Summary Of, And Public Documents From, the April 5th Monticello 'Reorganizational Meeting'
Here is an outline of what transpired:
- Twice-fired former Village Manager John Barbarite (an electrician by trade with relatively little experience in government, aside from delivering mail for the Postal Service and two years in the early 1990s as Supervisor); himself the subject of an ongoing Federal civil rights lawsuit for ethnic discrimination and abuse of power prior to being fired [twice] by the Village), was brought back from the dead by a vote of 3 to 2, as Village Manager, effective April 6, 2010. Barbarite's new contract requires him to work 30 hours per week - substantially less than any professional Manager here, for the grand sum of $60,140.00.
- A public hearing was set to reinstate the law creating a Deputy Village Manager (despite Barbarite saying a year ago that it was "a waste of money" and should be repealed). His explanation for this turnabout might be fascinating if it weren't so wasteful of taxpayer's dollars.
- The board voted, 3 to 2, to sign a contract with out-of-county firm of DRAKE, LOEB, HELLER, KENNEDY, GOGERTY, GABA & RODD, LLC "as Attorney for the Village Board of Trustees, Planning Board and Zoning Board". This fee arrangement is very likely to rack up $150,000.00 per year as opposed to $40,000.00 paid to the previous salaried to the Village Attorney, plus $10,000.00 to the Deputy Attorney.
- When it was pointed out Local Law No. 12 of 1994 requires that the Village Attorney (who is a corporate officer of the Village) must reside in Sullivan County, and that it must be an "Attorney" not a law firm, three members of the board voted to skirt this law by claiming that the Orange County law firm will not be called "Village Attorney", but will instead be called "special counsel", so the law no longer applies to them, since they are "special". This means they are not Corporate Officers of the Village (LL 12-1994)
- A public hearing was also set preliminary to adopting John's long-touted "Code of Ethics", with an "Ethics Board" appointed by our ever-so-ethical Mayor (including his friends, relatives, and cronies), with vast investigative powers over employees they do not like - Civil Service, union members, or otherwise.
- A nearly identical law was pushed by Barbarite during his very brief tenure as Town Supervisor, back in 1992, and voted down as a bad law by the Town Board. It was also tossed out as a bad law by the Monticello Village Board when Barbarite and his boot-lickers tried to push it through two years ago. It is still a bad idea.
- The board voted, 3 to 2, to unlawfully amend the board's rules of procedures to grant veto power to the the Mayor or Deputy Mayor concerning who may call a special meeting; and to unlawfully veto the right of any elected Trustee to place items on the agenda, or stop anyone on the board or in the audience from speaking. Under the LAWFUL rules (and the law of New York State as pertains to Monticello's Manager form of Government), any Trustee has the right to call a special meeting by providing written notice and the assemblage of a quorum; and to place items on the agenda at any time, including during the meeting.
THE MAYOR EXCEEDS HIS LAWFUL AUTHORITY BY VETOING TRUSTEES, AS HE HAS ALREADY BEGUN DOING, preventing them from conducting their lawful duties as elected officials. Such abuse of power can not be tolerated by law-abiding citizens. The Council-Manager form of government in Monticello was never intended to be tyranny, or the reign of a bully.
- Our village's form of government is based on the principle of equality among five equal members of a Board of Trustees, one of whom (the Mayor) is supposed to chair the meeting and make sure all voices are heard in order to build consensus, and all of whom are intended to work as a team to make policy for the Village Manager to carry out. Some are seeking to turn democracy on its head. Law-abiding residents can not allow this to stand, or their taxes will continue to rise and their property wrongfully taken by an abusive local government!
- Now, under the "new management" (as T.C. called it), the law no longer applies. Rev. Matthews voted with Gordon and TC on each and every item on the agenda. Understandably, he is new. We hope that once he realizes what is going on, his conscience will prevail upon him to study more, vote for what is right, and not cut secret agreements before the meeting with Jenkins and his relative on the board. We hope and pray Rev. Matthews has enough intelligence and sense of right and wrong not to allow himself to be duped as the other two have. He may need some time to clearly see what is going on, but we believe he is basically good. He ran as a "peace-maker". He will now get to show what manner of man he truly is.
- The supposed amendments to the longstanding Rules and Procedures of the Board of Trustees are unlawful as they would the Mayor a veto power that is explicitly prohibited in Article 15-A of the Village Law as adopted by popular referendum in March 1954 as part of the "Manager form of Government" The only lawful way to alter our form of government in Monticello would be by another referendum. This has never occurred. The amendments to the Board's long-standing rules of procedures are unlawful and if not rescinded could well prove to be another example of wasteful litigation caused by the Mayor's huge ego and sense of entitlement.
- By a 3 to 2 vote, long-time Village Engineer Glenn Smith, who is intimately familiar with Broadway renovation project and the Village's entire infrastructure, was fired for no apparent reason, and a written contract awarded to the Newton, New Jersey of John Pertocionne P.E., the firm of DYKSTRA ASSOCIATES, PC to be the Village Engineer and Robert J. Tessier, AICP and the firm of Dykstra Associates P.C to be the Vxllage Planner, for $30,000 to start plus $120 per hour (as compared to Mr. Smith's fee, who is local, charged SUBSTANTIALLY less. Mr. Smith knows Monticello's infrastructure inside and out. Dykstra's firm may be qualified engineers, but they are starting from scratch getting to know this Village. What impact will changing engineers mid-stream like this will have on the ongoing Broadway renovation project?
- Hiring Dykstra's firm as "village planners" ignores all the work that has been done by the Zoning Committee, which has included County and members of the Village Board, over the last several months for nothing. This authorizes Dykstra to be paid $30,000 to re-zone the Village but this has already been done. Dykstra can essentially take all the work that is done for them by the committee and Glenn Smith, put his name on it and squeeze $30,000 out of the 'job'.
- Asked whether he had ever read the underlying laws and referendum which created Monticello's "Manager form of Government" which limits the Mayor's power to that of any other member of the Board of Trustee, the new high-priced Village Attorney admitted he had not, but promised to take a look (at $175.00 per hour; $200 per hour for litigation).
In executive session, after the open meeting, Mayor Jenkins repeatedly brought up the felonies pending against him and his business partner. I informed him that discussion of such matters is not covered by executive privilege, since it does not pertain to the purpose of the meeting. In the past, the Mayor and his relative on the board have used executive sessions to abuse and threaten other Trustees.
With this 3 to 2 make-up on the "new" board, it appears the taxpayers of Monticello are in for a bumpy and very expensive ride while while the Mayor and twice-fired Manager fire employees, hire their friends, and continue to harass Village local residents and property owners, pushing away potential business and investors.
As an elected official representing 7,000 people, I will continue to vote and advocate in accordance with what my conscience and intelligence tell me is right, to the best of my ability.
However, it is up to you (each Monticello voter, business-person, and property owner) to TAKE BACK YOUR VILLAGE. Two or three Trustees can not promise you honest government. We can only do our parts by being honest and open ourselves. What the majority of the board does is beyond our control. If you care about Monticello, ATTEND VILLAGE BOARD MEETINGS or your voice will not be heard.