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Board defends private meetings

By CARI SCRIBNER

Emotions ran high among the approximately 35 members of the public gathered Tuesday night for the Ballston town board meeting, particularly around campaign issues.

Town board members reacted calmly to a barrage of public comments regarding allegedly illegal meetings held among council members in May. The board's position has been that the two meetings were political caucuses that would not be held to the rules of the state's Open Meetings Law. Known as the Sunshine Law, it requires posting the meeting time and dates in advance and opening them to members of the public.

Saratoga County Supreme Court Judge Frank Williams ruled Monday the meetings did not break the regulations of the Open Meetings Law.

Contacted Wednesday morning, Williams had no comment on the ruling, but board members expressed their thoughts Tuesday night.

"We're still in shell shock over the reaction to the meetings, which clearly did not defy state laws," said board member Mary Beth Hynes, who signed an affidavit stating the meetings were a political caucus. "I understand the political points being made here, and I don't think they are appropriate for a town meeting."

The most vocal residents questioning the legality of the meetings are property owners Frank and Marie Rossi, who own the parcel of land once due to be sold to build a Wal-Mart Super Center at the northern end of Ballston. Hynes was a board member continually opposing the construction. The board recently ruled against the Wal-Mart construction.

"I am not seeing any applause for the board's decision (to turn down Wal-Mart)," said Gina Marozzi Tuesday night, daughter of Frank Rossi. "I am fighting for the rights of all business owners. We still believe in it."

Efforts to reach the Rossis' attorney, David Pentkowski of Clifton Park, were unsuccessful.

Hynes, a Republican, is the only town council member up for election on Nov. 7. She is being opposed by Patti Southworth.

Also at issue Tuesday night was the alleged destruction of political signs

dotting roadways in and around the town.

"It's quite disturbing to me that local campaign signs are being downright stolen," said Timothy Szcezepaniak. "This is a clear violation of law, and as a resident, this disturbs me. I see personal attacks on Mary Beth Hynes that are inappropriate for someone who wants to preserve life in Ballston, and I'm tired of the political attacks.""

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