Editor, The Spotlight
I laughed at the reference to “Old Machine” Democrats in Mr. Joyce’s letter published in the May 29th The Spotlight. Who are they? Breslin Machine Democrats? Coyne Machine Democrats? Mike Breslin has not been the county executive for four or six years and Jim Coyne for twenty-four or twenty-six years. Perhaps, if Mr. Joyce wanted to guide Bethlehem voters, he should have discussed the political corruption of “New Machine” Democrats that are being challenged by three progressive county legislator candidates here in Bethlehem.
I could write pages about Albany County political corruption. Instead, I want to focus on the aspect of political corruption that is often overlooked – its unseen, full cost. The burdensome cost to taxpayers is not so much the theft of honest services of the salary and state retirement benefits for the two no-show twenty-hours-per-week jobs provided to a Dan McCoy campaign volunteer. Nor is it the cost of paying the full salaries and benefits for county legislators when they are absent from county legislative and committee meetings, such as frequent “no-shows” Bethlehem county legislators Bill Reinhardt, Joanne Cunningham and Charlie Dawson (since he announced he is not running for a new term) and Colonie county legislator Alison McLean Lane. It is the governmental failures that result from these absences that are the true, burdensome cost.
Here are two examples from Bethlehem. In my opinion, John Clarkson’s frequent absences as town supervisor led him to misjudge the extent and seriousness of the risk of the dumping of loose soil on the Normanskill slope that collapsed into the creek and the opposite bank, causing multiple millions of dollars of liability to be divided between Normanside and the Town of Bethlehem that permitted the dumping in the first place. The rare appearances at work of Joanne Cunningham’s husband, Brent Meredith, as our town superintendent of highways led him to overlook the discrepancy in accounts of the Rupert Road Transfer Station between the the tonnage that was hauled away to the lesser tonnage that was received and billed. By not being aware of what was going on in the highway department, he overlooked the need to rotate staff at the transfer station to disrupt potential scams like the one the Town of Bethlehem suffered, where the individual town employee allowed, presumably for remuneration, commercial haulers to dump without going on the scale first. The estimate of the loss to the town was $1 million, the discrepancy between the estimate of the tonnage hauled to what should have been billed but had not.
We will NEVER make progress in Bethlehem with public officers ignobly serving self instead of the folks. Let this be the year, as Democratic voters, that we reject the lies and half-truths, often to disguise the speaker’s repeated wrongdoings. There is a saying on Wall Street, “If you don’t know who the dumb money is in the room; it’s you.” We can do better. Much better.