We have two excellent candidates and still no DCO?

To the Editor:

It should disturb residents and voters in Berne that the Berne deputy supervisor (would-be supervisor) brings falsehoods to the dais and proposes motions that impact public health and safety based on his falsehoods. 

According to all the information available to me, I was the only Berne board member to interview a candidate who applied for, and provided a résumé for, the dog control officer position in good faith. I specifically asked this candidate on July 13, the day before the regular town board meeting, if anyone else from Berne had called him. He very specifically said no and that dated text is attached.

Mr. Dennis Palow, current GOP candidate for town supervisor, claimed at the town board meeting on July 14 that he had called this candidate three or four days before that meeting. His claims are recorded and I provided the recording to The Enterprise.

Mr. Palow elaborated on his “discussion” with the candidate, but everything he elaborated on was in the résumé provided to him by email. He made it appear all the info was from a call that, based on all the evidence, did not happen.

That illustrates pure dishonesty. Is that an attribute we want in a supervisor? Would the job candidate have any reason to lie to me in a text saying nobody else called him? I don’t think so.

Mr. Palow claimed in the meeting to have proof of his call that supposedly occurred three or four days prior to the meeting. I haven’t seen any proof. I have provided my text conversations with the job candidate from just one day prior to the meeting and from the day I interviewed him.

He said I was the only one who contacted him. I have been the only one to interview several candidates this year. In my opinion, it is disrespectful to spend tax dollars to advertise for applications and résumés and then not interview candidates. It’s disturbing. Even more disturbing is lying about it.

So once again the GOP political stunts and games continue while residents go without the health and safety measures that would be provided by a qualified dog control officer.

The problem is that Berne collects fees for addressing dangerous dogs, rabid dogs, abused dogs, dogs aggressive with livestock, etc. But Berne has been without an adequate DCO since January 2020 while the board majority has been engaged in ridiculous political stunts instead of serving the residents. The law states that the town “shall” appoint a DCO if collecting fees.

Ag & Markets Law Article 7, Section 113 appears to me to mandate that a qualified DCO be appointed. Recognizing the necessity for a qualified DCO, both Bonnie Conklin and I have supported the reinstatement of Cheryl Baitsholts, a proven, qualified and experienced DCO who was illegally removed from office without cause, notice, or due process and was replaced by an inexperienced crony, hired without due process.

It appears that the Albany County sheriff could not reach that crony in a recent potential dog abuse case [“Berne’s controversial dog-control officer resigns, leaving fired officer to handle dog-shooting incident,” The Altamont Enterprise, April 26, 2021].Then, the crony retroactively resigned based on “a phone call days before the incident.” Sound familiar? It’s nonsense.

Regarding the July 14 meeting, I do not see a need for two DCOs and I think paying a person $19 per hour is not appropriate when a DCO is on call 24/7. This is a public service job you live with 24/7 year-round.

I would have voted to reinstate Cheryl Baitsholts and in the terms of employment that existed when she was illegally removed from office.

It is important to note that, in my interview with the other candidate on June 29, and earlier review of his résumé, I found him to be articulate and knowledgeable and his experience very applicable.

But unfortunately, his availability is limited. I explained that reinstatement of Cheryl Baitsholts was my first choice, and he was fine with that.

We have two excellent candidates and still no DCO? Please think about this illegal, dishonest mess when you venture into the voting booth in November.

Joel Willsey

Berne Town Board

Editor’s note: See related story.

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