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Category Archives: Collusion

We Are Re-Opening the Case: Riley Kern, Young Man Killed in Coeymans Hollow, Sycamore Golf Course

Just when they thought they got away with it!

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The Facts are Pointing to a
COVER UP!!!

As you may recall, we wrote in a July article, “Three Articles on New Baltimore Scandals: Pick One or Read All,”, asking “Did you know?” about the case of a young man who was involved in a fatal motorcycle-pickup truck accident in Coeymans Hollow. We wrote:

Editor’s Sidebar: Town of Coeymans. We’ve received reports of a fatal pick-up truck — motorcycle accident that occurred during the evening hours of Saturday, July 28, 2018, on Route 143 in the Town of Coeymans. The operator of the motorcycle, a 20-year old man was killed; the operator of the pick-up truck was allegedly Ravena resident Travis Hagen. Strangely nothing has appeared in the local media about the accident. We have contacted the Coeymans Police for confirmation facts but have not received a response. A reader has informed us that he, too contacted the Coeymans Police acting chief, Daniel Contento, and was told only that there was an accident and the police investigated and reported it to the DMV. Is this a cover up to protect a prominent Ravena family? Doesn’t the young man’s life mean anything or do we just sweep the whole thing under the carpet? We need to start asking questions. The 20-year old man is not just another raccoon, Mr Contento!

This is Riley and a Companion.

Read more about Riley at
Ryan Parker Kern  August 4, 1998 – July 27, 2018 
and leave a note of support and condolence for his family and friends.

At the time, we were suspicious that the accident didn’t get a single word of coverage on any media, and we asked Why?

Since we published that very small bit of information, we’ve received contacts from people who have read the inconspicuous item and have contacted us with a huge amount of information and many, many questions.

In the meantime, we have received some information on Travis Hagen that points to a cover-up in the case of the young man’s death. At the very minimum, a number of people involved in the investigation of the accident and reporting the so-called “facts” are going to have to answer a lot of very unpleasant questions very soon!

Travis Hagen, 48, of Coxsackie. Driver of the pick-up truck.

There are still people in this community who think they are above the law

We are now re-opening the case and will be publishing the information as it’s verified for you, our reading public, to be sickened and outraged by what’s going on in the RCS community and what’s going on in the Coeymans Police Department. There are still people in this community who think they are above the law and can get away with trying to hide a crime. We’re here to make certain the truth gets out and they are brought to justice.

Click this link to read Riley’s mom’s response to detractors of SmalbanyRiley’s Mom Responds: A Mother’s Perspective.

Unconfirmed witness reports indicate that there are inconsistencies in the Police Incident Report. Is there a possibility that the driver of the pick-up truck was … !

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2018 in 19th Congressional District, 20th Congressional District, Accident, Acting Police Chief, Albany County Coroner, Albany County Coroners Office, Albany County District Attorney, Albany County EMT, Albany County Sheriff Department, Albany Medical Center, Barbara Underwood, Capital District, Chaplain Services, Civil Right Violation, Civil Rights, Civil Rights, Coeymans, Coeymans Acting Police Chief, Coeymans Police Department, Collusion, Columbia-Greene Media, Conspiracy, Corrupt Police, Corruption, D. W. Contento, Daily Mail, Daniel Contento, David Soares, Death, Death Certificate, Death Investigation, Department of Motor Vehicles, DOT, DOT, Driving under the Influence, Electronic Death Registration System, Ellis Hospital, Emily Kern, Evil, Geico Insurance, Greene County News, Hearst Corporation, Ian Foard, Immorality, Investigation, John B. Johnson, Johnson Newspaper Group, Law Enforcement, Lawsuit, Mark Vinciguerra, Misconduct, Monitoring, Morality, Motor Vehicle Accident, Motorcycle, New York, New York State, New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Police, New York State Police, News Channel 10, News Channel 13, News Channel 6, News Herald, Notice of Claim, NYS Assembly, NYS Comptroller Audit, NYS Senate, Obstruction of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Comptroller, Paul Gumpher, Perp Patrol, Phil Crandall, Phillip Crandall, Police Incompetence, Professional Ethics, Professional Misconduct, Public Corruption, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk, Ravena Coeymans Selkirk Central School District, Ravena News Herald, Riley Kern, Riley P. Kern, Rye, Stephen Prokrym, Steve Prokrym, Suffering, Sycamore Country Club, Thanatology Café, The Daily Mail, Thomas Marra, Times Union, Times Union Blogs, Town of Coeymans, Travis Hagen, Uncategorized

 

Ravena Still Ignores Oaths of Office and Rights Protected by State and Federal Constitutions!!!

We have just received a report from a resident and property owner in the Village of Ravena. It looks like elected officials and public servants are again playing their Gestapo games and ignoring residents’ rights and the laws of this state and country. This resident is one of the few that actually came forward with his experiences. We have spoken to a number of others who have similar stories of Ravena’s targeting residents for everything from a children’s swimming pool on their property to “discarded rubbish,” without any further specifics.

Science has shown that incest can generate stupid people. That may explain Ravena Village Hall.

We have reported in the past about Ravena’s in-crowd and their total disconcern for the rights of residents and citizens. Here’s what our reader writes about one of the more recent violations of guaranteed and protected rights by our self-important public servants of nepotism, conspiracy, and conflicts of interests.

Our reader writes:

It’s been a long time since I’ve contacted the Editor and left a comment on the Smalbany blog. I think I’ll call this “Full circle.” Yesterday I received what appears to be two citations in the mail from the village of Ravena apparently notifying me of code violations.

For your information and as illustrations, I am also providing you by emailing you a copy of the correspondence and pictures of what the Code Enforcement officer is referring to. It’s pretty much self explanatory that Mr. Ron Hohman, so-called Zoning Enforcement Officer, is a bit ignorant and illiterate. He’s also in violation of his oath of office because he’s violated the protected rights assured by the New York State and the United States Constitution, both of which he’s sworn to support. I guess he’s overlooked the 14th amendment and the laws relating to violations of private property rights.

As you can see in one of the notices, he’s concerned about a vehicle parked in my driveway in the back of my building. The other violation” cites so called “discarded rubbish.” Any property in the back of my building is far from “discarded rubbish,” and I do take offence that Mr. Hohman, overreaching his authorities and unlawfully entering my private property, further offends me by describing my property as “discarded rubbish.” First of all, who is Mr. Hohman to decide what is “discarded” and what is “rubbish.” Being the curious person I am, I went to Ravena Village Hall to ask them what their official definition of “rubbish” might be, simply commenting that the violation is so vague, and I couldn’t find any “discarded rubbish” on my property.

Mr. Hohman’s notification of a zoning violation because I have an unplated vehicle on my property, in my driveway, and the suggestion that it is not operating or roadworthy, raised other questions. First of all, Is Mr. Hohman a qualified automotive mechanic? Did he make an inspection of the vehicle to determine whether it operates or not? Highly unlikely on both counts. I am also concerned that Mr. Hohman actually entered my property to obtain the Vehicle Identification Number from the registration sticker, something that is invisible from the street and you’d have to get up real close to be able to see it. In other words, Mr. Hohman trespassed on my private property to get the VIN. Violation of my protected constitutional rights and something that will have repercussions very soon in terms of criminal charges.

But what has the vehicle to do with the zoning status of my property? Obviously, Mr. Hohman and the Village of Ravena have opened a can of worms, AGAIN! I had and still have a lot of unanswered questions.

I have lived in the Village of Ravena for more than 25 years, I am a responsible property owner, and a participating member of my community. I am respectful and courteous to everyone. I think I’m not asking too much for respect and courtesy from my elected officials and our public servants. I reasonably expected the courtesy of a knock on the door, perhaps? Is that too much to ask, Mr. Hohman? On the day the notifications were issued, that is, if the date of August 1, 2018, is truthful, I was home all day and nobody knocked on my door, least of all Mr. Hohman from the Village, to get permission to be on my property or even to talk to me informally about any suspected violations. Furthermore, the only way to get any facts or information for both alleged “violations,” if they are violations at all, was that Hohman had to accessed my property to see what’s actually behind a 6ft fence! How does Hohman justfy this criminal trespassing? Hohman had to go to some trouble to see around the neatly arranged trash containers at the edge of my property.

Back to my “Full Circle” quote. The reason why I’m saying “full circle” because some 25 years ago the Ravena Zoning Board held a meeting and then a special meaning about my property without my knowledge or inviting me to comment, again yet another violation of the right of due process and fair hearing. Ravena has a long history of violating constitutional and protected rights: They accused me, tried me, convicted me, and then sent me my sentence without fair hearing. That’s Ravena for you. My attorney at the time, an now retired, read them the riot act in a letter informing them that their conduct was a gross violation of my constitutional rights. They have very short memories apparently.

You’ve written a lot about the Village of Ravena and the Town of Coeymans’ violation of citizens’ and residents’ rights without any form of due process or concern for the New York State or United States Constitutions and the Bill of Rights. They have sworn oaths to support the constitutions and thus to defend our rights and the laws of the state of New York and this great country, but they ignore their duties, their obligations, and their oaths of office. It’s become commonplace in Ravena and the surrounding area and it has to stop. We have rights as citizens and we all deserve due process and fair hearing, it’s guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the Constitution!

I look forward chatting with you because you can’t make this stuff up, and the pictures and the violations speak for themselves.

Letters from Mr Ron Hohman, Village of Ravena Code/Zoning Enforcement Officer.

The laws simply do not use the word “rubbish”

We’ve done our research and wanted to know first of all what “discarded rubbish” is supposed to mean. There are two problems with Mr Hohman’s use of the phrase: Firstly, rubbish is not a legal term with a reliable definition. if you look for a legal definition of “rubbish” you’ll probably be redirected to the legal notion of “waste,” as in “solid waste” etc. The laws simply do not use the word “rubbish,” so we can say that the use of the undefined term in the notification has no legal impact or effect.

Resident’s Back Yard Seen from Street. No “rubbish.”

Waste is actually a subjective concept, because things that some people discard may be of value to others

In fact, our research shows that “waste” refers to unwanted substances that people generally tend to dump.  Depending upon the locale and common language waste is also sometimes referred to as rubbish, trash, garbage, or junk. One point is very clear, though, waste is actually a subjective concept, because things that some people discard may be of value to others. It is a natural part of the ecological cycle. It is created when living organisms take in materials and excrete them after use. Waste can be recycled by other living organisms. Discarded home appliances, kitchen waste, sewage sludge, manufacturing waste, packaging waste, old paint containers, biological waste, and hospital waste are all examples of waste. Waste is classified into different types based upon their sources and nature. Solid waste, biodegradable waste, hazardous waste, medical waste, e-waste, yard waste, construction and demolition waste, agricultural waste, and mining waste are the different types of waste.

Resident’s Back Yard viewed from 2nd floor porch. No “rubbish.”

Ravena Code Enforcement Officer Ron Hohman makes no sense.

Another question that arises is how Mr Hohman determined that whatever it is he is referring to as “rubbish,” or more properly put, waste, is in fact “discarded.” Discarded means “unwanted,” “dumped,” “junked,” etc. Fact is, Hohman has no way of knowing whether anything at all is “rubbish” in terms of being “waste,” and furthermore, Hohman has no way of knowing that the property to which his is referring as being “rubbish” has actually been “discarded.” Hohman makes no sense. But that’s not surprising for Ravena and its neighbors.

The other troubling question is Mr Hohman’s concern about a vehicle parked lawfully on private property and Hohman’s wild speculations that the vehicle violates the law by simply being in the resident’s driveway. Hohman does this without any further inquiry or discussion. That’s absolutely offensive by any standard!

The offending vehicle, parked lawfully on the resident’s property, in his private driveway.

In short, Mr Ron Hohman has his head up his arse because he is assuming with no factual basis that the vehicle on the resident’s property is an abandoned, junked, partially dismantled, etc. vehicle under the provisions of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law!!!

We have personally visited the resident’s property to verify the images sent and to examine the correspondence received from the Village of Ravena and Mr Ron Hohman, Village of Ravena Code/Zoning Enforcement Officer.

Pull Your Head Out, Hohman!!!

We found the vehicle to be in good condition and would never qualify as abandoned, discarded, junked, or partially dismantled. In fact, it’s quite a nice vehicle. We are informed that it belongs to the resident’s daughter who has been saving to manage insurance, registration and putting it on the road. Is that a violation, we ask? We also suspect that Mr Hohman in his haste to get a violation while violating the resident’s protected rights and trespassing on the property, actually missed the dealer’s plates on the front seat of the vehicle. We didn’t miss them. Did you miss those plates Mr Hohman? Or do you expect that they should have been on the vehicle so that they could be stolen, and the Coeymans police investigation allowed to go cold without an arrest or recovery of the plates. 

Maybe Ron Holman has better credentials than a NYS licenced motor vehicle inspector; maybe that’s how he knows the condition of the vehicle. NOT!!!

Oh! Did we neglect to mention that the property owner’s son is an automotive mechanic with licences for several classes of vehicles as a State Motor Vehicle Inspector? And that he drove the vehicle to it’s present location? Did we fail to mention that insignificant fact? But then, maybe Mr Holman has better qualifications to determining whether a vehicle is junk or roadworthy. Got a response, Ronny-boy?

As for the “discarded rubbish” to which Mr Hohman refers, we were unable to find any discarded anything on the property, much less anything that would qualify as “rubbish,” “trash,” “garbage,” or “waste.” In fact, the pictures provided by the resident are clear and factual: There are household items belonging to the resident, his family, and his tenants, including several functional grills. There are some spare parts arranged on a workbench, a tire leaning up against the building, and several containers. No rubbish. Nothing that appeared that it should be discarded. In fact, what we saw had value, was usable, and had every right to be stored neatly in a resident’s back yard, on his private property, without being a nuisance or an eyesore to anyone, especially given the fact that it is actually surrounded by a six-foot fence!!!

So, in conclusion, we have to ask what Mr Hohman’s game is? Does he have an ax to grind? Does someone in Ravena Village Hall have an ax to grind? Does Mr Hohman have to justify his job and “create” violations where there are none? And why is it necessary for Mr Hohman to break the law and violate a resident’s, a citizen’s protected rights to cook up some sort of idiotic and unfounded “violations”?  We’ll be investigating these questions in more depth and will report on our findings. First of all, we’ll find out more about this character Ron Hohman and get some background on him. Something’s fishy here AGAIN and we will get to the bottom of the stinking pond called Ravena, and find out what the bottom-feeders in Ravena Town Hall are up to. Stay tuned!

We’ll get to the bottom of this.
The Editor

Editor’s Note: Unlike Mr Holman, Ravena’s roving public servant terrorist, we obtained the property owner’s permission to visit and view his property.

 

 

New Baltimore Property Taxes: Absolutely No Rhyme, Reason, or Answers!!!

The New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review met on Grievance Day, May 22, 2018, and the Final Tax Roll was published on July 1, 2018.

The Office of the Sole Assessor, currently occupied by Mr. Gordon Bennett (an employee of the Town), and the New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review (all appointees by the current Town board) is representative of the rest of New Baltimore’s dog-and-pony act, their excuse for Town government: Complete Incompetence and Ignorance!!!

Grievance Day is also a dog-and-pony act, where a gang of five appointees sit and demonstrate how ignorant and poorly qualified they are for determining the quality of property assessments in the Town of New Baltimore. The assessor sits by and listens, not contributing much in the way of assisting the poor wretches or preventing them from making complete asses of themselves and taxpayers!

Here’s this year’s tally of stupidity based on documents provided by the Town of New Baltimore and the official taped recordings of the New Baltimore Board of Assessment Reveiw of hearings held on Grievance Day, May 22, 2018, at New Baltimore Town Hall:

Shyster Michael Biscone of Ravena, apparently a bosom buddy of Mr. Bennett, since they are on a first-name basis, even in an official proceeding like Grievance Day, represents two property owners before the Board of Assessment Review, and presents their cases in a rambling fashion, so you have to pay close attention to understand the bottom line on the tapes. [Editor’s Note: For those of our readers, we are providing links to the Greene County online Property Tax Information website, where you can read everything about the properties we’re discussing. It’s all public access. Just click the links in the text below to go to the property information. The link to the main page, where you can search properties by municipality, tax map number, last name, first name, etc. is Greene County Search. ]

The first property is on Roberts Hill Road (565 Roberts Hill Rd, West Coxsackie NY 12192); it’s actually two properties that were once one but was divided in order to sell them. One has a house on it sitting on three acres (Tax Map No. 28.00-2-31.2). The other portion is 37 acres of undeveloped property (Tax Map No. 28.00-2-31.1). Mr. Biscone, on behalf of David Hales, whom he refers to as a “fine young man,” argues that the two properties should be assessed as one. He also admits that Grievance Day is not the place to argue his reasons but he does so anyway. Hales purchased the property in 2017 for $206,000. Bennett assessed the property for $210,000. The New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review, practically no questions asked, reduced Hales’ assessment by $49,000. Why? You’ll never know.

The second property is an interesting case. Again, it’s presented by shyster Biscone and is a property owned by William Brant, who, by the way, gives his address as 72 Brownstone Way, Apt. 410, Englewood, New Jersey (!), and owns the property on US Rt. 9W, between the Best Western and New Baltimore Family Dentistry (Tax Map No. 40.00-4-2.111). He’s had his plan for a for-profit senior living project that has been before the New Baltimore Planning Board for several years now, and has finally gotten approval. If you drive down US Route 9W going South, you’ll come to the Best Western Hotel, and then New Baltimore Family Dentistry. The Brant property is between the hotel and the dentists there’s a cute little cottage sitting in the middle of the field (that’s the Brant property) . In fact, you can see the temporary road leading into the property, where construction preps are being done. Looking towards the back of the property is a small building, a “well house” that is discussed below.

The property is assessed at $120,000 land value, but Biscone somehow convinces the New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review that it’s overassessed at $70,000 because of a “well house.” Biscone argues on behalf of Brant that the “well house cost” Brant only $27,000 but Bennett has assessed it at $70,000. If you’re lost here, don’t worry, it doesn’t make sense unless you listen to the tapes about 3 times. It’s a smoke and mirrors act and works for Biscone and Brant because the BAR buys it and reduces Brant’s assessment by $25,000. You’d think the members of the BAR would have the property tax reports in front of them to follow along but Hey! If they did that they might have smelled a rat and caught it. But that would be asking too much of a bunch of sillies trying to look important.

One tidbit that Biscone drops is that he will “drop off a number of receipts” that would prove what he was saying (not that Michael Biscone was ever concerned with the truth). But he never had to do that because the BAR made their decision to reduce the assessment that evening, on May 22, 2018, without the benefit of any proof or documentation.

What’s even more interesting is the fact that Biscone mentions that one of the contractors, whose receipts he was going to produce, is none other than Robert van Etten, New Baltimore Town Board member Shelly van Etten’s husband. What’s even more interesting is that van Etten, who owns an excavation-construction business located in Ravena, New York (only per the address), is the chairman of the New Baltimore Planning Board (and of the New Baltimore Town Committee on Agriculture)!!! Yes, readers, that’s the same Planning Board that kept Brant’s application in Limbo for several years and only just approved it! Does anyone smell something like conflict of interest here? Corruption? Stupidity?

Does anyone wonder Why? Mr. Brant got his Planning Board approval for his project after so many years of hassle? Just saying …

Case No. 3 is a property owner whose primary residence is in Long Island and who owns a property on North Ridge Road in Hannacroix. 2 acres with a 1 family house on it. Mr. Crimeni, whose primary address is 48 Lace Lane, Westbury, NY, is crying poverty. You see, he thinks his assessment is too high and he’s paying too much in taxes for his weekend country estate, comparing his New Baltimore taxes to his $8,000 Long Island taxes. Crimeni’s property (Tax Map No. 4.00-3-20)  full market value is $195,000 and is assessed at $145,000 but Crimeni is still not satisfied. (There seems to be some confusion also in the tax records because on one page for the same property we find the full market value to be $195,000 and on another page we find that value to be $116,000. It also shows it to be a 1-family house but the house has 0 living space! Maybe there’s an explanation for this?) Anyway, Rocco Crimeni co-owns the property with Nicola Crimeni (apparently his brother) and to listen to their story and compare it to the tax records is like, well, it’s like pure steaming bullshit. The original assessment was on a full market value of $195,000 which was assessed by Bennett at $145,000 for the 2 acres and the house. After the BAR heard Mr. Crimeni’s sad story we find that the assessment for the 2 acres and the house was reduced to a full market value of $119,298, and an assessed value for 2018 of $85,000, total tax bill of $ ??? The final assessment is $85,000, a total reduction of $60,000 !!! Great job, Ms Degnen and company!

Just for kicks and giggles, here are a couple of excerpts from the Crimeni hearing:

Crimeni: There was a trailer on the property and it burned down because of a wood stove we had there.

Crimeni: We purchased an Amish house for $38,000…the Amish people built it…it’s a shell…We’re finishing it ourselves.

Crimeni: We’re not rich people … the disparity in Mr. Bennett’s assessment is tremendous…We have a house on Long Island…and the taxes are $8000…

Degnen: You said it was a shed…[Editor’s Note: Crimeni did not say it was a “shed”, he said it was a “shell”! Degnan makes many such mistakes throughout the hearings. Is she hard of hearing or just demented?]…What are the dimensions?

Crimeni: 26 x 28, 2-story…We don’t have the money to finish it.

Degnen: Are you living there now? [Editor’s Note: Apparently Degnen missed the part where Crimeni says he lives on Long Island. She also hasn’t done her homework or she would know that Crimeni’s primary address is on Lace Lane, Westbury, NY!!!] … Do you have water and electricity? [Again, Degnen, homework? Familiarity with properties?]

BAR Member: Do you have the amounts of houses near you…did you bring the houses near you? [Editor’s Note: Apparently the BAR member is asking if Crimeni has any comparables, that is, information on similar properties in New Baltimore. The BAR member should know she should have these or could get them online in a couple of seconds. We did! In fact, if you go to the Greene County link we provided, enter the tax map number and go to the property page, you’ll be able to see the comparables for the property. Here’s the page for the Crimeni property:  Comparables.]

Crimeni: We ran out of money…We don’t have no money … We can’t afford this … [Editor’s Note: Here comes the best one: ] … We don’t live up here!

Hi, I’m the village crazy lady, and I’m on the Board of Assessment Review.

Now don’t you just have to sit down and cry hearing a story like Crimeni’s? Well, he apparently tugged at the heart-strings of the BAR because they allowed him a $60,000 reduction in his assessment, no questions asked!!!

For your information, you can find out any information you want on Greene County properties on the Greene County online property tax site, SDG Mate Online, and can search by property tax map number, owner’s name, etc. It’s all public access and available to anyone who is interested. Here’s the site link: Greene County Property Tax Info .

We could go on with the remaining 6 properties that received similar reductions but we’ve made our point. There’s something really wrong in the New Baltimore Assessor’s Office and on the New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review and it needs fixing. We think it’s corruption and collusion because there’s no rhyme, reason, or fair play in these determinations. Here’s why:

Two properties on New Street in the Hamlet have been the subject of a great deal of anxiety and discussion because since late 2016, severe damage was identified. In the one case, runoff from the street caused the collapse of the building foundation, making it unusable. Then Town supervisor Nick Dellisanti (now Deputy Town Supervisor) and then Deputy Town Supervisor Jeff Ruso (now Town Supervisor), together with Town Board member Shelly van Etten, personally inspected the site and identified a number of problems. Two days later Dellisanti, Ruso, and then Highway Superintendent Denis Jordan and Deputy Highway Superintendent Scott van Wormer visited the site and confirmed the same problems. After that the New Baltimore Highway Department created new problems and the Town was served with a number of Notices of Claim for the damage. In 2017, the Highway Department and Callanan paved New Street and created a mess. We won’t go into details here but if you want details go to our article: “New Baltimore Superintendent of Highways and Board to be Sued – AGAIN!

Dellisanti and Ruso’s game was “deny and hide,” handing the matter over to the town’s insurance company and their lawyers. Town Law would allow the town to make out-of-court compensation to the owner subject to the approval of a NYS Supreme Court judge but NO! they’d rather force the already traumatized owner to have to go to court and then to the poorhouse. That’s Republican fair play, apparently. No one in Town Hall wants to admit the wrong done. In fact, Dellisanti’s personal notes of a discussion with then Superintendent Jordan records that Jordan’s response to the resident’s request for a meeting was, “Let them sue us!” Apparently Dellisanti and Ruso agreed.

The owner of the property continued paying his taxes like a good citizen even though he couldn’t use the property and the damage was continuing because the Highway Department didn’t know what they were doing and Dellisanti and Ruso didn’t either – or they didn’t have the balls to go after Jordan directly. So the property owner requested a reduction in taxes on the collapsing building and the other impaired property, and appeared before the New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review with a complete written history of the case and numerous photographs showing the damage.

The problems first began when New Baltimore Sole Assessor refused to provide the members of the Board of Assessment Review with copies of the property owners request saying, “It’s not our responsibility.” But it is his responsibility to provide the BAR with copies of all complaints, it’s in the Real Property Tax Law!!! At the Grievance Day hearing, Gordan handed the four members present ONE copy, his file copy, of the requests for reduction of assessment on two properties. The hearing was a complete mess, confusion, the BAR couldn’t follow the conversation and Degnen kept on saying, “That’s not our problem. You have to go to the Highway Department,” and had to be repeatedly reminded that the information was being provided for background only, so the Board would understand the history of the problem. Degnen just couldn’t get it. The rest of the Board had no idea what the property was.  By the way, New York Real Property Tax Law requires the Board of Assessment Review to be familiar with the properties they are considering. They were not, which was obvious already in the Hales, Brant and Crimeni cases.

The bottom line: The New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review made all their decisions that evening, during the 4 hours they were hearing 11 case presentations, and did not adjourn to reconsider additional information, did not go into executive session to discuss any details of any property, as they should have done, did not request additional information, and refused to inspect the property. They approved 9 out of the 11 cases for reductions of between $12,000-$60,000, properties whose owners simply thought they were being taxed (Hales, Brant, Crimini) but the properties that were damaged and destroyed because of Town of New Baltimore negligence got NO CHANGE!!!

The Town of New Baltimore, the Office of the Assessor, and the Board of Assessment Review refuse to respond to inquiries or to answer communications on the subject. New Baltimore public servants at work, it seems. Any questions? You won’t get answers from Town Supervisor Mr. Jeff Ruso, Deputy Supervisor Nick Dellisanti, Highway Committee member Shelly van Etten, Sole Assessor Mr. Bennett, or Board of Assessment Review Chairperson, Donna Degnen.

The board is made up of five appointees including: Donna Degnan, Linda LeClair, Ronna Smith, Lynn Taylor, and This year, the members of the  Board of Assessment Review, chose Donna Degnen to be the chair. The fifth member, Bernard “Bernie” Jones was absent on Grievance Day.

The members of the BAR receive $200 each, and the chair, Ms Degnen, $250, with an additional $50 per meeting for meetings beyond two meetings. So that came out to about $50.00/hr for each of the members of the BAR for the 4-hour Grievance Day hearings. Degnen received an additional $50.00. Total for Grievance Day circus appearances: at least $1050.00 to give away almost $300,000 in property tax reductions, the majority of which were totally unsubstantiated if you listen to the tapes!

The Board of Assessment Review and the Office of the Sole Assessor are just as indifferent and incompetent as the Office of the Supervisor and the New Baltimore Town Board.

We have obtained the taped recordings of the proceedings of the Grievance Day hearings before the Board and can only say that the bowel sounds in a special ed class would make more sense than what we had to listen to in the tapes. Degnen was dithering and the rest seemed intent on making their presence and importance known by asking irrelevant and generally uninformed questions. None of the four Board members were familiar with any of the properties presented. Just a minute, one member, Linda LeClair, was the only member who showed any interest in the properties and the only member who had personal knowledge of a property. That’s a very poor showing.

But the Board did hear presentations on a total of 11 properties and granted reductions in 9 of them. Two properties, one literally collapsing and unusable and the other defaced by former Highway Superintendent Denis Jordan’s incompetence, were left unchanged, despite comprehensive exhibits and a clearly well-founded presentation. We think that there’s some collusion/conspiracy with the Town of New Baltimore and the BAR to avoid admitting any damage to the two properties, since, if any department or agency of the Town of New Baltimore admits the severe damage to the properties, it will cause havoc in Town Hall. Town Hall has been ignoring the damage and trying to discourage the owner from demanding compensation in their usual way, that is, let their insurance company lawyers make any court case impossibly expensive. That’s New Baltimore Town Hall at work. They ask for residents’ votes and then send them to the poorhouse when something goes wrong and the resident asks the Town to be fair and evenhanded. It’s a lousy system.

Several of the 9 reductions stand out as particularly loathsome and examples of the corruption in small town appointed committees. But first of all, let’s look at some general facts:

The assessments in New Baltimore are done on the basis of the Full Market Value and an Equalization Rate is applied. The Equalization Rate is a percentage that is applied to the Full Market Value to arrive at the assessed value. In New Baltimore this year the ER is 71.25% which means that the assessed value of properties this year is 71.25% of the Full Market Value. That’s legit in our estimation. But that’s were the legitimacy stops cold.

The total value of the properties is divided into two items: the land value and the property value (living area, etc.). The problems start with the Sole Assessor’s, Mr. Bennett’s method for determining the land value, which has absolutely no rhyme or reason and, in Bennett’s own words, the basis for determining the land value is, “Because it’s easier.” “Easier?” Yes, it’s easier to just apply a random value per acre than doing an actual calculation. It’s easier for Bennett.

Here are some examples:

In the Town of New Baltimore, Bennett has assigned land values to comparable properties as shown in the examples below:

The wide discrepancy in the Sole Assessor’s land values is one example of a huge irregularity.

The chart shows properties that are in the same area of the town, actually the Hamlet, but if you look at the land assessment, compare it to the acreage, and then to the per acre assessment, you’ll see why we are so up in arms about Bennett’s crazy assessments! They just don’t make sense! How can the land value of a property of 0.18 acre be assessed the same amount as a property of 1.03 acres, that is, a land value of $11,000??? Then have a look at the difference in the proportional value (last column) per acre!

A property on S. Main Street in New Baltimore of 0.05 acre (Total assessment: $56,700, Land assessment: $9,600) has a proportional price per acre of $192,000!!! WTF?!?!

We’ve written to Mr. Bennett several times and he refuses to answer. We’ve also complained to New Baltimore Town Supervisor Jeff Ruso about the fact that his employees and appointees refuse to answer inquiries but he’s refused to respond as well. It appears that when New Baltimore officials feel the heat of unpleasant questions, they tend to hide or ignore questions. (See Ruso’s comments regarding the resident’s letter, above.)

What’s even worse is the fact that the Board of Assessment Review was very generous in granting their friends handsome reductions, while denying reductions to touchy properties, like ones that are impaired because of Town incompetence. Here are the results of the Board’s “deliberations”:

The Board’s reductions ranged from $0 – $120,000 but there’s no logic; the stories behind the reductions are, however, very troubling. For example:

Brant is the developer who has the property on 9W, just behind the New Baltimore Family Dentistry buildings. Brant is a developer and has been planning to develop the property to put in some sort of housing project. He’s complaining because he feels his property is being overassessed. So, moneybags Brant pulls on the heart strings of the Board and they give him a reduction in assessment of $25,000.

Another property owner, Spence, is apparently interested in selling the property but wants a reduction in assessment for some reason. So the board hands Spence a reduction of $12,000.

But the worst example we have to offer from our investigations, listening to the hearing tapes, and reviewing the documents produced by the New Baltimore Board of Assessment Review and their determinations is a property owned by a downstater, Mr. Cremini and his partner:

Cremini owns a primary residence in Long Island and 2 acres in New Baltimore, where he and his partner a building a weekend home, which is livable and has electricity and water. Cremini is crying the blues because his assessment is “too” high. He pays about $8,000 in property tax on hi primary residence in Long Island and, convinced the Board that he can’t afford the taxes on his New Baltimore property. So the board reduces his assessment by $60,000!!!! Cremini lives in a primary residence on Long Island, can afford to own more than 2 acres and a house in New Baltimore, cries poverty and the Board reduces his assessment by $60,000!!! Of course, Mr. Bennett agrees.

Another property got a $12,000 reduction. Go figure.

Of course, the Board of Assessment Review doesn’t response to our inquiries regarding the reasoning behind these reductions. But our information comes from the actual tape recordings of the hearings made by the Board, and from the official Order for Change in Assessments and the so-called “minutes” of the Board’s meeting.

Got questions? New Baltimore’s got secrets and no one is talking. But these are the facts, people.

 

Go to other articles in this mini-series on New Baltimore:

Open Letter Blasts New Baltimore Supervisor, Town Board over Jordan Affair

New Baltimore Town Supervisor Jeff Ruso and his Board: Hide and Deny

New Baltimore Sends “Acting Superintendent” to Highway School. Why?

The New Baltimore In-Justice Court and Kangaroo Judges: Thomas Meacham, A Case Study.

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