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If they want to be elected, we’re going to grill them! Re: George McHugh.

Incumbent Town of Coeymans Supervisor, Phil Crandall, has accepted our invitation to be interviewed, we are now negotiating a date and time for the interview.

In his email response to our proposed interviewer, Mr Crandall writes (September 3, 2019):


“Thank you for reaching out to me in regards to an interview. I am happy to schedule that and should be able to get back to you after the holiday with my exact availability and some possible dates. Thank you again”


We are now calling on Mr George McHugh, a candidate expecting to run against Mr Crandall this November, and hoping to take the office of Town Supervisor, and to take control of the Coeymans Town Council.

Our Reaction.

McHugh is campaigning behind an ambiguous campaign slogan, “Take Back Our Town,” which makes us wonder who is taking back whose town, and what’s going to be left for small businesses and for any remaining residents, after the so-called Friends of Coeymans all get their share of the post-election booty.

But in all fairness, we want Mr McHugh to have a fair opportunity to clarify some issues and to show that his commitment to transparency is no bullshit. Back to  our invitation to Mr McHugh. Here are our proposed questions for Mr McHugh:

Dance, Georgie! Dance for us, Georgie!

Proposed Interview Questions
George McHugh
Candidate, Town of Coeymans Supervisor

  1. You were elected to be Town of Coeymans Supervisor back in 2001, served one term, and then did not run for a second term. Why was that?
  2. The question of the Blaisdell Farm property and your housing project on that property has been the subject of a number of inquiries, particularly the fact that the property was annexed by the Village of Ravena at about the time you were Coeymans Town Supervisor, or shortly after you left office. Would you please comment on the circumstances of that annexation and how you benefited from it?
  3. You were appointed to a federal administrative law judgeship. It would appear that you are no longer serving in that capacity. Can you tell us what happened to the judgeship?
  4. Your campaign slogan is “Take Back Our Town,” from whom do you expect to take it back?
  5. Who are the Friends of Coeymans? Do they have names?
  6. According to our information, you serve in several capacities as a paid consultant or employee of the Carver Companies. Will you be resigning those positions if you are elected?
  7. How will your cozy relationships with Carver Laraway and the Carver group of companies affect your fitness to be Supervisor of the Town of Coeymans?
  8. You were outspoken in your opposition to the Town of Coeymans clean air law which purported to ensure good air and environmentally friendly air quality but you campaign on a promise to improve quality of life in Coeymans. That law was passed. How does opposition to clean air advocate quality of life for Coeymans residents?
  9. In terms of improvement of quality of life, and other than opposing clean air, what other proposals do you have for QoL improvements?
  10. In you campaign ads you suggest that you will do a number of things if elected. But our investigations show that you would not have the authority to make good on those promises, since most, if not all of those promises are state level powers. What do you have to say about that?
  11. As former owner of the Ravena News Herald, can you please comment on your relationship with Mark Vinciguerra and the Ravena News Herald, now owned by V. as part of his Capital Region Independent Media?
  12. Do you currently hold an ownership or financial interest in the Ravena News Herald?
  13. What do you feel you can offer Coeymans that current Town Supervisor Crandall cannot?
  14. What would be your major criticisms of Mr. Crandall and the current Coeymans Town Board?
  15. Given the questions regarding the role of the Coeymans Police Department in the death of 19-year old Riley Kern: What would your plan be for the Town of Coeymans Police Department.
  16. Hypothetically, if you were Town Supervisor, how would you good faith in responding to the many questions in the Riley Kern alleged wrongful death case?
  17. There is evidence that acting Coeymans Police Chief Mr. Daniel Contento and Coeymans police officer Ian Foard had handled the Riley Kern investigation not only unprofessionally but professionally negligently. We are aware that you have been in contact and communicating with Mrs Kern about her son’s death. If elected, what would you as Town of Coeymans Supervisor, in cooperation with the Town Board that would be controlled by your group, plan to do to support Emily Kern’s efforts to get recognition for her son, and to make amends for the circumstances of his death?
  18. What would be your five priority TO DO items for immediate action upon taking office, if you were elected Town of Coeymans Supervisor?
  19. What would be your five priority TO UNDO items for immediate action upon taking office, if you were to be elected Town of Coeymans Supervisor in 2019?
  20. Apart from any new industrial developments in the works, and given the small business situation in the Town of Coeymans, what would your plan be to encourage and to support small business creation and development in the Town of Coeymans, particularly in and around Ravena, the Hamlet of Coeymans, and the beautiful waterfront available to the Town and its residents and small businesses?
  21. Will you be continuing your law practice if elected to be Coeymans Town Supervisor? If so, would you continue to provide legal services to Carver Laraway and the Carver Companies?

*****

Well, Mr McHugh and his running mates are running on a number of positions, one of them is transparency. Well, in our opinion, if transparency is such a big concern for McHugh and his group, then he won’t have much of a problem with our questions. Or will he? We’ll find out and when we do, you’ll know, too. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, please read our recent McHugh-related articles:

Russian Mafia in Our Back Yards?

Please don’t Mug Me! Just Pot Me!

The Russians are Coming!!!

To McHugh or Not to McHugh.

It’s your community, too, and we want you to have a say in all of this. That’s why we’re asking our readers to send us their questions for consideration. If your questions are selected, we’ll include them in the interview of Mr McHugh.

As we go forward with the interviews, we’ll post names and questions for the candidates we choose to interview, and ask for your inputs.

Of course, we’ll keep you updated and informed on how the candidates respond, and we’ll share their answers with our readers.

Please send your questions to rcs.confidential@gmail.com. You can also leave a public comment on this blog with your questions.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2019 in 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 2019 Elections, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 46th Senate District, Accountability, Albany County Coroner, Albany County District Attorney, Albany County EMT, Albany County Executive, Albany County Legislature, Albany County Supervisor, Albany Medical Center, AMC, Amedore Homes, Andrew Cuomo, Boris Jordan, Boris Jordan, Capital District, Capital Region Independent Media, Carver Companies, Carver Companies, Carver Construction, Carver Laraway, Church of St Patrick, Civil Right Violation, Civil Rights, Coeymans, Coeymans Acting Police Chief, Coeymans Police Department, Columbia-Greene Media, Conflict of Interest, Conservative Party, Conspiracy, Corruption, Cuomo, Curaleaf, D. W. Contento, Dan McCoy, Daniel Contento, Daniel Contento, Daniel McCoy, David Soares, Death Education, DEC, Department of Environmental Conservation, Elections 2019, Emily Kern, Eurasian Mafia, Eurasian Mob, FBI, FBI Public Corruption Squad, George Amedore, George Amedore, George Langdon, George McHugh, Government, Governor Mario Cuomo, Greed, Hudson Valley, Ian Foard, Independence Party, Investigation, Jeff Ruso, John B. Johnson, Johnson Newspaper Corporation, Johnson Newspaper Group, Kate Lisa, Keith Mahler, Ken Burns, Kenneth Burns, Lafarge, Lafarge-Holcim, Law Enforcement, Lies, Lustgarten Foundation, Marijuana, Mark Vinciguerra, Medical Marijuana, Michael Biscone, Michael J. Biscone, Misconduct, Misuse of Public Office, Moose Misuraca, Moose Misuraca, Moscow on the Hudson, Nancy Biscone-Warner, Nancy Warner, Nancy Warner, New York, New York State, New York State Police, Nick Dellisanti, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, Obstruction of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Phil Crandall, Phillip Crandall, Port of Coeymans, Public Corruption, Public Office, Ravena, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk Central School District, Ravena News Herald, Republican Party Committee, Richard Touchette, Rick Touchette, Riley Kern, Riley P. Kern, Russian Mafia, Russian Mob, Russians are Coming, Selkirk Cogen, Smalbany, Smalbany Articles, Take Back Our Town, The Daily Mail, Times Union, Tom Dolan, Tom Dolan, Town of Bethlehem, Town of Coeymans, Town of New Baltimore, Town of New Scotland, Transparency, Travis D Hagen, Travis Hagen, Vote NO!, William Misuraca, William Misuraca

 

Fraud, Fake Non-profits, Tax Evaders. They’re everywhere!

They think they’re pretty slick but someone’s watching.

The Non-Profit and Not-For Profit Tax Dodgers Right Under the New York State Tax and Finance Department’s and the IRS’s Noses!!! What’s the deal? Joe Average gets fines and penalties for a mistake while the real winners get non-profit or not-for-profit status and make the big bucks. But that’s because most of the sheeple simply closer their eyes to the problem, stick their heads in the sand, and keep paying…and paying…and paying! Question: Are you one of them?


Most of us are aware of the various taxing jurisdictions which use the real property tax to raise the money needed for their operations. Every county uses this form of taxation as do the cities and towns within a county. Within towns one sometimes finds villages which also levy property taxes. The biggest property tax bite for most homeowners is the school tax.

Property taxes provide the bulk of the funds required for local government and public primary and secondary education. A large variety of services including road maintenance, police protection, libraries, deed registry, justice courts, building code enforcement, etc. are all provided for by county, city, town and village taxes. The school tax pays the salaries of teachers and administrators and maintains the buildings and equipment required by the school system.

We all know the sickening stories about General Electric and Amazon, and other US corporations and the fact that they get away without paying any taxes. Well, there are plenty like them out there and here are some local examples.

We’ve already reported on a RCS Board of Education (BOE) member and former BOE president, Mr. James Latter, an employee of the Saudi Arabian-owned company, Sabic,  who got away without paying a year’s taxes on his $300,000 + new construction in Ravena. That was because the Ravena Building Department never reported the construction to the Assessor in the Town of Coeymans, who violated the property tax laws by not assessing the in-progress improvements on the property, although you can almost see the house from the town offices. That one instance involving Mr. Latter’s ostentatious new dwelling cost the Town a couple of grand in property taxes, and Latter didn’t offer to make good on it. You can bet your life on that one. [Read our article, “Board of Education Member James “Hadji” Latter: Is he paying his fair share of property taxes?“]

[Editor’s Note: According to the NYS Real Property Tax Law, If you add a room or put in central air conditioning you would naturally expect your assessment to increase. [Note: In some states new construction cannot be assessed until it has been completed and a certificate of occupancy issued. In New York State, the assessor is required to value the property exactly as he or she finds it on taxable status date (to be defined later). Thus a partially completed garage would ordinarily receive a partial assessment.]

So, now let’s look at a local attorney and his slick operations to avoid paying his share of property taxes: George McHugh, the shyster who’s got his hands in everything from p****y to pot. Yes! He’s the same crook asking you to elect him to be Coeymans Town Supervisor so he can make things easier for his keepers, Carvery Laraway and his pot-growing Russian pal, Boris Alexei Jordan.

Did George McHugh evade paying property taxes on his Blaisdell Farm project?

We’re also wondering about George McHugh’s little housing project on the Blaisdell Farm property. Did McHugh get the same tax break on that biggie that Latter got on his property? That’s a little project we’ll be sure to look into over the next couple of weeks. Did McHugh get away with not paying his property taxes on the project because the Ravena Building Department and Building Inspector never notified the Town of Coeymans Assessor of the project?

Jason Tantra, a British subject here on a visa, claims he’s operating his business, Tantra 4 Gay Men, legally in the USA, and paying taxes. Really?

It’s going on all over the place but the real scammers are the ones who manage somehow to get non-profit or not-for-profit status by some slick tricks. One of the organizations that has recently caught our attention because of their involvement with a charlatan from the UK who managed to get a visa to operate a sex-services company in the US. The organization is located in Washington County, New York, near Greenwich, about an hour’s drive from Albany. It calls itself the Easton Mountain Retreat Community and caters for anything and everything for gay men with lots of cash to spare. What caught our eye is that it claims IRS Tax Code 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit offering  — now get this –“ religion-related” and “spiritual development” programs. You’ll have the same reaction we did when we looked at their offerings and their prices: WTF!!!

To put things a bit in perspective, the town of Greenwich in Washington County, NY has a total of 61 non-profit organizations with assets totaling $19,876,829+ and total incomes of $8,395,791. Most, if not all of that multimillion dollar figure is tax exempt, while the rest of us are paying through the nose with property taxes, sales tax, and other indirect taxes that the state calls “fees,” cleverly and sneakily avoiding any word even suggesting “tax.” Same goes for all those add-on charges to your phone and cable bills. Fees but in reality taxes. Add them up and have a coronary.

No shame. They actually ask for donations!!!

Even Albany Medical Center is tax exempt!!! Think about that when you get your next bill! Read below to see what the Tax Code calls a tax-exempt organization and then go to AMC’s profile at Albany Medical Center, and note there’s nothing about real estate development or property management. So what’s the deal with AMC’s owning a huge chunk of central Albany real estate that was once privately owned and residential? Our government at work, people, and AMC’s CPAs and lawyers ensuring that the non-profit can make the CEOs and the board of directors’ payroll.

The Albany Times Union published an article in November 2018 entitled, “Capital Region hospitals earn poor grades on patient safety,” and reported that Albany Medical Center’s grade went from a “C” to a “D”. Other Capital Region Hospitals weren’t any better; in fact, most went from bad to worse! The best performers in the report remained unchanged from the year before. Now that’s pretty crappy!

There are also reports that patients were being infected by machines that should have been junked but AMC, despite warnings and recommendations, continued using the machines, causing a number of life-threatening infections in patients.

And then there’s the horrible story of the young man, Riley Kern, killed in a pick-up truck-motorcycle accident last year by a local, Travis Hagan, that went uninvestigated by the Coeymans Police Department. The young man was transported to Albany Medical Center where he was the victim of a number of ER mistakes; he died a couple of hours after they had their way with him. The documents provided by the boy’s mother after a grueling year of questions without answers read like something out of a scifi horror script!!! We’re waiting for permission to publish what we have obtained. (Read our reports: “We Are Re-Opening the Case: Riley Kern, Young Man Killed in Coeymans Hollow, Sycamore Golf Course,” “Riley’s Song: Verse Two – Update on Our Investigations,” “Riley’s Mom Responds: A Mother’s Perspective,” and “Memorial Service for Riley.”)

Not only was the ER staff incompetent, Pathologist Bernard Ng apparently doesn’t know how to correctly complete a death certificate. Incompetence at every level. What’s even more shameful is that the hospital CEO refused to launch an investigation; swept the entire thing under the rug. 

But Albany Medical Center is the Albany Greed Center! On their website they actually ask for donations to support AMC. NO SHAME!

They actually ask for donations on the AMC website (http://www.amc.edu/)!!!

But back to Easton Mountain Retreat Center as our example of real tax scammers.

Do you really think that all of these organizations should be non-profit or tax-exempt? Click here for a list of Greenwich non-profit organizations. Greenwich Non-profits.

Easton Mountain Incorporated, NY Department of State Entity ID No.  2897573 (Initial DOS Filing Date: April 22, 2003) is a New York corporation (Employer Identification No. (EIN): 01-0778873) NTEE classified[1] as Religion Related, Spiritual Development N.E.C. and designated under the Nonprofit Tax Code as 501(c)(3) defined as:

“Organizations for any of the following purposes: religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition (as long as it doesn’t provide athletic facilities or equipment), or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.”

Yeah. And pigs have wings, too!

But here are some of this year’s programs. Right from the start we do not see a connection with “religion related” or ”spiritual development” programs nor do we see anything that corresponds to the Non-profit Tax Code for a 501(c)(3) entity. If you do, please let us know and we’ll publish a correction:

  • Best Friends Program (One-year package for multiple “events” depending on availability: $1,995.00 – $3,495.00)
  • Summer Gay Spirit Camp July 29 – August 4, 2019. Offers men a chance to establish lasting friendships in a fun and uplifting environment
  • Spirit Deck Party – Day Pass $25.00
  • Sun Clad – A naturist gathering for men who love men You love to be naked. (4 days, $395.00 – $795.00)
  • SUMMER: Freedom Camp, Gay Spirit Camp, Bear Your Soul Summer Camp
  • WINTER: Winter Gay Spirit Camp, Bear Your Soul Winter Hibernation
  • FALL: Kink Odyssey, Singles Weekend

Incredibly, Easton Mountain claims to be a non-profit organization meeting the above IRS criteria. How does a corporation catering for an affluent segment of the gay male population – Yes! we said “affluent” because Easton Mount is not cheap. Their programs run pretty pricey. For example, a program described as Gay Spirit Camp, which runs from July 29-August 4, 2019, which Easton Mountain describes as a “6-day program” but is actually a 4-day program, since :[t]he event begins with dinner at 7:00 pm on Monday, July 29., “ends with lunch at 1:00 pm on Sunday, August 4.” You have to have some pretty hefty recreational money or disposable income because the prices posted for this particular mid-range event by Easton Mountain range from $595.00 (bring your own tent) to $1,095.00 for “semi-private” accommodation.  A so-called “5-day” event August 6 – 11, 2019, with our friend Jason Tantra, runs the same  You can browse the other programs on the Easton Mountain Site (Source: https://eastonmountain.secure.retreat.guru/programs/, last accessed on July 3, 2019)

Those prices are low compared to some of the events. Now we ask you very seriously: Should Easton Mountain be considered a tax-exempt, non-profit religion related, organization for spiritual development? Maybe you should have a look at some of the other programs offered at Easton Mountain Incorporated and decide. Then maybe you should call the New York State Department of State, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and the IRS, or just write to them asking how Easton Mountain has finagled the tax laws to arrive at non-profit status as a religious organization of anything under IRS 501(c)(3)!?!

ORGANIZATION NAME ADDRESS CLASSIFICATION REPORTED ASSET AMOUNT REPORTED INCOME AMOUNT FORM 990 REVENUE AMOUNT EXEMPT STATUS DATE FORM 990 FILES
EASTON MOUNTAIN INC
(c/o RAYMOND NIRO)
391 HERRINGTON HILL RD
GREENWICH, NY 12834-5809
Charitable Organization; Religious Organization
(Religion Related, Spiritual Development N.E.C.)
$100,000 +* $500,000 +* $500,000 +* 500,000 +* 03/2005

(Source: https://www.taxexemptworld.com/organizations/greenwich-ny-new-york.asp, last accessed on July 3, 2019)

We obtained the Easton Mountain Incorporated IRS 990 for the Tax Year 2016  — Easton Mountain publishes only their 2014 IRS 990 form filing (the last year available on the IRS site (2016 Form 990 Filing, Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 6-Jul-2018) (Source: https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/, last accessed on July 3, 2019)

Now you know. 

Slick operators, incompetent local public employees, fake non-profit organizations all are eating at our table and getting fat, leaving us to pay the bills. Isn’t it time we split the check? Isn’t it time we demanded state and federal government agencies, including law enforcement, to start taking a closer look at how much tax avoidance and tax evasion is going on and leaving the rest of us to pay the bill? Your tax dollars are paying those public employees to sit on their fat flabby asses doing nothing while waiting to collect fat tax-free pensions!!! Isn’t it time we demanded they do their jobs?

 

[1] NTEE = National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities codes

 

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2019 in 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 2019 Elections, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 46th District, 46th Senate District, Albany, Albany County Chamber of Commerce, Albany County Coroner, Albany County Coroners Office, Albany County EMT, Albany County Legislature, Albany Medical Center, AMC, Antonio Delgado, Antonio Delgado, Assessment Review, Assistant DA, Board of Assessment Review, Boris Jordan, Brandon LeFevre, Business, Capital District, Capital Region Independent Media, Carver Companies, Carver Companies, Carver Construction, Carver Laraway, Catholic Church, Church, Church and State, Church of St Patrick, Coeymans, Coeymans Assessor, Coeymans Code Enforcement, Coeymans Industrial Park, Coeymans Police Department, Coeymans Town Board, Columbia-Greene Media, Consumer Protection, Corruption, Daily Mail, Death Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Taxation and Finance, District Attorney, Easton Mountain, Elected Official, Elections 2019, Ellis Hospital, Emily Kern, EMR, FBI, FBI Criminal Information System, FBI Public Corruption Squad, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Fraud, Fraud, George Langdon, George McHugh, Government, Greed, Greene County, Greene County Attorney, Greene County District Attorney, Greene County News, Hudson Valley, Ingo Tantra, Internal Revenue Service, Investigation, IRS, IRS 990 Tax Filing, James Latter, James Latter II, Jason Tantra, Joe Stanzione, Joe Stanzione, John B. Johnson, Johnson Newspaper Group, Joseph Stanzione, Joseph Stanzione, Lafarge, Lafarge-Holcim, LafargeHolcim, Law, Law Enforcement, LGBT, Mark Vinciguerra, Men who Love Men, Men's Groups, Miami-Dade District Attorney, Misconduct, Money Laundering, Neotantra, New York, New York State, New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, News and Information Media, Non-Profit, Not-for-Profit, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, Office of the Assessor, Office of the Attorney General, Perjury, Phil Crandall, Police Investigator, Port of Coeymans, Pot, Protected Rights, Ravena News Herald, RCA, Reformed Church of America, Riley Kern, Riley P. Kern, Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Cemeteries, SABIC Innovative Plastics, Sacred Sex, Sex 4 Sale, Sex Work, Shame On You, Smalbany, Smalbany Articles, Suffolk County District Attorney, Tantra, Tantra 4 Gay Men, Tax Avoidance, Tax Avoidance, Tax Evasion, Tax Evasion, Tax Law, Tax Returns, Taxation, Taxes, The Daily Mail, Times Union, Times Union, Travis D Hagen, Travis Hagen, United States Attorney, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, United States Department of Justice, United States Government, US Department of State, US Senate, Visa, Washington County District Attorney, White Collar Crime

 

Why don’t funeral directors just ask?

“This article is not going to endear me to many funeral directors but I’m willing to take the risk for the sake of the best care for the bereaved.” [the Author]

At a recent funeral service at one of my regular funeral homes I was working with a funeral director, who recently joined the team. We had a moment to chat and I asked him why I was not seeing any referrals or cases from him. It was very unusual because the other funeral directors on staff called frequently with requests for services. His answer was a bit shocking: “They don’t ask.” He meant the bereaved families don’t ask.

Well, when a funeral director takes the first call alerting him of a death, or when the family comes in for the arrangements meeting, they shouldn’t have to ask. Part of deathcare is asking the right questions and the religion- spirituality question”, or even “Would you like to speak to our bereavement chaplain about the service?” or “Would you like us to have our chaplain join us at the arrangements meeting?” are among the “right” questions.

Asking the right questions; giving the right answers.
The arrangements meeting.

The fact is, any funeral director should be trained and interested enough to ask all the right questions; after all, the family is coming to the funeral director to have him or her ask the right questions and give the right answers. I have never met a family facing the recent death of a loved one come in with a laundry list of Questions to Ask. Families don’t have a FAQs page when in the grip of acute bereavement! Wake up! You deathcare professionals — if I can use the term “deathcare” these days — need to re-join the care team.

Get it done and move on!

Reason No. 1: Time

One of the reasons for this conspicuous thoughtlessness and lack of real compassion is that most mortuary science programs don’t teach deathcare; they teach the business of funeral directing and how to pass the boards. When a graduate finishes his two-year course, he goes into a one-year residency program with a funeral home, where he again learns the “business.” He has to sell the funeral home’s facilities, their merchandise, the skills of the preparation team, and his time. Of course there are the other items like removal of the deceased, paperwork required by law and cemeteries, etc. But it’s all about the “product.” What the funeral director is selling is turnkey disposal of the deceased, and he’s doing that with time in mind. It’s a question of turnaround. Finish up this case, get back to the funeral home, get the messages and move on to the next removal. All of this involves time.

So the real reason most bereaved families don’t get spiritual, religious, or officiant services is because the funeral director does not ask. The funeral director doesn’t ask because such services are not part of what he sells; he has to get them from the outside, and he calls those costs “out-of-pocket” expenses, because either he has to pay them and get reimbursed or the family pays for them directly. He or she does not ask because a religious or spiritual funeral service takes time — it adds about an hour to the entire program. And those hours add up and translate into dollars, thousands of dollars for the funeral home. Keep the disposal time down to a minimum and feed the bottom line.

The regrettable fact today is that most funeral directors spend very little time with the family or the survivors, the bereaved. He probably receives the first call through a third party answering service, he makes the removal as quickly and cleanly as possible, he sits through the arrangements meeting with the family and showcases his services and merchandise, greets the family and mourners at the door, and stands by during the visitation hours (usually 3-4 hours at most), if any, and stands by and directs the final viewing and funeral (usually 2-3 hours). That’s it. The only direct contact with the family is perhaps 1 hour during removal and during the arrangements meeting. The rest of the 2-7 hours of visitation and funeral operations he’s standing by, ensuring that things go per script, and there’s little or no contact with the bereaved, much less any attempt at bereavement support. That’s the chaplain’s job but what if there’s no chaplain to do that?

Corporate and Factory Funerals Services.

The situation is even worse with the factory funeral services providers like Newcomer and Service Corporation International (SCI and their Dignity Memorial). These corporations work on volume and marketing. They offer “the lowest cost” in the area and then pick up the slack with factory-style services and nickle-and-diming the bereaved with the little “extras.” If your thought the small funeral home operator was on a tight schedule, you haven’t experienced the factory funerals. Because funeral homes work with a time-focus, they are likely to promote the easiest and quickest disposal methods to the bereaved, using the sales pitch that “it’s the least expensive” of the disposal methods: direct cremation or direct burial. Nothing between death and disposal. Grandpa dies, gets carted off and shipped directly to the crematorium, or he gets buried almost immediately. No frills, no time lost. After all, you have better things to do with your time than deal with death. Right? Funeral director gets back for the next case, and the relatives get on with whatever they think is more important than honoring their dead.

Reason No. 2:  Money

While time in the funeral services business may equate with money more than in other businesses, money and expenses factor into this dehumanizing equation.

While cutting quality of services.

But leaving the fact that time is money for a moment, a well-orchestrated funeral or memorial service can be complicated and involve additional costs. Of course, the funeral director does not have to pay those costs but he does have to persuade the family to agree to them and ultimately to pay for them. There was a time when the deceased was laid out for 2-3 viewings: the first was the family private viewing. The next evening would be the visitation viewing when friends and acquaintances would “pay their respects,” and offer condolences to the family. The third viewing, if there were one, would be a public viewing, perhaps with a prayer service, or it would be on the morning of the actual funeral either in the funeral home or crematorium chapel, or in a church or temple, followed by the procession to the place of final disposition. Those days are gone. History.

While all of this added time to the event and locked up the funeral home’s resources for the duration, such a funeral also required additional arrangements (time etc.), equipment (vehicles, transportation, etc.), personnel, and outside professionals (clergy), and even outside facilities (church, chapel). Today’s funerals are much different in terms of visitation and receiving friends and acquaintances: There may be a funeral home chapel service before processing to the place of final disposition. There may or may not be a wake or prayer service or even a public viewing the day before the actual funeral. In other words, the funeral home facilities have become one of the products sold and all other services have been cut to the absolute minimum, including any bereavement support and any spiritual or religious support.

In other words, by not asking or offering bereavement support in the form of spiritual or religious services, the funeral home is saving time and, hence, money. The funeral director saves time and effort by not asking if the family wants spiritual or religious support, and he doesn’t bring up the subject. He thus does not have to plan in the time for coordinating with the chaplain or clergyman nor does he have to tie up personnel and facilities and time for an in-house funeral service, much less an off-site church service.

The savvy funeral director is aware that if he doesn’t offer, the bereaved are unlikely to ask for spiritual or religious services.

There is an exception to this “rule:” Many funeral homes have close connections with a local church or several churches for a very special reason: when a congregation or parish member dies, he gets the body and the pastor gets the honorarium for the use of the church and for officiating at the funeral. This is the one instance where the pastor or the church administrator will promote the services of the funeral director and the funeral director ensures that the church gets the case. That’s why we most often see a funeral home sponsoring a church’s calendar and advertising in the church bulletin. Funeral director and pastor tend to partner and profit by this relationship. Funeral home gets the body and the pastor gets the honorarium. Works well for both. And at least the family gets the appearance of religion or spirituality but it’s just the appearance. We’ve all experienced the funeral service where the officiant clergyman has no idea who the person was but does the service anyway. That’s insensitive and unethical. But it apparently works for most everybody, however.

Reason No. 3: Ignorance

As I mentioned above, most graduates of mortuary science programs learn how to run a funeral services business, that is, the body disposal business. Most graduates leave the program with little or no understanding of spirituality or religion, or even of the psychology of grief and coping with bereavement. They go through the coursework and the motions but what they’re really interested in is the business. After all, it’s one of the only businesses that will always have a customer pool.

I have to ask: “How much can anyone learn about these fundamentally human aspects of deathcare in a mere two-year course that includes business studies, including business law and the legal aspects of deathcare, the basic sciences of death and post-mortem preparation of the deceased, cosmetology, etc.”

Truth be told, many young people go into the mortuary science programs with the best of intentions but then something ugly happens; they see what was once a noble profession from the inside. It’s like admiring a beautiful medieval tapestry and then looking at the back and seeing the ugly knots and strings. What’s more, at 18 or 21 years old, they generally lack the maturity to make good judgments and they have no life experience to fuel any sort of wisdom. They go in as sponges and come out saturated with misconceptions and deranged values. So now you are sitting across from an ignorant 20-something funeral director who is going to tell you all about death and grief! He could be your grandson!!!

Here’s my point: A professional chaplain will have at least a four-year undergraduate degree and then at least a professional degree at the master’s level (masters degree in pastoral studies, religion, theology, or the gold-standard professional degree, the Master of Divinity). For example, a very good friend of mine has a graduate degree in psychology with a degree in literature, and a master of divinity degree, plus formal healthcare chaplaincy training. Most masters degrees require only 12-30 credits of graduate level study; the masters degree in divinity requires at least 75-90, frequently up to 120 credits of graduate level study! In other words, the professional chaplain is likely to have as much training as a physician, and at least 2-3x more training than most graduate degree programs. A professional chaplain is also very likely better trained that the vast majority of so-called denominational clergy, most of whom get their credentials from a so-called denominational “bible school” or from some unaccredited school of ministry. The bible-school graduates are cheap but ineffectual; the real professionals are not all that expensive but are professionals and some ignorant business owners don’t like to get too involved with professionals.

So who do you think is the best qualified to provide acute, short-term, or long-term bereavement support?

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. Many funeral directors are very intelligent, skilled, and compassionate people who have chosen a very thankless, but very essential line of work. While there are some crooks and some very incompetent weasels among them as in any profession, most are very good at what they do: (1) serve the public in an essential role, (2) run a business, (3) participate in important community organizations and activities. From personal experience, I have worked with some saints but have also to admit that I have experienced some real ignorant sickos.

But today the bottom line is unquestionably business success, and that means turnover. Turnover is important in the short term because it provides the funeral director with a lifestyle; in the long-term it shows that the business can make money and, when it comes to retirement time, the funeral director wants to sell the business for as much as he can get. My point is that the funeral director is not trained to provide bereavement support or religious/spiritual support, or even to officiate or to design a funeral service; he’s trained in the business and technology of body disposal and running a funeral home.[1]

Reason No. 4: They don’t care.

While ignorance is not restricted only to the scope of training but can also be observed on the personal level in some funeral directors. It can come into play in other ways: a “not knowing” that results in “not caring” or indifference to the spiritual needs of the customer. Or, the funeral director has a more subtle agenda: he simply does not believe or does not have a connection with spirituality or religion, or he is simply anticlerical or anti-religion, and, paradoxically, he man not feel comfortable talking about the subject of death and spirituality much less even including it in their offerings. He doesn’t care what the bereaved believe, he doesn’t believe that is important.

And then you have the feminist funeral director whose main objective is to make an incursion into what was historically a male-dominated profession. Her self-loathing and hatred of being a woman blinds her to all else, including the needs of the bereaved. Like so many women who enter into previously male-dominated professions, they exaggerate everything, even the insincerity and unauthentic compassion they offer. They have an agenda, not a vocation. But that’s not limited to the funeral business.

That is a problem in many ways but the most insidious way is that they are promoting personal beliefs at the expense of individuals in a very vulnerable situation who might benefit from religious or spiritual support. Moreover, the funeral director in such situations in in a control and power situation vis-à-vis the bereaved, and is misusing that situation in an unethical manner. Again, ethics is not a hot topic in mortuary science curricula, unless it’s basic ethics to keep the potential funeral director out of legal hot water.

If a funeral director finds he does not believe or is anticlerical or anti-religion and, during the arrangements meeting finds that the family has a faith or belief tradition, whether they practice or not, he should refer the case to a colleague who can best serve that family. You can be certain that in the very policy-aligned corporate funeral homes (Newcomer, Service Corporation International, Dignity, etc.) this is not going to happen. It probably won’t happen even in a larger privately owned funeral home group.


This article was inspired by the statement of a funeral director, which in turn resulted in reflection on why an experienced deathcare provider would make such a statement. It is not my intention to indict any funeral director or to paint all funeral directors in the same color, but to make the point that regardless of the reasonable presumption that the funeral director is a business man and, for obvious reasons, must operate a funeral home as a business, there are some essential services that must be offered, even if the client does not specifically or explicitly request them, and which might require the funeral director to make the effort to ask directly, “Have you given any thought to a religious or spiritual service as part of the final arrangements?” or at least to review the death documents to ascertain whether the deceased had a religious or spiritual preference, and then proceeding on the basis of that information. It’s as simple as that.

If they don’t ask, you ask. Period.


This article is courtesy of Compassionate Care Associates, marriage celebrants and funeral and memorial officiants serving the Greater Capital District Area of Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Columbia, Ulster, Greene counties in New York. Visit the website at Compassionate Care Associates.


[1] I do know some clergy who are “working clergy,” that is, they are ordained by their denomination as clergy but work in the funeral services sector as “funeral directors.” Depending on the denomination, their “clergy” training may be minimal or it may be accredited by a national or international agency, but they are denominational clergy, that is, they are trained in a specific faith or belief tradition, and are bound by that tradition. They don’t bite the hand that feeds them. A professional interfaith chaplain may be ordained or licensed but he does not serve a specific denomination, and he is most likely adept in several faith or belief traditions as well as in non-religious traditions. That’s the big difference between denominational clergy and the interfaith chaplain. To ensure the best service, the best choice is the professional interfaith chaplain.

Furthermore, the interfaith professional chaplain likely specializes in a narrow field of expertise such as bereavement, crisis intervention, healthcare, etc. Beware, though, of the so-called “board-certified” log-rollers and club members; the board-certified chaplain is no better than the denominational clergyman; both serve a master and that master is not the bereaved or the client! The majority of “board-certified” log-rollers have little or no training in ministry, theology, pastoral care, or religious studies. If you hear the words “evidence based” you know they’re robots. Membership in an organization and that organization’s “certification” keeps the organization in business but doesn’t to a thing for the bereaved. Most are narcissists and incompetent. Same generally applies to most careerist clergy.

 

 

Board of Education Member James “Hadji” Latter: Is he paying his fair share of property taxes?

In the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District, the name James “Hadji“* Latter has a murky history. He’s been able to stay on the RCS-CD Board of Education for a number of years now, not because of his tidy background and performance record, but because the RCS-CD is just a corrupt and manipulated as any other “elected” body in the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk/Albany County region, including New Baltimore and Greene County. But New Baltimore, although in Greene County, pays a portion of their property taxes to support the bloated budget of the RCS-CD and the idiotic programs approved by a board of back-scratchers and cronies.

* “Hadji” is our nickname for James Latter II because of his close associations with the Saudi Arabian company SABIC.

We have reported in the past about Latter’s questionable conduct on the board but when you are dealing with a group who love their power to spend public money, and then ask for more and then make decisions that affect the school age young people in the district and their futures. It’s hard for them to let go and share the responsibility or even to acknowledge and consult the public. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the RCS Central School District Board of Education is no exception. Least of all Mr James Latter II.

That’s why, when a local resident drew our attention to the parking and traffic situation in the Village of Ravena in connection with our recent investigation of Village of Ravena Code Enforcement and, while guiding us around on the grand tour of the many Village of Ravena parking opportunities — in no less than six public parking areas less than one block from the commercial district of Village Center —, and that resident pointed out and commented on a particularly ostentatious eyesore of recent construction on a large lot on Aluise Drive, just in back of the huge lot owned by the Roman Catholic Church of St Patrick, we got curious.

That’s when sitting RCS Central School District Board of Education member James J. “Hadji” Latter II again waddled into the spotlight in his usual murky and questionable style.

You see, Latter and wifey, Amanda C. (Mrs Hadji) purchased two large adjacent lots (total acreage 6.5 acres, cost $101,000) on Aluise Drive in the Village. The lots were previously owned by the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Patrick (Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany) but were sold off and Latter was in the pews ready to close the deal. Was that because former BoE member and crooked cop Gerald “Dirty Hands Jery” Deluca was high up in the Church’s lay administration and an insider? Probably. Latter and “Dirty Hands” Jerry were thick as flies on fresh summer sh*t. So here we have another questionable business deal in Ravena, Home of the Incest Club, and the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Patrick, an Incest Club meeting place, probably brokered by “Dirty Hands Jerry” Deluca before he was forced out (“resigned”) of the Coeymans Police Department with former dunce Coeymans Police Chief Gregory “Dumplin” Darlington was canned (“retired”), and disgraced town/village justice Phil Crandall was elected to be Coeymans Town Supervisor. You really can’t make this stuff up!!!

Our investigations to date have revealed the following interesting and questionable situations. But please note: This information is preliminary and is based on our research in the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans using immediately available information, that is, information we could get on the spot without the formal F.O.I.L procedure (demanding production of public access documents and information under the provisions of the New York State Public Officers Law), and our vetting of that information on official New York state tax online sites. We have demanded the production of documents that will provide finer details of the transactions and Mr Latter’s operations but that may take some time, given Mr Latter’s position and his “friends” in Village and Town offices.

The properties are listed in the official property tax documents as belonging to James and Amanda Latter of 13 Laura Drive, Ravena, New York. Note that address because we’ll be returning to that information shortly.

James “Hadji” and Amanda Latter posing with Hillary Clinton.
Birds of a feather…!

New York State Law Requires the Assessor to Assess Property Under Construction

In some states a new construction is not subject to assessment for tax purposes until it is completed and a certificate of occupancy is issued. The situation in New York State is different, however, here in New York state there is the so-called partial assessment.

Sitting Board of Education Member James Latter’s new house he will be sharing with teacher wife Amanda Latter.
It’s at 9 Aluise Drive in Ravena, in back of St Patrick’s Church.

New construction assessments are placed on the assessment roll based on the partial market value if the construction is in process or the market value of the completed construction as of March 1st, and that assessment is used to compute the school tax bill issued in September and the county, town, and special district tax bill issued the following January.

9 Aluise Drive. Behind St Patricks RC Church and next to the P.B. Coeymans Elementary School.

In the case of a partial assessment, the market value of the home is determined by using the completion percentage of the construction as of March 1st. If the construction is partially complete as of March 1st, the assessment will represent only a percentage of the total property tax assessment when the construction is completed.  A partial assessment will be place on the tax roll as a “partial”, and increased each year until the construction is 100% complete.

In New York State, the assessor is required to value the property exactly as he or she finds it on taxable status date, that is on March 1st. The Assessor is required by New York State law to value property in its condition on that date. A partially completed building will receive a partial assessment based on its estimated percentage of completion as of March 1st. If your house is under construction on March 1, its estimated percentage of completion on that date will be the basis for the assessment

The property was assessed at a time when the progress of the entire construction project was measured and recorded as a partial assessment. An assessment calendar requires that a property review be based on where the progress of the construction is at the time, and the assessment be based on the progress at the cut-off date on the calendar year. The property has to appear on the tax roll for taxes to be paid in the following year.

The law would require that the Latter construction be assessed in it’s state of construction on March 1st. It was not. This partial assessment procedure was not followed in Latter’s case and Latter’s property was not assessed in part while under construction and, though completed, the Town of Coeymans Assessor was unaware of the construction and the property has not yet been assessed! Mr Latter is not paying his fair share of property taxes. Mr Latter is not paying his fair share of his school taxes to the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District. Mr Latter should be required to resign from his position on the Board of Education for such malconduct.


We did some research and found that the latest tax information on the property at 9 Aluise Drive in Ravena doesn’t show a thing about any new construction and lists it as vacant land. But there’s a house on it that looks as if it’s market value would be at least $200,000!!! What is the deal here? We all have to pay our property taxes and a big part of those taxes go to the schools. Latter is on the Board of Education and decides on the school budget and how much we have to pay but it looks like he’s scamming the Town of Coeymans, whose Assessor wasn’t even aware the house was there — even though you can almost see it from Coeymans Town Hall!!!

Extract of New York State Real Property Report for one of the Latter Lots (where the house is standing).

New York State real property tax assessment law requires that a new construction be assessed as a partial assessment if it’s not completed by the date of March 1st of any year. That means that whatever part of Latter’s house that was completed by March 1, 2018, should have been assessed at that percentage of the total value of the house. But it wasn’t and we all want to know Why?

Another inconsistency is this: James Latter and Amanda Latter list their address of record as being 13 Laura Lane in the Village of Ravena. A bit more research shows that 13 Laura Lane in the Village of Ravena is owned by Anthony and Ann Carrk, not by the Latters. True, the Latters could be renting from Amanda’s parents all these years but isn’t that a stretch? Could be true, though. Maybe Jimmy “Hadji” or Amanda could shed some light on this question. Or maybe Anthony or Ann Carrk can explain the living conditions and how so many could be living in that tiny hovel on Laura Lane.

13 Laura Lane and 9 Aluise Drive. Where do the Latters live?

If you ask the Village of Ravena Building Department Joe Burns, he willl tell you that they issue the building permit for new constructions, do the code enforcement inspections, and when the construction is done, they issue the certificate of occupancy. The Town of Coeymans Sole Assessor Dawn DeRose will tell you that they are notified by the Village of Ravena when the construction is finished. But that’s doesn’t explain why a partial assessment of the Latters’ property wasn’t done by the Town of Coeymans according the New York State Real Property Law. You’d think Town of Coeymans Sole Assessor Dawn DeRose would know better.

This just in: According to a very simple document provided to the Town of Coeymans by the Village of Ravena entitled “Village of Ravena, Building Projects Completed in July 2018” the Village of Ravena provides a one-liner notification of Latter’s construction project. That’s all. The document provides only the following information:

The Bare Bones Provided to the Town of Coeymans Assessor.

The above document provided by the Town of Coeymans in response to a F.O.I.L. demand clearly shows that Latter’s new construction was likely completed by March 2018 and is valued at $300,000. Even if it were not completed it would have been substantially completed and should have been assessed and on the tax rolls!!! It is not. A 1728 square foot two-story home with attached garage can represent a pretty fair amount of tax revenue, even if only subject to a partial assessment. Our question is: Why wasn’t the information provided to the Town of Coeymans Assessor when the building permit was issued? Why was it provided only after a Certificate of Occupancy was issued on July 3, 2018!!! Latter saved a pretty penny thanks to the Village of Ravena’s substandard reporting procedures. We’re certain the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance will be very interested in this case and will likely want to investigate how many other similar cases have gotten past the Assessor and the Tax Department.

Ravena will tell you it’s not their problem because they don’t have an assessor; the assessments are done by the Town of Coeymans Assessor. Coeymans will tell you that they don’t police the Village of Ravena and the Village of Ravena has to tell Coeymans what’s going on so that the assessor can do his assessments. Latter will likely tell us that he doesn’t know anything about all this. Sounds like a really shady case of finger-pointing or passing the buck here, now that the cat’s hit the fan and yet another problem in Village of Ravena-Town of Coeymans communications is revealed. Don’t you think it’s high time the Village and the Town started communicating? Now the community is losing property tax money from a select few that managed to drop below the assessment radar. That’s just not fair and it’s not legal. Someone has to answer for this illegal conduct and investigate how many other similar cases have cheated the Town out of tax dollars.

This is another case for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Real Property Division, and the Office of the New York State Comptroller. Rest assured they’ll be informed of all relevant details.

Do the Village or Ravena and the Town of Coeymans need a Special Audit?

But isn’t Latter a Board of Education member elected by the deaf-dumb-and-blind voters of the Town of Coeymans? Doesn’t he put together the school budget that gets funded in major part by our property taxes as assessed by the Office of the Assessor. And isn’t Latter a so-called “financial analyst” at SABIC? Wouldn’t you expect him to know about property taxes, assessments, etc.?

Ignorance is no excuse
Village and Town are Accessories.


Editor’s Aside: Diverting a bit from Mr James “Hadji” Latter’s past malconduct while a Board of Education member and later as president of the Board of Education that ranged from violations of confidentiality to a laundry list of questionable conduct and associations, he seems to have allied himself with a clique that manages to get elected no matter what. Probably by friends and family and a bit of influence peddling. But Latter is a decision maker on the Board of Education that hires the Superintendent of Schools for the RCS Central School District who runs the schools and manages the teachers. Latter’s Board hired a former principal/teacher from the RCS high-school as Superintendent at an astronomical salary, and others in turn to other posts.

“Hadji” Latter and his cronies have considerable influence on what gets taught by whom in our schools but he is obviously a supporter of Hillary Clinton. What’s worse still, is the fact that he is employed as a financial analyst at the Saudi Arabian company SABIC!!!

The SABIC flag flying near one of the company’s cogeneration towers in Feura Bush.

SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) is a Saudi diversified manufacturing company, active in petrochemicals, chemicals, industrial polymers, fertilizers, and metals. It is the largest public company in Saudi Arabia, as listed in Tadawul, but the Saudi government still owns 70% of its shares. SABIC is also the largest listed company in the Middle East. Private shareholders are from Saudi Arabia and other countries of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Saudi SABIC

While Saudi Arabia is often a secondary source of funds and support for terror movements who can find more motivated and ideologically invested benefactors (e.g. Qatar), Saudi Arabia arguably remains the most prolific sponsor of international Islamist terrorism, allegedly supporting groups as disparate as the Afghanistan Taliban, Al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Al-Nusra Front. Saudi Arabia is said to be the world’s largest source of funds and promoter of Salafist jihadism, which forms the ideological basis of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, Taliban, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan) and others.

This is one of the guys you elected to run your school system!!!


We’re staying on top of this one and will publish the information provided by the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans in response to our F.O.I.L demands as it becomes available.

Yes. We know.
But let’s see what you say when the cat hits the fan.
JUST PAY YOUR TAXES!!!
The Editor

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2018 in 19th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, Accountability, Albany, Amanda Latter, Ann Carrk, Anthony Carrk, Assessment, Bill Bailey, Board of Education Member, Brian Bailey, Capital District, Church of St Patrick, Code Enforcement Officer, Code Violation, Coeymans, Coeymans Assessor, Coeymans Code Enforcement, Columbia-Greene Media, Daily Mail, Donna Degnen, Fair Play, Gerald Deluca, Gordon Bennett, Government, Greene County News, Henry Traver, Incompetence, James Latter, James Latter II, Jason Hyslop, Jeff Ruso, Jerry "Dirty-Hands" Deluca, Joe Burns, Joe Tanner, John B. Johnson, Joseph Burns, Joseph Tanner, Mark Vinciguerra, Mayor "Mouse", Mayor "Mouse" Misuraca, Michael J. Biscone, Moose Misuraca, Nancy Biscone-Warner, Nancy Warner, Nancy Warner, New Baltimore Assessor, New York, New York State, New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, News Herald, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, Office of the Comptroller, Official Misconduct, Partial Assessment, Phil Crandall, Property Taxes, Public Corruption, Public Office, Public Safety, Ravena, Ravena Building Inspector, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk Central School District, Ravena News Herald, RCS Board of Education, RCS Central School District, RCS School Superintendant, RCS Superintendent of Schools, Real Property Tax Law, Sabic, Sante Debacco, Selkirk Cogen, Shame On You, Smalbany, Tax Avoidance, Tax Evasion, Tax Evasion, Taxation, Thomas E. Dolan, Tom Dolan, Village of Ravena, Village of Ravena Building Department, William Bailey, William Bailey, William Misuraca, William Misuraca, Zoning Enforcement Officer

 

Mr Sante Debacco Explains…

Mr Sante Debacco of the Village of Ravena Building Department has been very forthcoming and impressively so, with comments and responses to our articles “Is Nancy Warner Suffering PMM (Post-menopausal Mania) AGAIN?” and “Ravena Still Ignores Oaths of Office and Rights Protected by State and Federal Constitutions!!!” (called the “Hohman article” below). We have posted one of his emails and our comments in our article “Mr Sante Debacco of the Ravena Building Department Responds“, and are pleased to note that Mr Debacco AGREES with the majority of our statements. That should put to final rest any of the stupidity of doubters as to the factual basis of our articles. Here we have a long-time employee of the Village of Ravena Building Department and of the Town of Coeymans Building Department admitting in black and white that we are correct in what we had to say.

Although Mr Debacco erroneously placed his comments in response to the article primarily on Nancy Warner, he is aware of that error and explains that he intended the comments to go on the article about Mr Ron Hohman. You can read Mr Debacco’s comments in their unedited entirety in the Comments (bottom of the article) about Nancy Warner (here’s the link: Comments)

Mr Debacco’s most recent comment is most interested to our readers, because Mr Debacco explains some of the workings, if we can be so liberal to call them “workings,” that is, the operations of the Ravena Building Department, the roles of Mr Joe Burns, Mr Hohman and Mr Debacco, himself, the distinction between a State Code Enforcement Officer and a Village Code Enforcement Officer, and he confirms our statements made in the Hohman article.

We are publishing Mr Debacco’s most recent email/comment in its entirety simply because it is important for our readers, particularly our readers in the towns of Coeymans, New Baltimore, and the Village of Ravena, and any resident/property owner in the state of New York, for that matter, to know what Mr Debacco explains in his comment.

We are also publishing Mr Debacco’s statement in its entirety as well as his previous comments because it is so rare for a public employee to come forward and be so candidly honest about himself, his job, and the people he works with. That takes integrity and courage.

It’s the LAW.
Our rights are protected by the New York State Constitution and the Constitution of the United States!!!


Mr Debacco writes:

“Good Evening Editor of the Smalbany Blog,

“I would like to share some comments, or thoughts if you will, on the issue regarding the recent post about Village of Ravena Zoning Enforcement Official Ron Hohman. By the way – I am maintaining my vow not to read the blog for my own reasons, but I have no objection to you posting my comments on the blog.”

Mr Debacco had posted his previous comments on the “Is Nancy Warner Suffering PMM (Post-menopausal Mania) AGAIN?” page. That was in error but you can read all of his previous comments in the Comments section of that page.

“Mr. Hohman recently cited a property owner in the Village of Ravena a code violation regarding an unregistered vehicle, and discarded rubbish on the property. These citations were documented from the local laws and codes of the Village of Ravena. In our Building Department, Mr. Hohman is charged with the enforcement of Village of Ravena local laws. He [Mr Hohman]  is not a New York State certified code enforcement official, and cannot enforce the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code of New York State – Title 19 NYCRR. Only myself and Mr. Burns are charged with the enforcement of the State codes since we are certified by NYS as code enforcement officials. Mr. Hohman cannot issue building permits, conduct inspection of construction. He [Mr Hohman] can investigate complaints, but only complaints regarding the Village codes.” [Our emphasis]

Either Mr Debacco has knowledge of the case to which we refer in our article, “Ravena Still Ignores Oaths of Office and Rights Protected by State and Federal Constitutions!!!” or he is relying on the facts we reported in that article. The bottom line is that Mr Debacco is confirming that Mr Hohman’s authority is limited to only Village of Ravena local codes and laws.

Mr Debacco continues:

“However Mr. Hohman still must abide by protected constitutional rights of citizens. We are not allowed to enter private property without permission of the property owner. It is assumed that we can walk up to the front door of a building and knock on the door or ring a bell, but we are not allowed to walk around back per se without permission from the property owner. We are not allowed to enter into a dwelling unit without permission of the occupant of the dwelling. We can conduct legal inspections from the public right of way such as a sidewalk or street, and we can also conduct a legal inspection from a neighboring property, but the owner of that property must give us permission. The only time we can enter private property or enter someone’s dwelling unit, is during an emergency situation where the fire department or police department will allow us entry. The code enforcement official has the authority to obtain an administrative warrant to enter a property to conduct an inspection, but he/she must apply for such warrant at a local court where the property is located and must show cause.”

Again, Mr Debacco, a long-time employee of the Village of Ravena Building Department and a NYS certified code enforcement officer, confirms our statements in the Hohman article, that is, that Hohman must respect the protected rights of citizens. In other words, as we reported, no on may enter a resident’s or a citizen’s property without the citizen’s permission, or unless the official has a warrant or there is an emergency situation. Unless the official has the owner/occupant’s permission or a court order, the official cannot set foot on the property. Thank you, Mr Debacco, for confirming our report.

And again, Mr Debacco continues and confirms what we reported in the Hohlman article:

“I’m not sure what procedures Mr. Hohman followed the day of the visit to the Ravena property owner. I wasn’t around that day, and I didn’t hear anything about it at the office.

“In regards to the subjects of the violations, I cannot comment because I was not involved. I do agree with the old saying that “one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure”. The language in the codes is not really that cut and dry. Lots of room for interpretation. I don’t think that criminal charges for trespassing are warranted. In defense of Mr. Hohman, I believe there was no criminal intent on his part. I believe he was trying to his job, in the best way he thought he was able to.” [Our emphasis]

The law has no reliable way to adequately define a word like “rubbish”, as we have already stated in the Hohman article, and so that disposes of Hohman’s charge that there was anything objectionable in the resident’s yard. Hohman still has to explain how he made the observation on which he bases his charge, however. Even if he claims he did not enter the property and viewed the property from a neighboring property, he still has to prove he obtained the “neighbor’s” permission to enter their property. We don’t think That Mr Hohman is tall enough to make adequate observations over a 6 foot fence, though.

We also don’t agree that criminal intent absolves Mr Hohman from answering charges of trespass. Trespass does not require the intent to commit a crime and ignorance or over-zealousness does not absolve guilt. Think of it this way: You are driving down the road 10 miles over the posted speed limit and you are stopped by a law enforcement officer and ticketed for speeding. Your explanation is that you were not aware that you were speeding. That’s not going to save your sorry butt. You see, it is your responsibility to be in control of your vehicle and that includes knowing and obeying local laws and ordinances and state Vehicle and Traffic Laws, including speeding. It is your responsibility as an operator of a motor vehicle on pubic roadways and the excuse of not paying attention or ignorance is no defense. You will still have to face the consequences for your irresponsibility.

Same applies to Mr Hohman. He is responsible not only for knowing the Village of Ravena codes as they apply to buildings and properties in the Village, he must also be aware of the rights of residents and property owners and his limitations as a public official and employee. Whether or not he knew or did not know what he could or could not do is not a defense. He violated the law and cannot claim that his official duties protect him — they don’t — or that he was unaware of his limitations as to the rights of the public — ignorance is not a defense. So we disagree on this with Mr Debacco.

We feel that Mr Hohman has the duty, obligation and responsibility to know not only the codes but also what he can and cannot do under the law. He obviously broke the law and must now accept the consequences. The law does not apply differently to him because he is a public employee. There are not separate laws for Mr Hohman and others that apply to us common citizens. In fact, it is generally accepted that public servants must be held to a higher standard than private citizens because public servants are more visible and represent the common good. That applies equally to our judges and to our dog catchers and everyone in between. You break the law and you must be made an example. Period.

We continue to advise the property owner to file a criminal charge of trespass and violation of his protected rights under the New York State and United States constitutions. The local police chief, Coeymans Police Chief Daniel Contento must take the complaint, investigate to the extent that his own competence allows, and turn the matter over to the court for arraignment and hearing. An example must be made and other public employees put on notice.

Furthermore, given the facts and given Mr Debacco’s statements in his comments, we also feel that Mr Joseph Burns, Mr Debacco’s and Mr Hohman’s supervisor and the director of the Village of Ravena Building Department must be held accountable for Mr Hohman’s misconduct. It is Mr Burns’ responsiblility to ensure the lawful operations of his department and it is Mr Debacco’s duty and obligation to report any observed or suspected misconduct to Mr Burns so that Burns can investigate and take any necessary action. If Debacco fails to report such misconduct or his suspicion or knowledge to Burns, Debacco becomes an accessory to the misconduct and should be disciplined. Burns must keep records of all such incidents as well as any action taken by him in the case. If Burns does not keep adequate records, he becomes subject to discipline. Good recordkeeping is a requirement in public office, and the Office of the New York State Comptroller audits consistently look at the recordkeeping habits of local governments. So beware!

Watch your step, Mr Debacco; It’s a slippery slope.

“I would like to invite the editorial team to visit us some day at the Building Department offices, either in Ravena or Coeymans. Spend some time with us, spend a day or two with us. Tour our offices, perhaps do a ride-along when we go out in the field. See what we do. See what we can’t do. You will learn that we do not have an easy job. It can be stressful, controversial, and complicated. We probably are the least liked – for lack of a better term – out of any public employee. Many times I have been yelled at, scolded, given the finger, and even threatened with physical harm by the public for – what I thought – was just doing my job. And I’m only the part-timer: way down on the (Village and Town) food chain. Twice in my career I have been threatened where I had to file a “workplace violence incident report”. Maybe you are right. Maybe I really do work too much!”

It is very generous of Mr Debacco to invite us to visit the Village of Ravena Building Department and to accompany him on his rounds but truth be told we do not think that Mr Debacco has the authority to make such an invitation. That’s not to say that we are not appreciative of Mr Debacco’s generosity in extending an invitation to do so; we simply feel that you can’t invite someone into someone else’s home — that would be violating their protected rights — and Mr Debacco is only a part-time employee of the Ravena Village Department and as such, no matter how long he’s been there, does not give him the authority to invite outsiders to spend a day with the Department or to participate in a “ride-along” in the field. That would require Mr Burns’ and perhaps even higher authority’s permission. We would urge Mr Debacco to be more prudent and cautious in making such invitations.

As Mr Debacco admits in his comment his job is not the most popular one in the Village and he does admit that it can be “stressful, controversial and complicated.” But then so are many other jobs but that does not mean that you don’t have to obey the rules and the law. As we say: If it’s too hot in the kitchen, get out.”

Mr Debacco closes his comment with:

“Anyway – thank you again for your time this evening.
Sincerely,
Sante DeBacco
Sent from my iPhone”

Our recommendation to the Village of Ravena and to the Town of Coeymans is that you train your employees properly and avoid lawsuits (same would apply, Mr Jeff Ruso (R) and Mr Nick Dellisanti (R), to employees of the Town of New Baltimore). You can’t undo what has been done but you can make good faith efforts to avoid abuses in the future. (By the way, Ravena, Why? do you pay village shyster Michael Biscone, Ravena Village attorney, if the Village of Ravena continues to break the laws of the state and the nation? Paying him to park his fat arse and supply expensive lies is a bit of a waste of taxpayer dollars. Wouldn’t you agree?)

And we’d like to thank Mr Debacco sincerely for his straightforward and informative comments. We wish that other citizens and residents and ALL of our public employees — and wer’re thinking specifically of Mr Jeff Ruso, New Baltimore Town Supervisor, and his employees and elected officials; they don’t even respond to resident’s letters — would have the guts to do what Mr Debacco has done. But perhaps we are wishing too much!

From the Community!

The Editor


Editor’s Postscript

We’ve been asked to investigate two other matter in the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans. Just to give our readers a Heads up! on what’s coming:

  1. Driving through Faith Plaza, a heavily visited strip mall with Ravena Shop’n Save and CVS Pharmacy and other heavily trafficked businesses, we have been asked to investigate why the Village of Ravena and The Town of Coeymans have not taken steps to ensure the public’s safety by citing the owner of the Plaza for the incredibly dangerous condition of the parking lot. The potholes are so many and so deep that you could lose an 18-wheeler in one of them or a small child! After a rain the potholes are filled with water any if you should drive through one, you could lose a wheel. This is a condition that has been allowed to persist literally for years and nothing has been done about it. Where are you Village of Ravena and Town of Coeymans???
  2. Heavy trucks, damaged streets and water infrastructure, hazardous curves, no traffic enforcement, and parking in Ravena is another question we’ve been asked to investigate, and one which we are currently investigating. Why are the heavy trucks going through the Village of Ravena in the first place? The Village has the power to restrict traffic and the New York State DOT would likely support the Village. So why is there all that dangerous heavy traffic? Why are certain business owners complaining about parking restrictions? Why hasn’t the Town of Coeymans and the Village of Ravena heeded the advice of a veteran professional law enforcement officer about the dangerous conditions? We will answer these questions, name names, Name to Shame, and expose the lies and half-truths about the parking situation in Ravena. One big question is who owns the parking lot across from the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Patrick in Ravena where the sign reads “Church Parking Only”? Lots of questions and we’re getting the answers.
  3. What’s the problem in the Town of New Baltimore where elected officials, including the New Baltimore Town Supervisor Jeff Ruso and his deputy Nick Dellisanti, Sole Assessor Gordon Bennett, New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review Chairperson Donna Degnen, New Baltimore Animal Control Officer Joseph “Joe” Tanner, the New Baltimore Code Enforcement/Building Inspector currently Allan Jourdin, the Acting [Deputy] Superintendent of Highways Scott vanWormer and others have ignored and refused to answer residents’ correspondence and questions. How dare they ignore residents’ letters asking for answers to important questions!!! They have a duty and an obligation to respond, even if the truth threatens their Mickey Mouse political ambitions. 
 
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Posted by on August 19, 2018 in 19th Congressional District, 19th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, Abuse of Power, Abuse of Public Office, Accountability, Albany, Albany County Civil Service, Albany County Civil Service Department, Albany County District Attorney, Allan Jourdin, Bill Bailey, Burning the Constitution, Capital District, Church of St Patrick, Civil Right Violation, Civil Rights, Code Enforcement Officer, Code Violation, Coeymans, Coeymans Acting Police Chief, Coeymans Code Enforcement, Coeymans Town Board, Constitution, Crime and Punishment, Daily Mail, David Soares, Denis Jordan, Fourth Amendment, George Amedore, Government, Hal Warner, Harassment, Harold Warner, Henry Traver, Intimidation, Jeff Ruso, Joe Burns, Joe Stanzione, Joe Tanner, John Cashin, Joseph Burns, Joseph Stanzione, Lazlo Polyak, Mark Vinciguerra, Mayor "Mouse", Mayor "Mouse" Misuraca, Michael Biscone, Michael J. Biscone, Misuse of Public Office, Moose Misuraca, Moose Misuraca, Nancy Biscone-Warner, Nancy Warner, Nancy Warner, New Baltimore, New Baltimore Assessor, New York, New York State Constitution, New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Town Law, Nick Delisanti, Nick Dellisanti, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, Office of the Assessor, Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Comptroller, Official Misconduct, Pat Linger, Patrick Linger, Paul Tonko, Phil Crandall, Phillip Crandall, Protected Rights, Public Corruption, Public Office, Public Safety, Ravena, Ravena Building Inspector, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Ravena Department of Public Works, Ravena News Herald, Ravena Village Board, Ron Hohman, Sante Debacco, Scofflaw, Scott Van Wormer, Scott VanWormer, Selkirk, Senate District 46, Smalbany, Smalbany Articles, Sole Assessor, Stephen Prokrym, Steve Prokrym, Tal Rappelea, The Daily Mail, Thomas E. Dolan, Thomas Meacham, Tom Dolan, Tom Dolan, Tom Meacham, Town of Coeymans, Town of New Baltimore, Trespass, Village of Ravena, Village of Ravena Building Department, William Bailey, William Bailey, William Misuraca, William Misuraca

 

Public Service Announcement: St Patrick’s Confirmation Date

Roman Catholic Confirmation

There has been a lot of confusion and questions in the community regarding the date and time of the Roman Catholic Confirmation ceremony to be held at St Patrick’s in Ravena. St Patrick’s have been less than open and sharing about details regarding the ceremonies and have refused to respond to inquiries about the even. Even parents whose children are being confirmed are a bit miffed about how pastor Scott vanDeveer, deacon Steven Young, and faith coordinator Christa Derosiers have handled the event and getting the information out.

Since we have been unable to get any information from St Patrick’s parish officials, we went both to the St Patrick’s website, where we found nothing but out-of-date information, and to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany website were we found nothing as well. For being such an important event, it seems incredibly hush-hush. Obviously we are more interested in getting the word out than the local Catholic Community or the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. It seems that the local Roman Catholic Church is really proud of their events. That being said, the RC confirmation will be at:

St Patrick Roman Catholic Church
Ravena, New York
Sunday, April 22, 2018
from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Bishop emeritus Howard Hubbard
will preside and confer the sacrament

We realize that the day and time appear to be a bit bizarre but we have confirmed those details and it’s really from 6-8:00 p.m.

There is an article about the entire affair at What’s Wrong With You People?!? St Patrick’s Ravena, which gives vent to some of the frustration of parents, friends and relatives of the young people to be confirmed. What more can we say?

Congratulations from All of Us at Smalbany!

 

Roman Catholic Church: Collection Envelopes Determine Good Standing!

We were recently contacted by a reader asking us for an opinion about the question of whether the Requirement of Registration in a Parish and an Affidavit of Good Standing is appropriate for fulfillment of the role of confirmation sponsor. That’s a compound question consisting of two separate questions:

  1. Is a requirement for parish registration appropriate?
  2. Is an Affidavit of Catholic in Good Standing in the parish in which one is registered appropriate?

The second question necessarily follows on the first question.

The Roman Catholic Parish of St Patrick in Ravena, NY, a parish in the territory of the Diocese of Albany, NY (Edward B. Scharfenberger, bishop) has scheduled their Confirmations for April, 2018, and just recently sponsor designates were informed that they were to provide certain certifications as to their “fitness” to fulfill the role of Confirmation sponsor. We have obtained statements from sponsor designates and a copy of the form to be signed by the sponsor designates. In general, the “contract” is rather primitive and a bit late, since it appears it should have been provided to the sponsor designate right at the start of the formation period and not 2 months before the Confirmation! In addition, it contains a number of silly requirements, one of which caught our eye:

“The sponsor agrees to provide:

+ The Church of St Patrick the name and address of the Parish and Pastor where they currently worship;

+ Further provide the Church of St Patrick with an Affidavit signed by their current pastor certifying they meet these requirements:

– At least 16 years old,

– Fully initiated into the Roman Catholic Faith through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.”

The grammar leaves a great deal to be desired and it’s unclear whether the certifying pastor has to be “at least 16 years old” and “fully initiated” or the sponsor. Another problem is that it is the “Church of St Patrick” while we have always thought of the Church as being the Church Jesus Christ, and the church as used in the Church of St Patrick would clearly indicate the building and not the community, the mystical body; properly stated, it should be the “Parish” of St Patrick for obvious reasons. But the document has other flaws.

It raises the question of What business does a pastor have certifying a sponsor’s age? That’s done by way of a secular birth certificate!

In addition, the current pastor must sign an affidavit confirming the sponsor’s age AND that the sponsor has received the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation, all of which are clearly proved by the respective certificates issued by the conferring parish, not necessarily by the sponsor’s territorial pastor. So we had a closer look at what’s going on here because something stinks in Ravena, and the smoke of satan is probably coming from the Albany Diocesan Offices.

Those observations are merely a further confirmation of the turmoil and confusion that reigns supreme in the Roman Catholic Church today, and are clearly visible in the parishes.[1]

First, let’s look at what the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law, the collection of rules and regulations governing what and how things are done in the Roman Catholic Church, has to say about what a “parish” is — this is an important first step because most “practicing” Catholics don’t have a clue what a parish is.

The Code of Canon Law (sections abbreviated “C.”) defines “parish” in the following terms:

515 §1. A parish is a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor (pastor) under the authority of the diocesan bishop. [our emphasis]

And c. 518 expressly defines the parish as “territorial,” meaning,

Can. 518 As a general rule a parish is to be territorial, that is, one which includes all the Christian faithful of a certain territory. When it is expedient, however, personal parishes are to be established determined by reason of the rite, language, or nationality of the Christian faithful of some territory, or even for some other reason. [our emphasis]

Therefore, a parish is territorial. As such it embraces all the Catholics of a given region on a map. When a bishop formally erects a parish, he establishes its specific boundaries, and all Catholics residing within those limits are ipso facto (and de jure) members of that parish, whether or not they know it. Canon law does not require anyone living within the parish boundaries to take the additional step of registering at the parish. The very fact that a Catholic lives in the territory of a particular parish is enough to make him or her member of that parish. Canon law does not require formal registration in that parish to be a member of that particular parish. Question 1 is thus moot. A dead issue. No registration is required.

The fact that parishes are by definition territorial does not mean that it is illegal under Canon Law or wrong to require people to register; it may be useful to ask them to register in their parishes for administrative reasons, such as for example, census purposes or for surveys, or for demographic purposes.

In the American Catholic Church the parish registration system has been superimposed on top of Canon Law, but parish registration is not a part or provision of Canon Law. In fact, the parish registration system must never be used in such a way as to contradict Canon Law; if there is a conflict, Canon Law must take precedence. This includes the situation where a local bishop, called the local ordinary, or his staff makes up some “local” law or rule for the diocese; that local rule cannot replace Canon Law or contradict it. Period.

But the question posed is Confirmation Sponsors. On the question of parish registration as regards confirmation sponsors, The purpose of c. 892 and its requirements are merely to make clear that the sponsor of the confirmed person is to ensure that the confirmed behaves as a true witness of Christ and faithfully fulfills the obligations inherent in this sacrament. That should be no problem in theory, but let’s move on.

In the Roman Catholic Church the requirements to be a Confirmation sponsor are the same as those for a Baptismal godparent. As regards the requirements for a person to fulfill the function of confirmation sponsor c. 893 refers back to c. 874 which lays down functions for fulfilling the function of a baptismal godparent, that is, the requirements for fulfilling the role of confirmation sponsor are the same as for a baptismal godparent. According to Roman Catholic Canon law, the requirements for both a Baptismal godparent and a Confirmation sponsor are:

Can.  874 §1. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must:

1/ be designated by the one to be baptized, by the parents or the person who takes their place, or in their absence by the pastor or minister and have the aptitude and intention of fulfilling this function;

2/ have completed the sixteenth year of age, unless the diocesan bishop has established another age, or the pastor or minister has granted an exception for a just cause;

3/ be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist and who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on;

4/ not be bound by any canonical penalty legitimately imposed or declared;

5/ not be the father or mother of the one to be baptized.

In other words, the person chosen by the candidate for confirmation or the candidate’s parents, or both, must be someone who takes his or her Catholic faith seriously enough that s/he may serve as a mentor for the person to be confirmed. In essence, the first requirement then, is the trust and confidence of the candidate and his/her parents that operate in determining the fitness of a person to be sponsor. To abrogate that authority or to demean the capability of the candidate or his/her parents to determine suitability in practical terms would be an affront.

The way records are kept.

Canon Law makes no statement, provision or requirement that the proposed sponsor be formally registered in a parish, nor does relevant Canon Law set forth any criteria or system for determining fitness in terms other than that the sponsor designate be a witness of Christ and a capable mentor. Nor does Canon Law lay down a protocol on how that s/he be examined for his/her fitness to be a confirmation sponsor, but merely states to the effect that the person takes his/her Catholic faith seriously and can be a mentor for the candidate.

Scott VanDerveer, pastor of St Patrick, Ravena.

Steven Matthews, pastor, St John Baptist, Greenville.

Since the Code of Canon Law nowhere mentions parish registration, and certainly does not state or even imply anywhere that a sponsor in sacramental Confirmation must be registered at a particular parish, such requirement is being made an obstacle is canonically illicit and unlawful. In other words, the territorial parish of St Patrick Roman Catholic Church, Ravena, NY (Scott VanDerveer, pastor) is wrong to require an Affidavit of Parish Registration and the Parish of St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, Greenville, NY  (Steven Matthews, pastor) in Greenville is wrong to deny the sponsor designate a letter testifying to the fact that the sponsor designate is a member of the territorial parish of St John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church. If the sponsor designate lives in the territory of St John the Baptist parish, that person, if Catholic is a member of that parish.

While the Code of Canon Law expressly indicates that a Confirmation sponsor must be a committed Catholic, it does not provide a hint of guidance how this is to supposed to be determined, much less proved. This raises the question whether the territorial parish of St John the Baptist RC in Greenville or the territorial parish of St Patrick RC in Ravena have in place a consistent and reliable system to decide who is a suitable sponsor, and how to document that assessment. For the criteria used to test the quality of Catholics, we have to turn to the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, and to the so-called Precepts. But those so-called Precepts do not possess the quality of law and are extremely difficult if not impossible to verify (the link below).

The Precepts are a classic example of unenforceable control but the gremlin gatekeepers, the so called “Faith Education” directors use them like swords, but without Church authority or common sense to understand them.

We have to ask: Do the concerned pastors know each of their flock by name and do they have intimate knowledge of what their parishioners’ lifestyle and characters are? Or can we better presume that the candidate and his or her parents are better able to make that assessment? Does the fact that someone appears every Sunday at liturgy make him or her good Catholic, and thus a better sponsor than one who does not? Or is the measure one of the magnanimity of financial contributions to the parish, or the fact that both time and treasure are determinants? Can the pastor even recognize the person by sight? Would those be applicable objective criteria to satisfy the requirement that the person takes his/her Catholic faith seriously and can be a mentor for the confirmation candidate?

Again, an example from the Cathedral Church of St Patrick (Charlotte, NC). Explicit statement that collection envelopes are used to document attendance.

Figuratively speaking, this problem can be restated in hypothetical terms as, “Is the use of collection envelopes the final arbiter of whether a person is a Catholic “in good standing” and competent to serve as a confirmation sponsor?” But that’s not even a hypothetical situation! Many parishes are using collection envelopes to decide whether or not a “practicing Catholic” is a “Catholic in good standing!”

The criterion for Catholic “in good standing”?

Here’s a depraved, reprehensible and embarrassing excerpt from the BAPTISM AND/OR CONFIRMATION SPONSOR GUIDELINES of the Cathedral Church of Saint Patrick (Charlotte, NC), which is by no means uncommon and is representative of many American parishes, in that St Patrick’s makes a number of illicit and illegal requirements:[2]

The sponsor is required to certify this information (St Patrick parish, Charlotte, NC).

and the sponsor’s parish pastor must certify

Do these administrators and pastors know their Canon Law or are they arbitrarily applying a personal interpretation of the phrase, “in good standing?” This has been known to happen all too frequently and with tragic results.

Furthermore, while we know that well-meaning Catholics may work long hours in parish offices and programs for low or no pay, and their “dedication” is commendable, they do play a critical role in the life of a typical parish but – and that’s a really big “but” because they do not hold ecclesial office pursuant to c. 145, they are not accorded by law any spiritual authority over other members of the parish.[3]

The bottom line is that the pastor is the person ultimately responsible for the spiritual well-being of his parishioners, and as Canon Law states, parishes are territorial and all Catholics in that territory are “parishioners” under the terms of Canon Law. Therefore, the pastor is responsible for the canonical, pastoral, spiritual well-being of his parishioners. If he is unaware of a problem or a situation that can transfigure into a problem, it is important that he be informed about it, and that he deal with it appropriately. By respectfully calling the pastor’s attention to such an issue, the whole parish, diocese and certainly the whole Church ultimately benefits.[4]

Figuratively speaking, this problem can be restated in hypothetical terms as, “Is the use of collection envelopes the final arbiter of whether a person is a Catholic “in good standing” and competent to serve as a confirmation sponsor?”

The answer is administratively maybe, canonically NO!

Unless the lay administrators of the Parish of St Patrick have an established system approved by competent authority for determining membership in the territorial parishes of St Patrick or of St John the Baptist, the requirement of certifying membership in any parish is served canonically by the mere provision of proof of domicile, said domicile being situated in the territory of a given parish ipso facto and de jure establishes the person as a member of that territorial parish. Canon law takes precedence over local law in the event of ambiguity, vagueness, over-broadness or arbitrariness of the local provision.

RC Diocese of Albany chief rulemaker, Scharfenberger.

In terms of the fact of “in good standing,” unless specifically stated in clear and unambiguous terms How? in practical and objective terms a pastor is to determine “good standing,” and which criteria are to be applied for such determination, as well as the specificity and reliability of such criteria when applied to an ever-changing and practically protean population of a territorial parish, made even more difficult by the mobility of today’s populations, the arbiter in the first instance must be those who are intimately familiar with the character of the sponsor designate; in the second instance, testimony or reference or direct observation my be called upon to further confirm fitness. Otherwise, any claim to system or protocol that may be proffered by pastor or lay administrator is subject to scrutiny, and likely to be found insufficient, if not illicit or even canonically unlawful.

It is our determination that the territorial parish does not have the canonical authority to require registration of persons as members of a parish, that in virtue of their residing within the territory of a given parish makes them de jure members of that parish and entitled to a letter confirming that fact, providing that they can give a showing of having been validly and licitly baptized into the Church.

As established at c. 874 §1 (CCL) the requirements for acting as a confirmation sponsor are also set forth by canon law, that is, the sponsor designate must be baptized, have received the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, and have been confirmed pursuant the terms and conditions of Canon Law. Furthermore, the sponsor designate shall be 16 years old or older, shall not be not be bound by any canonical penalty, and shall not be the father or the mother of the person to be confirmed. The law also requires that the person shall lead a life of faith but does not provide specifics.

How do you score? Do you know how to score? Are you a “Catholic in Good Standing?

Catholic “in good standing.” There then arises the question of what is meant by a Catholic “in good standing.” It is generally purported that a so-called Catholic in good standing is a baptized Catholic who claims to live by the Precepts of the Roman Catholic Church as promulgated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which derive presumably from the statements expressed or implied in §§ 2041-2043 of the said Catechism. The observation, however, obtains that monitoring those “precepts” for each parishioner is at best daunting if not entirely impossible.[5] Furthermore, even if the precepts were verifiable in any credible way, keeping those precepts would be a question of Pharisee vs tax collector (Lk 18:9-14), demonstrating more technique than disposition (inner forum).

Either the pastor or his administrators would have to take a Sunday mass, reconciliation, Eucharist attendance, and would have to have some method of verifying their ascetic (fasting and abstinence) practices as well. Some parishes have inaugurated a control of collection envelopes to keep tabs on their flocks but not everyone chooses to use collection envelopes and many simply drop cash into the collection baskets. Most persons today would object to such monitoring and auditing practices.

External observation and compliance do not testify to inner holiness by any means and one would benefit by keeping in mind the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, while admitting that the majority in the pews are Pharisees or at best ignorant of anything approximating the so-called “precepts.” Moreover, it is flies in the face of reason to even suggest that the majority of Catholics today qualify even in one or two of the precepts; accordingly, the majority, though living moral and ethical lives, would be rejected by the Church as not being “in good standing.” So, the reasonable conclusion is that the term “in good standing” is not verifiable in reliable objective terms, and that such verification would necessarily have to resort to a creation of an exclusivist, verifiable class of individuals within any parish, perpetuating an already excessively technical and legalistic hierarchical and paternalistic institution that has had its well-earned share of criticism and condemnation, and has tragically resulted in the hemorrhaging of the faithful from an ailing Church. The term “in good standing” is a farce and should be abandoned post haste.

 

The Precepts used to determine a Catholic in good standing are taken from the RC Catechism. The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church is “a text which contains the fundamental Christian truths formulated in a way that facilitates their understanding” and is “a ‘point of reference’ for bishops, priests, catechists, teachers, preachers, scholars, students and authors.”   The RC Catechism contains doctrine (teachings of the Church) doctrine and some dogma (universal truths of the Church) but in itself is not dogma![6]

Furthermore, the USCCB notes that:

“By its very nature, a catechism presents the fundamental truths of the faith which have already been communicated and defined. Because the Catechism presents Catholic doctrine in a complete yet summary way, it naturally contains the infallible doctrinal definitions of the popes and ecumenical councils in the history of the Church. It also presents teaching which has not been communicated and defined in these most solemn forms.” (17)

The Catechism is a resource book and may be difficult for the “people in the pews,” to understand. According to the bishops’ statement:

“It would be helpful if the reader had some theological background, but the Catechism itself presents a considerable amount of theological background material.”[7]

Most lay ministers and parish administrators do not have theological or pastoral training; it is also true that putting important decisions in the hands of amateurs is a very slippery slope. Add to that the power dynamics and the political and social forces that are prominent in parishes and we have a very hazardous situation indeed.

Any guidelines or protocols existing in a particular parish must, of course, comply with Canon Law, as must any local law, and must be applicable uniformly and impartially to any given situation, including that of confirmation sponsor. The local ordinary and then his presbyter pastor are the ultimate authorities for determining such guidelines and protocols which clearly do not fall within the purview of persons not having canonical authority to promulgate or to interpret such guidelines or protocols.

If a question or problem should arise with regard to the provisions of canon law or to local laws, guidelines, or rules licitly, lawfully, and validly promulgated and ratified, such question or problem should be consigned to the parish pastor in the first instance for resolution. Pursuant to c. 145 and c. 519, lay persons or lay administrators do not have canonical authority in such spiritual matters.

The pastoral, spiritual, administrative procedures in the individual locales use to interview, screen, assess, guide, instruct, mentor, or otherwise prepare sponsor designates for their role as sponsor is beyond the question posed, and are thus beyond the scope of this opinion. That statement notwithstanding, the fact that they are beyond the scope of this opinion does not in any way detract from their importance nor from the responsibility of the parochial ecclesial officers to ensure that such procedures are in place and are implemented objectively and impartially, and that the associated lay ministers and administrators are adequately discerned, formed and mentored to ensure the well-being of confirmation candidates and their sponsor designates.

And the result is bad disciples!

Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger demonstrating the virtue of poverty. A bit too theatrical and ostentatious to be convincing, or to our taste. Whom does he think he’s fooling, anyway?


Notes

[1] The parish of St Patrick in Ravena has a number of problems not the least of which is their website which is an indicator of the lack of professionalism and care that one would expect. For example, there is a page entitled “We have come such a long way in a relatively short period of time!  Take a look at our History! / St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Parish began as a mission church in 1859 where the Church overlooked the Hudson River in Coeymans.  In 1917 it was rebuilt at it’s [sic] current site on Main St in Ravena / So who were our Pastors?” That page shows a series of images of a man’s headshot; apparently all the pastors were look alike clones. The Hudson River is not all that the parish of St Patrick in Ravena overlooked. Maybe pastor Scott VanDerveer should spend some time checking his minions’ work and grammar. It’s an embarrassment.

[2] Isn’t it an interesting coincidence that the local parish of St Patrick in Ravena, NY, should share the same deficiencies as the parish of the same name, St Patrick, in Charlotte, NC? What does that tell you?

[3] Can. 145 §1. An ecclesiastical office is any function constituted in a stable manner by divine or ecclesiastical ordinance to be exercised for a spiritual purpose. Further, at  §2., the Code states “The obligations and rights proper to individual ecclesiastical offices are defined either in the law by which the office is constituted or in the decree of the competent authority by which the office is at the same time constituted and conferred.”

[4] C. 519 The pastor (parochus) is the proper pastor (pastor) of the parish entrusted to him, exercising the pastoral care of the community committed to him under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share, so that for that same community he carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing, also with the cooperation of other presbyters or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful, according to the norm of law. [emphasis provided]

[5] Appendix I, Catholic Catechism, Precepts

[6] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “Frequently Asked Questions about the Catechism of the Catholic Church” (http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/frequently-asked-questions-about-the-catechism-of-the-catholic-church.cfm last accessed on February

[7] Having made that statement, I would like to ask the bishops Who is to decide or determine what is what in the Catechism? Without formation and training it is a hopeless task for the lay person to discern what is doctrine, what is dogma, what is theology, etc. The whole statement is a collection of ecclesial double-talk!