Yates hires new attorney who may prove exorbitant for taxpayers

Posted 19 April 2018 at 10:05 am


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