Brush should not cover highway traffic signs

To the Editor:
The safety of the traveling public continues to be unnecessarily risked by the well documented, ongoing maladministration and reckless endangerment the public is subjected to by the highly political and aggressive Berne superintendent of highways.

The maintenance of highway traffic signs like stop signs very obviously requires that brush cannot be allowed to obscure the signs for any amount of time at all. Highway maintenance very obviously requires that the visibility of signs be continuous; this is elementary! 

Yet the Berne superintendent of highways knowingly allows brush to obscure stop signs for years at a time. Eight years now in the case of the intersection of Cass Hill and Gulf Hill roads.

The attached notice of defect for 2024 [posted online with this letter] includes photos from all the past notices of defect (provided to him) for this intersection since 2016. It would certainly not be difficult to develop a policy to keep signs continuously visible town-wide!

Mr. [Randy] Bashwinger is quoted in The Enterprise saying he feels that, if residents complain a sign is obscured by brush, he should then uncover the signs (as a politically inspired “service” he can take credit for) but otherwise he just doesn’t worry about what is universally considered to be very basic highway maintenance to protect the traveling public from this obvious hazard. 

The town has just tossed all previous notices of highway defects in violation of the state’s Town Law. This was based on a deliberate misinterpretation of a suggested, general document retention schedule provided by the state.

That schedule leaves the Records Officer responsible for determining the actual retention period necessary for each specific document. Somehow that important responsibility and Town Law was ignored. She was his political comrade.

By law, Notices of Highway Defect are to be retained by the town and available for five years. They were all tossed or destroyed to protect the superintendent from accessible documentation of a years-long history of very dangerous maladministration. This is criminal in my estimation.

The lack of this documentation makes it very difficult to hold him responsible when someone dies due to his well-documented and very willful negligence.  

The superintendent first received a notice of this specific defect at this specific intersection in 2016. It was destroyed. The STOP sign there is obscured by brush in the 2024 photos included in the notice of defect [posted online with] this letter.

Dated, GPS located photos that have been provided to him in notices of defect dating back to 2016 are also in the 2024 notice. This 2024 notice of highway defect is being provided to the town with the submission of this letter.

This example of still ongoing maladministration is just the tip of the iceberg.

Joel Willsey

East Berne

Editor’s note: Local Government Retention Schedule-1, which local governments use for reference, was in conflict with New York State Law with regard to highway defect notices. Dora Ricci, a public information officer for the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education, told The Enterprise in April, “Our current retention period of one year is inadequate and needs to be lengthened to five years to satisfy the retention requirements outlined in the [Town and General Municipal] laws.”

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