Misguided leadership, Part II
To the editor:
I previously wrote on Oct. 21. That letter addressed my opinion that our current administration does not know how to properly lead the city forward or prioritize issues in order of importance for the city. I compared the amount of discussion concerning the golf course to a variety of other issues, including declining population, deteriorating infrastructure, murder and gang activity, drug activity, lack of economic opportunity, high tax rates, and lack of proper control over the finances of the city. I suggested these were much more important to city taxpayers than a protracted discussion on the golf course and its operation.
I read The Recorder regularly, and over the past 11 days have read several articles concerning the state of financial matters and record keeping in the city. I cannot help but think I was wrong in my original letter; wrong in the sense that I downplayed the dire state of our municipal finances and recordkeeping.
One could summarize the articles as essentially demonstrating that there is no accountability for the city's finances. City officials failed to maintain accurate accounting records. There is much more to what was reported, but I feel everyone understands the point.
The current administration would want you to believe this was caused by a variety of issues (transitioning to a new IT system, a new accounting program, loss of internal knowledge due to a transition in the controller's office, etc.). This may all be true, but ultimately we entrusted the operation of the city to our elected officials. They have failed the taxpayers in the city miserably, and are downplaying the preliminary audit and the issues it brings forth by providing excuses.
Any operation needs to be monitored and evaluated. In this case, the city is no exception. There was complete lack of oversight in regards to the city finances; there was no succession plan for the loss of key personnel. No oversight in transitioning from one IT system to another, and lack of training in the system. In private industry, any of these issues would be grounds for dismissal.
The current administration should be ashamed of themselves for this total failure of leadership. I know I am ashamed of myself for having put some of these people in positions of leadership. We deserve better than this.
Remember New York City?
To the editor:
Doesn't anyone in Amsterdam remember the near-bankruptcy of New York City in the 1970s? The situation was almost identical to what is happening now in Amsterdam. New York City was borrowing money for capital purchases but using the funds for operating expenses -- without the lenders' knowledge. That is a violation of New York state finance law and if it were being done by a private party instead of a municipality could be prosecuted as grand larceny. My educated guess is that the least the state comptroller will do is recommend that the state Legislature establish an independent financial control board that will essentially take away all important financial decision-making from the mayor and city council. Alderman Dybas should be regarded as a hero for forcing this issue out in the open rather than his being ignored by his colleagues. (But having fought and won a similar battle many years ago in another city, I don't expect that he will be.)
The writer served on the Gloversville city council from 1983-90, representing the city's 1st Ward.