It’s not right to remove people who have done their jobs well

To the Editor:

New Year’s Day should be for contemplating the past year and making plans for a better new year.  Instead, I spent part of the day watching Supervisor Vasilios Lefkaditis and two of the members of the Knox Town Board wreak havoc by removing more of the people who have made the town of Knox run, people who did their jobs efficiently and well.

New Year’s Day is when the town board meets to appoint people to the various town boards and committees and confirm the previous appointments of people who have time remaining in their terms. Theoretically, if people want to continue in positions, they can be reappointed unless the town board feels that someone else is more qualified. Lately, appointments to fill terms that have expired seem to owe more to politics than to competence.

Hourly employees are reappointed each year, and anyone can apply, although it has been customary to reappoint people who have been doing a good job.

On New Year’s Day, the three hourly workers at the Knox transfer station were replaced in one fell swoop. The only conceivable reason for this was political; they were good at their jobs. All of them had been there for years, and at least one of them for over 15 years. That’s a long time to do a job well and then be let go without so much as a thank-you.

They were helpful and cheerful. Knowing that I could exchange a few friendly words with them always made a trip to the transfer station more pleasant. If I had a question about where they wanted something put, or whether something was or was not recyclable, they knew. And they were always ready to help if I was moving something heavy; I usually didn’t have to ask for help.

All three did the job far better than anyone could expect, with hours spent outside in all weather and with low pay. Now they are gone, more victims of Supervisor Lefkaditis’s seeming determination to dismantle whatever is working in the town (and if he can’t dismantle it, take credit for jobs he did not do).

To my mind, the perfect town government is one that does its job without theatrical grandstanding, one that gets the job done in a responsible way, is reliable and truthful, and allots credit where credit is due. I would especially admire one that doesn’t require that citizens attend meetings to see what new atrocity the town board is going to commit; I would rather stay home and watch a movie, or garden, or visit neighbors; shoveling snow would be more fun than witnessing the behavior of the town board.

I hope this year isn’t going to continue the way it has started, with the dismantling of another part of the town machinery that used to work efficiently. I don’t know the new employees; it’s possible that they will be good.

But I don’t really care if they can walk on water. It’s not right to remove people who have done their jobs well, sacking them without cause. Two of the board members, Earl Barcomb and Dennis Barber, opposed the removal of the transfer station crew. But Kenny Saddlemire and Karl Pritchard (who stumbled in late) voted with Lefkaditis. Again.

People in Knox need to start paying attention to what the board is doing. The agenda posted on the town's website had blanks where the names of the transfer station employees should have gone. Two of the employees were called the morning of the meeting to tell them that they wouldn’t be reappointed.

The choice of replacements had clearly been made before the meeting, and a revised agenda with the new names was produced after the meeting had started. There was no opportunity for public input and there appeared to be an effort to keep the public from knowing what was going to happen.

When one of the employees, Mark Young, politely asked the board to reconsider, Lefkaditis barely let him finish his statement, ignored him, and adjourned the meeting.

There are lots of rumors going around. Not all of what you hear will be correct. Talk to more than one person. Talk to someone who was there.

Better yet, go to meetings yourself and see what goes on. Look at the results of the decisions made at the meetings. If you are a citizen of Knox, you probably won’t like what you see. Judging by what's been done, the majority of the board has no respect for the town’s citizens, and are not working for the good of the town.

Dee Woessner

Knox

Editor’s note: Dee Woessner chairs the Knox Democratic Committee.