Tiptoe Through the Tulips

An article in the Amsterdam Recorder today (written by Jarrett Carroll) describes yet another incident of unnecessary discretionary spending of taxpayer money by Mayor Ann Thane.

Thane held a volunteer tulip planting event November 5, 2011, at the intersection of Guy Park Ave and Route 30 near Kirk Douglas Park. Many viewed this event as a last-minute campaign ploy by the Mayor to garner public support for her reelection. The public was led to believe that the tulips were donated by the Wrestling Hall of Fame.  We learned from the Recorder article that the majority of the tulips were purchased with taxpayer money. Since the amount ($379.16) was not included in the approved budget, the Mayor needed approval from the Common Council for the purchase. The proposal went to the Council well after the purchase was made and was rejected by the Council.

We also learned from this article that taxpayer money was also spent on the murals painted on the rose garden wall next to City Hall and in Kirk Douglas Park across from the Police Department.  We were led to believe this was an all volunteer effort at no cost to the taxpayers.  My pet peeve about the murals is that they were intended to improve blighted areas of the City that serve as our gateways (East End).  The East End was not adorned with these murals; again the effort went into beautifying City Hall.

At this years Mayoral Debate, Thane described her office as an “open book”, however that book can only be checked out by select individuals.  The rest of us must rely on what is presented to the general public. From my view the two are not on the same chapter, causing the divide between the citizens of Amsterdam to widen even more.

These incidents detract from what the Council should be accomplishing, like approving the proposed Zoning Ordinance changes or the Ward redistricting that was completed by Montgomery County Planning.

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26 thoughts on “Tiptoe Through the Tulips

  1. karin

    Jerry,

    You are SO VERY WRONG about “The Muralists” being paid to paint the brick wall in the Rose Garden at City Hall. WE DID NOT GET PAID ONE CENT – nor did we ever have a converstion about money – EVER! You should really check your facts on that!! We brought most of OUR OWN paint, and the colors we didn’t have – we got from the City’s “donated” PAINT BANK. Also, we used ALL OF OUR OWN paint brushes and supplies. The only thing that we used that belonged to the City was a ladder to reach the high wall – and I can assure you that the city already had that ladder and did not buy it for us to use during our painting and it was never taken off the premises. Check your facts before you start accusing people of doing things. Thank you.
    “The Muralist(s)”.

    • The information obtained for my blog post was taken from the Recorder article in which Alderman Wills is quoted as stating,

      “I allowed the payment for the mural at City Hall by a ‘muralist’ with no credentials to support that claim and many other interesting items that have amounted to a significant sum over these past six months.”

      • Rob Millan

        With all due respect, we should be more concerned with an alderman who ‘allowed the payment for the mural at City Hall’ despite admitting he didn’t want to, which others have pointed is typical Bill Wills flip-floppery.  I guess one last ‘hoorah’ before leaving office is in order. It makes you wonder how many other decisions were based on this blind faith logic.  And contrary to what he stated, the city is not ‘impoverished.’
        Yes, $379 (for flowers to make the place more attractive to people) of a $25MM budget will surely throw us into poverty.

        Where are everyone’s priorities?

        • We? Why are YOU concerned? You live in New York City and pay no property tax or utility fees in Amsterdam. Your bottom line is not affected by out of control spending. Because the expenditure had no approval from the Council, it should be paid by the Mayor, unless of course you want to write a check to cover the amount.

        • Michael Donnan

          Not every single item purchased needs to be approved by the Council. You couldn’t possibly run a tiny village that way let alone a city. Can you imagine if the the Council had to meet every time a spare part had to be purchased for any of the dozens of machines, vehicles and buildings the city owns? They’d have to meet twice a day. The DPW needs to buy a rake. Call a meeting! One of the trucks needs a radiator hose. Call a meeting!
          A printer needs a new ink cartridge. Call a meeting!
          Like it or not she’s THE MAYOR. Of course she can purchase some bulbs. The entire conversation is absurd.

        • Rob Millan

          Maybe I can get Mike Bloomberg to cut Amsterdam a check for $379. And you have positively no idea where I maintain my residence. Proof?

        • That information was from one of the many stories you tell, like when you tried to convince us that you were a female lawyer named Tatum Stevens. I do know you own no property in Amsterdam and contributed $300. to Ann Thane’s campaign fund.

        • The tulips donated should have been enough. There was no need to spend another $379.16 for more tulips that were not budgeted for, not an emergency as such did not comply with the City’s purchasing regulation. Like it or not the Common Council is the City’s Legislative body, not the Mayor.

  2. If you recall, Thammy Georgia was in charge of planting those in an attempt to stage up his campaign. The Recorder took to it like it an all you can eat lobsterfest at the Riverlink Park….Add this one to the scrapbook.

  3. karin

    Another Correction: My sister is also an Elected Official, who helped paint this fabulous mural FOR FREE at City Hall. Just wondering why you NEVER mention her name in these “commentary’s” of yours? Also, do know how many wedding photos, senior class photos, family reunion photos and so on have been taken in front of that mural? You’d be amazed . . . .

    • Karin, I mentioned NO names in my blog post other than Mayor Ann Thane and Jarrett Carroll who wrote the article.

      • karin

        You didn’t have to mention anything at all, because it isn’t true, . . . and everyone knows exactly what your doing. You are “extremely” transparent.

        • The public has a right to know how their money is being spent. I am glad Alderman Wills brought this information to light. There has been too much secrecy with this administration, not enough transparency. Hopefully the new Council will put and end to the unnecessary spending.

        • Michael Donnan

          Secrecy? What secrecy? Do you want a press release every time the city spends $300? There was no effort to hide this minor purchase AT ALL. Everything was done above board and by the book. They were planted by volunteers in a public park- what part of that is secretive? The invoice was submitted to the Common Council and reviewed at a public meeting. Where was the slightest effort made to this secret?

          The reason you didn’t know about it is because a $300 purchase for flower bulbs by a city with a $25 million budget is about its as note worthy and news worthy as a DPW employee taking a couple sick days. Not a secret, just a total non-event.

        • By the book would be obtaining approval from the Common Council BEFORE the expenditure, not trying to push it through after the fact.

          Here is the message from the City of Amsterdam Facebook page soliciting volunteers:

          “City of Amsterdam seeks volunteers

          We’re asking for anyone interested in helping with the planting of 2,500 daffodil and tulip bulbs to meet at the parking lot of Kirk Douglas Memorial Park this Saturday morning at 9am. Bulbs will be planted en masse in the small orchard adjacent to the park at the convergence of RT 30 and Guy Park Avenue.

          “I am grateful for the generous donation of bulbs from the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, and to Tony Vellano for his continued interest in revitalization of our community.” said Mayor Thane. “Since taking office in 2008, the efforts of our volunteers in neighborhood watch and beautification events has been extraordinary. We are all in dept to these wonderful individuals for their hard work and effective collaboration.”

          The city has held several neighborhood association events that have resulted in over nine tons of litter being removed from the streets, graffiti paint-outs, meet & greet events, and this year’s very successful “Spring Fling” downtown. Plans have already begun for next year’s event. Anyone needing additional information or wishing to become involved in neighborhood association activities, the 2012 Spring Fling, or Saturday’s planting may call the Mayor’s office at 841-4311.”

          Do YOU see any mention of the City buying bulbs with taxpayer dollars? This is only one incident of many concerning unnecessary spending. Last years expenditure of $4,000. for Christmas holiday lights was another.

        • Michael Donnan

          Of course it’s not mentioned. Nobody cares! Except you, Wills and Diane. And you don’t care about $300 for bulbs. With the three of you it’s personal. It’s a minor expediture on a perfectly appropriate project. A routine transaction in any city in this country. But it happens to be all Wills could find to tantrum about. That’s the only reason it’s being discussed at all.

        • As I mentioned before, it would have been a routine expenditure if it was budgeted for and purchasing procedure was followed. Amsterdam homeowners care. It will be our property taxes and utility fees that go up to pay for these unnecessary expenditures. Apparently you do not own a home in Amsterdam.

  4. karin

    Yes, I’m also glad to help boost your blog hits.

  5. diane

    Jerry,
    I will try this again and see if it will post.
    I have read several articles on the bulb planting and each one was different than the Recorder. As I understand it, 1000 bulbs were donated by the PWHF.. The mayor of her own volition went out and purchased and charged to the city, 1500 more bulbs for the amount in the above article. This was also stated in her interview with the Gazette. Why could she have just not accepted the fact that they could plant some more next year and accept the donation? Even 1000 bulbs is a lot. The mayor feels the more she “prettys up” the city, the more people will like it. Since she is in effect using these bulbs for marketing tools then the funds should be taken from the marketing line. To take them from any other line would be inappropriate. Of course since it was not a budgeted item, she can also be required to pay for them herself.

    In this city’s poor financial state the last thing the mayor needs to do is spend more money. It is going to be very hard next year to come up with a budget that has pay increases across the board and not have to waive the tax cap. These small amounts add up at the end of the year and must be looked at very carefully. I thank Alderman Wills for addressing this issue, as it is never ending.

  6. diane

    Jerry,

    If I am not mistaken it was 5,000.00 for the Christmas lights, plus 500.00 for one additional fixture and then at least 500.00 for the light bill for the lights. The actual expense came out of the rec budget. No doubt the mayor had Rob put it in there. Too bad we could not have found something less expensive to purchase and operate.

    • karin

      Since you have so much time on your hands, why don’t you wrap yourself in red ribbon & holly and parade up and down Church St. for the holiday season – that would be much less expensive!

      • Or you could do the decorating and get reimbursed by the City. That is how it works, isn’t it?

      • diane

        Karin,
        The above is fact Karin and the mayor did not have to choose the most expensive item and could have waited and bought them on sale. This is not her personal bank account, yet she uses no common sense in her purchases and just buys, spending other people’s money. If times were different economically, it would be a different story, but it is not. This is taxpayer money that many residents are struggling to pay. Neither you nor the mayor seem to get that. Just spend, spend……….

  7. Comments on this blog post are now closed because of a few commenters that have gone into attack mode.

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