Category Archives: Valley Viewpoints

Valley Viewpoints: County clerk race

by Wes Belcher of Fulton

Recently, Legislator Doug Malone wrote a very eloquent letter concerning the race for the county clerk opening.

The election for this seat is to held in the November election between Michael Backus and Phil Vasho.

I agree with Mr. Malone’s opinion that the voice of the people must be heard as to who runs the clerks office and as to how it is run (to a degree). I know Mr. Malone well enough to know he means this and believes it.

However, it appears that the same cannot be said of Mr. Vasho and his handlers. It seems Mr. Vashos’ supporters asked the governor to “appoint” Mr. Vasho and the election would not be held. The governor, being an honorable man, declined.

Next, a lawsuit was filed to “force” the governor to appoint a person to the position.

This is typical of how Mr. Vasho does things; he does not like to be questioned or overruled. He also, apparently, doesn’t think he can win the election and doesn’t care to let the voice of the people be heard by a vote.

What his qualifications, if any, are remains to be seen. To the best of my knowledge, he has no real qualification.

If in fact he was that qualified, he had the option of running in an election against Mr. Williams when he was alive in the many races Mr. Williams won…by the voice of the people through a vote.

Instead, he chose to wait for Mr. Williams to pass away and then figured the governor (a fellow Democrat) would just appoint him.

He figured wrong and persists in his efforts to force the appointment.

To say Mr. Vasho would bring a change to county government is a bit disingenuous as a check of the list of county employees who got a job while he was a legislator might show.

Having seen the heavy-handed way he runs the Fulton committee, I hold little hope for any real change in his sought after election to county clerk.

I wish both he and Mr. Backus success, but as a registered Democrat I cannot pull the lever for Mr. Vasho.

To anyone who believes in democracy and voting rights, this action to have the governor appoint someone to the position is an affront to a fair and open election. His actions only indicate he is in favor of back room deals and political partisan politics.

Valley Viewpoints: ‘Music in the Park’

by Susan Lippke of Schroeppel

The weather cooperated this summer and made the “Music in the Park” concert series located on the Oswego River Canal in Phoenix the place to be.

Some local groups (St, Steven’s Church, JCB Class of 2015, Band and Chorus Boosters) even joined us to provide snacks and other goodies to those who attended for a small fee.

Approximately 1,100 people of all ages came to the six Monday evening concerts.  This summer’s concerts featured many styles of country music by popular request from audience members.

Everyone enjoyed listening to the music, singing, clapping and dancing at the concerts on the canal sponsored by the Town of Schroeppel, the Phoenix Public Library, the Phoenix Community & Youth Council, Fulton Savings Bank, the NYS Council on the Arts, and the Cultural Resources Council.

The Phoenix Community Concert Band offered the community an additional concert at the end of the series this summer. We wish to extend our sincere appreciation to its band members for donating their time and talents to us.

The Phoenix Community Concert Series Partners also wish to thank the community businesses and individuals who helped make the concert series possible with their cash donations to the 2012 concert series.

The summer concert series is made possible in large part with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant Program, a State Agency and the Cultural Resources Council, a Regional Arts Council.

We would like to thank Discovery Day Care Center, and the Phoenix Public Library (including the summer AmeriCorps member and teen readers group) for providing creative activities for the Kid’s Creation Table at all the concerts.

We are also thankful for the Village of Phoenix who once again provided the location for the summer concerts (Henley Park), and the Enterprise Fire Co. 1 in Phoenix who provided the rain location.

The Town of Schroeppel provided all of materials necessary to plan and publicize the “Music in the Park” summer concert series, and this vital community support is also very much appreciated.

The Phoenix Summer Concert Series ”Music in the Park” depends on public donations to continue in the future, as state grant funds are decreasing, and may not be available in the future.

Valley Viewpoints: Successful tournament

by Deanna and Tim Hubbard of Oswego

Sept. 9, the Andy Pawlenko Memorial Golf Tournament was held at Evergreen Hills Golf Course in Oswego. This tournament was planned by golfers on the Andy Pawlenko Thursday Nite League.

This year’s tournament raised $500 and was donated in Andy’s name to the Charlie and Mary Haney Cancer Giving Fund through Dr. Wright’s office in Oswego Hospital. This fund helps those in Oswego County without insurance as they fight cancer.

The family of Andy Pawlenko would like to thank everyone who participated. A special thank you is needed for John and Kathy Hayes, Mike Smith, Daniel Demm and Dan (Hap) Howard who golfed with Andy many years. These people put in a lot of work to make the day exceptional.

Valley Viewpoints: Expect more of the same

by Doug Malone, Legislator

I guess the news of senator Patty Ritchie’s endorsement of Michael Backus for county clerk means Oswego County residents can expect more of the same controversy and overspending if Backus is elected.

Back in August, most of the Republican legislators voted to award a contract for the clerk’s office to IQS, the company that came in more costly than any of the other bidders. The taxpayers can expect to fork over $300,000 more over the life of the contract for the same service the other companies offered and they all had a better overall rating than IQS.

When Ritchie was the St. Lawrence County clerk, she brought IQS onboard in her office, so it’s a no brainer that the chances of cancelling the contract with IQS are slim to none if Backus becomes the next county clerk.

Backus said that having Ritchie’s insight and experience once he’s successful in the fall will be a huge asset. Should Oswego County residents take this to mean that the senator will be micromanaging the clerk’s office? I would think there’s enough for Ritchie to do in Albany than to meddle in the affairs of the Oswego County clerk’s office.

There are many problems in the clerk’s office and the successor needs to be a take charge person who can bring a dismantled office back to a functioning, cost effective operation to serve the public.

Residents need to decide if they want another county Republican chairman at the helm of the clerk’s office or if they want to be rid of mixing politics with the public’s business. We have a chance to end the Republican stronghold on county government and return the clerk’s office to the people – where it belongs.

Valley Viewpoints: Shame on DSS

by Rose Anthony of Fulton

Again, I say shame on Oswego County. I have been through more than anyone can realize with the DSS department.

I wanted to attend a work meeting with legislators and tell them what was happening. I received permission to attend and speak, but up and behold I get a letter from the big man, Mr. Hafner, and he tells me I cannot attend and speak.

Why do we pay these people if they cannot be told what is happening?

The DSS lied to me. I have a tenant who cannot take care of herself and I was told later by Mr. Hafner that she could not take care of herself, but we have no place for her.

How pathetic! Our county is spending millions to renovate Mexico’s building so these workers are comfortable and yet they can’t afford a place for people like my tenant.

I had to have a lawyer go to the judge and guess what; no one from DSS showed up to represent this poor lady.

Since the Maxwell case in Palermo, this department was given 30 more employees. If you can see what I’ve seen in two months, you would be shocked out of your shoes. Believe in the system? No way.

Our money in this county is just thrown away on things that are not important. How many people are out there who cannot take care of themselves and we have no place for them? How many other landlords had the same problem? My heart goes out to her, and in court there was no case worker. Shame!

Valley Viewpoints: Oswego assessor

by George Clark of Oswego

When is the City of Oswego assessor’s position up for re-appointment?

The Oswego City Charter, Article XVI, Department of Assessment, section C16-00 (Amended 7-9-2007 by L.L. No. 6-2007) states: “The Mayor of the city shall appoint a single Assessor to a six-year term of office commencing October 1, 1978, as provided by section 310 and 328 of the Real Property Tax Law. The Assessor must meet the minimum qualification standards established by the New York state Board of Real Property Services.”

Oct. 1, 1978 to Oct. 1, 2008 would encompass five full terms of appointment. The appointing authority for the City of Oswego in 2008 was Mayor Randolph Bateman.

Aug. 3, 2011, under the Freedom of Information Act, I applied to the city’s Records Access Officer for the “Civil Service appointment document, signed by  appointing authority, for current City Assessor.”  This was approved Aug. 3, 2011 and a Report of Personnel Change was provided.

The RPC indicated that Susan E. Gallagher Deary held the position of assessor and a permanent appoint was made by the appointing officer John J. Gosek, Mayor, effective July 12, 2004.

Oct. 4, 2011, I submitted a FOIL to the city for the “Civil Service appointment document, signed by current appointing authority, for City Assessor.”  This was denied for the following reason: “Record does not exist.”

Therefore, according to City records, the only appointment made for Susan E. Gallagher Deary was by Mayor John J. Gosek in 2004.

The City of Oswego Assessor has held a six-year term of office for eight years leaving the possibility of two explanations: a change in the law governing this position or another Mayor Bateman sleight of hand.

Valley Viewpoints: Circle of Friends

by Dean Norton, President of the New York Farm Bureau

I am pleased to announce that New York Farm Bureau has recently named Senator Patty Ritchie to our annual “Circle of Friends” list.

This legislative award is granted based upon her record of legislative support for New York agriculture and the Farm Bureau. New York Farm Bureau is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse elected officials or political candidates.

Senator Ritchie joins a number of other legislators in the Senate and Assembly that have a superior voting record on issues and have shown strong support for New York farming during the 2012 state legislative session.

Each member of the Farm Bureau “Circle of Friends” has demonstrated an understanding of the important issues impacting farmers and the considerable impact the industry has on our economy and quality of life.

New York Farm Bureau, the state’s largest general farm advocacy organization, works closely with the state legislature to strengthen and enhance the agricultural industry in New York State.

This year’s legislative session proved to be a challenging one for farmers, but with significant support from key legislators, such as Senator Ritchie, agriculture will continue to be one of New York’s most important industries.

We are pleased to provide the “Circle of Friends” designation to Senator Patty Ritchie to thank her for her hard work on behalf of farmers in her District and across New York State.

Valley Viewpoints: Nobody home

by Frank Castiglia of Fulton

I’m going to give you all the Reader’s Digest version of what happened this past week in my neighborhood.

It all started Thursday morning with a call from my neighbor who had just had buried her husband of 61 years the day before. I thought it must be a real emergency or she wouldn’t be calling at 6 a.m. She was very upset because she had found more cockroaches in her driveway the night before and she was crying and wanted the number of our common councilor.

She said she couldn’t take it anymore. The problem roaches were coming from the rental property next door to her.

Later Thursday, I saw her outside her house and she said she had called our councilor and also the mayor. I told her that I would call both of them myself. I also called the code enforcement office.

When talking to the mayor’s office, I was told that the problem was going to be taken care of. When I got back from work Thursday, I was told by my neighbor that the councilor had been there earlier in the day and made sure all the trash was picked up.

I asked if the mayor had called or been there and she said, “No.” She was told he would call her of Friday.

The code-enforcement officer had been there but did not go in the apartment house at all. I asked her why not and she didn’t know. We then talked to the councilor and found out that the code-enforcement officer that takes care of these problems is out of town for a least a week. I said, “Well, our mayor has said more then a few times how he is a code enforcement officer, why doesn’t he come up here?” She didn’t know why.

Friday came and went and there was no visit from the mayor and no one came to treat the apartment house for the roach problem. The only visitors were the roaches that were passing through the driveway. The neighbor said that the mayor’s office said he would call on Monday.

Over the weekend, the landlord came and spot sprayed for the roach problem. Meanwhile, my neighbor had many people come and treat both her house and lawn and also half way around the apartment building.

Monday came and by 9:30 a.m. no call from the mayor to my neighbor. She called him again. This time she was put on hold and then got to talk to him.

In the conversation, she said that the mayor knew the landlord and they had dealt with her before and they would take care of it (That means he will call her and ask her if she has taken care of the problem: at least that is what has happened in the past).

He also tried to smooth things over with telling her that anything she puts out for collection will be picked up.

I didn’t bother calling the mayor again because once I’ve heard a bad song, I don’t care to hear it again.

Now the point is that nobody from codes office has been inside the apartment house to see for themselves. So I guess nobody is at home.

When you call the cable company they give you a four-hour window for when they will show up to fix the problem. I guess that when you call the city (not the councilor) they give you a five-day or two-week window or don’t show up at all.

Now I would have taken this to the common council meeting Tuesday night but the council has forbid anyone from saying anything negative about any city workers and that includes the mayor. Just another way of “Silencing the Lambs.”

I would like to say thank you to our fine Fourth Ward councilor. She was right up here and did all she could.