Brooklyn-based Roosevelt Dime takes listeners on a journey through the whole of American roots music…from Americana and Memphis soul to “Mardi-Gras”—a bedrock of New Orleans rhythms that brings driving, melodic banjo, fat-back blues guitar, pure honky-tonk harmonies, and deliciously dirty vocals along for the ride. It makes for a groove so inspired The New York Times has called Roosevelt Dime “a perpetual crowd pleaser.”
Posts Tagged With: Mayor Ann Thane
In a strongly worded response, attorneys from the New York Civil Liberties Union issue an ultimatum to City of Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane. The letter, dated September 22, 2014, advises the executive to rescind the employee gag order issued on August 6, 2014. The gag order attempts to restrict employee communication with members of the Common Council. The NYCLU gives the mayor 7 days to take action. The NYCLU has successfully sued other municipalities for similar behavior and cites State and Federal Court decisions supporting employees 1st Amendment right to free speech.
Mayor Ann Thane made an official statement today that the generous donation of video cameras in 2012 by the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization was “basically worthless”. What an ungrateful and unprofessional statement to make. This was a professional video surveillance system that should have been installed two years ago. The twenty camera wireless video surveillance system was donated by WPHO member Sky Deng, whose company LYD Technology USA Inc. produces the systems. Dr. Govind Rao even donated $6,000 to pay for the camera system installation. Smaller scale video systems produced by Sky Deng’s company now cover the Amsterdam Goddess of Mercy Temple and rectory, Amsterdam Five Buddha Temple and rectory, private homes owned by the WPHO in Amsterdam as well as this blogger’s residence. These camera systems all run very well. Video clips from this blogger’s surveillance system helped the APD identify vandals that damaged property on Grove Street.
The City is now scrambling to save face after an incident last week where vandals caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to a downtown hotel that was closed pending renovation.
The statement posted by Mayor Ann Thane on Facebook:
In response to the senseless destruction at the downtown hotel, please know that our police department will hunt down these criminals and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. Amsterdam Police Department Chief of Police Gregory Culick informs me that the camera guy was in his office yesterday to discuss finishing installation of the cameras they had ordered (the cameras donated to us by the World Peace and Health Organization two years ago were basically worthless.) New beat patrols had been instituted about a month ago. If you are willing and able to help be the eyes and ears of the APD, please call 842-1100 for more information.
This link to my 2012 blog article describes the camera donation: Buddhists Donate Security Cameras to the City of Amsterdam
This is a link to former Gazette reporter Ed Munger’s article describing the donation: Buddhists Give Amsterdam 20 Video Cameras
Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane owes the WPHO a formal apology for that despicable statement and should accept blame for not following through with the camera installation. The Mayor keeps reminding us that she alone is responsible for the day to day operation of the city.
Mayor Ann Thane, you failed the citizens of Amsterdam!
They say she “means well” and Mayor Ann Thane has done a lot to improve Amsterdam’s image but the overbearing need to micro-manage every aspect of OUR City is a detriment to economic development. One would think that after serving as Mayor for five years, Thane would learn to delegate authority, trusting in the many talented people that make up both city government and the constituency. We see the control issues pop up time and time again, from censoring the populace to insisting on exerting influence on issues that are clearly not under the jurisdiction of the elected position of Mayor.
A Brief History
There was the Chalmers building fiasco:
Removing the State imposed 3% tax cap.
The City of Amsterdam Zoning Update that is being held up since 2011 by Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis:
There was the Art Center:
Raises for everybody!
A Piece of the World Trade Center that was to be a memorial to 911 still sits rotting at Riverlink Park without any fanfare, dedication or respect.
Then there was the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency’s purchase and rehab of a building on Main Street that was held up by the Mayor’s insistence that a damaged mural by an unknown artist in the building be preserved. This blogger even volunteered to photograph the mural for the archives to help settle the back and forth debate between the Mayor and the AIDA. That situation, to my knowledge, is still not resolved.
The Current Situation
A man from Virginia, Balakumar Periyasamy, buys the former Park Hill Adult Home on 52 Grove Street in Amsterdam, New York with long-term plans to open as an assisted living facility for Veterans. To run the home the NYS Department of Health requires a license that takes about two years to get. Having invested a lot of money in building, including the payment of back taxes to the city, Mr. Peri announces his plans to open a restaurant and hotel in the 52 room complex until such time as the adult home license is approved. This project would give local jobs and add to our local economy but requires a variance from the Zoning Board and site plan approval from the Planning Board.
Bala is very excited about the plans and invites local dignitaries to visit the facility. The President of FMCC and members of his executive team visit the building anticipating the need for overflow student housing. He leaves the tour excited about the possibility commenting that it is in better shape and larger than he originally thought. Bala invites Mayor Thane to tour the building and she does so commenting how beautiful and large the building is stating she would do what she could to help him with the project. Bala then invites journalist Alissa Scott from The Recorder to hear his plans for the restaurant and hotel. Alissa writes an excellent article, published in the Recorder on December 9, 2013, that would have helped further the project along had it not been for disparaging comments quoted from Mayor Ann Thane.
Thane said she doesn’t think Peri should go through with student housing. “I actually don’t think that will work because there’s too much in the way of state regulations that would need to be done to make that ready for students,” Thane said. “The cost would be too high.”She also doesn’t think a hotel would well-suit the community’s needs. “To propose a hotel, you have a high-end hotel going in across the river at the castle and you have a Hampton Inn and they have much better locations,” Thane said. “IfI’m going to book a room in a hotel, I don’t want to stay in the room that was a senior cubby hole.”
Thane goes on to suggest what Peri should do with HIS property, stating she is not sure the area can support another adult home. This from an elected official who touted economic development in her election campaign. Bala’s vision is not for a high-end hotel like the proposal for the Amsterdam Castle or the new Hampton Inn. It is for students or the budget minded traveler, the 99% who can’t afford to stay at a high-end hotel.
Here is a business person who invested in our community buying a building that was left to deteriorate, who already employed a dozen local people to help with his project. Mayor Ann Thane’s damning comments may have a harmful effect on Bala’s project before any approvals are granted from Zoning or Planning.
My personal experience catching the criminals who stole thousands of dollars of copper from the building is chronicled in the following link.
For the greater part of 2013, this blogger exhibited much restraint in not posting political critiques or commentary but this situation just crossed a line. The Republican supermajority Common Council taking office on January 1st will dethrone Mayor Thane’s veto power. She may as well abdicate now and negotiate a compromise as she will soon be forced to trust the legislative body of the City of Amsterdam.
According to the Amsterdam City Charter, the Budget Review Board consists of the Mayor, five Alderman and City Controller who each have a deciding vote. The preliminary budget is supposed to be prepared by the Controller after the department heads have each submitted their proposed budget requests. March 1, 2013, is the date the working tentative budget should be presented and May 1, 2013, is the date the Budget Review Board is to adopt a final budget.
Since this writer has kept track (about five years), the budget review process has never gone smoothly. I never understood why the City of Amsterdam Controller, an elected position, had a vote on city budget matters or the Mayor either for that matter. The legislative body of government (Alderman) was formed for that purpose while the executive (Mayor) approved or vetoed legislation.
This year’s budget negotiation is without a Controller. The City of Amsterdam’s last Controller, Ron Wierzbecki, died in December and the Common Council decided to continue without appointing an interim. Instead they chose to create a Deputy Controller, an appointed position to serve in that capacity. An experienced accountant, David Mitchell was hired to the $75,000, 6 year post. Things seem to be going smoothly since he took over the reins but I’m sure he still has some catching up to do.
The City of Amsterdam Budget Review Board met on Tuesday, April 23, 2013, to hear budget presentations from City Department heads. This year’s Budget Review Board consists of Mayor Ann Thane, 1st Ward Alderman Joe Isabel, 2nd Ward Alderman Valerie Beekman, 3rd Ward Alderman Gina DeRossi, 4th Ward Alderman Dave Dybas, 5th Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero, Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis and Deputy Controller David Mitchell. Legally the Deputy Controller and Corporation Counsel have no vote on the city budget. Corporation Counsel DeCusatis certainly had his say in both preparing the budget and active negotiations. It seems he has stepped in the role of Controller. In fact, the preliminary budget was prepared by Thane and DeCusatis who took it upon themselves to add items and even new employees to the department head budgets without their consent. This revealed itself as the department heads each presented their budgets last night.
Placed in the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course budget was a cart fee of $2.00 per cart applicable to everyone driving a cart on the course. The Review Board decided to remove that fee with Alderman Beekman stating it was unfair for those that own carts housed at the course who already pay cart storage and membership fees. There was a discussion about hiring a general manager for the course next year but that was not figured in their budget for this season.
City Engineer Richard Miller argued for increased hours for his secretary from 30 to 35 hours a week. That request was approved pending a Civil Service agreement.
DPW General Foreman Ray Halgas found a newly created supervisor position in his budget that Mayor Thane admitted she placed there. The Mayor wanted the position to keep an eye on crews and people who tend to take too long during breaks. She stated her office constantly receives calls that DPW crews are hanging out at Stewarts or other convenience stores for extended periods of time. This new employee position was voted down by the Budget Review Board. Halgas seemed a bit uneasy about the Montgomery Otsego Schoharie Solid Waste Management agreement scheduled to end this time next year with no current negotiation pending for a replacement or new contract. Alderman Dybas congratulated Halgas for finally getting both street sweepers working. Halgas stated a new sweeper will arrive this year, describing problems he has had maintaining the older sweepers.
Transportation Director Cheryl Scott presented her budget with an irregularity noticed in last year’s electric bill that the Deputy Controller stated he would help work out. As an aside, Alderman Isabel turned to the media table of reporters to state the Transportation Budget requires a taxpayer subsidy amounting to $326,000 per year to run. Low cost transportation is provided around the City of Amsterdam, to County Offices in Fonda, To Fulton-Montgomery Community College as well as daily trips to Albany, NY.
Recreation Director Rob Spagnola has taken on added responsibilities this year with the establishment the Beacon School Recreation Center and the Creative Connections Art Center. With help from a part-time Recreation Assistant, programming was created for both the young and old. The addition of Union College Baseball to Shuttleworth Park will bring astro turf paving. Spagnola asked for a salary increase for himself and full-time hours for his assistant stating he was the oldest tenured Director who loves his job and has never asked for a salary increase before. The Recreation budget also included a $10,000 revolving fund to help defray costs of programming, with the understanding that the money would be replenished from programming services rendered. His requests were unanimously approved by the Board.
Director of Community and Economic Development Rob von Hasseln completed his first year in the new position, giving a status report of developments. He reiterated that while still performing the City Historian job, he no longer receives the $5,000 stipend. Von Hasseln also stated that he saves the City money by not accepting the health insurance as he already has health insurance through his US Army retirement. Von Hasseln was also responsible for helping to create and sell the revolving fund for recreation services. Thanks Rob!
While this three-hour Budget Review Board meeting was only one of many, it does seem things are running better than earlier years. Only time (tax and utility bills) will tell.