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Yates hires new attorney who may prove exorbitant for taxpayers

Posted 19 April 2018 at 10:05 am

Editor:

This was the most fiscally irresponsible vote by the Yates Town Board on April 12, 2018: RESOLUTION NO.53-4/18 – Resolution to Authorize the Supervisor to Sign Agreement for Legal Services with Lippes Mathias Wexler Freedman LLP.

I am writing this letter to inform my Town of Yates fellow residents and the public what happened at the Yates Town Board meeting on April 12. By a vote of 3-2, Simon, Riggi and Suhr passed a “Resolution to Authorize the Supervisor to Sign Agreement for Legal Services with Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP.”

A. This resolution does three things, all of which concern me deeply:

1. This resolution terminates the Town of Yates association with our Wind Attorney, Mr. Dan Spitzer. Spitzer is the most knowledgeable and respected wind attorney in New York State having worked with numerous towns on wind laws for over 15 years now. For the record, Mr. Spitzer had sent a communication earlier in the day withdrawing his services as Town Wind Attorney.

2. This resolution makes an agreement with the law firm of Lippes Mathis Wexler Freedman LLP, Dennis Vacco’s firm that Somerset retained. Vacco and his firm’s experience regarding wind energy is minimal when compared to Spitzer.

3. The Town of Yates will enter into an agreement with the Town of Somerset to share attorney and engineering expenses at a 50-50 split. This is a bad deal for several reasons, mainly that Vacco charges an arm and a leg compared to Spitzer.

Both Towns have passed resolutions against the Lighthouse Wind Project and both have redone their wind laws twice. Here’s the difference: The Town of  Yates spent $37,136.47 with Mr. Spitzer, while the Town of Somerset spent $264,677.20 with Vacco’s firm.

You are entering into an agreement not knowing what it will cost or where the money will come from. Yates has $19,000 budgeted for attorney fees in 2018 while Somerset has $300,000 for attorney fees and $85,000 in engineering fees budgeted for 2018.

B. The manner in which it was put together and introduced is highly troubling:

1. This resolution was written in a non-transparent manner by Simon, Riggi and Suhr without including Councilmen Bradley and Whipple. Councilman Bradley suggested that a resolution of this magnitude should have been done by committee.

2. The actual content was not available beforehand – just the title. This means constituents can’t know what is in the resolution until the Supervisor read it aloud just prior to the vote.

Mr. Simon, I remind you, Yates is a “Right to Farm” town. We also have not had our pockets filled with a PILOT program from the power plant for the last thirty years. Your constituents are hard-working farm families, many who live below the national poverty level, many who live paycheck to paycheck, and many retired people who live on fixed incomes.

Lastly, you have the 10% to1 5% lake privileged, who always complain about unfair high taxes. The make-up of Yates doesn’t leave money for this unnecessary spending. In the last two years you haven’t brought in one penny of revenue to our town, but you continue to spend money like a drunken sailor.

This rushed and irresponsible vote (3-2) will surely be regretted by taxpayers: we simply can’t afford this decision! It will go down as the darkest day in the Town of Yates history.

Howard Pierce

Yates

Our Letters Policy

Posted 19 April 2018 at 7:45 am

We appreciate input from our readers, and we publish letters to the editor without charge. While open speech and responsibility are encouraged, comments may be rejected if they are purely a personal attack, offensive or repetitive. Comments are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Orleans Hub. Although care is taken to moderate comments, we have no control over how they are interpreted and we are unable to guarantee the accuracy of comments and the rationality of the opinions expressed. We reserve the right to edit letters for content and brevity. Please limit letters to no more than 500 words and provide your name, telephone number, mailing address and a verifiable email address for verification purposes. Letters should be emailed to info@orleanshub.com.

States with high tax rates are led by Democrats

Posted 19 April 2018 at 7:23 am

Editor:

I understand a recent letter suggested flipping the party leadership in Orleans County would lead to reduced cost and spending.

The following states have the highest effective sales tax/income tax rates in the nation: New York, 12.7 %; Connecticut, 12.6%; New Jersey, 12.2%; Illinois, 11.0%, California and Wisconsin, 11.0%.

Which party controls a majority of those states? The party the writer is suggesting control the county?

Edward Urbanik

Lyndonville

Resident questions why county spending $7 million-plus on addition to administrative building

Posted 18 April 2018 at 4:37 pm

Editor:

Will a new Orleans County administration building provide improved service to the taxpayers?  Would the plus, or minus, seven million dollars—regardless of how funded—be tax dollars well spent? Will anything the current 4-3 Republican majority decides to do serve the actual best interests of the residents of Orleans County?

In 2011, we supposedly could no longer afford to care for elderly residents in a county nursing home we had spent several millions renovating during my initial term, but we can spend millions on new “digs” for the current political crowd/“administration.” It is extremely doubtful that having improved graphics, new sidewalks, newer desks and the latest technology will help us make better—even courageous—decisions.

Any chance solar panels will cover the new facility’s roof? Who knows, emboldened by posh office space, maybe our sitting legislators will take a stand on some matters with serious implications for the future of Orleans County’s assets. Unfortunately, more comfortable chairs won’t help our representatives understand what an “asset” is. By the way, assets include not only Four Star federally-rated nursing homes but histories, hospitals, varied wildlife habitats, and visiting nurse certifications.

With the cover provided by a “Stormy” in Washington and a “Percocolation” in Albany, the burning-need-for-a-new-administration-complex-fiasco can be pulled off with only Lauricella, Lofthouse, Longer, yours truly, and a handful of others noticing. (What do those conservatives know anyway?) Most people here long ago threw up their hands in hopeless resignation that anything the 4-3 legislative majority does will actually be beneficial to the vast majority of us regular folks.

When The Villages County Nursing home just had to be sold, at least five relatives of then—and some even now—sitting legislators professed opposition and even revulsion. The 2019 county elections are a long way off, but wouldn’t payback for the current anticipated utter waste of taxpayer dollars—and another arguably bonehead play just announced—be awful? One former chairperson has to be getting restless.

One consequence of a certain flipped seat might be a change in county leadership. In fact, as things stand right now, flipping that one seat would guarantee it.

Yours so truly,

Gary Kent

Albion

Patron appreciates efforts from Hoag Library staff

Posted 11 April 2018 at 3:24 pm

Editor:

So often I read the letters to the editor and they are negative with debate and political tension. I would like to write a quick note that is positive.

My job gives me the opportunity to interact on a near daily basis with the Hoag Library staff in Albion. I wanted to send a thank you out to them for all that they do for me and other patrons.

They are always so willing to help me out with whatever they can. They greet me each day with a smile and a “Hello.” Each one takes the time to have a conversation with me when the chance is available.

I have become to feel like I am part of their “work family.” Thanks again!!!

Tammie Golden

Kent

Latest quarter shows more opposition comments for Lighthouse Wind

Posted 10 April 2018 at 5:50 pm

Editor:

The table below shows the results of an empirical assessment of public comments made to the DPS website in relation to the Lighthouse Wind Project as proposed for the Towns of Yates and Somerset by APEX Clean Energy. Since the first quarter of 2015, a total of 1,155 submitted comments have been assessed, tabulated and organized by support (in favor) and opposition (opposed) to the project.

All comments made to the DPS site regarding the Lighthouse Wind Project were included in the assessment and cover the time period from Q1-2015 through March 31, 2018.  All comments were read fully in order to ascertain position regarding the industrial wind turbine project.  The positions were tabulated as “in favor” of or “opposed” to the project.

The results are as follows:

Date Comments In Favor Comments

Opposed

% In favor % Opposed
Q1-2015 0 40 0% 100%
Q2-2015 0 73 0% 100%
Q3-2015 35 157 18% 82%
Q4-2015 58 138 30% 70%
Q1-2016 31 165 16% 84%
Q2-2016 5 29 15% 85%
Q3-2016 21 67 24% 76%
Q4-2016 5 59 8% 92%
Q1-2017 0 25 0% 100%
Q2-2017 2 68 3% 97%
Q3-2017 5 21 19% 81%
Q4-2017 25 22 53% 47%
Q1-2018 35 69 34% 66%
Total 222 933 19% 81%

The overall results for the time period January 2015 to January 31, 2018 are as follows:

Comments In Favor of Lighthouse Wind Project = 222

Comments Opposed to Lighthouse Wind Project = 933

Percent of comments In Favor of Lighthouse Wind Project = 19%

Percent of comments Opposed to Lighthouse Wind Project = 81%

Two additional assessments were performed as part of  this comments assessment.

  1. Assessment of Multiple Submitters – Q1-2018: This assessment determines Opposition/In-favor percentages for those who multiple time to NYSDPS Matter Number:  14-F-0485 (Lighthouse Wind).  During Q1 – 2018, multiple submitters (both in-favor and opposed to Lighthouse Wind) submitted an average of 3 times.
  2. Assessment of Location of Residence – Q1-2018: This assessment determines if submitters are Yates and Somerset resident taxpayers or out-of-town submitters. Resident taxpayers include part time or full time taxpaying residents in the towns of Yates/Somerset.  Results are as follows:
Status Submitters In Favor % In Favor Submitters Opposed % Opposed
Resident Taxpayer 9 15% 52 85%
Out of Town 27 61% 17 39%

Results show that 61% of submitters in favor of the Lighthouse Wind Project are from outside of Yates and Somerset. In contrast, 85% of submitters opposed to the Lighthouse Wind Project are Yates and Somerset resident taxpayers. Clearly, those with the least involvement want the project imposed on Yates and Somerset.  This out-of-town effect was especially prevalent over the last two quarters. However, Yates and Somerset resident taxpayers, at risk of full exposure to this imposed project are continuing their exhortations to the State Siting Board for elimination of this toxic project, as they have done since January 2015.

The will of the people is clear. This project must not move forward. Article 10 must not be allowed to suppress Home-Rule and the will of the People.

The question now sits directly with Governor Cuomo.

Mr. Governor, when are you going to direct APEX Clean Energy to kill their Lighthouse Wind Project and get out of Yates and Somerset for good?

We’re listening and we will keep fighting.  This war does not end until APEX Clean Energy takes their Lighthouse Wind Project and vacates Yates and Somerset.

Thank You.

John B. Riggi

Councilman, Town of Yates

Priest in Holley and Kendall parish is thankful for time in Orleans County

Posted 8 April 2018 at 7:10 pm

File photo: Father Mark Noonan, pastor of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Holley, leads prayers during ceremonies in observance of Memorial Day on May 30, 2016 at Holy Cross Cemetery in Clarendon.

Editor:

I first came to Orleans County as a seminarian for 10 weeks in 2006 to serve at St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s Catholic Churches in Albion. I experienced many wonderful things that summer and left hoping maybe I would one day return to Orleans County as a priest. But, with only three priests living in the County, I knew that was a long shot. Yet, in 2010, Bishop Edward Kmiec assigned me as Pastor of St. Mary’s & St. Mark’s Parish in Holley and Kendall, where I have lived and served for nearly eight years. I arrived with a desire to try and make each person here feel like they were the most important person to the Catholic Church.

Recently, Bishop Richard Malone, the current Bishop of Buffalo, asked me to take a new assignment serving at the Catholic Center in Buffalo. I accepted this assignment and will complete my service as a pastor in Orleans County on Sunday, April 15th.

I want everyone in Orleans County to know how grateful I am for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful community. I feel so much a part of this place, which has massively affected my life. Since I left law school in 1999 to become a Catholic priest I have lived, studied, and served in multiple countries. Yet, no place is as special to me as Orleans County. I have been blessed to meet so many of you, to celebrate funerals and weddings for your loved ones, to accompany you on your spiritual journey, to pray for you and with you, and simply to be a part this community which will forever be a home to me.

I love Orleans County! I’ve marveled at the beauty of the farms and country roads, the canal and the lake, and the villages on sunny days and snow days. I’ve loved being part of a community where most everyone knows one another. It always brought me joy when people would come to my door if they needed material help. It has been an awesome experience to celebrate Memorial Day and Independence Day, and especially Christmas and Easter, in a small town. What a privilege and blessing it’s been to serve the people of this community!

I hope all the people of this County will continue to grow in goodness, friendship and faith. I hope that kindness, honesty, and decency will imbue all political, institutional, and business endeavors. I pray that violence on the streets and domestic violence in homes will end, drug use will cease, and the children of this County will grow up safe from all harm. I hope that the people of this County continue to build a community of goodwill and family welfare upon the foundations laid by the generations who went before us.

Thank you for your goodness to me these many years. Be assured of my prayers for each of you!

Fr. Mark Noonan

Pastor

St. Mary’s, Holley & St. Mark’s, Kendall

State leaders should strive to retain Americans, not count on non-citizens to boost population

Posted 4 April 2018 at 9:09 pm

Editor:

A recent news story heralded the fact that New York was going to lead a multi-state effort to block a question about citizenship in the new census. As I read this story my first question was, how much is this costing the state, since any money spent by the state, in the end, is taxpayer money?

As I continued reading I came to the statement that read one of the primary reasons for a census is to ensure a “fair representation in Congress and the electoral college.” I certainly agree with that and since the constitution applies to citizens of this country (or at least it used to), I do not understand how this question could be so disagreeable to some.

When the state says they could lose a lot of money I realized that is the real concern. As citizens flock out of this tax-laden state and we continue to lose congressmen, the state evidently sees these non-citizens as a way out of the financial mess they’ve created. I do not see how this is possible, but I’m not as smart as those people in Albany that have gotten this state in this predicament.

I am not opposed to legal immigration. If you have ever witnessed a swearing-in ceremony, it is very moving. I am not opposed to migrants coming from other countries. They are necessary and, as long as they are legal, welcome. I just feel the state is grasping at straws and trying to point fingers elsewhere when they need to look in the mirror and in the end this is going to cost the taxpayers of New York.

Ken Longer

Kendall

Shelby town officials should be accountable for passing overlay district, which restricts property owners’ rights

Posted 27 March 2018 at 10:48 pm

Editor:

I have lived in the Town of Shelby for 47 years. I served my country in the United States Marine Corps then became a police officer in Washington, D.C. I am versed in the law and the U.S. Constitution.

I am retired now but still work as a real estate agent in Medina. Every 2 years I complete a continuing education course on business and ethics for my job. I believe all elected and appointed officials, and town employees, should be required to take business and ethics classes in order to maintain their positions in local government. The town of Shelby’s code of ethics for officers and employees was written in 1970 and has not been updated since, even though a local attorney recently advised it should be updated.

For those who may not be aware, the Town of Shelby passed another version of the law they call the Wildlife Protection Overlay on November 27, 2017. Our tax dollars have paid for four versions of Local Law 5 and it still violates our constitutional rights. The law is non-compliant with other local, state and federal mandates.

The town needs to be reminded that we live in a republic – not a monarchy. In a republic, my property is not the property of local officials. Representatives are chosen by the people to represent our interests – not deprive us of our rights and property.

Now, the town is raising assessments to pay for their legal fees concerning the overlay, without respect or regard for the taxpayers. I feel terrible for the people on my road and others that were not properly notified. They have no idea about what the overlay laws are concerning their property and that the law was used in an unlawful manner. No one tried to notify them.

The present Town Board members, past members, and the Planning Board should all be held accountable for their dealings in relation to Local Law 5.

Sincerely,

Bob Kwandrans Sr.

Medina

Shelby resident applied to be on Planning Board but never heard back from town

Posted 27 March 2018 at 10:36 pm

Editor:

In December an opening for the position on the Town Planning Board was advertised. I submitted my letter to the Planning Board and Shelby Town Board on January 4th. I did this when I learned at the meeting Planning Board members chose not to meet with one person, Mr. Pratt. And that the Town Board was recommending he be appointed to the Planning Board. Shouldn’t the Planning Board meet the candidate?

I thought they might be rushing the process because they didn’t have enough applicants, so I submitted a letter for the position myself. Although my submission was sent past the December 22nd deadline, I went out of my way to be respectful to each town councilman and Planning Board member and asked if it was possible for them to consider my submission.

My letter was faxed to the town hall on January 4th, copies were delivered there by hand for each member and also sent certified mail. The board appointed Mr. Pratt to the Planning Board on January 9th. To this day, there has been no acknowledgement of my letters by anyone.

The agricultural community has not been represented in local government in Shelby for most of the years the former supervisor ran the town. Town Law 271 includes a provision for the appointment of an agricultural member to the Planning Board. It is not mandatory but suggested for towns like ours with agricultural districts to “include on the Planning Board one of more members each of whom derives ten thousand dollars or more annual gross income from agricultural pursuits in said town.” That’s taken directly from Town Law 271. I respectfully brought this suggestion to the attention of the town and planning boards.

I attend meetings regularly. And, believe it or not, everything in my life is not about the quarry. And I understand if some people think I may have a conflict of interest due to the quarry, but could you give me the respect of asking me about it? All the board had to do was give everyone a few minutes of their time.

Edward M. Zelazny

Shelby