Mr. Palow poses a threat to the financial stability and safety of the town

To the Editor:
I am writing to repudiate the endorsement of Dennis Palow by Berne Supervisor Sean Lyons last week [“Dennis Palow lives and breathes the Army values,” Letter to the Editor, The Altamont Enterprise, Oct. 15, 2021].

Why no mention of any accomplishments, Mr. Lyons? That endorsement would be hilarious if not for the serious threat Mr. Palow poses to the financial stability of the town, the safety and wellbeing of Berne residents and employees, and the safety of people who happen to visit or even just pass-through town.

Mr. Lyons mentions Mr. Palow’s honesty? Really? I think I clearly documented compelling evidence of Mr. Palow’s dishonesty in a recent letter.

I provided a recording of the falsehoods he used as rationale in his motion to derail a board-approved highway department safety initiative at the January 2020 meeting. Then I provided a recording of his claim in the February 2020 meeting that he never made those (very clearly false) statements recorded at the January meeting!

Please listen to those recordings. I don’t make things up and post them on Facebook; I document.

Months later, a fatal incident occurred in the highway department where multiple violations of PESH [Public Employees Safety and Health] safety protocols were identified by state investigators. Please connect the dots.

That derailed initiative was to address an issue of public and employee safety as well as the spending of your tax dollars. I think the recordings prove a town board decision was based on very deliberate falsehoods brought to the dais by Mr. Palow. Supervisor Lyons mentions trust? Ridiculous!

That decision, to derail an objective, professional, independent, board-approved safety initiative resulted in the continuation of documented, dangerous practices in highway department operations. I have illustrated that in my recent pdf with photos proving absolutely no work-zone safety measures were used at all in the recent Bush Drive project. None at all! Review the tapes and documentation and think before you vote!

Also missing from this endorsement is any recognition that town-board transparency is important to Mr. Palow. That is because Mr. Lyons and Mr. Palow work behind the scenes, making secret decisions that impact the entire town without board discussion, approval, or even the knowledge of important agreements.

As one example, in 2018, these guys secretly contracted Marshall & Sterling as a replacement insurance broker of record (BOR) without even notifying the existing BOR and without the knowledge of the other town board members. This was a big secret. But the transition resulted in correspondence that spilled the beans before Mr. Lyons and Mr. Palow announced the new BOR contract to anyone.

Mr. Lyons claimed at the time (email provided) that Marshall & Sterling had advised Town Hall that the new contract must remain secret until it was signed and in place. Really? Either Mr. Lyons is lying in the email, or Marshall & Sterling was trying to keep this covert, inappropriate action to benefit themselves secret. Or maybe both?

No complaints about the prior BOR were brought before the board prior to the BOR change. This secret change was 100 percent inappropriate in my opinion.

Fast forward a couple years and (based on an email attached), it appears that the Marshall & Sterling vice president again made covert arrangements with Supervisor Lyons and the town attorney. They apparently agreed that the town would bond a private dam project and were just working out the details.  That email was my first indication that this backroom deal involving Marshall & Sterling was in process.

Are there insurance liabilities the board should explore prior to discussing the bonding of a project for a private dam, a dam already declared dangerous? Is Marshall & Sterling an insurance broker? Do they have a contract with Berne? Should we be suspicious?

I don’t know what these people are up to. In my opinion, at a minimum, this represents the very inappropriate, clandestine use of town resources for a private project.

We unknowingly paid our town attorney to fumble around in the dark, making secret arrangements with Marshall & Sterling? Any discussion of bonding that project should have been open and transparent and Marshall & Sterling, a company we contract for other purposes, should not be involved.

Mr. Palow’s reaction to a censure that was based on their well-documented covert dealings with Marshall & Sterling should be important in your voting decision. Mr. Palow, for some reason, decided to attack me over a censure I didn’t author, propose, or read aloud at the meeting.

In a regular, recorded meeting he acted like he often did with me in their secret, unrecorded “executive sessions” designed to harass me. But he was recorded this time! Please listen.

In listening to this recording, you will understand the total collapse of objective discussion and decorum we often experienced with Mr. Palow, especially in “executive sessions.” Keep in mind this was while I was under multiple, expensive, bogus investigations at my workplace and at Town Hall instigated by these guys.

And I was repeatedly reported to various police agencies, wasting their time and money processing allegations that turned out to be false. Tens of thousands of your tax dollars were used to try to drive me from office. These are not nice people and they use your tax dollars for their nasty political nonsense.

So please listen carefully to the recording. Mr. Palow, in one of his out-of-control, angry tirades, very inappropriately harasses, intimidates, childishly taunts, threatens, and even openly coerces me to vote. This all in an open meeting after the censure of Mr. Lyons for their backroom dealings with Marshall & Sterling.

Please listen to this recording for the good of the town. It will instantly become clear that the only rational choice for Berne Town Supervisor is Peggy Christman.

Joel Willsey

Berne Town Board

More Letters to the Editor

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.