Your voice matters?

To the Editor:

The first “Open Agenda” Berne Town Board meeting was held on Feb. 12. This new format was billed as an opportunity for residents to communicate directly with the town board. There was quite a crowd there. Most were there to protest the unfair and apparently illegal, partisan firings, demotions, and appointments.  Many prepared statements were read.

I was recently asked to review the minutes from that meeting. Numerous residents read detailed statements protesting the very partisan mistreatment of town officials and volunteers at that meeting. But there is no mention of this in the minutes. This, from the proposed minutes, does not at all document the discussion:


Many concerned citizens spoke regarding matters in the Town.

One must ask why there is no mention of the actual topics discussed in the minutes of a meeting specifically designed as a mechanism for public comment. If “Your Voice Matters” shouldn’t the minutes reflect your actual discussion?

I made the motion that one of the readings be attached permanently to the minutes and it passed. That one statement is now preserved with the minutes as an attachment. An email was later sent to board members advising that this set a bad precedent.

Everyone should understand that the minutes of board meeting are stripped to the bare minimum required by law and most correspondence is not mentioned or preserved in the minutes. I am told that submissions at board meetings (not mentioned in the minutes) are kept for only one year and then discarded.

These are among the reasons that I correspond with The Altamont Enterprise this way. I make information public and the Enterprise archives make the information available in the future.

I have been threatened with some non-specific retribution for this activity by the deputy supervisor. 

Please understand that, in my opinion, there is a very blatant and very intentional effort by the town board to limit and mischaracterize information pertaining to town issues discussed at board meetings and in this newspaper. I won’t even mention the social-media abuses.

The minutes of the Feb. 12 meeting are being used as a propaganda tool in my opinion.

The supervisor read a misleading statement over 400 words long at the beginning of the meeting and it is included in the minutes. Reading this statement, one would glean that the primary issue at this meeting was the unfair characterization of Youth Council members as pedophiles and rapists.

I am not aware that this even occurred. Statements are made in this diatribe that I do not believe are supported by facts and there was no discussion of the content of this tirade at the actual meeting.

Your voice matters?

It appears that misleading propaganda in the official record is what matters to some members of the board.

Joel Willsey

Berne Town Board

Editor’s note: Berne resident Barbara Kennedy made a metaphorical comparison at the Jan. 8 Berne Town Board meeting to criticize the appointment to Thomas Spargo as chairman of the town’s planning board: “Why don’t we just hire a rapist to run our youth program?” Kennedy was not suggesting the town hire a rapist to lead the youth council; rather, she was criticizing the appointment of Spargo who, in 2009, was sentenced to 27 months in prison, guilty of extortion and bribery for orchestrating a plan to solicit funds from lawyers with cases before him as a State Supreme Court judge in order to pay his own legal bills.

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