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Talk of bribe undercurrent in development talks

Ballston supervisor recuses herself from talks after meeting with developer, accusations fly

— Hynes argued if a bribe was indeed offered, it would be a criminal matter that demands investigation. Southworth said throwing accusations around in public prejudices the project.

“This puts the town in a position where we could be sued and jeopardizes this project.”

She went on to say the entire matter is aimed at dashing her aspirations to become Saratoga County clerk.

“The board is trying to destroy me,” she said. “This is solely about trying to bloody me up. They don’t want me to have any political position, let alone the county clerk position.”

The developer is pitching a senior housing development of 444 apartments, along with 50,000 square feet of retail space on 32 acres of land. The board asked the developer on Tuesday to revise the plans to include more retail space.

Things did not cool down at the meeting as the Town Board wrapped up a weeks-long process to buy a pickup truck.

The drawn-out battle for the truck purchase stems from a decision by the Town Board to move some highway funds, including equipment purchases, into a capital reserve fund. As a result, Highway Superintendent Joe Whalen needs to get permission from the board for such purchases.

At the meeting Southworth said because the purchase was coming out of the capital reserve fund, it would be subject to a permissive referendum. But other board members questioned the need for a public vote over such a simple matter. Southworth replied she had verified through research that this was subject to that permissive referendum.

Her comments drew ire from the board members, who appeared frustrated at the length of time it was taking for the simple purchase.

“Here we are, we approved this a couple of months ago,” said Councilman Tim Szczepaniak. “As budget officer, you’re the one that is supposed to follow through with that.”

Szczepaniak said he had gotten a call from Whalen because he was ready to pick up the truck and the funds weren’t available.

“He can’t do it,” said Szczepaniak. “That’s just downright embarrassing.”

In the end the board agreed to transfer the funds to the fund balance so the truck could be picked up.

Whalen, seemingly caught in the middle of the bickering, expressed frustration.

“The meeting on this truck was Dec.12, it’s now Feb. 12.,” he said. “These are the little things that get aggravating when you’re trying to run a department.

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twopondsnorth 1 year, 2 months ago

While the Supervisor was ill, the rest of the town board voted to move the highway funds. The Town Attorney didn't bother to determine the impact or legality of the move. So when it came time to pick up the truck, poor Joe had to BEG for his equipment money back. I guess whoever runs for Supervisor this year had better be resigned to doing the work of the Town Attorney as well. Of course, there are a couple of lawyers on the board. We know that the Supervisor won't take a bribe...wonder how many of the council members would, particularly the one who met with the developer privately. Just sayin...

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