"Santa Express" Stopping In Monticello, Menorah Lighting Brightens Holiday Season

The Village of Monticello Department of Public Works and Town of Thompson Highway Department will work together on Friday, November 22nd to erect a tree at Rotary Corner on Broadway, at St. John Street. A large spruce was donated by The Rock Pizzeria of Rock Hill.

The Santa Express will arrive in Monticello on Sunday, December 15, 2013, promptly at 5:00 PM, followed by related festivities. The tree will be decorated with a large number of lights by Village employees, with candy available for children.

Created in Eldred in the year 2005 the Santa Express has grown into a wonderful Christmas tradition in Sullivan County, the mission of the organization is "to spread the magic of Christmas to children and families everywhere as Santa and his North Pole friends travel hundreds of miles visiting 10 towns in Sullivan and Orange Counties. Spreading the magic of Christmas to people of all ages. A one of a kind Christmas event that is sure to delight everyone." A yearly visit from Santa and all his North Pole friends to Sullivan County, NY where he makes his 100 mile journey aboard his 50 foot lighted and musical Christmas scene.

On December 1st at 4:00 PM, the menorah a menorah in front of the Lawrence H. Cooke Sullivan County Court House will be lit by Rabbi Ben Zion Chanowitz of Landfield Avenue Synagogue, immediately followed by a similar lighting of a large menorah in front of Monticello Village Hall. The entire community is invited!


Santa Express, 12/15/2013, Rotary CornerMenorah

I would like to extend special thanks to Les Kristt, Terry Weir VanderMeulen, Landfield Avenue Synagogue, Lou Monteleone and the rest of Santa Express,
and employees of the Village of Monticello and Town of Thompson highway departments.
Happy Holidays to our entire community!

Since Mayor Jenkins Is Forcing The Issue Now, Seeking To Change Our Form Of Government Without A Public Vote, Here Is My Response...

The following letter, with attachments was addressed to four respected attorneys with vast experience practicing municipal law. I am making this letter public, while withholding their names for the moment, as a courtesy until each of them replies.

My plan, in response to the Mayor's attempt to grab power, is to take the lead (as outlined below) to ensure that his wish to become the permanent Chief Executive Officer of the Village is PUT IT UP FOR A REFERENDUM, through a similar process as by which the form of government was adopted in 1954.

If the Mayor and his cronies proceed with their plan to push this measure through without a referendum, I would view that as equivalent to spitting in the faces of the voters, and will begin immediately collecting signatures and campaigning for a vote on the the central question itself, which will also be a vote of confidence (or no confidence) in his inept administration as "Acting" manager.

Village of Monticello To Begin Stricter Recycling Enforcement

Please recycle using clear plastic trash bags (or a standard bin). Recycling is mandatory all around Sullivan County. The Village of Monticello passed a local law requiring recycling several years ago. The more you recycle, the greater the Village's savings on sanitation costs in landfill tipping fees. You'll feel better too.

Monticello recycling brochure

Watch for this flyer with your tax bill, and delivered to apartment residents. Landlords, please inform your tenants. If the possibility of facing fines for your tenants' failure to follow the law concerns you, think of what you will save in dumpster rental and related fees by complying. Thank you.

To the Attention of the Board of Trustees and Taxpayers of the Village of Monticello: Memorandum of Mismanagment

The public is invited to attend the August 20, 2013 regular meeting of the Village of Monticello Board of Trustees, commencing at 7:00 PM, at 2 Pleasant Street, Monticello, New York.


Download 'memorandum of mismanagement' as a PDF

Monticello is an administrative disaster, thanks to our present Acting Village Manager/Mayor Gordon Jenkins, and to Trustees who retain him in a position for which he is unqualified, while he engages in a reckless and intentional plan of economic destruction:

  • Failing to present a 2013-2014 budget for adoption, as required of him as Budget Officer and as Acting Village Manager;
  • Failing to schedule and hold a public hearing concerning the 2013-2014 budget and fee increases;
  • Failing to bring the Treasurer to work hearings held by the Board of Trustees to construct and adopt the 2013-2014 budget;
  • Sabotaging the adoption of the 2013-2014 budget as constructed by the Board of Trustees, in order to wrongfully hold onto the position of Acting Village Manager and thereby enrich himself financially;
  • Failing to send out tax and water bills to property owners by August 1, 2013, recklessly causing financial harm to the Village;
  • Making a secret agreement with the past Treasurer, without board approval, to work part-time at a $30,000 salary, with full benefits, and with no accountability for time and attendance (allowing it to become a no-show job);
  • Failing to obey law of the Village Manager form of government (Article 15-A, adopted by public referendum), in order to enrich himself financially for an undue period, pretending to “act” in that capacity without actual competence to do so;
  • Violating the Village of Monticello Code of Ethics by appointing his paramour and partner of 28 years to fill a vacant seat on the Board of Trustees, to provide personal financial benefit to his own household and to strengthen his controlling influence;
  • Failing to actively search for a competent permanent professional Village Manager, and sabotaging/undermining the interviewing of viable candidates in order to enrich his personal household finances and that of his paramour;
  • Failing to appointed a Village Attorney who resides in Sullivan County, as required by the Village Code and State law, limiting the board's legal advice to a “special counsel” who serves his interests, at great expense to the Village, and allowing the Village’s reserve funds to be drained to divert funds to pay this “special counsel” exorbitant and unjust litigation fees;
  • Failing to attract new businesses or economic development to the Village of Monticello as is required of a Village Manager;
  • Conducting himself in public in an aggressive, belligerent, unprofessional manner, and behaving as such toward taxpayers;
  • Ordering employees to withhold information from an elected official in a manner designed to discriminate based on ethnicity;
  • Divisively pitting elected officials, officers, and employees against each other, for his own interests and gain;
  • Failing to manage the finances of the municipality and to properly account for public funds, while engaging in profligate and wasteful spending to benefit himself and his family and cronies;
  • Failing to apply for State and Federal aid for which the Village is eligible, resulting in significant economic loss;
  • Hiring employees and setting salaries without consulting the Board of Trustees as required by law of the Village Manager;
  • Mismanaging or refusing to engage in union contract negotiations in an effort to enrich his favored “special counsel”;
  • Misinforming the Board of Trustees about expiration dates of vital insurance policies;
  • Failing to research liability insurance policies for the Village, resulting in a wasteful cost of an unnecessary extra $79,000;
  • Failing to make timely payment of workers’ health insurance premiums (many months past due), despite withholding such;
  • Failing to auction delinquent properties as required by law, resulting in lost tax revenues and contributing to a financial crisis;
  • Failing to oversee proper administration of the Building Department, allowing plans on Waverly Avenue to proceed without demarcation of water lines, causing financial harm to the Village and inconvenience and unhealthy conditions for residents;
  • Attempting to coerce the Police Department by unilaterally preventing promotions or hiring needed officers;
  • Holding secret and unauthorized meetings with potential investors without communicating with the Board of Trustees;
  • Failing to communicate with the full Board of Trustees as Acting Village Manager on numerous important official matters.

Respectfully submitted,

Carmen Rue, Trustee

Update, June 4th Board of Trustees Meeting : Police Air-Conditioner To Be Repaired

wavaudio recording before executive session.

At my request, Police Chief Rob Mir obtained three quotes for repairing the air-conditioner compressor in the police station; two in writing (QWQ HVAC, the low bid); Smalls Plumbing and one last-minute verbal promise from another vendor to provide it in writing, at a higher price, tomorrow.

The air-conditioner has been malfunctioning for over a year. It was never repaired properly. The Mayor/Acting Manager and other Trustees were fully aware of the condition of the unit for all that time, and did nothing about it until an emergency developed this week when hot weather began.

The PBA, Chief, and I worked hard today to persuade board members to vote in favor of humane treatment for police and the public. I endured severe insults from the Mayor/Acting Manager today, in presence of the Chief, in which he blamed everyone but himself for this situation. In the end, even the Mayor himself had no choice but to vote yes. TC Hutchins voted no because the third bid had not been received in writing. James Matthews was absent.

The Chief rightly told the Board of Trustees that we do not need a new air conditioner; but rather repairs to the old one. Funds for the repairs will come from the police department's budget, augmented by promises of some anonymous contributions from the community. Thanks to all who have supported this effort for the benefit of Monticello's finest, and to Chief Rob Mir for his hard work getting the quotes together today.

Members Of The Public And Workers Endure Cruel, Inhuman Treatment In Monticello Village Lock-Up And Police Station Due To Mayor/Manager's Negligence

It has come to my attention that the Village of Monticello Police Department is in urgent need of repairs to an air-conditioner compressor which is estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $2,500. The Mayor has personally told me, as he has also told the police, that they will have to suffer this unnecessary heat because "there is no money" to maintain the building's infrastructure.

This is a clear-cut human rights issue, not just a labor issue (though it is that too). Public servants who risk their lives to protect the public deserve respect and decent working conditions.

As a Village Trustee, I go to Village Hall and the police station nearly every day. Yesterday (June 1st) three people were confined in the cells. All three were young and seemed in good health, but they were literally begging for water due to the excess heat. Police supervisors go out of their way to see to it that they get cold water every half hour, but officers must answer a high volume of calls from the community all day long.

I have personally witnessed the unbearable heat in the Village lock-up, and am honestly shocked. Monticello taxpayers deserve better. Such of atrocities are what third-world countries do to their prisoners.

Police routinely detain subjects being considered for possible charges, sometimes forcibly holding them many hours for a judge to arraign them and tell them their rights. But even aside from the presumption of innocence promised to anyone who has not been convicted, crime victims are interviewed there, as well as witnesses, and anyone else seeking information or services from the police.

If the Board of Trustees will not authorize the emergency repairs that are needed to fix the air-conditioner's compressor, and do whatever else is needed to allow for humane treatment of police and members of the public at the police station, at this Tuesday night's board meeting, I will personally elevate the complaint to the NYS Department of Health NYS Department of Labor NYS Division of Human Rights, Division of Criminal Justice Services, and NYS Commission of Corrections, US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and/or any other agency or organization that will listen and intervene. It is so bad, I am not willing to let this issue go until it is resolved.

Present physical conditions in the Monticello lock-up and police station are so outrageous that I remind the Mayor/Acting Manager and anyone who votes against this urgently needed maintenance that they may well be facing yet another State and/or Federal investigation as a result.

"There's no money" is a feeble excuse for physically abusing workers and members of the public in this manner. I may have "just one vote" on the Board of Trustees, amid a majority who either don't care or blindly follow someone else's lead, but I make it a practice to make my one vote, and my voice, count. I am not playing, and I will tolerate no delay.

Compulsory detention in deplorable conditions, whether they are being questioned in a sweltering squad room or detained in 92-degree Village lock-up is a violation of the Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Board members who vote against this issue should consider advising their own private insurance carriers that they may be personally sued for wrongful death or malfeasance in office if, for example, an intoxicated or otherwise medically compromised person suffers a stroke or heart attack due to being confined in what amounts to an oven.

Have they no decency?

The public will not stand for such abuses, and neither will I, especially at a time when the Mayor and his cronies seem willing to drain every last dollar of the Village's reserve accounts to pay to their criminal defense team and Village's "special counsel" law firm in Rockland County. The Mayor himself is about to go to trial for hitting a Monticello police officer last summer, charged with Obstructing Government Administration. Is his present behavior some sort of pay-back for his own repeated run-ins with the law?

Mayor Jenkins and others on the Board of Trustees should ask themselves how they would feel about a family member or loved one being chained to a bench in a 92-degree room, or a victim of domestic violence or other violent crime being forced to endure further abuse because the Mayor makes using public funds to pay his lawyer a higher priority than keeping the public safe from crime.

The public is invited to attend this Tuesday's regular meeting of the Board of Trustees, scheduled for Tuesday evening, June 4, 2013, at 7:00 PM, on the second floor of Village Hall, 2 Pleasant Street.

Ironically, the room where the Village Board holds session has a fully operational air-conditioner. Please attend if you live, work, or pay taxes in Monticello, or even if you just want to come to speak on behalf of human rights.

Sheriff Danny Hogue: "A True Red, White, And Blue American" - Eulogy By Former Sullivan County District Attorney Stephen F. Lungen

The following remarks were delivered by the Hon. Stephen F. Lungen, former District Attorney of Sullivan County, at the funeral of the late former Sullivan County Sheriff, Daniel S. Hogue Sr. (1938 - 2013) on May 25, 2013 at Rock Hill Church of the Nazarene. It is republished here with Mr. Lungen's permission, in memory of an extraordinary Village of Monticello police officer and county Sheriff.

"It is hard to know where to begin when talking about Danny. We have been through a lot together over the years and to sum up a man's life in a few words is very difficult.

"I met Danny when I became an Assistant DA in August 1973. We met at the scene of a bank robbery in the Village of Monticello. The robber stole about $13,000 from the bank in the Village and while running away, threw the money into a nearby bar. Not wanting to be responsible for the money, he called the DA's office and asked for an ADA to come and take charge of the money and count it. That began our 40-year friendship and close working relationship in law-enforcement.

"Over the years, we worked many serious cases together, from drugs to murder. The cases that got to Danny the most were the ones involving children. In the late 1980s we had two baby homicides in a week and they took a real emotional toll on Danny. The cases brought him to gears.

"Everyone has a Danny Hogue story as he was so active as a copy and he handled all his cases with a sense of timing and humor. He would break the tension in the most serious moments with a wise crack or a joke.

"We were doing a cocaine search warrant in the Village. It happened to be the Jewish New Year holiday, Rosh Hoshonna evening. We hit the apartment and made the arrest of an older defendant, catching him with the marked money and drugs. The man also happened to be Jewish. Before Danny put the handcuffs on, he asked the man if he had any kosher wine. Perplexed, the man said yes and got the bottle. Danny poured two glasses, one for the defendant and one for himself. He wished the man a happy new year. They each drank, then Danny put the cuffs on him and told him he won't be celebrating or drinking again for a long time.

"Whenever we would reach a complicated part of an investigation and questions were being asked about what to do next, Danny would always pipe up and say - "Don't ask me. I only majored in wood shop. What do I know!" In fact, he knew a lot because he was as smart as they come.

"Last week, on a visit to the house, Danny was lying in bed and then quite ill. I reminded him of that wood shop saying and he started to laugh. I said to him, 'Danny, I never asked this before, but did you really take a lot of wood shop classes?' He said yes. I asked him if he was any good at it and he said no. We both laughed some more.

"Danny was a mentor to me as a young ADA and later on when I became District Attorney. I felt that in order for me to be a good DA, I needed to understand police work from the bottom up. Danny became my mentor and teacher. He had the knowledge, the skill, the street smarts, and the integrity to work and to make sure he got it right. He never took shortcuts and he never rushed to judgment. He undrstood the difference between being able to arrest and being able to prosecute a case and always made sure to obtain my inpout in order to make our efforts a success.

"As a street cop in the Village, he knew everyone and they all knew him. Walking down Broadway with him was like being with a celebrity. People would come out from the stores, the bars, and alleys to say hello and shake his hand. Many would actually thank him for arresting them, as he helped straighten out their lives.

"Simply put, there are not many police officers like Danny. He was always at the top of his game, not much ever got past him. If he was on the case, the perpetrator was going to get caught. He was truly a "cop's cop". He was a man of the highest caliber. His integrity was without question.

"The people of the Village of Monticello and of this County were privileged to have Danny as a police officer, and as their Sheriff. His work ethic and his good judgment made this area a much safer place to live and raise a family. Following the Christopher Gardner child abuse homicide case, I asked Danny to help create what is now "the Family Violence Response Team". As Sheriff, he was instrumental in getting this project completed. That initiative has saved many children from being further victimized by sexual predators both inside and outside of the house.

"He loved being a police officer. Most of all, he loved his family, Milly, Dan Jr., and his grandchildren. Whenever he talked about them his eyes would swell up with pride. You should be eminently proud of your grandfather and the legacy he has created.

"For me, I lost a very good and close friend. Someone I trusted and could always rely on. We shared similar values and we took our jobs in law-enforcement very seriously. We saw many disturbing things in our careers, the kind of things you don't talk much about. He was a proud man who believed in and lived by the words - "DUTY - HONOR - COUNTRY". Danny was a true red, white, and blue American.

"We are all privileged to have known Danny and to have had him in our lives. I am thankful that I had the chance to say good-bye to my friend this past Tuesday. We spoke. Briefly, he reached out to shake and hold my hand. We both knew it would be our last meeting in this lifetime. He has now gone, but our memories of him will live on. The police in this County should strive to emulate him and to carry on his good work, to keep us safe. God bless you Danny, and rest now in eternal peace."

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What Monticello Needs vs. What We Are Getting - A Contrast Between Professional Management and Leaderlessness - Village of Monticello on Brink of Financial Ruin

Supervisor Anthony CelliniThe Village of Monticello lost an opportunity for Supervisor Anthony Cellini to fill in as acting Village Manager, offering to bring his expertise and two decades of experience as a Supervisor and 19 years as a Councilman in the Town of Thompson.

The present Acting Manager and Treasurer have not been communicating with the Board of Trustees after each Trustee met with the department heads and obtained "wish lists" for cuts and expenses. The process of constructing a budget for 2013-2014 had begun when it was interrupted last week by the surprise betrayal by two Trustees, reversing their word of honor and reversing themselves, disrespectfully rejecting the generous offer of Supervisor Cellini and once again making Monticello the laughingstock of Sullivan County.

Instead, they supported the Mayor in a raw power grab, restoring him yet again to the post of Acting Manager (in which all four Trustees had previously agreed he had not served effectively). In contrast to Supervisor Cellini's selfless offer of pro bono service, the Mayor helps himself to a salary of $3,000 per month. (This amount was not approved by board vote. He simply announced that he was "taking" it.)

The Treasurer works one day per week (Mondays) for an annual salary of $25,000. The financial books and records of the Village are a mess. So precisely what are we, the people, getting for the huge sums of money being siphoned off by these public officials during a time of economic hardship?

I can answer with certainty. Very little. If anything, we are moving backward instead of progressing.

I have spoken with developers who are putting their projects on hold due to the lack of effective and credible management at Village Hall.

One colossal failure of the present Mayor/Manager's administration has been the negligence of his appointees in ensuring the collection of revenues by enforcement of unpaid taxes. The Mayor's appointees have overlooked foreclosure proceedings to collect $1.7 million in overdue taxes, plus an untold amount of uncollected fees for municipal services. Who carries this burden? Those of us who pay taxes.

Much of this money is literally down the drain, most likely never to be seen. Where the rest of the reserve funds went anyone's guess, unless and until a complete forensic audit of all Village departments has been completed.

Because the general fund and reserves have been drained by the negligence of the Mayor and his appointees, the Village has recently been paying bills in portions, barely keeping creditors at bay. Among the largest drain of Village finances have been legal fees charged by the Rockland County firm of our overpaid "special counsel", Dennis Lynch, which has provided personal criminal defense services to the Mayor on more than one occasion, and repeatedly pushing a litigious agenda to boost their fees beyond what any responsible municipal official should consider reasonable or prudent.

The betrayal by two Trustees of their sworn duty to serve the best interest of the taxpayers of Monticello should shock the conscience of any honest person, with the deal they cut with "the devil they know".

Instead of a professional public servant with nearly 40 years of local experience in economic development, who was willing to donate his services for nothing, we have someone with no experience sucking up an exorbitant salary.

After receiving an inquiry, I am publishing here the "Immediate Goals" which Supervisor Cellini went over in detail first with myself and Trustee Bennett, and on Wednesday, April 17th with Trustee Hutchins and Trustee Matthews at Town Hall. The Supervisor's proposal consisted of a preliminary list of ideas that he put forth to "right the ship", as he put it, referring mainly to the financial condition of the Village. Yet he indicated willingness to accept direction from the Board of Trustees on all matters involving Village administration.

Based on these three meetings with Supervisor Cellini, an agreement was reached that the board would accept generous and good faith offer to serve the residents of Monticello, at no additional pay than what he presently receives as Town Supervisor, to begin to move the Village in a positive direction:

Immediate Goals by Supervisor Anthony Cellini, April 14, 2013

Rather than progress, Trustees Bennett and Matthews changed their mind and cut a behind-the-scenes deal with the Mayor for continued stagnation. If you have not heard it, or if you doubt that it was a pre-arranged deal made by two Trustees with the Mayor outside the view of the public, listen to this audio recording of a five-minute Special Meeting of Trustees on Thursday, April 18th, where they reversed course, shamefully going back on their agreements to help "right the ship", preferring to watch the Mayor/Manager to go down with the vessel, at the public's expense.

Residents and taxpayers in the Village of Monticello who are concerned about next year's taxes and Village budge should contact elected officials at all levels of government to, first, call on these two Trustees to repent of their error; and, second, for the State of New York to continue its investigation of Village of Monticello finances.

A big "Thank You" is also in order to Supervisor Cellini for willingness to serve the public good, at no pay, under adverse conditions.

The Eternal Struggle : A Community's Quest For Liberty, Public Safety, And Professional Municipal Governance

The Board of Trustees is working together to choose a professional Manager to serve as chief executive officer of the municipality. We have had some good applicants and I am hopeful that the management of the Village will improve soon.

Two important public hearings are scheduled to be held on Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 6:00 PM, at Village Hall, 2 Pleasant Street, Monticello, New York.

1.) The first will be to consider repealing certain provisions of Village Code Section 45-9 entitled "Acting Village Manager".

We are concerned about a change that was made to our local law a few years back which REQUIRES that whenever the position of Manager is vacant, the Mayor AUTOMATICALLY takes over until the board selects a replacement. I believe this provision is unlawful and should be changed. In the interim, between one Manager and the appointment of the next, the Board of Trustees needs to ensure continuity and stability. If, in the opinion of the Board of Trustees, the Mayor is not the best person to fill in, the board (both now and future boards) must have the ability to choose the best person to fill in until a permanent replacement is chosen.

2.) The second matter is to consider amending certain provisions of Village Code Section 181-3 entitled "Regulations for Use of the Village of Monticello Neighborhood Facility Building (NFB)".

We are concerned that the Mayor, in his capacity as Acting Manager, has acted arbitrarily and in a personally discriminatory manner to control the use of the Stroebele Community Center, which is a municipal asset that must be made available to residents of Monticello on a fair and even basis.

Changes to the above linked local law will be discussed and, hopefully, implemented to both make the facility as available to the general public as its builders intended and protect the Village of Monticello from civil and financial liability.

A NOTE OF APPRECIATION

I want to take just a moment to thank our Chief of Police, Rob Mir, for his outstanding job as head of our fine officers. I am opposed to playing games with law enforcement professionals, causing them to fear for their jobs, for the advancement of a political ego, as we have unfortunately seen occur recently. I regret that mixed messages are being given to the public about the performance of Chief Mir, who in all honesty has done an excellent job.

Our police chief was appointed by a unanimous vote of the Mayor and all four Trustees. He has proven himself worthy, in every way, of that public trust. He has responded thoroughly to requests that have been made of him by the Mayor and Trustees, including sharing of non-confidential information, increasing patrols on Broadway, and cutting police overtime hours. Accomplishing both of the latter two tasks at the same time might seem to some like a tall order to some, but it has not been too much for Chief Mir.

Any honest, unbiased observer must acknowledge that Chief Mir has brought his 20 years of experience in the Village of Liberty to do an outstanding job for the residents of Monticello. Elected officials and the public are indebted to this man for being the public servant that he is, as well as to all the officers and employees of the Village of Monticello Police Department who tirelessly toil at his side.

The most likely suspects who might wish to besmirch his record or character would be convicted criminals and unprincipled attorneys and other surrogates acting on their behalf, who public officers are sworn to expose and hold accountable, applying equal justice to all under the law. In my opinion, criminals deserve to be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, protecting our community of those who would harm our citizenry and honest government.

In the same vein, I strongly oppose unreasonable restrictions on the overtime hours that dedicated employees of the Department of Public Works are allowed to put in, at the cost of public safety. I have received many complaints this winter, confirmed by my own observations, about inadequate plowing and salting of roads, as a result of the Acting Village Manager's personal agenda and wish to control and divert public funds to pay high-priced out-of-county lawyers.

I as aware as anyone can possibly be that the struggle for good and honest government never ends, and can sometimes feel discouraging. However, I ask the good people of Monticello to attend the two public hearings mentioned above, and make their voices heard.

Thomas Jefferson, for whose residence our village is named, is credited with the comment, "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance."

Alert Auditing Saves Village Close To $5000 In Criminal Defense Legal Fees

After I publicly questioned an alleged 20-hour "Telephone conference with John LiGreci regarding Grand Jury Subpoena", on 9/26/2012, for which the Village was billed $5,500.00 last month (for the one supposed phone call), a revised copy of the invoice, this one dated December 6, 2012, was sent by the law firm of Burke, Miele & Golden, LLP of Goshen.

When I called with Mr. Burke about the bill last month, asking him to explain the 20-hour phone call, he told me that the item actually included time consulting with the Mayor, Trustee Hutchins, LiGreci, and others. However, in the current bill, the time spent in the supposed consultations regarding how to targets of a Grand Jury investigation should respond to subpoenas (criminal defense strategy) the 20-hour claim was reduced to 20 minutes, at a cost of only $55.00. Big time, "Oops!" A typo? Really?

I remain opposed to using public money to cover legal fees of officials charged with crimes. This $5,000 discrepancy raises questions about whether padding of bills may be occurring, in which charges are hidden in line items that may go unnoticed.

Fortunately, I caught this discrepancy during my auditing, but it is my opinion that the billing practices of all the law firms employed by the Village (not just this one, but more especially the firm of Nyack lawyer Dennis Lynch who has billed the Village a quarter-of-a-million dollars over the last 12 months, purportedly for salary, litigation fees, and consulting) deserve close scrutiny by proper outside authorities before the Village of Monticello is bankrupt.

I remain opposed to using public money to cover legal fees of officials charged with crimes. This $5,000 discrepancy raises questions about whether padding of bills may be occurring, in which charges are hidden in line items that may go unnoticed. Fortunately, I caught this one, but I believe the billing practices of the law firms employed by the Village deserve close scrutiny by proper outside authorities.

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