To the editor:
I let many things slide because I speak often at the Common Council meetings and I feel everybody is entitled to their own opinion. However, the mayor's actions on Tuesday night (Feb. 5) indicated that I must now start documenting my comments for accountability. While I was speaking during the public comment session of the meeting, the mayor was shaking her head no and rolling her eyes and finally gaveling me down. (Corporation counsel is an excellent time keeper by the way, when it comes to my speaking time.) However, the mayor's rudeness was above and beyond that Tuesday night. However, I do apologize to Police Chief Greg Culick, that he even had to get out of his seat.
I was speaking on several subjects but the one she interrupted me on and questioned me openly and told me I was totally wrong and passing "misinformation" concerned the East Main Street Arts Center at Vrooman Avenue. Where was I coming up with all of this stuff about a private entity purchasing it down the road? She said I was wrong once again. Let me quote you the following:
"The board of trustees of Amsterdam Creative Connections is proud to announce that the cultural arts center initiative has made marked progress ... with formal adoption of articles of incorporation ... non-profit status ... investigated the option of a city run operation ... but with budgetary constraints ... board offered a solution of a private foundation ... that would support the city operation ... thru grant writing, fundraising ... Creative Connections will use space in partnership with the city of Amsterdam at 303-305 East Main Street, providing compensation for utilities once operations commenced. As the initiative maintains self-sufficiency ... of location may warrant the purchase of the present space."
From "Amsterdancin" (wildthane), Aug. 6, 2012, subject tilted "Structure," from the mayor's personal blog.
There, right in the mayor's own words, is where I got my information. And the mayor was quick to inform me that it is she who maintains their Facebook and Website accounts.
For the past year I have requested and even FOILed a copy of a lease with this organization and the city and none has been provided. I have brought this issue up to at least three other Common Council meetings and during the budget session. At no time until Tuesday night has the mayor publicly discussed the arts center, that now seems to have become a rec center. I have no quarl with it being either. I am objecting to the mayor once again using city funds for unbudgeted items, that I personally feel the city cannot afford, and also doing things without first discussing it with the Common Council. In addition I have been concerned that with no agreement in place with this organization, who is responsible for routine maintenance and other issues that will arise, like the utility bills, plows and sanitation indoor vandalism.The mayor has at no time discussed this with the common council in the past year, until I brought it up once again in the public comment session Tuesday night. The mayor was attempting to pay for items that she or someone had already purchased but not budgeted for, i.e.: replace the leaking water expansion tank in the basement (not an issue) which should be somewhere around $500 but maybe less, and carpet and paint. Now last year volunteers devoted time and effort to go down and paint the arts center with donated paint and supplies. What about the paint job, time and effort that was put in then, to have it redone now? At no time has it been publicly addressed that the carpet needed replacing. I looked through some photos of the building and carpeting and it did not appear to need replacing. I have not seen it in person, but Recreation Director Rob Spagnola said it was wrinkled. In that case, it could have been reglued or restretched to address the matter and then have it cleaned, that would have been a better use of tax dollars at this difficult time. Should things improve financially then look into replacing the carpet.
Since the mayor took office she has routinely used money from the custodial account to redo city hall and used Amsterdam Beautification funds to purchase new banners. The money she used for new banners was replaced, albeit after my public comments. Corporation counsel was supposed to draw up a contract between ABC and the city for the use of the ABC funds. That contract was never drawn. When the mayor took office, she used the custodial funds set aside for the roof repair to redo city hall, and it looks beautiful, but now we bonded for a $60,000 roof repair and will have to pay interest. (The mayor brags about how low the interest rate is.) The mayor has no concept of finances, recommending we bond for everything we have no cash for. Even after having brought in expensive consultants to tell us to be very careful with our spending she spends and the council goes along with it most of the time. And when she called Ron Weirzbicki the last time he was on the radio, days before his death, he asked her about what "sustainable revenue" she has brought in, and all she could bring up was the grants that she has gotten on the city's behalf. Grants are good, but they are not "sustainable revenue." Ron was asking you about "sustainable revenue" and you were so busy talking over him, you never did answer the question. By the way mayor, do you even know what "sustainable revenue" is? Have you brought any in?
Thank you for allowing me to respond.
Make-A-Wish says thanks
To the editor:
Make-A-Wish Northeast New York would like to thank the people of Montgomery, Fulton and Schenectady counties who made a visit to the Kristi Pollak Memorial Holiday Lights Display in Amsterdam part of their holiday tradition in December. Those who made donations at the park raised nearly $5,000 to help grant wishes this year for children in Montgomery and Fulton counties with life-threatening medical conditions.
We would also like to thank Dave Falso, his volunteer team, and all of the individuals, businesses and organizations in the greater Amsterdam area who worked so hard to make the holiday park so beautiful and magical this past holiday season. They did an extraordinary job. We consider them valued partners in our mission to bring hope, strength and joy to seriously ill children in our region through the power of a wish.
William Trigg III,
The writer is chief executive officer of Make-A-Wish Northeast New York.