Prediction or Prophecy?

While researching the 2007 mayoral election in Amsterdam, New York, I found a couple of interesting articles from the Recorder. The first, written as a letter to the editor, was published October 7, 2007:

Ann Thane not qualified to be mayor

 As a former member of the Walter Elwood Museum board of directors and as a non-city resident I would like to say that I was not sorry or surprised to read of Ann Thane’s departure from the museum. Simply by looking at the museum’s non-profit public information (form 990), which is available online, you can see that during most of Ann’s seven years, the museum has been run at a deficit, has had a minimal face-lift and the number of children that the museum serves has been steadily declining. Yes, she is an artistic person and has a pleasant and fun-loving personality. However, financially the museum is not in good shape. Ann has only managed a staff of two part-time people, of which one position has turned over several people within a four-year time frame. This does not quantify an effective manager and cannot even compare with the overseeing of a city’s personnel that includes eight unions. Had Ann implemented and followed some form of her four-point plan that she proposes to the residents of the City of Amsterdam, perhaps the Elwood Museum would not be on the verge of closing its doors yet again. As director of an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of heritage and tourism whose own vision statement is to “promote a dynamic, rich, unified community that values its heritage” Ann really stunned me when she commented to the press about tearing down one of the Town of Amsterdam’s most historic buildings, having a nearly 200-year history. Before city residents vote for the mayor take note, take action and vote for the person with the most qualification to run the city effectively, that in my opinion is John Duchessi.

TOM FOSTER, Amsterdam

The second, written by Recorder Staff as part of an editorial titled Duchessi is the right choice for Amsterdam,was published October 31, 2007. This is the section describing 2007 mayoral candidate Ann Thane:

Thane, former director of the Walter Elwood Museum, is another one of the quirks about this race. This is her first foray into the political arena — and she’s shooting way over her head for the top job. She has already defeated (by more than 200 votes) Duchessi in the Democratic primary. Her candidacy has created a lot of buzz. Unfortunately, for the wrong reasons. We have for years lamented the lack of effort on the part of the local party committees to drum up enough qualified candidates to run for office. So when someone does volunteer to put their ideas on the line and their personal life on hold to make a run for a thankless job, this should be greeted with respect and appreciation. That being said, we admire Thane for her willingness to try to make a difference. After speaking with her, however, we don’t believe she can. Our concerns are numerous and are topped by the fact that she has a real chance of winning — which could send the city into a downward spiral. With the swift pulling of the wrong lever, the part-time lack of leadership we have stumbled through in the past four years at City Hall could very well be replaced by a full-time lack of leadership. Substance is a key word in any election campaign, and is the main ingredient missing from Thane’s. She initially comes across as a fresh new package — the bright light so needed in this wounded city. The package, however, is empty. Her platform has no legs. She appears comfortable with her lack of accountability, is exceptionally vague on major issues, has no real idea of how toimplement any plan she may have for the future of Amsterdam, and gives little indication that she understands how city government operates. She says economic development efforts should be more coordinated but offers no solution (“It’s something we need to look at,” she says); she admits she hasn’t been privy to the latest city/town water negotiations (“I don’t know the whole picture”); she speaks of starting up a community business center but offers no concrete information about it (“We need to look at that”); she would consider rezoning Main Street west of the mall but is not clear on the how or why (“We need to start thinking out of the box and not recycling the same old ideas”). Thane admits the 8-to-5 aspect of the mayor’s job is attractive to her. She believes her talents are for leading, jokes that she suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder, and can juggle many balls at one time. Thane appears hooked on marketing the city of Amsterdam, developing a Web site, and selling the city. And although she’s not entirely clear on who her target audience might be (“That needs to be assessed”), she is confident her marketing strategies would work. “You can sell ice to Eskimos. It worked for me,” she told us. Mind you, there is little substance to this plan, other than her interest in having town residents help pay to maintain the Web site. Or maybe AIDA could help pay for it. Her answer was vague. As if she, too, was hearing it for the first time. She’s enthusiastic, energetic and in way over her head. We wish her luck, however, because this is, after all, Amsterdam. And the electorate is impossible to handicap. Can this city afford to wait while its next mayor completes on-the-job training, or would it be in our best interests to choose an administration prepared to hit the ground running? The answer, and the future of the city, are in the hands of the voters.

It’s something we all need to look at!

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43 thoughts on “Prediction or Prophecy?

  1. diane

    That says it all, along with the 40,000.00 shortfall at the Waterfront Foundation that had to be paid by the city. But I guess when you have Congressman Tonko going door to door with you, it makes no differnce as long as his puppet gets in.

    • I love the fact that this foundation did such great work in the past by bringing the river back to Amsterdam. It looks as if it could use some new leadership. This is a cause I would love to work for.

      Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation, Inc. is in a bit of a bind for failure to file the required IRS forms. Their tax exempt status was pulled by the IRS.

      A quick internet search will give you the following message:
      “This organization’s exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.”

      I don’t know how that affects the City bailing them out or why they would need to. Could you elaborate?

      • diane

        I think it was during the Emanuele administration that 40,000.00 was paid to bail out the waterfront foundation. Obviously it should be looked into. My understanding of the foundation was to handle all of the expenses of Riverlink Park, including the Restaurant, maintenance, flowers, trash etc, so it would not be a burden on the city. You can see how well that has gone. The city does everthing for the park now and has for several years, except the entertainment which is still handled thru them by Paul Gavry.

        • diane

          Jerry, I may be wrong on who does what the Foundation or the Commission. One is to raise funds, and the other is to operate or oversee operations. Either way, one was still balied out to the tune of 40,000.00.

          Maybe somebody will correct me if I am wrong.

        • There originally was a Waterfront Development Committee under Mayor Mario Villa who came up with the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan that started the development for riverfront access in 1992. It had plans for a boat launch on the West end at lock 11, a Marina for Port Jackson as well as Riverfront Park.
          The members of that original Committee were Dr. Vincent Filanova-Chairman, Richard Armstrong, Robert Bellance, Pamela Burns, Harold Johnson, Doug Nadler Philip Rich and Virginia Whelly.

          It looks to me like once the original revitalization plan was complete, part of the committee morphed into the Waterfront Foundation, Inc. a not for profit so they could raise money.

          The first tax filing I can find for the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation, Inc. is 1999 with Virginia Whelly as President. The 2001 IRS filing lists Paul Parillo as President and the purpose of the organization was to “raise funds from the public and local business to maintain and improve riverfront parks in the City of Amsterdam” Accomplishments are listed as “The foundation has raised money to help defray the cost of construction of the riverlink park, specifically a public walking path, indian paintings and amphitheater, no expenses other than administrative have been incurred” Beginning in 2001 construction started and the grand opening occurred, construction costs have been incurred and paid.”

          The 2003, 2004 filing lists the President as Charles Schwartz, VP-Dan Sitler, members Peter Capobianco, Gerard DeCusatis-Legal Council, Doug Nadler, Walter Sprouse, Barbara Sprouse Ann Thane-Secretary, Virginia Whelly. The 2004 IRS filing for the AWF is signed by Ann M. Thane in 2005.

          The only committee member listed as ever being paid was Doug Nadler who claimed a salary of $14, 500. in 2003. That seems odd to me.

          The only online tax filings are for 1999 through 2004.

          In any case, as the park progressed the duties of the Waterfront Foundation dwindled down to raising money for the entertainment and taking care of the docking fees in the summer.

  2. Alayne

    I too did a little research regarding the last election/debate…
    At the recent debate Thane blasted Mr. Emanuele for not knowing the exact amount of the fund balance, saying she was stunned that he would be running for the position of mayor and not familiarize himself with what is currently happening in city hall. Funny, here was her answer to one of the questions posed to her during the 2007 debate by former Mayor Duchessi. From YNN:

    John Duchessi didn’t miss his chance. (to ask a question) The former mayor, who lost to Thane in the democratic primary, pointed out his city hall experience by asking her about two city tax caps.

    “I would like to ask Ann Thane what they are and how they are applied,” Duchessi said.

    “Actually I can not and in making this decision to run for mayor I was aware I would not be completely informed on every aspect of city government,” Thane responded.

    After last years budget fiasco, it was clear that four years later she is still unaware of what the tax caps are and how they are applied.
    ….and her double standards are absolutely laughable!

    • diane

      It would not do Joe any good to try and find out what the fund balance is, I have FOILED it, and they have not replied. I don’t think there is anyone in the controller’s office that knows what it is. And if the mayor knows she is keeping it a secret.

  3. This is before Weaver, Milan, Hetrick, Georgia, Lyford and a holy host of Johnny-come-latelys nosed their warped influence into city politics. Jerry in one of your next blogs, let’s alert some of her followers how she as CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR, along with the help of DeCusatis and Bob Reidy—have totally dissected the Department of Public Works. We can talk about creating Competitive Civil Service tests for positions (even a garbageman) that are governed by contract, then asking the State to approve the tests and giving the tests without first getting approval from the Civil Service Commission or the State. Then we can talk a little bit of the health insurance blunder and how DeCusatis appealed to the DPW union to make concessions to help bail them out financially. Then we can talk about putting derogatory information into personnel folders for any employee who was a thorn in the side otherwise noted as a model employee. Yes yes, we can also discuss how she eliminated contractual positions then put in paid part-timers to duplicate the role of who/what was taken away (thus paying TWO people to do a job). Then let’s chat about how I had to file a grievance on Monday (now at Step 2-Engineer) because someone refuses to pay $.75/hour (contractual) to the DPW employees who worked as sanitation workers during the flood cleanup of the Southside and West End. Oh yeah let’s not forget about her little connection with someone who admittedly displayed bigotry and is currently allowed to sit on a City commission, then calling the APD to keep an eye on a particular person who looks a little bit like me—but don’t fool yourself—it’s not me. What this woman has done–albeit playing marionette for DeCusatis and Bob Reidy, as cheif executive officer, is inhumane and insulting slap in the face to the most dedicated (and underpaid) Department in this City. All that so she can paint walls, place carpet, watch flowers grow, use the Mayors car like a taxi. She ought to be ashamed of herself, and anyone else who sits in her camp ought to be ashamed of themselves likewise. Let me tell you also, this isn’t Tony making this up either. Diane. I know what my protections are against those who are quick to draw. So Diane when you get in, you’re invited to go to where I work and see what’s really going down, aside from the morale of 41 storehouse employees.

    • Tony, as a City employee you do have a unique perspective on the City Administration.
      A lot of the issues you listed here should have been taken care of by your Union Representative. That is their primary purpose, contract negotiation should be secondary to issues involving enforcement of the current contract, like working conditions, employee discipline and out of title work.

      • You’re right…However, the issues that confront us are direct result initiation from DeCusatis and Robert Reidy, then the Mayor bandwagons. Initiated by them, causing a reaction by union members (and–get this—taxpayers in Amsterdam!). Contract also states that the media may be involved after Step 1. The reason why I mentioned all that I did was simply due to the fact that those issues were never brought up at the “debate”. For whoever reads this, don’t be thinking everything is all happy happy kosher with the DPW and Thane. You’d be fooling yourself. She’s done more damage to the Department of Public Works, as an administrator (and I’ll use that term lightly) than the last 5 Mayors—combined. Considering she has only been a resident of this city for oh—15-16 years, she wouldn’t know that SOOOOO who you think is steering the ship? A Lawyer who should have never been allowed to sit on the Civil Service Commission immediately following his defeat by Joe Emanuele??? Tweety Bird says……”Uhhhhh Could Be”

        • Rob Millan

          It’s very difficult to tell from your comment if Thane has done ‘more damage to the DPW’ in the name of something better for the City or not. I can tell you, though, that she has certainly done a better job at cleaning up house down there. It appears as if you are upset only because Thane has actually cracked a few loose canons into shape- shape up or ship out. I wouldn’t want someone like Thane as my boss… I can tell you that.

          It’s the Department of Public Works, not the Department of Public Wanton-ness. It’s a taxpayer-funded agency of city government whose employees are paid by the people they serve. There are people out there who need jobs; if they’re underperforming or not performing, or acting in a reckless manner on city time I’d say give their job to someone who clearly needs it more than someone who doesn’t care. To say ‘damage’ when you really mean ‘set straight’ is far misleading.

          It seems as if the DPW is actually a great place to work for those that actually do their jobs.

    • I moved to Amsterdam in 1978. Married someone who lived here all her life. Have worked in Amsterdam ever since. Have owned a business in Amsterdam for seventeen years. Owned property in Amsterdam and rehabbed it. Have been writing about politics in Amsterdam for the Gazette for eighteen years. Hardly makes me a Johnny-Come-Lately.

  4. The Recorder editorial has some tough criticism of Ann Thane. Interesting to note that it’s not too flattering for Joe Emanuele either – ie when it references him as “…the part-time lack of leadership we have stumbled through in the past four years at City Hall…”

    • They were critical of the part time Mayor as well. I have to admit that I was not impressed by his lackluster performance at the Tuesday night debate. I left wanting to hear more from Emanuele and did not care for his lack of interest in a web or Facebook presence.

  5. It was not the Emanuele administration that bailed out the Waterfront Foundation. In fact, we couldn’t even get the Foundation to explain to us what they did, what funds they had, or what their plans were. They held a sublease on the Riverlink Park property, built the restaurant without the permission (or knowledge) of the state, and were entirely responsible for the expenses of the up keep of the park. The city got stuck with all of it, or at least accepted it under this mayor.

    • diane

      Ok, thank you for the explanation Bob. So it was during her first 6months that the 40,000.00 was paid?? Why then do we have a commission and foundation? As I said, is one to raise the funds to take care of everything? Obviously we do not need both.?

    • Alayne

      The Waterfront Foundation needs a complete overhaul.

  6. diane

    Question, did Dan Sitler ever live in the city? He was a VP, why so? Saratoga Assoc?? I see GD with his hand in this. Whatever happened, Ann and GD were aware of it and then had the city pay to cover up their mistakes when they took office? I remember very little of the discussion on this subject, but considering who was on the council four years ago two votes would have been Dan R. and Kim B. No doubt the way it was explained they had no choice but to vote to cover the expense. And I agree Jerry, why did Doug get paid that one year, unless he was handling the boats and unlocking the gate? Interesting history that is for sure. Interesting that the painted rocks have just been finished and were part of the current bond money. So why are they saying they raised money for it, when it was bond monies?? What did the money they raised get used for, since it was not the painted rocks?

  7. Dan Sitler did not live in Amsterdam. I assume he was on the foundation because the foundation really operated as a subsidiary of Saratoga Associates, who got paid for all the work in the parks. This kept it out of the city’s hands and in the hands of the elite corps who operated it as their own fiefdom. Of course, the city ended up stuck with a hundred grand for the bridge over the tracks, all of the repair bills, all of the power costs (which are substantial) and ultimately all of the maintenance. But otherwise, the city had no input whatever. Strictly a Tonko project.

  8. Jerry, I find it interesting that you have repeatedly said that non-residents don’t have a voice in Amsterdam politics, but you reprint a letter here from a non-resident about Amsterdam politics.

    • diane

      That letter was sent from an individual that was born and raised here in Amsterdam and only recently moved out of the city. He still conducts business here. His letter only touches on some of the issues that were going on down there. If more people had taken the time to check into things there and the waterfront, maybe we would not be in the position we are in today. The mayor has a patern of deficit spending going back too many years. We cannot afford another 4 years of someone that has no respect for the tax payers monies. It has to stop now, and pray it is not too late.

      • Tom Foster and I are friends. Have been for ten years or more. We have done a lot of business with each other. Tom moved out of Amsterdam several years before I did. Tom being somewhat younger than I am, did not live in Amsterdam any longer than I did. Tom does do business in Amsterdam. Like you, he has supported my store. My store, however, is located in Amsterdam. Tom’s business is located in the Town of Florida.

      • Rob Millan


        Fact check please: the mayor has never once run Amsterdam at a deficit during her tenure; this easily throws out your ‘no respect for the tax payers money’ line, although please cite an example if you still think you have one. You cannot simply go about spreading lies without any merit or basis.

        You are bringing up her positions with the WEM and the Waterfront, which have absolutely nothing to do with her position as mayor much less with the city’s tax money, nor are they any defense for why one shouldn’t vote her.

        I’m not sure if you’ve read anything fact-based lately, but Thane did have an average user fee increase of about 2% per year, versus Emanuele’s nearly 6%, Diane.

        • Alayne

          Let us not forget, if not for the common council voting against it, our water fee would have taken a 17% increase. Funny how all of the Thane supporters seem to leave that little tidbit out.
          Sadly, the mayor and her supporters must not feel that she is able to win the upcoming election based on merit, as it seems that embellished and distorted truths are the only things they seem to be able to give the public!!!

        • Rob Millan

          Let’s toss reality out the window for a second since you’d rather compare something that did not happen to something that did: even if water rates went up 17%, that would have meant an average user fee increase of 3.57% annually. You can still compare this to Emanuele’s 5.68%.
          No one from the Emanuele’s has even attempted to challenge this fact.

        • Roberto,
          The proposal was to override the 3% tax cap already in place and a 17% increase in the user fee for THIS fiscal year, resulting in the community coming together to DENOUNCE this tax and spend idea.

          The overwhelming response can be seen here:

          Now with an even lower 2% tax cap in place, the City cannot continue to spend like they have in the past. It is time to make some drastic cuts, not the year-to-year band aid measures the administration currently practices. Raising property taxes that are already among the highest in the nation is NOT an option. We need to reduce spending, downsize the City workforce consolidating services with the County to get out of this fiscal crisis.
          Ann Thane has proven that she is not capable of accomplishing that task.

        • Alayne

          The only reason Thane’s “average” has remained low is because the Common Council basically CUT HER OFF. If left up to Thane she would still be on a four year shopping spree, and the city would be in worse financial condition than it is now.

        • Rob Millan

          …and you continue to cite something that did not happen and perpetuate a non-issue and non-event. I don’t know what more I can say, even after citing fact.
          I maintain and it is a fact that Thane has never outspent or run Amsterdam at a deficit.

  9. diane

    My question now is, who and what entity is raising the funds and paying for the summer entertainment?? If the foundation has not filed any tax returns and their exempt status has been revoked, then thru what avenue are these funds being raised and paid out??

  10. Pingback: The truth about Mayor Thane and the Walter Elwood Museum | Downtown Man in an Uptown World fka Upstream & Downtown

  11. diane

    The reason the fees went up in the Emanuele administration was the settlement for the sewer plant. It was a 10 million dollar settlement causing the sewer fee to go up, thru no fault of his. If he had not settled, the city was looking at the possibility of a 20 million dollar settlement, plus attorney fees. He ends up taking ownership of it though since it happened durning his administration.

    Since I have FOILed the fund balance and it is overdue, I am going to assume there are problems. If there are not, I will apologize, but since nobody wants to state what it is, and respond to the requests then I feel it is being hidden and kept from the public. Maybe you can use your influence with the mayor and have her release the info.

    • First of all I heard the Mayor interviewed on the radio and she gave the amount of the fund balance that was given to her from Heather. I could give you that number but I’m not going to. Since Heather hasn’t responded to your FOIL request I can only assume your continuous badmouthing of her has left her angry and feeling vindictive toward you. I’m going to respect her feeling and not give you the number she gave to the Mayor. Try more honey, less vinegar.

      The only “problem” is that you don’t understand what a fund balance really is. Two honest and resonable people can look at all the information and come up with two very different amounts- and those amounts will change quickly as the normal course of City business proceeds on a day to day basis. It’s not a lump of money sitting in a savings account somewhere that a bank teller can print out for you.

  12. diane

    You know I listened and did not here the mayor quote any figures for the fund balance. Furthermore, it is against NYState law for Heather to continue to ignore my FOIL request. What is sad, is that the alderman as of last week did not even know what the fund balance was. Heather has it within her means to provide the information and her continued refusal only lets the taxpayers know she was not qualified for the job to begin with. She has noone but herself to blame for loosing the primary.

    • Alayne

      Sorry Diane, it seems your FOIL requests have been put on the back burner so the mayor will have time to answer the FOIL requests of her good friends Thom Georgia (candidate for third ward alderman, that surprisingly received his requests in a few short days) and Rob Millan, one of her staunch supporters, so that they could use the information against the their opponents and the folks that Thane considers to be her political foes!!

      • Rob Millan

        I have only ever requested FOIL’s to the city twice; once in May, once in June. I can provide the acknowledgement upon request, but you probably won’t bother asking as you tend to hate facts.
        Your agenda is almost mind-boggling.

      • Rob Millan

        Also, Alayne: my FOIL’s are signed as received and processed by the city clerk; not the mayor.

        • Alayne

          You admitted FOILing Diane’s FOILs on another blog. That is unless you were lying, in an attempt to impress Bethany, of course. And then there is Thom Georgia, the candidate “armed with a degree in political science and extensive experience in finance, (mind you his only jobs have been Thane’s aide and the cable guy at the local library….according to the blog on his Website he FOILs thing on Friday and has answers by Sunday. When your entire life is full of lies Rob, Tatum, Anthony, a single mom. or whoever you are today, it makes it very difficult to keep your stories straight!

        • Rob Millan

          Yes, I admitted to FOIL’ing Diane’s requests if only to get the amount if manhours in fulfilling them. That was 1 request. The other was for the tax and user fee schedule.
          That’s it. Period.
          If you look at this trail, Chris, you’ll see every one of your attempts at taking a stab at
          me has been steadfastly quashed. It’s shameful on your part that I need to take time out of my cab ride to a childrens cancer event to again defend myself in fear that people who didn’t know any better would actually believe what you attempt to say about me. To date you have yet to provide anything useful or resourceful in any conversation, instead hijacking a blog to spread rumors. It’s pitiful because I wish we could actually exchange convivial dialog. I understand Charlie, Jerry, and other hosts have had an honest responsibility in ‘calling it as it is’, but God Almighty can you be fair for even one comment or moment?
          You should be ashamed at wanting to bicker than talk anything useful, insightful, or even remotely plausible, instead opting to attack people versus an idea. You’re still reeling over identities instead of reading actual value in someone’s thought, as if no good can be had in someone’s brain unless a name is put to it, despite your flagrant use of a pseudonym yourself. Funny how that works.

        • Alayne

          ONE ROB! I used the name Chris, so I would not be harassed by one person…Karin, as some of her posts were down right frightening and I will admit, she scares me. I did not go by numerous names, I never claimed to be an atty. or a law professor, a single mom, live in numerous cities, have parents that were doctors, nor have I ever been kicked off a blog! I am almost to the point of feeling sorry for you. Seemingly Thane and Co. has taken advantage of the fact that you are young, impressionable, and easily brainwashed, and this is just the type of person Thane and Co. preys on…that way you can do their dirty work, like the tasteless Joe E. Website and their hands will stay clean. Meanwhile the JE site completely reeks of cat litter and Thanisms. I could really care what you or any of your childlike political cronies think…I think I have made that more than clear on this Website and many others! And God help you if the entire fund raiser for children with cancer was another one of your numerous lies. I am done wasting my time on a kid that would not know REALITY if he ran into on his train to the prestigious law school in which he claimed to be a professor, that was actually just another freaky and demented lie!

  13. Bill Sheehan

    It’s great to see that bitterness and rancor still drive Amsterdam politics. Take a look at the city and ask who has put in more effort to drive change in their four years in the office and then make an intelligent and informed decision. you may criticize the incumbent for trying to improve the city’s image by enhancing cosmetics, but then again, you can take the challenger to task for approaching the job as a part-time endeavor and leaving the city to a large degree in the hands of a group of self-important opportunists. The race is not and should not be the city’s past, but should be about it’s future. You can’t drive a car by looking solely in the rear-view mirror. I don’t live in the city [or work there anymore], but if i did, I’d probably be voting for the incumbent.

    • Alayne

      Unfortunately you cannot drive a car if there if no money to purchase the gas… because someone spent it all on a paint job!

  14. Comments are now closed on this post. I gave everyone some leeway to vent and post their opinions but it has turned into a slugfest with little resemblance to the posted topic.

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