Gaines GOP Committee candidate says current town government reeks of backroom deals, secrecy
I feel compelled to reply to you and your readers to address Ray Burke’s letter of Sunday.
Let me just say that I am barely acquainted with Mr. Burke. We’ve met in passing at Town Board meetings, but to my recollection, have never been introduced. I’ll outline some facts and then draw some conclusions from them.
My interest in politics is a long one. My involvement with the Republican Party has been steady, essentially since I turned 18. A little over 5 years ago, I moved to Orleans County, and I’ve lived in Gaines a little over 4 years. After I met some new people, I wanted to become involved here, and lend my experience and thoughts to the community, and one way to do that was to become involved in the Republican Party.
Earlier in 2016, I expressed an interest in serving on the Town Committee to the Chairman, Guy Smith. Much to my dismay, I hear nothing from him about this, but at the same time hear about new people preparing to run for these positions. This is when I took it upon myself to circulate petitions. I circulated MY petitions. No one did it for me.
Some facts and questions about Ray Burke and the other candidates:
– Ray Burke has lived in town a lot longer than me. Why the sudden interest in the Town Committee?
– David Alchin didn’t even circulate his own nominating petitions. Carol Culhane, Gaines Town Supervisor, circulated every one of his. Is he even actually interested? Or will he be a proxy for Mrs. Culhane?
– Jim Hood circulated his petitions. In fact, everyone in my home signed his when he stopped by! I guess this is proof that I support an open and honest dialog to get the best people involved!
– All three of them have the exact same “Committee to Fill Vacancies” members named, and are in the same handwriting. One of the members of that committee currently serves on the Town Board.
All of these facts together clearly indicate a plan, and the head of that plan sure looks like the Supervisor, amongst others.
As for my wife, Lori, I quite honestly don’t know how it is relevant or why you chose to bring her into this discussion. But, since you brought it up, I’ll share some additional facts.
Lori was appointed Deputy Clerk in October 2015. She put in 15-20 hours per week at a minimum to get trained and ready to take over for Clerk Klatt during a scheduled vacation. These hours were on top of her full time job. In the spring, she was sent to the New York State Town Clerks Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY by the town. She volunteered her time to attend this training.
When Clerk Klatt announced her retirement, Lori was told by the Supervisor that they would “advertise and interview” for a replacement. She wrote letters to the Board and the Republican Committee members indicating her interest. Lori never heard a single word from the Supervisor after that first discussion about the position. The board appointed Ms. Harding to the empty position without notifying Lori of their choice. She found out when the board made the appointment. What kind of leadership is that?
To make matters worse, the Supervisor wasn’t honest with how they came to make that selection. She indicated they were told the most senior clerk had to be appointed. The fact is, according to the NYS Association of Towns, the Town Board can appoint anyone to the position. The icing on the cake? A letter to Lori from Sharon Harding, before she even took over as Town Clerk, indicating that Lori’s services would no longer be needed.
So, not only do you appoint someone under a veil of secrecy, you get rid of the one individual who was fully trained in all of the duties of the Town Clerk. If that doesn’t reek of political backstabbing and back door deals, I don’t know what does.
As you can guess, Lori’s decision to no longer be interested in being Town Clerk is a smart one. Who would want to work in that role in an environment where you’re treated like this? Not to mention the public harassment the previous Town Clerk and current Highway Superintendent have had to endure. You’d have to be crazy to take that job with the current Town Board.
So, Mr. Burke, I do want open government. I want active participation. I want good leadership at the head of the Town Committee. I want good leadership with the Town Board. The best thing we can do is stop things like what I’ve described from happening, and start over with a revitalized committee with an active Chairperson. Only then can we nominate honest, hardworking candidates to fill the elected positions in our Town.
Town of Gaines