Posts Tagged With: amsterdam common council

The Clear Choice


On Friday evening, Amsterdam’s Century Club on Guy Park Avenue was full of people wanting to see change in our city as they came out in support of Chad Majewski for 3rd Ward Alderman. It wasn’t just the 3rd Ward that came to support Chad, there were representatives from all of Amsterdam’s wards as well as current elected officials. Amsterdam’s citizens are hungry for a change in local government, one that will move our city forward and Chad Majewski is the candidate that can do just that. He IS the clear choice.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Celebration, Law | Tags: , , , ,

Meet Chad Majewski


This election year is very important for the City of Amsterdam, New York. All of the elected positions are up for grabs and with the dysfunction in City Hall over the past few years, we certainly need some new candidates for the job.

Chad Majewski has stepped up to the plate and is running for 3rd Ward Alderman. A lifelong resident of Amsterdam, Chad cares passionately about our community. Chad attended Amsterdam schools and worked his way up to Vice President of Sales at Noteworthy Corporation.  Through his job Chad has traveled throughout the United States communicating with businesses and individuals on behalf of Noteworthy. He knows how to negotiate and communicate with people. For the past fourteen years, Chad has sponsored a toy drive benefitting local kids and Catholic Charities. He helped rehabilitate Sirachia Park in his neighborhood as well as his beautiful Victorian home on Guy Park Avenue.

Chad Majewski gets along with everyone. He is articulate, friendly and willing to what is necessary to reduce the blight in our city and make it a great place to live and do business. Amsterdam has a long way to go before it can be called small business friendly. Chad has the know how and experience to move Amsterdam forward, making it a place our residents can be proud of and where small businesses will want to operate from.

The Committee to Elect Chad Majewski is sponsoring a fundraiser on Friday, July 10, 2015, at the Century Club, 130 Guy Park Avenue, Amsterdam, New York. There will be music, hor d’oeuvres and you can meet the new candidate in person.

Please welcome the next generation of Amsterdam politicians by supporting Chad Majewski for 3rd Ward Alderman.

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Categories: Amsterdam | Tags: , , ,

The Tyrant that is Thane


The City of Amsterdam, New York was invigorated by a newly elected Common Council this year. The citizens, not happy with the way taxes were going up and spending was increasing, elected conservative representatives who wanted to make a change. With a highly critical state financial audit, finances are in shambles and our elected officials still do not know how much money is in the city fund balance. Despite these facts Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane continues to increase spending, raising salaries and creating new staff positions at City Hall. Not happy with the take charge attitude of the new Council members, Thane took them to court and sued to get a ruling in her favor about the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course Pro Contract. She continually vetoes any legislation proposed by the Council even if it has unanimous support. This effectively delays the passage of all legislation. She gets on local radio and makes press statements that berate and belittle Council members and anyone who gets in her way.

The public, embarrassed and humiliated by Thane’s behavior, went to the Common Council asking to revise our city charter changing ambiguous wording to prevent misinterpretation and added costly court proceedings. The Common Council appointed a Charter Review Committee (of which this blogger is a member) who would study and recommend changes. Thane stated that a Charter Review Committee was not necessary, that there were more important things to do.

“The mayor agreed with the commission idea in the beginning, but she does not agree with the appointments. What do you do when you have a mayor for six years and she’s relentless? She does not give up; it has to be her way or no way.” — Alderman Diane Hatzenbuhler

Corporation Council Gerard DeCusatis who by law is supposed to support and advise the Mayor and Council, only does so for the Mayor. Soon after the Council appointed Charter Review Committee had its first few meetings, the Mayor appointed her own Charter Review Committee, who she insinuated in The Recorder were more intelligent than the Council appointed committee.

“What I’m looking for are intelligent people to weigh in on a document that’s affected the community for a long time.” –Mayor Ann Thane

This derailed weeks of work already accomplished by the dedicated committee appointed by the Council. As  explained to me, the Mayor’s Committee takes precedent over any other Charter Review Committee who, with this action, can not send any Charter related questions to the ballot for referendum vote in the 2014 general election. Attorney Peter Califano, Chairman of the Mayor’s Charter Review Commission, cited this 2008 NYS Supreme Court decision as the standing ruling on the subject.

After exchanging emails with Peter Califano, I discovered that both of our Committees had a common goal, to strengthen the separation of powers by removing the Mayor as presiding officer of the Common Council.  The Mayor presiding over Council meetings, promotes arguments and obstructs the flow of governance. For Ann Thane who tries to micro-manage every aspect of city government, it only increased her already over-inflated ego.

As many of you know I was an active member of the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation, whose mission was to fund and organize concerts at Riverlink Park that are free to the public every Saturday evening during the months of July and August. Our Committee consisted of four dedicated members who give a lot of time and effort for Riverlink Concerts. I donated a few hundred photos and designed hours worth of advertising design that appeared as posters and ads in local and regional newspapers. All of that has come to an end as I resigned from the Foundation a few weeks ago. Mayor Ann Thane could not keep her control-freak hands off of the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation as she held a secret meeting with Congressman Paul Tonko, Amsterdam Economic Development Director Rob von Hasseln, Grant Writer Nick Zabawski and Waterfront Foundation President Paul Gavry. It seems despite the spin put on the situation, the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook (Pedestrian Bridge) is way over budget and Gavry was told that the Waterfront Foundation would seek grants to fund the 1.6 million dollars of artwork a select committee decided should go on this bridge. In order to carry this out, five new members that they selected would be added to the board of the Waterfront Foundation. This effectively weighted our vote, giving the Mayor control of the Foundation. Of course when we were seeking funding for concerts or wanting to increase our membership for the past two years these people were nowhere to be found. Neither Congressman Tonko, Mayor Thane or the five new Waterfront Commission members came to support the Riverlink Concert fundraiser held at the Amsterdam MUNI Clubhouse on June 13th. They did not consider the impact this new fundraising project would have on grant applications to fund the concert series.

I really loathe politicians, they chew you up and spit you out. It seems my every attempt at civic duty was derailed by this Mayor. It’s been over three years since I sat on the committee to update the Zoning Code along with Montgomery County Planning who were paid by the City to write the new code. The Mayor’s Corporation Counsel DeCusatis sat on the document for over two years for a “legal” review. Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler had me review the document with the codes department earlier this year to get their advice. We are now 6 months into the new Council’s administration and this document still has not been presented to the Common Council for a vote. It increases the area of what is considered Amsterdam’s downtown core and eases restrictions making it much more business friendly. A little follow through and cooperation would really help our local government instead of the costly and obstructionist display of power and disrespect flaunted by Mayor Ann Thane who feels free to lambast and personally attack others when they disagree with her.

Overpriced art pieces Ann Thane insists must go on the pedestrian bridge:

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Categories: Amsterdam, Equality, Law, Politics, Riverlink Park | Tags: , , ,

Meet Laura Elmendorf


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The Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course has been local news for the past few months. A new Common Council with a supermajority vote and a Mayor used to getting her own way have stalled contracts for both the golf pro and the concessionaire at MUNI.

Laura Elmendorf is the concessionaire without a contract who has successfully run the restaurant and bar at the golf course.  Still negotiating her contract, Laura is busy planning for this year’s events.  Although the concession used to be open on weekends during the winter, this year it is closed because a contract was never negotiated or signed last year.

As a board member of the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation, this blogger had the opportunity to meet and talk with Laura while planning a fundraiser to be held at MUNI in June. Every year the Foundation is tasked with raising money, organizing and presenting Riverlink Concerts to the public free of charge. Laura is very pleasant, knowledgeable and personable. She seems much wiser than her years. My visit to MUNI was to get a better idea of the layout and space. The AWF fundraiser will be announced as soon as we have a firm commitment, that being easier said then done.  Laura was ready with menu choices, reasonable prices and suggestions. The venue was larger than I imagined and the views were gorgeous, even in the winter!

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I sincerely hope the responsible parties take care of these contracts soon before scheduling opportunities are lost.

Categories: Amsterdam, Business, Celebration, Entertainment, Outdoors, Photography, Politics, Riverlink Park | Tags: , , , , , ,

About that Art Center…


Around this time last year, the City of Amsterdam, NY realized it owned a building recently vacated by St Mary’s Hospital Outreach Center. Several organizational meetings were held by Mayor Ann Thane to get public comments on just what to do with this building. There were several great suggestions including a Community Recreation Center. Through a series of missteps that did not include required approval from the Common Council, a handpicked committee was formed with the intended purpose of managing and running an Art Center. This committee then became a private entity that would have control of a city owned property again without any advice from the Common Council, the legislative body for the City of Amsterdam. Creative Connections became very non-communicative, refusing to hold public meetings and would not answer any of my email inquiries. Aside from a couple of art shows, there was little action from this committee or programming for the public.

Throughout this process, I recommended to both the Mayor and the Creative Connections Committee, that they get approval from the Common Council as required by law,before proceeding any further. My suggestion was ignored creating a great deal of animosity.

My earlier blog entries describing these occurrences can be found here and here.

At last nights meeting of the Amsterdam Common, a resolution was presented for approval that transferred funds to pay for furnace repair, carpeting and painting of the Creative Connections Arts Center. This brought about a long needed discussion by Council members about why they were never consulted regarding the use of this building.

I commend Alderman Valerie Beekman for standing up to the Council with a direct criticism of the way the Art Center has been handled, at the same time expressing the importance of continuing to move forward and do things the right way as an example to our kids. She pledged to donate the rest her salary to pay for expenses incurred.

Left out of today’s Recorder article describing last night’s Council meeting, was my formal request that one of our Aldermen propose a resolution dedicating the building at 303-305 East Main Street as a Community Recreation Center. The approval of this resolution would, by law, put the management under control of the City Recreation Committee and would allow them to directly receive funding and grants for programs and improvements. This would increase public confidence in the center by providing a documented, public flow of funding with no appearance of impropriety. It would also open the center for use by the entire community and allow the Recreation department to charge a usage fee, relieving some of the tax burden.

I believe my suggestion was taken seriously and that we will see some movement on this proposal.

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Alderman Valerie Beekman authoritatively asserts that the Art Center be handled the right way as an example to our kids.

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Amsterdam Recreation Director Rob Spagnola explains the Art Center repairs and upgrades to Amsterdam’s Common Council.

We also discovered at last nights meeting that the security camera systems donated by the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization last July were finally being installed by Michael R. Parillo. An example of the mounting device designed by Parillo is displayed in the next photo between Corporation Counsel Gerard Decusatis and Alderman Joe Isabel.

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Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis, Alderman Joe Isabel, Alderman Valerie Beekman, Alderman Gina DeRossi

There is still time to buy tickets to the Mardi Gras Dance Party Fundraiser sponsored by the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation on Saturday, February 9, 2013, starting at 5:30pm. All proceeds go to fund the FREE 2013 Amsterdam Riverlink Park Summer Concert Series. You may buy tickets directly from the website www.riverlinkconcerts.com.

 

UPDATE: A Show Of Support

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Categories: Amsterdam, Art, Law, Music, Politics, WPHO | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Midday Common Council Meeting


A Special meeting of the Amsterdam Common Council was held today at 12:30pm to speed up the process of replacing about 250 feet of floating docks at Riverlink Park that were destroyed by last summer’s flooding. City Recreation Director Rob Spagnola pled his case to the Council stating the docks were covered by insurance, that the City was already reimbursed for $50,000 for flood damages. The lowest estimate received was $65,000 and if approved the docks could be replaced in May, in time for boating season. The resolution to authorize bids limited to the floating docks was unanimously passed by the Council (Alderman DeRossi was absent from meeting).

Spagnola went on to state that the docks were the only part of Riverlink Park that was covered under flood insurance. Damage to five decorative light posts is estimated at $15,000. There was also damage to the concession building that was under three feet of water. An adjacent supply shed was also destroyed by the flood.

The only other piece of legislation presented at the meeting was an introductory resolution to place stop signs on Florida Avenue at the intersection of Bridge Street in both directions. A public meeting to discuss this ordinance was scheduled for next Tuesday, February 21, 2012, at 7:20pm.

Also absent from the meeting were the Amsterdam Police and Fire Chiefs as well as City activist Diane Hatzenbuhler (there was no public comment segment in today’s meeting). Reporter Ed Munger covered the meeting for the Daily Gazette and Jarrett Carroll covered the meeting for the Recorder. I was the only City resident in attendance that was not a City employee.






Categories: Amsterdam, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Crows are NOT the Problem


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

You can tell winter is here as the Amsterdam Common Council once again entertains the notion of spending hard-earned taxpayer dollars on chasing crows.  An article by reporter Jamie Studd in the Recorder, describes a presentation to the Council by Mike Russo aimed at scaring the crows using a device that would emit compressed gas at a cost of $500 per tree.

The main crow-roosting area is described as the wooded section of land behind City Hall and Greenhill Cemetery. This area is directly across from my house. As I type this blog entry, my view is of that very wooded area described, which extends the length of High and Grove Streets to Schuyler Street. At $500 per tree, that would be a very costly endeavor, one that has not been proven to work.  If anything, it would move them from one part of the City to another, or is the intent just to clear them from the precious City Hall building and Tesiero’s properties?

Crows are among the most intelligent of birds, the only bird documented using tools to forage for food. They are migratory birds that have proven to be beneficial scavengers eating mice as well as road kill. I actually welcome their presence and stop to watch as they fly overhead at dusk to roost in the trees.  There is absolutely no evidence that this crow population has caused physical damage or posed a health problem in Amsterdam.

Porcupine wire is used to control roosting birds on public buildings

The problem the Amsterdam Common Council should be focusing on, is the damage done by City youths who wander the streets after dusk just looking for trouble. There IS documented evidence that this sub-species has caused physical damage to persons and property. The most recent case is the senseless damage to Riverlink Park as described by reporter Jamie Studd here.

The Common Council has more important work to do as I have harped on in earlier blog entries. The failure of the Council to adopt new Ward boundaries as mandated in the City Charter after the Federal Census was updated has now affected the operation of Montgomery County government as Heather Nellis describes here.  The Council could also help the economy and local business by adopting the completed Zoning Updates which expands the local business area, easing zoning regulations in that area. The Council has stalled and failed to adopt this plan as well.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation is charged with controlling bird populations. If crows were truly a problem, they would be involved.

The Amsterdam Common Council should leave the crows alone and take care of more important matters at hand.

Categories: Amsterdam, Law | Tags: , , , ,

Amsterdam’s 3% Tax Cap Remains in Place!


The City of Amsterdam Common Council unanimously voted NO to the proposal that would have removed the 3% cap on property tax and utility fees.

The proposed insurance contribution increase was tabled until next Tuesday.

The impact of last nights meeting weighed heavily on the Council members with a brief speech by Alderman Bill Wills regarding the value of trust in the voting public.

Who is irked now?

Update:

CBS 6 News just reported the Greater Amsterdam School District budget was voted down by a large margin.

Categories: Amsterdam, Law, Politics | Tags: , , , , ,

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