Our peaceful and legal protest on Primary Day was to protect our property and way of life

To the Editor:

On Tuesday, June 25, my husband and I exercised our First Amendment right to free speech and picketed in front of the Knox polling station with signs outlining the current supervisor’s failings. This is what we learned.

We had equal numbers of expressed supporters and critics, but for each and every one of those, there was an equal number of voters who just did their civic duty without comment.  

Oddly, critics take a great deal of pleasure in using photos as an intimidation mechanism. I can only imagine that they plan to post these photos on social media with their opinion of our picketing. If that is the case, I thank them for spreading our message farther than we were prepared to (as we don’t use social media). 

Lots of critics mentioned the playground. While the playground is wonderful, it wasn’t this supervisor’s idea nor his accomplishment and it certainly isn’t an official responsibility of the office he holds. Not to mention the many people who were instrumental in getting the playground built who were treated badly by the supervisor and discarded along the way.

For all of those who were angered or annoyed by what we chose to do to voice our dissatisfaction with the current administration, here is something for you to think about.

Our appearance on the side of the road Tuesday evening was required. Our supervisor and the actions of two board members invited us to participate in local politics when they initiated a direct threat to our property and our way of life — something we feel is worth protecting. 

When my attention is focused on something, I do my homework. I like to know who I am dealing with.  When I focused on what else the supervisor and his like-minded officials were doing and found out they were not focusing on any of the real work that came with the offices they were elected to, it became my focus to educate them about their failings.

From the Office of the State Comptroller’s publication, “Information for Town Officials,” on page 38: “Preparing and filing the annual report is the duty of the supervisor in office at the time the annual report must be filed. Refusal or willful neglect to file the AUD [Annual Update Document] is a misdemeanor.”

I notified them of missing financial filings, read the duties and responsibilities of the supervisor and board officials out of handbooks prepared by the State Comptroller’s Office and the Department of State.  Nothing changed. 

If, at any time over the past year, they had chosen to take action to fix the problems, right the wrongs, actually do the job they were elected to do, we would not have had anything to put on our signs. Instead, Supervisor Vasilios Lefkaditis chose to continually deny that the financials weren’t filed with the state comptroller’s office (a violation of New York State law – see below), rather than do the required work and get them filed.

According to New York State General Municipal Law section 30.5: “All reports shall be certified by the officer making the same. Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision with respect to the time for filing, all reports shall be filed with the comptroller within sixty days after the close of the fiscal year of such municipal corporation, district, agency or activity, provided, however, that upon written request from the chief fiscal officer of a municipal corporation, district, agency or activity, the comptroller may extend such sixty day period for filing such report for an additional sixty days.

“Reports may be filed by electronic transmission or in paper form. The method of certifying a report filed in electronic form shall be prescribed by the comptroller. It shall be the duty of the incumbent officer at the time such reports are required to be filed with the comptroller to file such report.

“The refusal or willful neglect of such officer to file a report as herein prescribed shall be a misdemeanor and subject the financial officer so refusing or neglecting to a penalty of five dollars per day for each day's delay beyond the sixty days to be paid on demand of the comptroller. Notwithstanding any of the provisions contained in this section.”

The supervisor’s position did not change until he found out that the town would be audited. (The audit is currently underway.) Over the past several months, the new position the supervisor and some members of the board have taken is that they don’t need to answer our questions or explain their actions.

Our local government becomes less and less transparent. When we take issue with that, and continue to question, we are told that they were elected to do something, and if we didn’t like it vote them out. Our peaceful and legal protest on Tuesday was a direct result of all of these things.

If you didn’t like us being there, take it up with Supervisor Lefkaditis, Karl Pritchard, and Ken Saddlemire, as they forced us to stand out on the road. This was on them, they left us no choice.

Shawn and Brigitte McAuliffe

Knox

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