we deal with that situation armed with the awareness of the probable existence of groupthink?

Organizations like schools, religious institutions, government, social organizations are hotbeds for the groupthink phenomenon because they are founded on very clear principles of operation and program; they have their” agendas.” The objectives and goals of the group are clearly defined and the members are controlled by the assignment of specific tasks and imposing protocols. The agenda is clearly defined. You simply don’t dissent or rock the hospice boat. Groupthink.

Institutional Agendas Define the Group.

 

As “tradition” the groupthink may have developed as a response to the local culture, whether it be socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, etc. In this case, it is a response to the exigencies of doing living and functioning with that demographic mix, and is almost a requirement for survival. Is this “positive” groupthink? Perhaps, but it goes without saying that unless the establishment leaves the door open to open discussion, sharing of insights, correct interpretations of warning signs and red flags, it can quickly transmute into “negative” groupthink.

As the organization leaves the traditional, local, “family” orientation or organization and moves towards the group or the corporate systems, groupthink becomes more of a high risk than a positive stabilizing factor. This is where the culture of the group or corporation overshadows the individuals that move it as well as those who consume its products and services. Rather than being an evolving, “living” organism, it is a monolith. Again,I can’t help but cite Facebook or the federal government as outstanding examples of such a negative development.

A number of large multinational corporations like IBM, 3M, Anheuser-Busch have recognized the threat posed by groupthink and have implemented and developed processes to prevent or at least to mitigate its deleterious and prejudicial effects within the components of the organization and on the organization as a whole. Lunenburg (2012) discusses some of the ways they have approached prevention of groupthink by way of methods like devil’s advocacy and dialectical inquiry. McDougel and Baum (1997) discuss the application of devil’s advocacy to stimulate discussion and avoid groupthink in focus groups.[12] McAvoy et al. discuss how devil’s advocacy and the principles of sensemaking can be used in a method they call the “agitation workshop” as a method of challenging the false consensus created by the groupthink phenomenon.[13]

Do frequent meetings and evaluations work to avoid groupthink? More likely than not, they may actually promote groupthink when leadership reiterate at each meeting the same expectations at the outset, setting the stage for a more limited and controlled conversation that does not allow for alternative discussion. But such meetings and evaluations and be highly productive if, at the outset, the leaders or facilitators are aware of the symptoms of groupthink and some of the methods to directly avoid it, as well as the quasi-paedagogical methods of enhancing creative thinking, even improving performance by institutionalizing dissent!

We can and should play an important and proactive role in making the organizations and leaders with whom we work aware of the groupthink phenomenon, its dangers and risks, and ways of avoiding the phenomenon in our environments. Once people are made aware of the phenomenon and ways to identify it and prevent it, we are on the path to reclaiming the efficacy and authenticity we once enjoyed but lost in the wake of the development of corporate control of our institutions and the chilling of interpersonal relations by online social media.

By using your brain you can avoid the dangers of groupthink!
The Editor


Notes

[1] Irving Janis originally coined the term groupthink in 1972. (Janis, Irving L.  (1972).  Victims of Groupthink.  New York: Houghton Mifflin.)

[2] Janis, I. L. (1982). Groupthink: Psychological studies of policy decisions and fiascos (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.

[3] For a more comprehensive discussion of the eight symptoms please refer to Janis’ Groupthink, Psychological Studies, above. A brief and very helpful overview of groupthink is provided in What is Groupthink? (http://www.psysr.org/about/pubs_resources/groupthink%20overview.htm, last accessed on January 8, 2018, 2018).

[4] The “Julia got a job!” obviously scripted video is synopsized on YouTube in the following words: “A heartwarming video shows the moment a teenage girl with Down syndrome receives her first job offer. A girl named Julia gets a phone call from a Chick-fil-A employee in Rancho Murieta, California. ‘I was just calling to offer you a position here,’ the woman says on speaker phone. ‘Your pay rate would be 11.50 per hour, would you like to accept?’ ‘I do,’ Julia says, her face overcome with emotion. As the woman tells her that she will start in December, Julia breaks down in tears of happiness. ‘Oh my gosh,’ she can be heard saying as she thanks the woman profusely. Julia’s family then encircles her and gives her a massive hug while chanting ‘Chick-Fil-A’. “ (AutoNews- Source:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5101331/Teen-girl-syndrome-cries-s-given-job.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490)

[5] According to McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm that serves private, public and social sector institutions, in a report entitled, “The value that employees with Down syndrome can add to organizations,” we read “[H]owever, some companies have chosen to tackle the far more complex challenge of hiring people with intellectual disabilities. Those that have done so have found that these people can add value to organizational health (an organization’s ability to align, execute, and renew itself faster than competitors so that it can sustain exceptional performance over time). Employees with Down syndrome are a particularly interesting topic of research, as they have a number of characteristics that both increase the challenges associated with inclusion and bring added benefits.” [my italics] (McKinsey & Company (2014) “The value that employees with Down Syndrome can add to organizations” (Vicente Assis, Marcus Frank, Guilherme Bcheche, and Bruno Kuboiama), last accessed on January 9, 2018.)

[6] Ibid.

[7] I’m referring to the notorious Room 101 described in Orwell’s novel “Nineteen-Eighty-Four,” the room in the Ministry of Truth (MiniTru in Newspeak), where dissenters were taken for “processing,” most never to be heard from again. “You asked me once,” said O’Brien, “what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.”  (“1984” Part 3, Ch. 5)  In “1984” the Inner Party persecutes individualism and independent thinking known as “thoughtcrimes” and is enforced by the “Thought Police.” The Ministry of Love (Miniluv), the ministry in charge of torturing dissidents.  The protagonist Smith is subjected to many forms of torture and is forced into the horror chamber known only as Room 101.

[8] Mind Control – George Orwell BBC 101 Documentary last accessed on January 9, 2018.

[9] Lunenburg, F. (2012).” Devil’s Advocacy and Dialectical Inquiry: Antidote to Groupthink”. International Journal of

Scholarly and Academic Intellectual Diversity, Vol 14, No. 1, pp 1-9.

[10] Nikolaidis (2012) defines uncertainty as “the condition under which an individual [or group] does not have the necessary information to assign probabilities to the outcomes of alternative solutions. (Nikolaidis, E. (2012).  Design decisions under uncertainty with limited information. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.)

[11] Bonito, J. (2011). Interaction and influence in small group decision making. New York, NY: Routledge.

[12] McDougal, C., F. Baum, (1997) “The Devil’s Advocate: A Strategy to Avoid Groupthink and Stimulate Discussion in Focus Groups,” Qualitative Health Research, Volume 7, Number 4, pp 532-541.

[13] John McAvoy, Tadhg Nagle and David Sammon, (2013) “A novel approach to challenging consensus in evaluations: The Agitation Workshop,” The Electronic Journal Information Systems Evaluation, Volume 16 Issue 1,  pp 45-55.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 13, 2018 in 1984, 19th Congressional District, 2017 Elections, 2018 Elections, 20th Congressional District, 46th District, 46th Senate District, Abuse of Public Office, Accountability, Addiction, AFL-CIO, Albany, Amanda L. Mueller, Amanda Mueller, Amedore Homes, American Legion, Anheuser-Busch, Antichrist, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Block, Blocked, Catholic, Censorship, Chaplain Services, Church, Church and State, Civil Right Violation, Civil Rights, Coeymans, Coeymans Town Board, Columbia-Greene Media, Community, Conspiracy, Constitution, Corporation, Daily Mail, Death care, Deathcare, Elected Official, Ethics and Morality, Evil, FaceBook, Facebook, Facebook unfriend, First Amendment, Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Funeral Home, George Amadore, God, Government, Greene County, Greene County News, Groupspeak, Groupthink, Hearst Corporation, Hudson Valley, Immorality, Immorality, Internet Speech, Johnson Newspaper Group, Justice and Courts, Law Enforcement, Mark Vinciguerra, Mark Zuckerberg, Mind guards, Mindguards, Misconduct, Misuse of Public Office, Morality, New Baltimore, New York, New York State, New York State Education Department, New York State Funeral Directors Association, New York State United Teachers, News and Information Media, News Channel 10, News Channel 13, News Channel 6, News Herald, NFDA, Nineteen Eighty Four, NYSED, NYSUT, Obstruction of Justice, Official Misconduct, Orwell, Paranoia, Parent Negligence, People of Faith, Peter J. McKenna, Peter Mckenna, Political Expression, Politics, Public Office, Ravena, Ravena News Herald, RCA, Reformed Church of America, RegisterStar, Retaliation, Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, Room 101, Service Corporation International, Small Town, Stereotype, Suffering, Teachers, Teachers Union, The Daily Mail, Thought Police, Times Union, Town Board Meeting, Town Council, Town of Bethlehem, Town of Coeymans, Town of New Baltimore, Transparency, Vaporization, Vaporize, Village Council

 

Bring Out Your Dead! A Monty Python Prophesy

A Message from the Editor

We’ve been sharing some posts on the funeral business and deathcare from several other sites. While this is not the focus of this blog, we don’t mind because the posts have attracted substantial interest. This post will be the last deathcare post we will be re-publishing on this blog. If you want to continue reading about deathcare in the US, please go to the following sites and follow them. Glad you are enjoying the posts so much but we have to get back to local political and social issues.

You can visit the following blogs for posts on death, dying, funeral services, and other death-related topics:

Thanatology Café
Spirituality, Bereavement & Grief Care
Pastoral CareHomiletics & Spiritual Care
The Church, Ministry, and Pastoral Care

Happy Holidays!
The Editor


Republished with Permission from Thanatology Café.

There is a great deal to be said about our healthcare and deathcare industries in the US, they are similar in many respects and exhibit similar functional flaws in a general sense. In the humanectomized materialist consumerism driven culture in which we live, the corporations have reduced most of us to human means to a corporate end. Most of US humanity has been dehumanized to the level of mere consumers. This is not a new development, however, and can be read in many quasi-prophetic sources.

In a recent conversation with a licensed funeral director and funeral home operator, who read our article on Nicholas Facci and Newcomer Funerals and Cremations (March 26, 2017), we discussed among other things the funeral chains’ exploitation of the demise of our traditions. We continue that discussion here together with some and some interesting anecdotes about the Albany County Coroner’s office.

After that discussion, I couldn’t help but think about one of the many hysterical scenes in the Monty Python film, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” or of the grim portrayal by Dr John B. Huber of the Manchurian Plague (20th c.) and the Black Plague (14th c.).

Monty Python’s “Holy Grail”

The scene takes place during the Black Plague in medieval somewhere, and opens with the sounds of strange medieval music. Discordant and sparse images. Wailings and groanings. Close up of contorted face upside down. A leg falls across it. Creaking noise. The bodies lurch away from and scene pans out to reveal they are amongst a huge pile of bodies on a swaying cart that is lumbering away from the viewer. It is pulled by a couple of ragged, dirty emaciated wretches, the cart drivers. Behind the cart walks another large man, a slightly more prosperous Porter, wearing a black hood and looking rather sinister. The Porter is carrying an emaciated old man over his shoulder who is still moving, and protests “I’m not dead!” The dialogue goes something like this:

The scene: (The Porter carrying an old man slung over his shoulder, approaches the cart and the cart driver…)
Cart Driver: Bring out your dead!
Porter: Here’s one!
Cart Driver: Ninepence.
Old man: I’m not dead!
Card Driver: What?
Porter: Nothing…Here’s your ninepence.
Cart Driver: Er…He says he’s not dead!
Porter: Yes he is.
Old Man: I’m not.
Cart Driver: He isn’t.
Porter: Well he will be soon. He’s very ill.
Old Man: I’m getting better!
Porter: No you’re not. You’ll be stone-dead in a moment.
Cart Driver: I can’t take him like that; it’s against regulations!
Old Man: I don’t want to go on the cart!
Porter: Oh don’t be such a baby.
Cart Driver: I can’t take him like that!
Old Man: I feel fine!
Porter: Oh, do us a favor…
Cart Driver: I can’t.
Porter: Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes? He won’t be long…
Cart Driver: I promised I’d be at the Robinson’s. They’ve lost nine today.
Porter: Well, when’s your next round?
Cart Driver: Thursday.
Old Man: I think I’ll go for a walk.
Porter: (To the Old Man) You’re not fooling anyone, you know! (to the Cart Driver) Look. Isn’t there something you can do?
Old Man: (Singing) I feel happy, I feel happy!
The Cart Driver looks at the Porter for a moment. Then they both do a quick furtive look up and down the street. The Cart Driver very swiftly brings up a club and hits the Old Man on the head. (Out of shot but the singing stops after a loud bonk noise.)
Porter: Ah! Thanks very much! (Handing over the ninepence) See you on Thursday!
(Tossing old man onto the bodies on the cart)
Cart Driver: That’s all right! See you on Thursday.

(View the clip on YouTube)

While transcribing the dialogue I thought to myself how prophetic this 1975 spoof was.  More than 40 years later we can watch this clip and it sends cold shivers down your spine. Back then what was morbidly hilarious has become stark reality for us today.

“Bring out your dead!” Newcomer Funerals and Cremations TV Ads.

Cryptkeeper Newcomer Ad

There you are, sitting enjoying a snack thinking “Life is good!” And Warren “Ren” Newcomer, the cadaver-like founder of the Newcomer Funeral Services Group based in Wichita, Kansas, appears on your television screen. He’s the 21st century version of the Cryptkeeper and plays the part really well. He looks like an embalming gone awry and oozes a false compassion and insincere expression that makes you want to choke on your chips. Here’s a guy who has made millions exploiting the deaths of loved ones and doing his part to destroy our death traditions while grinning like a corpse on the way to the bank.  Newcomer Funeral Services Group has two locations in the Albany, New York, area, and has a presence in some 10 states. There are other similar funeral chains, Walmart-type factory funeral companies that have bought up private funeral businesses, cemeteries and crematoriums across the country. They operate under names like Service Corporation International (SCI), Dignity Memorial™, StoneMor Partners, Precoa, and of course, Newcomer Funerals and Corpse Disposal. What their advertising and marketing messages say to us, despite the actors and the phony compassion, is what Monty Python is teaching: “Bring out your dead!” Toss them on the cart and we’ll see you on Thursday (and don’t forget your checkbook or credit card).

“I’m Not Dead!” The Office of the Albany County Coroner declares a woman dead but she revives in the morgue

In New York Times article “They Said She Was D.O.A., But Then the Body Bag Moved” (Robert D. McFadden, 11/18/94) The author reports that Albany County Coroner Philip Furie and  Paramedics allegedly “found no heartbeat, no pulse, no breath or other signs of life, and the coroner declared her officially dead.”  So they “ zipped Mildred C. Clarke,  into a body bag, took her to the morgue at the Albany Medical Center Hospital and left her in a room where corpses are kept at 40 degrees, pending autopsies or funerals. About 90 minutes later, the chief morgue attendant went in to transfer her to a funeral home. “ The attendant noticed some movement in the body bag, unzipped it and found that Mildred was still breathing. She was moved to intensive care and treated but the case has never been explained. The L.A. Times reports later that “Mildred Clark, the 86-year-old woman who spent 90 minutes in a morgue cooler last week after mistakenly being declared dead, died Wednesday of undisclosed ailments, a hospital spokesman said…. Albany Medical Center Hospital spokesman Richard Puff said Clark’s family had requested that the cause of death be withheld.” Any guesses as to the cause of death?

According to the article, “Albany is the only major city in New York State that does not have a medical examiner, an official who is trained in forensic pathology, and this would be a real advantage,”  The office of the coroner is  a relic still found  in many American cities. Albany elects four coroners to declare deaths and investigate their  causes. They have no medical training but are required to attend a “death investigation course.”  The coroners are expected to evaluate crime scenes and suspicious deaths, but they have no medical training.

We’re investigating some leads relating to the performance of the Albany County Coroners, and will report on our findings in a future article. We suspect that the Albany County Coroner isn’t very popular among local funeral directors. But Hey! this is Smalbany, isn’t it? There’s a job for every misfit in the Albany Democratic Machine, isn’t there?

“Look. Isn’t there something you can do? Ah! Thanks very much! See you on Thursday.” Inconvenience of the Dying Process.

We’re so very busy and so much in a rush. Why? Because our handlers tell us we are. We’ve lost our sense for distinguishing what is nice and what is necessary. We no longer have to think. Advertisers tell us what we need. Marketers tell us what to ask for. Government tells us how to live. Churches tell us how to die. Emails tell us we need to Hurry! and to Rush! because time is running out to buy a certain something. Hell! We don’t even die in peace. Hospitals transform us into cyborgs with tubes and electrodes at every available spot, and when all else fails, they still want to provide “billable services.” Only when you have had enough watching the technology fail do you scream STOP! Even when the so-called healthcare team has the good sense to admit that they can’t do anything more, they recommend shipping what’s left of mom or dad to hospice. And so at hospice the saga continues. When death finally occurs, whether it’s helped along or drags out to the end, we are still in a hurry, still have other things to do. But yet again, the materialist consumerism we are addicted to has the solution for immediate relief of any inconvenience, even death. There are customized death packages for every budget ranging from direct burial or direct cremation to the “traditional funeral.” Just ask for the Detailed Price List required by the FTC’s Funeral Rule and prepare to be nickel-and-dimed. You have abandoned the traditional funeral home with the family funeral director and have opted for the Walmart funeral chain, the factory funeral service provider. And you deserve everything you get. Sorry but it’s true.

We’ve all read about states like Oregon and Washington that have legislated physician-assisted suicide (PAS), euthanasia in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. We all know about the hospice movement that has degenerated into another instance of corporate exploitation of death and the demise of the family. So it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Monty Python prophesied the hastening of death movement. True, we no longer use a club to help the dying along; we’ve become much more refined in the 21st century. We now use chemicals and drugs. Or, if we’ve made mom or dad into an ICU cyborg, we simply remove the respirator, inject some morphine and “Ah! Thanks very much. See you on Thursday” at the viewing. We’ve come a long way into our degeneration!

Get the shocking truth about Service Corporation International (SCI) here.

We really have to chuckle when we read such crapola like “Service Corporation International is dedicated to compassionately supporting families at difficult times, celebrating the significance of lives that have been lived, and preserving memories that transcend generations, with dignity and honor. (SCI site at , last accessed on April 6, 2017). If you’re ready to believe that operations like SCI or Newcomer, corporations with their eyes on the bottom line, with their programmed funeral directors and staff operating on a corporate agenda, are there to do what the family funeral home once did, you’re already brain dead. SCI is constantly being sued, settling, or paying out huge judgments resulting from their mistakes. But when you’re making billions, who cares. The living keep dying; sky’s the limit! Get on the cart.


A bit of history: In 1962, Robert L. Waltrip, a licensed funeral director who grew up in his family’s funeral business, founded Service Corpration International. SCI started out as a small network of funeral homes and cemeteries in the Houston, Texas, area.

SCI gradually increased its offshore presence, and it continued to acquire business interests in North America. Since the late 1990s the US and Canadian marketplaces a  saturated battleground of competing companies intent on buying up and exploiting the deathcare business sector. SCI, In the course of the melee, Alderwoods Group and Stewart Enterprises emerged as the three principal companies in the resulting funeral corporation industry. As of December 31, 1999, SCI owned and operated 3,823 funeral service locations, 525 cemeteries, 198 crematoria and two insurance operations located in 20 countries on five continents. In 1999, SCI introduced Dignity Memorial, the first transcontinental brand offering deathcare goods and services in North America. By consolidating its network of funeral homes and cemeteries under a single brand, SCI expected that they could create a recognizable and marketable brand image. In 2000, poor market conditions forced SCI to reevaluate operations. While foreign operations had once shown promise, nearly 70 percent of SCI’s revenue was generated by operations in the United States and Canada. The company decided to divest many of its offshore businesses, in addition to many North American funeral homes and cemeteries. The UK arm now operates as Dignity PLC.


“I don’t want to go on the cart!” How we treat our dying; how we treat ourselves.

Monty Python presents an interesting scenario at a time when Jessica Mitford was enjoying the fruits of her muckraking book, “American Way of Death,” (1963), and the funeral home chains and funeral service factory corporations were reaching their peak of exploitation when Mitford’s “American Way of Death Revisited” was poshumously published (1998). Monty Python had it right. But we all laughed our way straight to hell.

 

J.B. Huber MD: “Psychology of Grave Epidemics”
(Med. Times, 1911)

Moving from a 1975 comedy spoof we can cite a remarkable article that appeared in the December 1911 journal, Medical Times, by John B. Huber MD. Dr Huber writes about the great Manchurian Plague (1910-1900), and compares it to the Black Plague (1347-1351). I’d like to quote some passages from that 1911 medical journal article. See if you can draw any parallels with our 21st century society.

Yet business was conducted as ordinarily—by those still alive; and the stroller “viewing the manners of the town,” would hardly realize from the superficial aspect of things, that a dreadful scourge was gradually but surely destroying its people. Yet the plague had, from November last up to this New Year’s Day, done for one-fourth of the twenty thousand inhabitants of that community; and it was then expected that more than half the remainder would be doomed before the plague would expend its energies.

On this festive New Year’s Day in that Manchurian town, the mounted policeman’s horse had its tail brightly decorated with green and red streamers; a shop keeper burst merrily out upon a group in the street, scaring them with a bunch of firecrackers which he flung up into the air. A green house was decorated with bright red, gilt lettered posters, festive banners and green paper flags, all by way of celebration. Next door the yellow poster of the Sanitary Bureau was in evidence, sealing up that house, and marking it unclean; “eight dead, two dying,” are the tally with which it began the New Year. (Huber p. 353)

Sounds like our modern lifestyle: death looms around us but we just continue partying, ignoring it, until we have to go down that dark alley and have no choice but to confront the darkness, the gloom. Manchuria in the early 20th century doesn’t seem much different from Troy or Albany in the early 21st century.

“Eight dead, two dying.” Sound’s like Monty Python’s Cart Driver, “They’ve lost nine today.” Or like the handoff report in an ICU. Whether you’re tallying plague victims or scheduling body collections, or handing off your charges to the next shift, the language used tells it all: We’ve all become mere garbage bags laying about until we get collected, transported, disposed of. Don’t you think there should be more to the final chapter of a life lived, and the received legacy?

Plague: carting the dead, by Moynet
A cart with the dead.

“The carters that loaded the dead on the wagons and took them away would not walk, but sat companionably beside the corpses.”  (Huber p. 353)

And so do we in the 21st century. The 21st century carters load up the dead and take them away; the bereft sit complacently beside the corpses. One would hope that we have advanced a bit farther along than our ancestors, that we would observe the traditions handed down to us, perform the grief and mourning rituals so important to psychospiritual healing. Some of us do. Most haven’t a clue, and rely on the bean counters to guide them.

Direct Burial: Coffinless in Pits

“Nine hundred were buried coffinless in pits; above two thousand frozen corpses, in a most desolate stillness, awaited burial near the town, in a heap a quarter-mile long. Some coffins were in evidence, standing upright, without covers, the bodies erect in them; here an arm stuck upright out of its receptacle; there a naked leg protruded. Near the pile of which he was soon to become a member, was seen an outcast kneeling, worshipping, half falling in his weakness, as he bowed his head and rose again, before the grave of an ancestor.´ (Huber p. 353)

On the one hand we get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes at one of the funeral home chains or factory-funeral homes as described by a young licensed funeral director now employed by Newcomer Funerals and Cremations. On the other hand, we are presented with a feeble suffering wretch who, despite his own suffering, has not forgotten his obligations in continuing his bonds with the dead, one of whom he shall soon be. It’s a rich, telling image; in a sense very real but very metaphorical. Once you create that image in your mind, you’ll not soon forget it.

“[T]he plague was coming to its most dreadful stage, for it was now destroying the family affections…Thus, most gruesomely, does the twentieth century repeat the fourteenth.”  (Huber p. 354)

While Dr Huber is describing a real epidemic, the Manchurian Plague of 1910-11, and describes the Black Death of the 14th century that swept away a substantial part of medieval Europe’s population, we are faced with a more insidious plague that is robbing us of our core values to family and kin, both living and dead. Huber, a medical man, calls this the “most dreadful stage” because it was destroying the core of the culture, the bonds of family. I’d guess he’d probably go further to say that the 21st century repeats both the 14th and the 20th, but that our plague is materialist consumerism promoted by greed and the catastrophe of so-called individual choice.

“Next to the fear of death was the fear of desertion.” (Huber p. 354)

Early 20th century China had very strong family ties, ties of responsibility, filial piety. This sense of duty was the basis of the veneration of ancestors, a form of continuing bond with the dead, similar to the West’s veneration of its sacred dead, the saints. Huber is describing a fear of abandonment, of “desertion” to be on a par with the fear of death. In clinical practice, whether in the nursing home or the hospital setting, or hospice, we find persons who are ready to confront death but fear doing it alone; they have a fear of desertion. We might extend that fear of desertion to the bereaved, as well, but their desertion is far more subtle than committing the dying to some remote corner of the medical ICU or to a hospice facility. The bereaved are not only saddled with their loss but also with the daunting confrontation with the corporate funeral director with his endless list of goods and services with their respective prices. All is done with the sensitivity of an embalming trocar. What ever happened to the compassionate family funeral home and its director, frequently assisted by his family.

Black-Death-Plague-Doctor-Clothing

“Who, then, would be so foolhardy as to throw good life after bad, by nursing a dying friend, when the Black Death lay per chance in his last sign, in the farewell pressure of his hand. So the nearest and dearest ties were dissolved, the calls of kindred and humanity neglected; the sick left to die and to be carted to the grave by hirelings…” (Huber p. 354)

Indeed, who today would be so traditional as to give up his or her self-time to care for a dying relative or friend, especially one who is in the disturbing phases of life’s end. Most persons are ambivalent about the whole process: On the one hand they look to the death as something unbearable in its finality; on the other hand they just want to get it over with. The death occurs and the bereaved are fed the 20th century psychological pablum that their connection with the dead person has ended, that they have to get on with a productive life. That was Freud’s teaching: You had to cut your ties with the dead. Quite the opposite of that in the East or in traditional societies, and quite a contrast to what we now teach in the 21st century. We now teach continuing bonds with the dead, a transcendence phenomenon, meaning-making, that the living’s relationship with the deceased is not only normal and healthy, it’s encouraged! We do it in the rituals of the support group or in ways like the AIDS quilt. We may do it differently than the poor wretch venerating his ancestors described by Huber but we nonetheless do it. We do it because it’s the human thing we do. But it’s also so very inconvenient for the chains and the corporations; they don’t encourage humanity, they encourage production and consumerism. Take three days and get over your grief. Back to work with you. See you on Thursday.

“Boccaccio attests vividly how the human organism in all its phases—physical, spiritual, moral, intellectual—deteriorated in stamina and in co-ordination. Compassion, courage and the nobler feelings were found in but few; whilst cowardice, selfishness and ill-will, with the baser passions in their train asserted their supremacy. In place of virtue, which had been driven from the earth, wickedness everywhere reared its rebellious standard and succeeding generations were consigned to her baneful tyranny.”  (Huber p. 354)

Boccaccio here is describing the pitiful demise of humanity in the Middle Ages. We could describe the present state of affairs without changing a word, couldn’t we? Take a moment and go to the Newcomer Funeral Service Group or their Albany/Latham websites for Newcomer Funerals and Cremations and read their ridiculous claims of what they offer the bereaved. Go to the Service Corporation International site and read about their “compassion”, their caring, their sensitivity to the needs of the bereaved. That’s worse than General Motors telling you they care about your lower back pain. Yet how many consumers actually swallow that sordid brew. These factory-funeral corporations aren’t making billions because no one’s falling for the marketing hype, the sales pitches pressuring the bereaved in their most difficult moments to sign and buy. We say look at the lawsuits and how much they’re paying out for failing the bereaved, for causing the bereaved more suffering than they had ever bargained for.

“[t]he Black Death “seemed to arise the worst passions of the human heart, and to dull the spiritual sense of the soul.” Who would think, declared Papon, “that in the midst of horrors so suitable (it would seem) for extinguishing the passions, there were two—libertinism and greed—which should be carried to so high a degree!” (Huber p. 354)

Indeed! Who ever thought that liberties, individualism, choice could lead to the present situation we find ourselves in. How is it that human beings in their worst possible moments should be exposed to the worst possible motivations and motives of modern mankind: libertarianism and greed. Those very libertarians preaching choice and liberty are deeply rooted in the horrible hypocrisy that such choice and liberty give life to. The plague that is upon us now in the 21st century is not a plague that is carried by fleas, and it’s not a plague that kills in five days. Our 21st century plague is called materialist consumerism, market economy, capitalism and it’s carried by fellow human beings, and it kills insidiously but totally in mind, body and spirit. There’s no way to discern with any certainty the extent of the infection but one thing is certain, there’s no effective vaccine, and most people would not want to undergo the cure.

One woman was married five times in one day—four of the bridegrooms having been buriers of the dead, dressed in the clothes they had stripped from the bodies of the deceased.” (Huber p. 354)

Huber describes the total depravity of the people who now have lost all sense of morality and values, and who now in a devil-may-care attitude of let’s be merry because we’re dead anyway. He describes a woman who marries five men in succession who are carried away just as quickly. She describes those who profit from the belongings and property of the dead, whom they have stripped. For all of Jessica Mitford’s muckraking, she would have had a picnic with this line, somehow drawing a connection between these “buriers of the dead” and those “dressed in clothes they had stripped from the bodies of the deceased.”

Like horrors disgraced many other communities. He: is furnished another example—such as are so deplorably frequent in history of how fanatical frenzy, associated with hatred and the play of the baser passions, will work powerfully upon nations and peoples to the utter exclusion of the restraints of reason, of law, or of any other wholesome factor. And the greater part of those who, by their education and rank, might have been assumed to raise the deterrent voice of reason, themselves led on the savage mob to murder and to plunder the Jews. (Huber p. 355)

Throughout history, Satan has always been the “other”; humankind has never really been able to see its true self, it’s never been able to accept its shadow side. Huber is describing the desperate search for a cause of the plague and, then as now, hatred and baser passions take control, and the necessary scapegoat is found. Whatever doesn’t support the new agenda has to be demonized and sent packing. The dead are not producers, the bereaved are not efficient workers. The dead are distracting the living from their production or consumption. Make the dead and dying disappear, marginalize the traditions, deny grief, exploit the bereaved, then send them back to work. The voice of reason is muted. Our institutions teaching and training the healthcare and deathcare professionals teach technology and business law, not ethics and humanities. The mortuary science programs wouldn’t want to whisper a word against the multinational funeral chains and factory funeral homes, after all they pay the bills and hire the graduates. Why cut your own throat? Why bite the hands that pad your pockets? Of course they won’t hire anyone teaching real deathcare, psychospiritual support, tradition, ritual, healing. The bereaved are, after all, consumers. And you wouldn’t want to keep them from their producing activity for any longer than necessary. Besides, there’s always another body and we have to keep turning over the visitation rooms and chapel. Headquarters wants to see numbers, you know.

That the emotions played a part regarding the plague was observed by many. Those who were terrified were more prone to contract the disease. Those who feared not and were of a cheerful, equable mind were, to the extent at least of that benign influence upon the organism, the more likely to escape. Boccaccio, in writing the Decameron, recognized that pleasant thoughts were the best preventive….Those who despaired threw away their one chance of life; those of sanguine temperament resisted well. (Huber p. 355)

It’s really ironic that I should close with this passage from Huber’s article. Not really. What Huber is saying here is that if you despair you’re lost already. If you become complacent, you’re dead in the water. Those who step up, ask the questions like: Are you part of a funeral home chain? Are you owned by a funeral service corporation? Are you still family owned? will likely come out on top. It’s not necessarily the pleasant thoughts that get you through any plague, it’s the positive, affirmative thoughts that will prevent you from being taken for a ride. It’s really very true what Huber and Boccaccio are preaching here: You have to have the courage to ask the questions, to look beyond the bells and whistles, to see through the smoke screens, and to assert what you feel you need in your bereavement, not what’s on the corporate menu. The more you do your own thinking and planning the more likely you’ll escape the snares set by the corporate funeral directors. The article may have been written in 1911, over a hundred years ago, but it still has substantial relevance today. I hope to have shown that in my analysis.

Thus are all phases of individual existence mutually and inextricably interrelated: extensive and prolonged deterioration in any one aspect is bound in time to affect perniciously the others in time; such hideous psychic phenomena as are here stated do not obtain in the beginning of any such calamity as the Black Death. But it is the circumstance (and a most pathetic one) that the exercise of the heroic virtues for any lengthy period is contingent upon the maintenance of normal living conditions in general; otherwise the psychic stamina deteriorates, manners become dissolute, morals depraved and consciences debased. (Huber p. 355)

What Dr Huber is saying in this paragraph is that life events are intimately interrelated — I understand these life events to be the basis of our traditions and rituals — and that if we allow any of those events to be exploited or to lapse into irrelevance, all others will suffer as the result. Huber’s phrase “heroic virtues” equates with human values and ethical conduct, which logically rely on “normal” living in our society. When “psychic stamina deteriorates” we have a disturbance in coping and resilience, we forget the ritual and become lost, we forget our obligations, and our whole mindset, our worldview, deteriorates. This, in the 21st century, is what happens when we fall victim to the materialist consumerism of our age and become slave consumers of the corporations and their perverse messages.

And so you have it: From none other than Monty Python’s 1975 depiction of the Black Death, and from a physician writing in 1911 about the pneumonic plague in Manchuria, China, do we have the evidence that really nothing has changed; we have learned nothing. What more can one say?

Support Your Local Funeral Home

(And don’t forget to ask for some time with
the interfaith bereavement chaplain!
(518) 479-0525 or compassionate.care.associates@gmail.com)

 

What the Local Media Have Missed: Peter J. McKenna, A Shining Star in a Dark Basement

As our many thousands of readers are aware, we have regularly reported on the Town of Coeymans Police Department, and the majority of those reports were utterly grim, reports of abuse, corruption, misuse of power, bullying, and generally the worst of the worst. Then, we were pleased to report on the terminations of Gregory “Dumpy Dumplin’” Darlington and his darling Gerald “Dirty–Hands–Jerry” Deluca, which we surmised was their choice to either go or be prosecuted. Since Darlington and Deluca have disappeared so, too, have the reports and complaints we regularly received. Once the new Chief, Peter J. McKenna, occupied the Chief’s office and cleaned up the garbage dump it had become, a real professional was in the driver’s seat. Things changed for the better almost overnight. Truth be told, we had our reservations about McKenna and we pulled no punches. But we do claim to publish the true facts and we have to own up to our misjudgment of the man and his capabilities. Much to our surprise, even the guy we used to refer to as “PsychoCop”,  Ryan Johnson, has been brought back to Coeymans and has proved to be a 180° reversal of his former image. All of this and much more as we report below is due to the professional management and mentoring by Coeymans Police Chief Peter J. McKenna. That having been said, we also have to ask Why? Phil Crandall and his den of bullies are so intent on making life difficult for the Chief and his Department.  Could it be they realize they don’t have crooks and cowards in the Department any more? Can’t they cope with dealing with real professional and ethical law enforcement, and a Chief who has management and communications skills that surpass those of Crandall and his bullies together? Read our article below and you decide.

That having been said, it’s truly beyond comprehension that the local media, especially the Ravena News Herald, can use more than a page of newsprint to report on a lost and recovered dog, and can miss a story like this. Where do they have their heads? Do you know, Mr John Johnson or Vince Vinciguerra of the Johnson Newspaper Group?


New, Improved, Community Sensitive

New, Improved, Community Sensitive

Peter J. McKenna, A Shining Star in a Dark Basement

and a Bright New Concept of Law Enforcement in the Town of Coeymans

In 2016, Chief Peter J. McKenna had a real opportunity strut his stuff and to use his experience in managing a department rounded out by personal hirings.  Starting in 2015, McKenna has been selecting experienced Police Officers who wanted to continue working part time in an industry they had dedicated their lives to, and paired them with young men and women just beginning their careers in Law Enforcement.  The new hires attended both full and part-time law enforcement academies without being paid for that time.  By combining new with experienced, two objectives were accomplished; the newer Officers were trained by seasoned law enforcement professionals, with experience in police supervision, criminal investigations, narcotics investigations, traffic safety, and community policing.  The grouping of part-time police officers provided a steady work schedule, minimizing the need to fill shifts with overtime (which comes from filling shifts with or for full time police officers).  In previous years, the schedule was completely monthly, but by agreement with the union, McKenna and the Department moved to a quarterly schedule.  Providing consistency afforded the rank and file a sense of continuity, and the need to fill shifts “at the last minute” dropped significantly. Now, that’s just background. The real meat – and – potatoes facts follow:

A facelift for Coeymans Police! No more harassing our kids!

A facelift for Coeymans Police!
No more harassing our kids!
Now they’re mentoring and protecting them.

Chief Peter J. McKenna

Chief Peter J. McKenna

When Coeymans Police Chief Peter J. McKenna was hired to be Chief in late 2014, the department had two full – time sergeant positions.  One of those positions was an evening supervisor, and the other, Sgt Ryan Johnson, was detailed to another agency (the DEA).  Prior to Chief McKenna’s , the sergeants were the primary on-call supervisors when there were only patrol officers working the shift.  When Chief McKenna assumed leadership of the department, he became the “first call” for any circumstances that required a supervisor; in other words, Chief McKenna was always on–call to supervise the department and its officers. By being on–call, Chief McKenna reduced the amount of overtime by the highest-paid officers in the department.

In 2015, Sergeant Dan Contento moved from a Supervisory Patrol position to the School Resource Officer (SRO) position (when school is in session).  Although this did not reflect in a the direct reduction in costs in the departmental budget, what it did mean is an indirect savings: Here’s how:  By placing a sergeant-grade officer in the SRO spot Chief McKenna made possible a salary reimbursement to the town for the time Contento is dedicated to the school district as the school SRO.  The great news is that because of Chief McKenna’s excellent management and planning , the Town of Coeymans was reimbursed more than $41,000 of the Sergeant Contento’s salary by the RCS school district in FY 2016.  Anyone with half of a brain would expect, and we believe this reimbursement should have been returned or at least returned to the Coeymans Police Department’s budget allocations, but this is not Coeymans Town Supervisor Philip Crandall’s reasoning. Crandall says it should be viewed as town revenue and placed in the Town’s general fund (obviously in order to hire a Crandall crony during a hiring and spending freeze).  That makes no sense to us at all and it appears that Crandall is abusing superior management by withholding well earned incentive from the Coeymans Police Department, incentive that was earned by virtue of Chief McKenna’s wise judgment and management experience. This reasoning is further supported by the fact that, by assigning the sergeant–grade officer to the school, the reimbursement to the Coeymans Police Department is about 10,000 dollars more than it would be if a patrol officer were to have filled the position.

We say that Crandall’s mismanagement of the money saved by Chief McKenna’s management of his law enforcement staff is wrong! Crandall has no right to take that money reimbursed by the RCS school district and padding his cronies’ pockets while abusing Chief McKenna’s professional management, and at the same time refusing to allocate funds to the Coeymans Police Department for needed equipment and activities.

[Editor’s Note: We will be publishing in an upcoming article some information that supports this evaluation of Phil Crandall’s physical and financial bullying of Town of Coeymans professional staff. Phil Crandall has an inferiority complex that is aggravated by stupidity. But more on that later with proof how he has no money in the budget for workers but plenty for his cronies!]

Crandal, Youmans, Dolan Miss the Good Ol' Days...

Crandal, Youmans, Dolan Miss the Good Ol’ Days…

The second sergeant-grade position, that of Sgt Ryan Johnson, was detailed by Chief McKenna’s predecessor, Gregory “Dumpy Dumplin” Darlington to another agency, the DEA..  That redeployment of a Coeymans police sergeant did not have the positive effect of returning funds back to the Department, since the sergeant’s salary was not reimbursed but only the overtime incurred (up to a predetermined amount) was reimbursable. The fact that the sergeant’s salary was not reimbursed was the result of poor negotiation and even worse management by Chief McKenna’s predecessor “Dumpy Dumplin'” Darlington. Chief McKenna brought Sergeant Ryan Johnson back to the Department in October 2016,  with the result that the Department was able to reduce 1 patrol position, and fill it with returned sergeant. The bottom line is that Coeymans now was paying the sergeant for services rendered to Coeymans and not to an outside agency and a patrol position was eliminated, further increasing the net savings!

Chief McKenna has succeeded in slimming down a bloated deparment created by his predecessors

Under previous Department management, there were two “part-time” Investigator positions, 1 detailed Senior Investigator position,  several so – called “B line positions”, an SRO position (school security), two “C line positions”, 1 supervisory C line position and an A line spot. [Editor’s Note: A, B, and C positions might be confusing so here is the key:  B is days, C is 4-midnight and A is midnight to 8 am. Hope that helps!]  The SRO, a 1 day position, the Sr. Investigator position, the C line position, the A line position, and C line supervisor position were all full time.  Before Chief McKenna, these positions provided full benefits such as vacation, sick and personal days off, which meant when a full time officer took the day off, his position, was filled with a part time officer, effectively paying two people for 1 working spot.  The part time Investigator spots routinely logged far more hours than the budget allocation [Editor’s Note: at best this was an indication of lousy management, ignorance of budgeting and a lack of familiarity with the department’s operation; in reality it was more likely Darlington’s padding his darlings’ pockets with town money.] Furthermore, before Chief McKenna took over the Department the “time management” for patrol shifts was uneven.  With McKenna’s hiring practices in place, he was able to alter the hours of some patrol shifts to provide two – person coverage twenty to twenty-two hours a day, and reduce unnecessary redundancies in patrol shifts;  Instead of the consistent A-B-C lines, McKenna put some officers on noon to 8 p.m. shifts, some (on Saturdays and Sundays on 12 hour shifts from 8a.m. to 8 p.m.), and the return of Sergeant Ryan Johnson to full dedication to Coeymans allowed the Department to employ Sgt Ryan Johnson in a dual capacity as a supervisor and as a patrol officer. According to Chief McKenna, his logic is that Coeymans is not so large a department that the positions need to be compartmentalized.

Chief McKenna has been able to reduce the excess hours, non-essential shifts, redundancy of tasks, and trim the budget by more than $60,000 dollars from the scheduled amount in the budget

Having a supervisor on during this shift also eliminates the need to contact an off-duty supervisor at home if circumstances would require.  The Department before McKenna had previously provided only one officer working the midnight shift; McKenna’s scheduling now allows for two-officer coverage from midnight until 4 a.m.  Monday through Friday while RCS schools are in session, the SRO (Sgt. Dan Contento) reports for duty before the school buses drop off students; on this scheduling he is available to back up the patrol officer from 6:30 a.m. until 8 a.m., if needed. In order days off, monitoring hours worked, details filled, and shifts filled or vacated, Chief McKenna has been able to reduce the excess hours, non-essential shifts, redundancy of tasks, and trim the budget by more than $60,000 dollars from the scheduled amount in the budget. In addition, to this McKenna has succeeded in adding salary reimbursements to the positive bottom line, which has enhanced the Town of Coeymans budget by more than $10,000 at least. Compare those savings to Crandall’s ongoing spending sprees!

Chief McKenna has made his Department’s priority that of having patrol officers capable and available to meet the needs of the Coeymans community.  McKenna’s guiding principle is: “If we can do that, and reduce the burden on the taxpayers by even a little bit, everybody wins.”

fiscal-responsibility

Chief McKenna’s Plan

According to McKenna when asked about his feelings regarding Crandall’s grabbing the salary reimbursements engineered by McKenna and his deployment of Department personnel, McKenna thoughtfully responded:

 “If I had any regrets about the windfall returned to the town coffers, it would be that I believe I am trying to maintain a professional department, without creating an undue financial burden on the people, yet still providing a safe and secure town and village.  The previous chief had his own printer, which died shortly after I took over.  I did not ask to replace it, as we have additional printers in the department I can utilize.  I have not dipped into petty cash.  Three of the patrol vehicles were purchased with seizure funds.  My only regret is that I believe I am fiscally conservative.  When I asked to outfit two vehicles purchased at the end of 2015 with lights and sirens, so as to reduce the stress on our fleet of cars, and allow for an extended life of the vehicles we have, it was denied, citing “financial stress”.”

crandall-head

Supervisor Phil Crandall

[Editor’s Note: I am hard pressed to understand How? denying a department head access to funds saved through his management of his department during a fiscal year, can be justified on the basis of “financial stress”. Our question is this: Where is the budgeted money and the reimbursed money going, Mr Crandall? You’re the CFO (chief financial officer) of the town! And besides, how many assistants does a small town supervisor need? And an accountant at $100/hour. Come on, Crandall, do you think we’re as stupid as you look? I am even more hard pressed to understand Mr Crandall’s refusal to extend the life of Department equipment by minor investment in equipment for those vehicles. It is outrageous that Crandall and his bully cronies on the Coeymans Town Board take those savings realized by the Chief without the Chief’s input, and offset bloated payroll issues created by Crandall’s extravagance in hiring for his own office.  Case in point: When the supervisor’s office went almost 9% over budget on payroll for 2 people — we’ll be reporting on this in the next article giving names and money amounts —, and one of them is salaried.  The Town of Coeymans under Crandall and his cronies on the Coeymans Town Board has created a Human Resources department that has cost an additional $12,000 dollars — we’ll be reporting on this, too, giving names and money amounts—, and we have a Finance Officer working full time, earning nearly 50,000 dollars, while the accountant hired to check the work earns over 100 dollars per hour. We don’t understand how this can go unnoticed by the public and by the local media, especially when NYS law makes the town supervisor the chief financial officer (CFO) of the town! We believe that Chief McKenna has a firm grip and a professional understanding about budgeting the funds necessary to run his Department but it doesn’t appear that Supervisor Crandall or the town board has half the savvy of the Police Chief. Not when Mr Crandall goes on a hiring spree and then has to steal from the Coeymans Police Department to cover his abuses. But as will become clear in our next article, Crandall does not limit his abuse of public office to the Coeymans Police Department, his bully tactics extend to another professional employee’s department, too.

We’ll be asking to see the books to verify the time and payments to Linda Ziegler (part-time in Crandall’s office), Darryl Purinton @ $105/hr in Crandall’s office. Yes! You read that right, $105/hr. Nita Chmielewski (full-time in Crandall’s office) @ $24.54/hr. Cindy Rowzee (full-time in Crandall’s office) @ $16/hr. And to report to our readers about the overtime abuses by Crandall’s minions — he seems to have collected his own little henhouse, a veritable harem for himself. Does Mrs Crandall know?]

Both the young professionals and their veteran trainers are committed to performing to the highest standards of ethics, professionalism, and integrity.

Coeymans has seen four of the officers McKenna hired move on to full – time employment elsewhere.  After having received their training and mentoring from veteran professional law enforcement like McKenna and Contento, even from a matured Ryan Johnson, we would have liked to have seen these up–and–coming men and women stay and grow in the Law Enforcement field right here in Coeymans. The problem is really simple: Coeymans cannot compete with the salaries elsewhere, and with a town administration like Phil Crandall’s that slaps community – minded management and service in the face and that insists on shooting itself in the foot, those salaries and the benefits packages, as well as career advancement opportunities offered by larger departments will attract talented professionals away from Coeymans.  It’s not a total loss, though, because from the time these young recruits come to serve on the Coeymans Police Department, the people of the Town of Coeymans receives the dedicated service of a group of young professionals, who are committed to a career in Police Work and law enforcement, who receive training and mentoring by highly qualified veteran law enforcement officers while they are here.  Both the young professionals and their veteran trainers are committed to performing to the highest standards of ethics, professionalism, and integrity.  As an officer – in – training, these recruits need to give their utmost in order to become certified as law enforcement professionals.  Chief Mckenna doesn’t take the vetting process for these candidates lightly, and believes the obvious fact that these officers trained in Coeymans are now coveted by larger departments; this should be interpreted as a reflection of how vigilant McKenna and his veterans are in their efforts to find the best people for the job.

One of the hallmarks of our Coeymans Police Department is the too-often misused term “community-policing”.  For McKenna, that term means men and women, who interact with the public and don’t just drive past them, pull them over, or act as if a service call is an inconvenience.  McKenna and his personnel acknowledge and appreciate who pays their salaries.  They know that they are here because the people of this town want them here.  Property checks, bicycle patrol, walking beats, ATV details, crossing guard details; all these things get us out into the public, among our friends, neighbors, employers, interacting, and having an opportunity to listen and tohear what the community wants and expects from their own law enforcement professionals.  McKenna has vision and hope for the revitalization in the Town and Hamlet of Coeymans and Village of Ravena, and for the surrounding areas; nothing would give him greater joy than seeing storefronts filled with goods and service opportunities, instead of vacancy signs and deteriorating real estate everywhere you look.

McKenna Redefines Community Law Enforcement

McKenna Redefines Community Law Enforcement

McKenna, in keeping with his community contact policy, makes the effort to at least try to visit every business, with whom he and his Department interact, and McKenna looks to introduce himself to people in the community, so they know that they can actually call or stop in his office for any reason.  McKenna’s present and available and he makes that fact known to the community. Of course, there are times and places that he misses the chance to follow-up with people in the community, but he does express the sincere hope that those who feel he didn’t respond or do enough will call him, or stop in again.  [Editor’s Note: If anyone feels this is not the case, we at Smalbany would like your inputs and we’ll follow up, of course. Either leave a comment at the end of this article or send us an email at rcs.confidential@gmail.com] McKenna is one man literally fighting Town Hall so it’s not that he’s dissing anyone or that he doesn’t want to reach out to local businesses and business owners, the understandable fact is that he sometimes gets overrun, and misses the chance to finish what may have been started. Our suggestion to any business or business owner who would like to discuss any particular issue or who has the interest and time to foster a collaborative relationship with Chief McKenna and the Coeymans Police Department to call him, pay him a visit. You’ll find him the most generous and cordial man you’ll probably ever meet in Coeymans Town Hall. And we’d love to know about your impressions and experiences if you do that.

In conclusion, despite the abuses and the obstacles set by Crandall and his bullies, the Chief appears not to have any issues with the disrespect he receives from the mob upstairs, the ignorance he has to live with and lack of appreciation from Crandall, or the budget he has to work with. Judging from our observations, our conversations, and the facts we have gathered, we are confident — and we believe that Chief McKenna is as well — that if he and his Department is given the opportunity to provide input into hiring and purchasing, and the town government wakes up and stops hamstringing him in his efforts, he will continue provide a full measure of service to the Town of Coeymans and the Village of Ravena.  If Crandall and his cronies continue to obstruct the Chief’s efforts by placing obstacles and roadblocks, and the Chief is stymied in efforts to professionally and conscientiously, and responsibly manage his Department and to move the Department forward in service of the community, the task of keeping the community safe and protected will become increasingly difficult, if not impossible.

At this point in time, the Chief foresees at least two young officers leaving the Coeymans Department in the coming months in order to accept full – time employment in larger departments. If the Chief is not given the latitude and resources necessary to adjust for these losses, the future may become a very difficult challenge for this community in terms of safety, response, and service.

We feel that Mr Crandall and the Coeymans town board should take a very critical look at their own egregious misconduct and their lack of concern for the integrity of Coeymans government. We, and we hope we are joined by our friends and neighbors in Coeymans, especially the business community in the Town of Coeymans, to demand that Chief McKenna be given a voice and an regular opportunity to share his vision, his plans, his challenges, and his solutions with the Coeymans community, and at every opportunity in town administration activities. We encourage Chief McKenna to insist on being on the agenda at Town of Coeymans working meetings and regular Town Board meetings, to present his regular reports, and that those reports be “on the record” and in the minutes for the public’s information. We further encourage the local and regional media to establish and nurture liaison with Chief McKenna and his Department, and that the media provide opportunity and space for the Chief’s regular reports.

In the meantime, we’d like to thank Coeymans Police Chief Peter McKenna for his fine service and dedication to this community in 2016, and to extend our sincerest best wishes to the Chief and his law enforcement professionals, and his officers – in – training for a safe and happy new year in the service of our community!!!

We'd like to remind you what's at stake for our law enforcement men and women, and their families. They're not desk jockeys, Mr Crandall! The Editor

We’d like to remind you what’s at stake for our law enforcement men and women, and their families. They’re not desk jockeys, Mr Crandall!
The Editor 


Editor’s Heads – Up! Stay tuned for another block – buster report on the Crandall mob’s misuse of office and their abuse of town employees. We mentioned some of the double – standard hiring practices and financial irresponsibility exhibited by Crandall in this article but be prepared for an even more shocking exposé in our follow – up article, which will expose Crandall, Youmans, and Dolan as bullies and harassers, and the rest of the town board as cowards with no balls. When Crandall and Youmans were elected, we published an article with the title  “Return of the Scumbuckets! Coeymans Does It Again!” in Coeymans Town Hall. Our reports confirm that observation.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 7, 2017 in 2Luck.com, Abuse of Public Office, Albany County Civil Service Department, Bitter Bob (Ross), Bob Ross, Carver Companies, Carver Companies, Carver Construction, Carver Laraway, Catherine Deluca, Cathy Deluca, Catskill-Hudson Newspapers, Cindy Rowzee, Coeymans, Coeymans Elections, Coeymans Industrial Park, Coeymans Police Department, Coeymans Town Board, Coeymans Town Budget, Columbia-Greene Media, Daily Mail, Daniel Contento, Darryl L. Purinton, David Wukitsch, Eleanor Luckacovic, Eleanor Oldham, George Amadore, George Langdon, Gerald Deluca, Greater Coeymans Ravena Area Community Business Group, Gregory Darlington, Hal Warner, Hudson Valley, Jerry "Dirty-Hands" Deluca, Jerry Deluca, Jim Youmans, Joan Ross, John B. Johnson, John Luckacovic, Johnson Newspaper Group, Ken Burns, Kenneth Burns, Linda Ziegler, Mark Vinciguerra, Mayor "Mouse", Mayor "Mouse" Misuraca, Melanie Lekocevic, Mismanagement, Moose Misuraca, Moose Misuraca, Nancy Biscone-Warner, Nancy Warner, Nepotism, New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, News Channel 10, News Channel 13, News Channel 6, News Herald, Nita Chmielewski, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, Office of the Attorney General, Official Misconduct, Pete Lopez, Peter J. McKenna, Peter Mckenna, Peter McKenna, Phil Crandall, Phillip Crandall, Port of Coeymans, Public Safety, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk Central School District, Ravena News Herald, RCS Central School District, RegisterStar, Richard Touchette, Rick Touchette, Ryan Johnson, The Daily Mail, Thomas E. Dolan, Times Union, Tom Dolan, Town of Coeymans, Wild Spending, William Misuraca

 

AMBUSH! New Information on Coeymans vs Laraway!

We recently published an article about the town of Coeymans and another AMBUSH, this time on Carver Laraway, Give them enough rope and the Coeymans Board expose themselves, and later provided an UPDATE in our article, News Shorts to Keep You Updated…Briefly. In both articles, we exposed the town of Coeymans’ Code Enforcement Office’s pattern of AMBUSH on private citizens and businesses, and how the Coeymans Code Enforcement officers’ pattern of AMBUSH is an abuse of public office and an abuse of power. We suggested that there is a more sinister aspect to this pattern of AMBUSH, and it’s about time someone with Carver Laraway’s resources stepped forward to expose the Coeymanazi criminals for what they are: RATS.

After learning about the screw-job Carver Laraway received at the hands of the Coeymans Code Enforcement Office then they ambushed him by going behind his back to the Department Labor on a cooked up violation of sorts, we investigated the facts and found some interesting information, information that every resident of the town of Coeymans must be interested in. Here’s what we found:

unite against corruption
The Albany Times Union published a very inaccurate report on the incident involving the demolition of a derelict property at 84 Main Street in the hamlet of Coeymans. But what can you expect from the Albany Times Useless? We smelled a rat and so we started asking questions.

Initially, we had to put two-and-two together: the Crandallite board with its recycled rejects Dolan and Youmans. The firing of Laverne “Larry” Conrad from the position he held and abused for years as Coeymans Code Enforcement officer. The suspicious hiring of Larry Conrad by Carver Laraway as a consultant, after Conrad was fired by the new Coeymans board. Carver Laraway’s attempts to purchase derelict properties in the hamlet of Coeymans and the suspicious scandals that seem to arise, usually involving the Coeymans town hall. The conditions imposed on the purchase of 84 Main Street. The completed demolition of the building and THEN the suspicious involvement of the New York State Department of Labor and the stoppage of the work and issuance of a violation for some trumped up pretense.

[Editor’s Note: This is not a first-time occurrence of the town of Coeymans Code Enforcement office issuing permits, allowing a resident to complete the work covered by the permit, and then going behind the resident’s back and reporting a violation to a state agency with the issue of a violation against the resident! More on this later.]

Since the Times Union article raised the question of Who owns 84 Main Street? Well, we thought that would be a no-brainer. Why would there be any question of Who owns 84 Main Street? Certainly the town of Coeymans should know who owns the property! But the Times Union reported that the town of Coeymans was uncertain who owned the property! In fact, at a discussion at a recent public meeting of the town of Coeymans town board: it was a ping-pong match between the board members asking Who owns 84 Main Street? Well, wouldn’t the town Assessor know who owns the property? Would’t the Code Enforcement Office have to know who owns the property, in order to issue a Demolition Permit? Why would Carver Laraway be demolishing a building he didn’t hold title to? Or, if Carver Laraway was demolishing a building he didn’t own, he’d have to be doing that for the owner, Right? Well, nothing added up in this situation, so we decided to find out who owns the building.

To make a long story short, we visited the Coeymans town hall and asked to see the tax rolls. At first the property identification number couldn’t be found in the normal tax rolls, Mr Santee DeBacco, the Code Enforcement Officer on duty at the time of our visit, couldn’t provide any information, but one on-the-ball employee in the Town Clerk’s office found the property in the tax exempt properties, where it was shown to be owned by the town of Coeymans! Now WHY? wouldn’t the Code Enforcement Office or the Coeymans town board know this? Answer: Because they had something to hide. That’s why.

So we FOILed the relevant documents under the New York State Freedom of Informtation Law. We asked for: (1) All demolition permits issued for the past year, (2) All information regarding special conditions imposed on the sale of derelict or foreclosure properties in the town of Coeymans, and (3) All town of Coeymans laws, regulations and guidelines relating to asbestos containment.

First of all, the town of Coeymans produced NO documents relating to Coeymans laws, regulations and guidelines on asbestos containment. The hazards associated with asbestos in buildings and the connection between asbestos and life-threatening diseases like mesothelioma, a cancer of the lungs, have been known for decades. Literally dozens of buildings have been taken down in the town of Coeymans, most of them old and almost all of them containing asbestos in one form or another. But Coeymans has no laws, regulations or guidelines for asbestos containment. Your town government working for you. Bullshit!

So, since the town of Coeymans has no basis to screw with Carver Laraway while his crews are removing an eyesore from Coeymans Hamlet, the next best thing is to go to the State of New York —those whores will do anything to get a fine, and they’re corrupt as hell— which is exactly what the rats in Coeymans town hall did. They couldn’t cook up something so they let the state of New York do their dirty work for them, which the New York State Department of Labor, like the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is very willing to do, regardless of the facts and with no real interest in them either. State steps in and stops the work, which was pretty much done already, and issues a violation. And here is where it gets sticky.

Now remember that Larry Conrad, former Coeymans Code Enfocement officer, was fired by the newly elected Coeymans town board. Keep in mind that Larry Conrad was pretty cozy with Carver Laraway, while Conrad was Coeymans CEO, so cozy in fact that when Conrad was fired, Laraway hired him on as an “advisor.” That was Carver Laraway’s way of saying Thank you, Larry! for all the favors and support. Well, it wasn’t enough for Phil Crandall, Coeymans town supervisor, and his henchmen to just fire stupid old Larry, they followed him to Carver Laraway, and decided to kill a couple of turkeys with one shot.

The documents we received from the town of Coeymans show without a doubt that the town of Coeymans owns 84 Main Street in the hamlet of Coeymans, and owned the property while Laraway was demolishing it, and Coeymans still owns the property.

The town produced 11 demolition permits for the period of January 1, 2015 to February 1, 2016. Of those permits 5 were signed by Larry Conrad (for the period of February to December 2015) and 6 were signed by John Cashin, who was hired after Conrad was fired; Cashin signed the 6 permits issued in 2016 (5 in January 2016 and 1 in February 2016).

One of the permits issued on October 21, 2015, for the “Demolition of a Three-Family Dwelling. This dwelling has been deemed unsafe for occupancy.”, shows it to be property No. 168.12-2-3, located at 84 Main Street, Coeymans, and owned by the town of Coeymans. The permit is signed by none other than Larry Conrad. Carver Laraway is not mentioned anywhere on that Demolition Permit. Case closed! Coeymans owns the building!

We then examined the document provided by the clerk’s office regarding special conditions on the sale of derelict or seized properties in the town of Coeymans and Guess what we found there? The document is entitled: “NOTICE SEEKING OFFERS TO PURCHASE REAL PROPERTY” and is asking for “bids to purchase real property presently owned by the Town [of Coeymans].” The Notice states “the Town [of Coeymans] will provide the successful bidder with a Quit Claim Deed to the properties.” The Notice also sets forth the “terms” of the request for bids. The Notice has this to say about 84 Main Street:

84 Main Street, Coeymans, New York — Parcel #168.12-2-3. This is a three-family residence which is presently vacant, located on approximately .06 acres of land. the structure is unsafe. Therefore, the Town will require the successful bidder to tear down the building within 90 days of contract. Title will not be transferred until this condition is met. Proof of financial ability to perform the demolition must be established to the satisfaction of the Town

 So, there you have it. If the town of Coeymans provided all of the information required under the Freedom of Information Law, and did not hide anything, it is very clear that the town of Coeymans owns the property at 84 Main Street, Coeymans. What the documents do not answer is Why? town of Coeymans officials and the Coeymans town board would not admit that the town of Coeymans owns the property and Why? the Times Union published the false facts relating to the incident.

Well, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise because the Albany Times Union has always been a tool, a prostitute, serving special interests in the town of Coeymans and elsewhere, publishing anything that serves the liberal democrap agenda. This is no exception.

The same applies to the state of New York departments of Labor and Environmental Conservation. The record and history shows that at least those two New York state departments dance to the Coeymanazi tune. Larry Conrad, when he was Coeymans Code Enforcement officer was part of the machine but when he was fired by his enemies, he became the enemy.

We will be reporting on Larry Conrad’s involvement with a disgraceful AMBUSH on a local business and property owner. Again, Conrad was issuing permits, misleading the permit holder, and then going behind the permit holder’s back to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, to screw the permit holder. Conrad was good at doing favors for his Coeymanazi handlers. But now, it seems the shoe is on the other foot.

shoe on other foot

The conclusion that has to be drawn from the very documents provided by the town of Coeymans is that the town of Coeymans is the owner of the property at 84 Main Street in Coeymans. The fact is the rats in the Coeymans Code Enforcement office blew it when they reported Carver Laraway to their cronies at the state Department of Labor, who conveniently issued a violation and stopped the demolition work; the violation is or should be against the town of Coeymans, the real owners of the building and the ones responsible for the demolition or any violations. You asked for it Coeymans residents! We told you so! But you just had to put Phil Crandall, Tom Dolan, Jim Youmans back in public office so they could continue abusing you. You just love it, don’t you, Coeymans?

The town of Coeymans is still playing its stupid corrupt games. Again, they’ve been found out! Question is: When will anyone do anything about it…that is, other than us at Smalbany?

Fight the Ambush Mob Stop Corruption in Coeymans The Editor

Fight the Ambush Mob
Stop Corruption in Coeymans
The Editor

 

Ravena: The Scandal Continues

Henry Traver’s $11,000 Pay Raise is Scandalous. Here’s Why:

It’s springtime and you’ll be promenading along the dusty streets of Ravena, chatting to the music of passing heavy trucks,  deeply savoring the stench of diesel fuel, while Carver Laraway is hobnobbing with the New York State governor’s aides, trying to cut deals to repair at taxpayer expense the roads, especially Rt 144, damaged by Carver Companies’ trucks, and while Michael Biscone, Jerry Perrine and Larry Conrad are filling in wetlands with toxic fill and burying natural waterways. (Biscone and Conrad invented the boardgame, “Bury the Creek“.)  Where’s the DEC when Biscone, Perrine and Conrad are doing their mischief? Your elected RCS board of education members are spending your tax dollars hand over fist while putting their own homes up for sale to move out of the area. Yes, all you have to do is ask your RCS board of education president, James Latter, and board member Alice Whalen Why? Why did they run for elected board of education office if they were simply going to jump ship after doing their damage. YES! Ravena-Coeymans, you asked for it and you got it.

truck_in_dust

More smoke and mirrors regarding the failed Ravena Health and Fitness Center…When will we ever get the truth?

Now, it may be true that you weren’t even asked by the Bruno-Warner-Deluca trio whether you needed or even wanted to spend more than $100,000 a year on a substandard fitness center run by an mutiple-failure, Cathy Deluca. But John Bruno, Nancy Warner and Cathy Deluca made the decision for you and you had to live with it for more than two years. Now mayor William “Mouse” Misuraca and his sockpuppet Bill Bailey are telling us that two individuals want to invest private funds in the dump. Well, if there are that many whackos with too much money that they don’t know what to do with it, we can think of dozens of better investments. Asked by a local resident who the so-called interested parties were, the board couldn’t — or wouldn’t say. Why is that? What’s the big secret? What are you giving away now? Shouldn’t we know the name of the “investors“, the heroes who are going to save your political arses? Who may be going to save Ravena taxpayers from abject bankruptcy? Isn’t it our business who is interested and potentially going to take over a dead business in Ravena, a dead business that is still being financed by public tax dollars? We think so, and we want to know who these so-called investors are. Don’t you, residents, neighbors?

Question: If supporters of the Ravena Health and Fitness Center want to claim that the Fatness Center brings business to Ravena, can they explain Why? during the two years the Fatness Center has been operating, at least 4 businesses have closed their doors in Ravena? This includes Mr Aaron Flach closing his drycleaning operation and terminating the staff of the drycleaning business and the laundromat attendants. If that’s how the Fitness Center is attracting business, we’d better expidite closing Cathy Deluca’s playmen before the few remaining businesses pull up stakes!

When asked by a resident at the April 21, 2014, village board meeting: If the unidentified investors don’t take over the Ravena Health and Fitness Center, what will the village do with the equipment that the village of Ravena purchased from Bob Fisk for $40,000? Ravena village board member William “Bill” Bailey simply replies: “We’ll probably auction it.” And likely get ten cents on the dollar for it! Your tax dollars at work, Ravena!

Ravena village trustee Nancy Warner ousted from key positions…No longer supervising her husband’s court operations,  dirty village judge Harold “Hal” Warner. Too bad, Hal, this must mean you might be the one getting a stiff sentence.

But things are looking up when you consider that Nancy Warner is being sidelined and has been demoted. Good news is that she’s no longer supervising her crooked husband’s village court operations. Dirty-Judge Harold “Hal” Warner, Nancy Warner’s husband, will have to deal with another board member supervising his village kangaroo court operations. We’ll be watching to see if there are any improvements or, as we expect, it will be business as usual.

But let’s turn our attention now to the village of Ravena Department of Public Works, the village department that works very hard to avoid working. We recently reported that the village of Ravena Department of Public Works foreman, Henry Traver, has been awarded a more than $11,000 pay raise; he’s now going to make more than $60, 000 a year plus benes! How does the Ravena village board explain that one? Do you have mayor Mouse Misuraca’s telephone number? Give him a call or give one of those talking heads on the village board a call and ask why in hell are they rewarding a dunce?!?

Ravena board to dump more stone on village streets to be washed away …

Well, we also reported how, last year the village of Ravena Department of Public Works under foreman Henry Traver, dumped tons of stone on local Ravena streets, and we warned that it would be washed away or plowed away by spring. Guess what? Central Avenue in Ravena was one of those streets that they covered with the loose stone. Walk along Central Avenue today and you’ll see how our prediction came true. The stone is gone and you can see the old street surface. Your tax dollars at work. But now they’re planning to do the same thing on about a dozen other streets in Ravena. Why are you still reading this? Call Ravena mayor “Mouse” Misuraca and raise some hell!

Ravena storm drains filled to the grill with debris and dirt!

We’ve already reported on the dire condition of the fire hydrants in Ravena-Coeymans and we’re pleased to see that someone’s built a fire under some butts to get them serviced. That’s the good news. But while you’re taking your daily constitutional on the broken streets of Ravena, amuse yourself by the state of the storm drains. We recently surveyed the storm drains on Main Street and a couple of side streets and found that a number of them were filled with debris and dirt to within inches of the grill (see the picture below) !!!

Ravena Storm Drain Filled to the Top with Debris and Dirt!Henry Traver's Supposed to be Maintaining Them

Ravena Storm Drain Filled to the Top with Debris and Dirt!
Henry Traver’s Supposed to be Maintaining Them

We need to ask Ravena mayor “Mouse” Misuraca and his board of sockpuppets Why? are these storm drains in such a deplorable state? These drains must be maintained to keep water from eroding the streets and flooding our homes!!! So, instead of maintaining the storm drains, Henry Traver rides around in circles in the village vehicles, and the Ravena village board gives him an $11, 000 pay raise. Doesn’t Ravena see anything wrong with this picture?

Ravena-Coeymans isn’t alone when it comes to incompetent management of municipal, village and town infrastructure. New Baltimore is on a par or at least running a close second position in terms of incompetence and waste by the Highway Department under the mismanagement of Mr Denis Jordan, who has screwed up the drainage and streets in the Hamlet of New Baltimore to an embarrassing level. If it were Ravena or Coeymans Hamlet we’d be writing that it was a plot by Michael Biscone and Larry Conrad to get the homes condemned so that they could buy them up for a penny. But New Baltimore isn’t that sophisticated; New Baltimore is just incompetent. So if you were to take two dildos, throw them into a bag and shake them up, do you know what you’d get if you emptied the bag? Yup! Two dildos. That’s what we got in Ravena and New Baltimore wrecking our infrastructure and wasting our tax dollars; and they’re dressed up like Henry Traver and Denis Jordan.

Traver and Jordan Dressed as BananasThe Editor

Traver and Jordan Dressed as Bananas
The Editor

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 22, 2015 in 18 USC § 4 - Misprision of Felony, 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, Abuse of Public Office, Albany, Albany County Chamber of Commerce, Albany County Civil Service, Albany County Civil Service Department, Albany County District Attorney, Alice Whalen, Andrew Cuomo, Annette Demitraszek, Annette Demitraszek, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Barbara Cumm, Bill Bailey, Bill Bailey, Bitter Bob (Ross), Board of Education Member, Bob Freeman, Bob Ross, Bryan Rowzee, Capital District, Carver Companies, Carver Companies, Carver Construction, Carver Laraway, Catherine Deluca, Catherine M. Deluca, Cathy Deluca, Chris Gibson, Chris Gibson, Civil Right Violation, Claude A. Wheeles, Coercion, Coeymans, Coeymans Building Inspector, Coeymans Industrial Park, Coeymans Town Board, Conflict of Interest, Conspiracy, Corruption, David Soares, DEC, Denis Jordan, Department of Environmental Conservation, Diane Jordan, Diane Louis, Dr Alan McCartney, Dr Alan R. McCartney, Eleanor Luckacovic, Eleanor Oldham, Eric Hoglund, Eric T. Schneiderman, F.O.I.L., George Amadore, Governor Mario Cuomo, Greene County, Greene County District Attorney, Greene County IDA, Harassment, Harold Warner, Henry Traver, Hudson Valley, Indifference, Inspector General, Intimidation, James Latter, James Latter II, Jena Misuraca, Jerry Perrine, Joan Ross, John B. Johnson, John Luckacovic, John T. Bruno, Judicial Misconduct, Kris Biernacki, Kristine Biernacki, Kristine Biernacki, Larry Conrad, Laverne Conrad, Mark Vinciguerra, Mayor "Mouse", Mayor "Mouse" Misuraca, Mayor Bruno, Michael Biscone, Michael J. Biscone, Misdemeanor, Mismanagement, Misuse of Public Office, Moose Misuraca, Moose Misuraca, Nancy Biscone-Warner, Nancy Warner, Nancy Warner, New Baltimore, New Baltimore Republican Club, New York, New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, Nick Dellisanti, Notice of Claim, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, Office of the Attorney General, P. David Soares, Pete Lopez, Port of Coeymans, Ravena, Ravena Building Inspector, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk Central School District, Ravena Department of Public Works, Ravena Fitness Center, Ravena Health and Fitness Center, Ravena Village Justice, RCS Board of Education, René VanSchaack, Retaliation, Robert Fisk, Sandy Debacco, Selkirk, Sewer and Water, Thomas E. Dolan, Tom Dolan, Village Justice, Village of Ravena Planning Board, William Bailey, William Bailey, William Misuraca, William Misuraca

 

Time to Goose the Moose! Make Ready the Noose!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 13, 2015 in 18 USC § 4 - Misprision of Felony, 19th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 2Luck.com, Abuse of Power, Abuse of Public Office, Accountability, Albany, Albany County Civil Service Department, Albany County District Attorney, Albany County Sheriff Department, Annette Demitraszek, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Barbara Cumm, Bill Bailey, Bitter Bob (Ross), Bob Ross, Bryan Rowzee, Capital District, Carver Companies, Carver Construction, Catherine Deluca, Catherine M. Deluca, Cathy Deluca, Chris Gibson, Civil Right Violation, Claude A. Wheeles, Coercion, Coeymanazis, Coeymans, Coeymans Police Department, Coeymans Town Board, Conflict of Interest, Conspiracy, Corruption, Craig D. Apple Sr., Crime and Punishment, Criminal Mischief, David Lewis, David Louis, David Soares, David Wukitsch, DEC, Denis Jordan, Department of Environmental Conservation, Diane Louis, Eleanor Luckacovic, Eleanor Oldham, Eric T. Schneiderman, Felony, George Amadore, George Langdon, Gerald Deluca, Government, Gregory Darlington, Harold Warner, Henry Traver, Hudson Valley, Hypocrisy, Immorality, Inspector General, Investigation, Jena Misuraca, Jerry "Dirty-Hands" Deluca, Jerry Deluca, Jerry Perrine, Joan Ross, Joel Coye, John B. Johnson, John Luckacovic, Johnson Newspaper Group, Josephine P. Dority née Biscone, Keith Mahler, Ken Burns, Kenneth Burns, Kris Biernacki, Kristine Biernacki, Larry Conrad, Laverne Conrad, Law Enforcement, Mark Vinciguerra, Mary Ellen Rosato, Mayor "Mouse", Mayor "Mouse" Misuraca, Mayor Bruno, Michael Biscone, Michael J. Biscone, Misconduct, Misdemeanor, Misinformation, Mismanagement, Misuse of Public Office, Moose Misuraca, Nancy Biscone-Warner, Nancy Warner, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, New York State Civil Service Department, News Herald, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, Obstruction of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Official Misconduct, P. David Soares, Pete Lopez, Peter Masti, Port of Coeymans, Public Corruption, Ravena, Ravena Building Inspector, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Ravena Fitness Center, Ravena Health and Fitness Center, Ravena News Herald, Ravena Village Board, Robert Fisk, Robert J. Freeman, Sandy Debacco, Selkirk, Sewer and Water, Smalbany, Stephen Flach, Thomas E. Dolan, Tom Dolan, Transparency, Village Clerk, Village of Ravena Planning Board, William Bailey, William Misuraca

 

Greene County IDA: “Insider Trading” by High Level Officer?

There are some credible grumblings in New Baltimore, Greene County, focusing on the Greene County IDA, the organization which is established and governed by New York State Municipal law and which is supposed to be supervised by the Greene County Legislators. But it seems that for some time now, the Greene County IDA has not had a real report-to person; in other words, although the Greene County IDA is supposed to report to the Greene County legislators and the Greene county legislators are supposed to be keeping an eye on the IDA, this doesn’t appear to be happening.

“Working in partnership with the Greene County Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Planning and Great Northern Catskills Chamber of Commerce, we offer a variety of financial and incentive based tools and management flexibility to help foster success. The IDA works towards our goals in conjunction with local communities, state and local governments, the business community and numerous regional partners with sound planning, sensitivity to the environment and the preservation of our quality of life. The Greene County IDA strives for success utilizing a positive economic development image and track record while setting the standard of Visionary Growth!” (from the “Mission Statement” of the Greene County IDA)

We attended a recent New Baltimore Republican Club gathering at which Mr René VanSchaack, executive director of the Greene County IDA, answered questions about the Greene County IDA and what it might be able to do to put the town of New Baltimore on the map. The bottom line conclusion after that meeting was that there was very little, in general, that the IDA can do for New Baltimore as the IDA, although Mr VanSchaack generously offered to assist smaller businesses in whatever way he can, the IDA is geared more to larger companies. We were convinced that Mr VanSchaack was sincere in his offer to support but at the end of the gathering one attendee stated directly to Mr VanSchaack:

Our Question is this:
Is the Chairman of the Greene County IDA Involved in Questionable Ethics?

Ethical Violations and Crime One thing leads to another.

Ethical Violations and Crime
One thing leads to another.

There are some credible allegations that the current chairman of the Greene County IDA, Mr Eric Hoglund, has been involved in some suspicious land-grabs, and that his property acquisitions are raising suspicions that he may be abusing his office, violating the IDA’s own code of ethics, and could be involved in illegal transactions, violating Article 18 of the Municipal Law of New York State, the law that governs the Greene County IDA. Article 18 of the Municipal Law deals with various forms of conflict of interest in the many organizations that fall under its regulation.

The provisions of the Greene County IDA Code of Ethics that apply to these allegations and this suspicion reads:

“8. Endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he or she is likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of his or her trust. Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, nothing shall prohibit any director, officer or employee of the Agency from acquiring property adjacent to or otherwise proximate to the lands in which the Agency has an ownership interest provided that such acquisition is not based upon the use of confidential information obtained by such director, officer or employee of the Agency in his capacity with the Agency as determined by such member after consultation with Chairman of the Agency and Counsel to the Agency.” (Code of Ethics adopted on March 17, 2011)

Apart from the gobbledegook, double-talk, blather of this part of the Ethics Code, which we doubt many of the IDA board members can read and understand, much less the average locally schooled resident, the point it makes is that (1) IDA officers must not do anything to raise suspicion of abuse of their office (You can be certain they’ll try to stay out of sight; there’s no one watching them.), (2) IDA officers can acquire property adjacent to IDA properties (Why else would they do that but to snatch a profit or seize a financial advantage?), (3) IDA officers can’t use “confidential” information obtained in their work as IDA officers, (4) this is all determined after consultation with the chairman and the IDA lawyer. What a load of unintelligible steaming bullshit! Well, this paragraph is not the only paragraph in the IDA’s Code of Ethics that is in gobbledegook, double-talk, blatherese that may have been violated, there are others in that Code that may be affected but we find that this paragraph applies most directly to our point: That the conduct of the Greene County IDA chairman, Mr Eric Hoglund, does indeed “raise suspicion among the public that he…is likely…engaged in acts that are in violation of his…trust.” The suspicion is that he may have used “confidential information obtained” as an officer and employee of the IDA.

if anything anywhere else in this so-called Ethics Code says otherwise, that’s all dumped and this applies…

But the real clincher is the phrase, “Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary…“, which for those of you who were exposed to RCS English classes would be meaningless, actually means this: “despite anything in this Code that says otherwise…” or “although something in this Code may say differently…” or “if anything anywhere else in this so-called Ethics Code says otherwise, that’s all dumped and … applies”. So, in paragraph 8 of the IDA Ethics Code, this “notwithstanding” phase literally says IDA officers can buy up land they know will turn a profit for them, because who’s going to be able to say they used “confidential information” obtained in the course of doing IDA business? And it’s the chairman and the IDA lawyer, if they’re ever even consulted, who make that decision. But what if it’s the chairman is involved in the dirty dealing? Or the IDA attorney? Or another board member or officer? No one is checking up on him or her and his minions. Who is watching Mr Eric Hoglund other than his cronies on the IDA board? Answer: No one. Until now. So the Greene County IDA, in it’s present form, is like a private investors club getting insider information to use themselves or pass on to someone who can use it for them, or do them a favor later. Who knows? Who’s regulating them on the IDA board?

Mr VanSchaack wants to keep his job as executive director and is unwilling to be the people’s messenger to chairman Hoglund

When the question was asked, Mr VanSchaack visibly lost the confident composure he had otherwise shown when presenting the IDA’s operations during the Q&A, and he became somewhat defensive asserting that he was “lily white” and that he made great efforts to be and to stay that way. The chairman of the Greene County IDA is his (VanSchaack’s) boss, and Mr VanSchaack expressly stated thatIf you go to Stewart’s and have a complaint about the coffee, you don’t tell the kid behind the counter to tell his boss the coffee is lousy; he just won’t do it if he want’s to keep his job.” That’s tantamount to saying that Mr VanSchaack wants to keep his job as executive director and is unwilling to be the people’s messenger to chairman Hoglund for fear of losing his job. Is that the way Hoglund runs the IDA, “Kill the messenger?”

Mr VanSchaack went further to say that if there was a complaint, a suspicion, that whoever is making the complaint should do his or her homework, and get the facts. Well, we strongly diagree with Mr VanSchaack and would argue that it’s not for us to do the “homework” or to gather the facts of the case but that it’s the job of the elected officials who are elected and who have the responsibility to oversee such organizations as the Greene County IDA: the Greene County legislature and the Greene County District Attorney, in collaboration with the Green County Controller. Then the complaint or the suspicion should be brought before the Greene County legislature, the bunch who is supposed to be overseeing and monitoring the IDA. We’re doing that now.

It's not just as easy as washing your hands of it all; it didn't work for Pilate and it won't work for you.

It’s not just as easy as washing your hands of it all; it didn’t work for Pilate and it won’t work for you.

It was really bad planning by the officers of the New Baltimore Repubican Club, a party that espouses faith and family values, to have scheduled and held its meeting during Christian Holy Week and on the eve of the Jewish Passover feast! What were they thinking? Few Christians and no Jew would consider spending Holy Thursday or the evening before Passover listening to an IDA spokesperson chant his capitalist, materialist, immoral mantras on how to be the worst possible stewards of creation. (Although some of us did but for the best of reasons: to protect, defend and safeguard the interests of our families, friends, community, and town. Our elected officials don’t seem to be interested in doing that.)

It’s interesting that Mr VanSchaack did a Pontius Pilate act right on Holy Thursday, the very day on which we celebrate, remember and commemorate Jesus Christ’s symbolic washing of his disciples’ feet, demonstrating service to those you serve and lead; in other words, servant leadership. We’re writing this on Good Friday, the day Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus Christ but washed his hands of the situation. Pontius Pilate has been remembered as a coward — as not having stood up for what was morally right and legally just but caving to the mob — ever since.

The mantra was “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.” The reality was lies, Lies, LIES.

We have some excellent lessons to learn from Ravena and Coeymans. The Coeymans town board was bamboozled into a controversial re-zoning fiasco to cater for the likes of Carver Laraway and Carver Companies and TCI, a waste-management operation, and the Tappan Zee bridge project. The mantra was “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.” The reality was lies, Lies, LIES. And voters and residents in Ravena-Coeymans swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker! No one in the town of Coeymans can give a figure on the number of new jobs “created,” much less how many of them are local and how many are permanent! But it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see the damage done by wide-eyed blindness on the part of the fast-talking used-car salesmen and the hick elected officials: a drastic decline in the quality of life in Ravena-Coeymans, ridiculous increases in heavy truck traffic, new hazards and risks to residents, damage to infrastructure due to the heavy truck traffic and the vibrations they cause, dust up and in the kazoo, and population continues to decline, homes going up for sale everywhere (Example: on New Street in the hamlet of New Baltimore 50% of the homes are empty and/or up for sale!), no new [small] businesses, and the list goes on. Who’s sorry now?

We simply don’t have the population to support any substantial job demand

As for the subject of jobs we simply don’t have the population to support any substantial job demand; and why should we foot the major part of the bill and suffer the inconveniences so that people from outside the community and outside the county can come in and fill the jobs?

Business is not going to move to New Baltimore or anywhere else to fill the town treasury or to offset residents’ taxes

While Mr VanSchaack booms on about tax revenues and development, it seems he’s comparing apples with oranges. First of all the low current tax revenues are due to the fact that much of New Baltimore is still agricultural and pays an agricultural rate. Residential property would pay more, and commercial/industrial even more. That’s true. But what he seems to be overlooking is the fact that a business is not going to move to New Baltimore or anywhere else to fill the town treasury or to offset residents’ taxes; they move to an area and invest in it because there’s something in it for them, not for the area. Let’s not be the fools that Coeymans and Ravena were when Carver Laraway bamboozled the Coeymans town board. At least Ravena mayor Bill “Mouse” Misuraca had something to gain by making backroom deals with Laraway, it got Misuraca elected (for all the good that did for Ravena), the only one’s that benefitted from that thieves’ bargain were Misuraca and Carver Laraway.

What Mr VanSchaack and the town board of New Baltimore have to do is wake up and meet reality eye-to-eye. Maybe Mr VanSchaack’s figures, however manipulated they are, do show a net $35,000 a year increase in tax revenues, what he’s not factoring into that figure is how much it’s going to cost every year for the town and county residents and taxpayers to repair the damage to the infrastructure done by the increased traffic, etc. And what about the quality of life in the town? Look at what Coeymans and Ravena have to deal with now! Sorry, but it doesn’t add up to an improvement when you do the math. And we’re not ready to give our community or our traditions away for a pittance.

It’s the duty and the obligation of the Greene County Legislature and the Greene County District Attorney to look into these allegations levied against Mr Hoglund


Well, we are hereby serving notice on the Greene County Legislature and the Greene County District Attorney that this suspicion exists and that it needs to be investigated immediately. The allegations are no longer under wraps but are now public and it’s the duty and the obligation of the Greene County Legislature and the Greene County District Attorney to look into these allegations — to do their homework, as it were — by examining Mr Hoglund’s performance and his recent purchases of real estate. After the mandatory investigation then to make a public statement of their findings and of any action to be taken. If there is any ethical violation or law-breaking going on it’s to be thoroughly and conscientiously investigated and prosecuted. The residents and voters of Greene County and New York state have a right to know and a right to ethical conduct and integrity in our public agencies.


The water park that has been tossed around for the past several years…The project is stagnant. It’s going nowhere.

We’d like to close with a short note on the water park that has been tossed around for the past several years. When asked about the status of the water park project, Mr VanSchaack did some hemming and hawing, but ultimately talked himself into a corner and had to admit that the project is stagnant. It’s going nowhere. So, people, forget it for now. It was a lousy idea in the first place and apparently the corporations who were playing with the idea of putting it in New Baltimore have other plans. Hell, if it were such a great idea in the first place don’t you think that any corporation would have literally jumped on the idea and make it a reality. Sorry, but it’s a load of smoke and mirrors until proved otherwise.

In the meantime, join us in demanding a thorough and conclusive investigation of the Green County IDA and it’s chairman, Mr Eric Hoglund, and at the conclusion of that investigation, regardless of the results, to establish an executive office that is responsible for supervising and accounting for the operations of the Greene County IDA. At this time, the IDA is not sufficiently supervised or monitored and operates pretty independently. It’s very suspicious when the chairman of any organization is the person who is responsible for determining ethics, especially when that chairman is the subject of allegations of misconduct.

Stories in the works: Our investigation of Mr Jerry Perrine of Ravena-Coeymans notariety and the special treatment he has received in terms of services, assessments, and code violations from his friends in Ravena village hall and Coeymans town hall. He’s apparently a mutant created by splicing genes from Cathy Deluca, Nancy Warner, and John Bruno—but sneakier and better at using the old backstabbing, ambush technique. Laverne “Larry” Conrad and his cronies may have thought they could keep their secrets … but it all comes out when the right questions and the right people are asked.  There’s truth in the saying that “There’s no honor among thieves,” and they throw each other to the sharks as soon as the water starts getting hot around them. But that’s all coming to light and ready for exposure. Stay tuned!

Our Advice to the Greene County Legislators and the Greene County District AttorneyBecause We're Doing Ours! The Editor

Our Advice to the Greene County Legislators and the Greene County District Attorney
Because We’re Doing Ours!
The Editor

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 3, 2015 in 18 USC § 4 - Misprision of Felony, 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, Abuse, Abuse of Public Office, Accountability, Annette Demitraszek, Arlene McKeon, Article 18 Municipal Law of New York, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Barbara Cumm, Barbara Finke, Bill Bailey, Bill Bailey, Bitter Bob (Ross), Bob Ross, Brian Christman, Bryan Rowzee, Capital District, Carver Companies, Carver Laraway, Catherine Deluca, Catherine M. Deluca, Cathy Deluca, Catskill-Hudson Newspapers, Chris Gibson, Chris Gibson, Chris Norris, Christopher Norris, Coeymans Building Inspector, Coeymans Bulding Inspector, Coeymans Industrial Park, Coeymans Town Board, Columbia-Greene Media, Conflict of Interest, Conspiracy, Corporate Greed, Corrupt Legislature, Corruption, County & Municipal Employees, Crime and Punishment, Daily Mail, Dan Kelly, David Lewis, David Louis, David Wukitsch, Denis Jordan, Department of State, Diane Jordan, Eleanor Luckacovic, Eleanor Oldham, Elected Official, Eric Hoglund, Eric Hoglund, Eric T. Schneiderman, George Acker, George Amadore, George Langdon, Government, Greed, Greene County, Greene County District Attorney, Greene County IDA, Greene County News, Harold Warner, Henry Traver, Hudson Valley, Hypocrisy, Investigation, Jean Horne, Jeff Ruso, Jerry Perrine, Joan Ross, Joel Coye, Joel Coye, John B. Johnson, John Luckacovic, John T. Bruno, Johnson Newspaper Group, Josie Biscone-Bruno, Keith Mahler, Keith Valentine, Ken Burns, Kenneth Burns, Kenneth Dudley, Larry Conrad, Laverne Conrad, Margaret Moree, Mark Vinciguerra, Mayor "Mouse", Mayor "Mouse" Misuraca, Mayor Bruno, Meprision of Felony, Michael Biscone, Michael J. Biscone, Misconduct, Misdemeanor, Misinformation, Mismanagement, Misuse of Public Office, Monitoring, Moose Misuraca, Moose Misuraca, Nancy Biscone-Warner, Nancy Warner, Nancy Warner, New Baltimore, New Baltimore Conservancy, New Baltimore Elections, New Baltimore Republican Club, New Baltimore Town Board Member, New York, New York State, News and Information Media, News Channel 10, News Channel 13, News Channel 6, News Herald, Nick Dellisanti, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, Office of the Attorney General, Official Misconduct, Pete Lopez, Peter Masti, Port of Coeymans, Public Office, Ravena, Ravena Building Inspector, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Ravena Health and Fitness Center, Ravena News Herald, RegisterStar, René VanSchaack, Republican Party Committee, Robert Fisk, Sandy Debacco, Sandy Debacco, Stephen Flach, Susan K. O'Rorke, Sy DeLucia, TCI, The Daily Mail, Thomas E. Dolan, Times Union, Tom Dolan, Transparency, William Bailey, William Bailey, William Misuraca, William Misuraca