Shelby councilman says ‘unproductive aggression,’ unprofessionalism plagues town government

Posted 7 October 2023 at 8:58 am


My name is John Pratt and I have had the honor of serving as a board member for the Town of Shelby. As my role winds down this year, I feel compelled to share my observations, concerns, and hopes for the future of the town.

For too long, I have witnessed an unproductive level of aggression and unprofessionalism within our town government. This adverse environment has infiltrated every facet of operations, making it a challenge to progress forward for the benefit of all residents. Even more concerning is the clandestine nature of many decisions that are made behind closed doors, far removed from the eyes and ears of the community we are sworn to serve.

It’s worth noting that our current leadership has often paraded the word “transparency” as a badge of honor.  Yet, in practice, their actions have made a mockery of it, using the term carelessly without truly embodying its principles. Alarmingly, there have been evident breaches of ethics by both current and former leadership, all under the less than watchful eyes of the town’s legal advisors.

Our taxpayer dollars have, unfortunately, been funneled towards consultants to seemingly advise on how to dance along the edges of the law, and at times, potentially step over it. It frustrates me that these funds have indirectly or directly supported operations that cater to the personal whims and often the wallets of certain officials.

It pains me to disclose that the town’s consultants have provided misleading, and at times, untruthful information to both the board and the public. This has unfortunately led to board members voting in favor of resolutions they would not typically support.

I have also been deeply disturbed by instances of women being verbally harassed, degraded, and disrespected by officials, both in the office and in public settings. To make matters worse, the outside consultants, funded by our own tax dollars, have at times remained silent during such offenses, or even worse has assisted in their cover-up.

With regards to our town’s finances, there are glaring inconsistencies in the bookkeeping, and deliberate efforts to withhold vital records and information not just from the public, but also from duly elected officials. As a means of remedying this, I strongly call for a forensic audit of Shelby’s finances. This will help shed light on any discrepancies and ensure the proper use of our taxpayer dollars.

While there has been recent push for a local ethics “law,” I believe it’s unnecessary given the state of New York’s Article 18, which provides clear guidelines on ethics for municipal employees and officials. The  town’s employee handbook also outlines ethical expectations.  Adding another layer of law only serves to give more power to a voting majority that has misused it in the past and could potentially do so again in the future.

I urge Shelby residents to become more involved, attend meetings, learn about how local municipal government works, and bear witness to the operations of their town government.   Genuine openness can only be achieved if there is active public interest and informed engagement.


John Pratt

Shelby Town Board member