Hardenburgh politics as usual

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To The Editor:
Here, once again, we in Hardenburgh have been faced with a massive destruction of our roads and infrastructure. As our elected officials battled the elements they also battled among themselves. Some officials refusing to be cooperative in this situation while others were trying to hold the township together with little or no anticipated revenue by which to work with.

I read Mr. Fairbairn’s letter in the News and after doing so felt a need to respond. The real “Bully” needs to be exposed to the Hardenburgh voters once and for all.

First, I have attended many a caucus here in our township. It is my recollection the Republican/Democratic officials do present a slate of candidates by which to vote on. Anyone who wishes to run at the time may do so. This political meeting is not a secret in our town nor it is the opportunity for anyone to vote or run for an office a secret. Reality says that history of the caucus in our town was open to all and series of candidates came forth out of the openness by majority vote. Fairness comes form and is left up to the voter, as it should be, not anyone person with a deceptive opinion.

Second, it was in past history, in our township, that the supervisor received no health insurance benefit at all. The rule was only full-time employees of the town (which the supervisor was not) were eligible to receive this type of coverage. I wonder under whose leadership did this condition change? The answer is obvious. It is the same person who jumped up and down when the town board requested he pay at least 25 percent of this benefit. Keep in mind that this still meant Hardenburgh taxpayers would be paying the other 75 percent. What happened to the past practice and law?

At this point I must remind Mr. Fairbairn that a politician serves to benefit at least a majority of his constituents if he plans on staying in office. The township should not be there to benefit the politician. Please, “grandfather clause” in our small town has no place when trying to save taxpayers dollars in a very difficult economic time. Gratitude for your service, yes, demanding more monetary reward above and beyond is only self-serving. We do not exist for your benefit, Mr. Fairbairn, you were elected for ours!

Third, our new councilman and supervisor are men in our community that I had many pleasurable experiences with. Neither one of them ever gave me the impression that they could be bullied by anyone. In fact I perceive both of these gentlemen as people of integrity. No matter what the issue I would only assume that they would vote on the facts as realized. Why, unless self serving, would anyone assume otherwise?

Fourth, if the town board is aware of the “real” not “perceived of an appearance” of a conflict of interest the need to take action. I commend the town board for taking an action one might infer a conflict of interest on their part due to their negligence. I commend the town board for taking some kind of action when in their minds a “real” conflict of interest existed. Indeed, two jobs connected to the same goal carried out by the same person certainly eliminate a valuable check and balance especially in a small township like Hardenburgh.

Fifth, it is my understanding that Councilwoman Sherry Bellow is a mature woman, living in her own home with her own immediate family. I am quite sure that any house her parents own and have the good fortune to rent is entirely up to them. How much to charge in rent, who to rent to or even to rent at all should be their private business and no one else. The “appearance” of a conflict of interest would only be there is your intention is to cause conflict or to be deceptive or maybe even bully someone. I can’t help but think of the old saying that seems to fit here, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” My question is, why raise this issue now? Why didn’t the board take a stand back when all of this was unfolding? I believe the answer is obvious and appearance is not a fact and should not be treated as one. Who is being attacked? Could it be that the Association of Towns legal advisor was simply preparing a unified working together town board so as to be ready with an explanation of the circumstances if the question should arise.

Sixth, Councilwoman Bellows has been involved in town business for decades. Through all of this town service did she ever receive or compromise the town board in an attempt to receive extra pay for further employment through the town? To my knowledge, no! Then why has she served the Town of Hardenburgh so diligently? Could it be an honest desire to see the community in which she lives go forward in a manner that is decent and true? I believe that might be an accurate observation. Councilman Doug Odell and his family history is as old as these mountains here in Hardenburgh. Councilman Odell’s grandmother was Vivian Armstrong. This woman, as I saw her, was one of the matriarchs of Hardenburgh at one time. My point is to say that the integrity of theses two family names in our town is one of caring and involvement and beyond reproach unless you want to bully your point.

In terms of where Councilman Odell decides to send his children to school is of no concern to anyone other that Mr. and Mrs. Odell!

It is my understanding that a person can own as many homes that his or her finances will allow. It is also my understanding that a person must select one place as a primary residence by which a legal voting right is established. I can only assume that Councilman Odell has selected Hardenburgh as his voting right of registration. Again, my question is, why has this issue been brought up now? How long has Councilman Odell been in office? In short, I find all of this negative kind of bulling a “sour grapes” attack on both of these people by Mr. Fairbairn to be low, counter-productive and totally baseless in fact and theory!

Mr. Fairbairn, our town is not your playground. As you once announced in a general meeting of the town board, “I can be formidable foe.” Unfortunately in spite of all the good things you have done in our township and there are some, you have never been able to come to grips with the idea of how a democracy should work. Here is the answer, it is quite simple. What you need to understand is that people can agree to disagree without becoming a “formidable foe” to everyone who doesn’t see things your way! We should be able to use all of our many talented people here in Hardenburgh to build a better township for ourselves and our children.

Bill Fiedler,
Dry Brook