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Nisky senior bus plan under fire

Board members continue to spar over program

Some Niskayuna seniors were hoping to get a ride to Town Board meetings, but they are going to need to find a different way.

During a Niskayuna Town Board meeting in late October, the question of bringing seniors to the board meetings on the senior bus owned by the town was brought up, but ultimately denied. Margaret Blechienger read at the meeting the e-mail response Supervisor Joe Landry sent her in regard to busing, which stated the bus could not be used to bring seniors to meetings.

I was informed of a request that the Niskayuna Town Bus be used to transport Niskayuna seniors to a Town Board meeting, said Landry in the e-mail. "After discussing this matter with my staff, including the appropriate department head, I was advised that this would not be proper use of town resources. In fact, it may even be illegal."

Town Attorney Peter Scagnelli said at the meeting that any time public resources are used to participate in a political meeting brings up concern. Councilwoman Liz Kasper then asked how a board meeting is a political meeting since it is town government. Scagnelli responded the board is a political body and it is a political function of the town.

"This is a political function of the town, you are now using town resources to get people to participate in a political function," said Scagnelli at the meeting. "You get into issues concerning, well, if the Democrats are doing that for the seniors, why can't the Republicans do that for their people?"

Blechienger interrupted Scagnelli and said she didn't believe using the bus was a political issue.

"Listen, I'm sorry Peter, I think this it not a political issue," said Blechienger. "It is a human rights issue and the seniors have a right."

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