Saturday, October 4, 2008

Is tea time over for ‘tea party’ candidate Bob LaPietra?

For the past several years, LaPietra has made fighting village hall something of a personal vocation. In 2005 he ran an abrasive mayoral campaign aimed at dislodging incumbent Bill Gilmore. That year, he and two others made up a slate of three candidates for village office, running on the aptly named “Tea Party” ballot line. Though he didn’t win the race, he succeeded in forcing out incumbent Bill Gilmore and getting fellow “Tea Party” member Mark Galasso elected to the village board of trustees. Over the past several years, he has been locked in conflict with the village code enforcement officer for continuing to rent out space in a village building in violation of the zoning ordinance and local building codes.

LaPietra has been very successful at tapping into a general frustration with what some people perceive as high taxes and overregulation. He has combined this political tack with a personal flair and controversial style rarely seen in village politics.

In large part, this is the reason that many have leaped to his defense with regard to the recent volley of charges leveled against him. In an attempt to place his name on the ballot as a candidate for village trustee, LaPietra filed nominating petitions listing his address as 784 Main Street in the village of Cobleskill. After incumbent trustee Carol McGuire (who is running against LaPietra) attempted to challenge the validity of his petitions, questions arose as to whether or not LaPietra actually lives at this address. Following a three-week investigation by the sheriff’s department, LaPietra was arrested and recently indicted on 30 felony counts including perjury and filing a false instrument.

LaPietra immediately took the opportunity to frame himself as a martyr for his cause, calling himself Cobleskill’s “first political prisoner”. Despite having been arrested and indicted for potential ballot fraud, LaPietra is actually still going to appear on the ballot. The fact is, LaPietra could very well end up winning a seat on the board of trustees. In large part, this depends on whether LaPietra can keep up the lie. Many in the village, including some village officials, see LaPietra as an abrasive nuisance, whose greed and reckless disregard for the rules has actually placed his tenants’ lives in danger. Others however, really do see him as a troublemaker being targeted by the political establishment.

The Times-Journal even stoked these flames in a recent editorial which references LaPietra’s “lightning rod personality”, clearly implying that the charges against him are at least in part motivated by his attacks on village officials. While LaPietra’s supporters are free to believe any conspiracy theories they like, they must admit that LaPietra does have a history of behaving as if the law didn’t apply to him. For the past several years he has allowed tenants to live in the upstairs apartments at 784 Main Street in flagrant violation of local building codes and zoning regulations. No, this is not the crime of the century, but it does bespeak a certain arrogance with regards to local laws and procedures. It really isn’t much of a leap to imagine this disregard for the rules extending to the filing of nominating petitions. But of course LaPietra is innocent until proven guilty, and whether or not he actually does live at 784 Main Street will be for a jury to decide.

Before that happens, Cobleskill voters will likely have their say on LaPietra. This is the trial that concerns me now. For despite being on trial for committing numerous felonies and facing jail time if convicted, LaPietra is in a position to possibly be elected to the village board. Who knows how voters will perceive LaPietra’s current legal travails? In the past, voters have believed his rhetoric about cutting taxes and wasteful spending and helping businesses by curbing regulation. It is understandable to want to support a guy who can tell Carol McGuire to check his sheets in response to questions about his residence.

But make no mistake, Bob LaPietra only stands for one thing, and that is Bob LaPietra. Stubbornly renting out illegal apartments to clueless college students isn’t fighting the good fight, it’s reckless endangerment. LaPietra is not a patriot fighting “taxation without representation”, he is a slumlord motivated by greed and a belief that he is above the law. In the end, it matters little whether LaPietra is convicted, because wherever he lives, his behavior and business practices are a nuisance, and his politics merely an extension of that fact.

If elected, he and Mark Galasso will push hard for a dissolution of the village of Cobleskill and a subsequent extension of water and sewer services to any developer who wants them. A main street struggling to pick itself up will get a swift kick to the teeth. And slumlords will rest easier knowing annual apartment inspections are most definitely off the table. If convicted, LaPietra will have a lot to answer for. If elected, it will be all of Cobleskill who must answer for LaPietra.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

He breaks the law and should pay for it like everyone else. I once was in a appartment run by a slumlord and when things needed to be fixed he would raise the rent.Complain the second time to him and we got evicted. Was allways there at the first it get $$$. Rents are out of control too 1 bedroom apartment in town i saw was $650.00 including nothing???. Thanks for hearing my rant. Rita

Sheriff ReBates said...

It appears as though Ms McGuire may be headed to jail with Lapietra. I'd put them in the same cell. Sad commentary on the community when all we have for candidates are these two bozos.

Anonymous said...

Like the 2005 village election this will be a referendum on the incumbent Carol McGuire. It is her actions that have made Bob a martyr. The election fraud charge by Galasso against her could prove to be damaging to an already flawed Carol McGuire.

Anonymous said...

If LaPietra gets jail time from this it'll be just like OJ. Convicted of a smaller crime than he got away with a lont time ago. Why golden boy Gallaso is standing up for Lapietra? Somethings in the woodpile there.

Anonymous said...

There aren't only two. There's a third bozo, Linda Homes, running too.

Anonymous said...

Bob LaPietra only stands for one thing, and that is Bob LaPietra

He'll fit right in sitting next to the rest of the self absorbed,miscreants that make up the Village Board. Too bad the worst of the bunch, Mr. Gilmore is bowing out. His straight jacket needed altering so he won't be back till the Village Mayoral election in 2009.

Anonymous said...

It is a sad commentary - the 3 stooges would be a better choice then any one of these goons. So where are the rest of you??? It is everyone's responsibility to stand up and put some time in, otherwise we all wind up with. . . the 3 stooges - who all have their own agendas and HUGE egos to go along with those agendas. Jeesh, wonder what m. galasso's angle is - ya think maybe he recognizes that b.lapietra is mentally deficient and easily used by someone like him. Scary times in CobyRock - time for mayor sellers to wake up and provide the leadership he is capable of.

Anonymous said...

A point of information in reference to "...in flagrant violation of local building codes and zoning regulations."
Zoning regulations are local.
Building code is New York State law.

Sean said...

A point of information in reference to

"Zoning regulations are local.
Building code is New York State law."

Well actually, municipalities have the option of adopting stricter codes than found in the NYS Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code, if they are so inclined.

According to my thinking, this makes the adoption of either an additional stricter code or NYSUFP&BC as is a LOCAL decision.

Thus my reference to "local building codes and zoning regulations" is technically correct.

Maybe you better stick to looking for grammatical and spelling mistakes. I've purposefully added a few in this post just so you don't feel completely useless.

Anonymous said...

geezz...SEAN
The guy was just offering a point of information. Perhaps someone (like me) didn't know the distinction. You, as usual, take it as a personal attack. And since the State Code (at a minimum) MUST be adopted and enforced at a local level, then that IS NOT a local decision. I think that, technically, you have made an ass of yourself for making something out of nothing...Your reply, same as this post, offers little or nothing to advance this discussion.

Anonymous said...

just got my military absentee ballot, and there Mr. L's name is... in all it's Tea Party glory. What a joke.

Sean said...

"And since the State Code (at a minimum) MUST be adopted and enforced at a local level, then that IS NOT a local decision."

I'm sorry, but that is incorrect. A municipality will inescapably have to make a local codes decision: either simply adopt the state code or strengthen it with their own additional provisions.

That a municipal entity can not choose to enforce a weaker building code than that which is set forth by state law, does not in anyway negate the fact that they still have (and are forced to make) a choice as to whether or not to enforce a stronger one.

It seems like you are the one who has made an ass (at a minimum) out of yourself.

Anonymous said...

Look Sean, that is simply not true. If the locality makes no decision at all, the State Code is STILL in effect. Do you get it? NO DECISION REQUIRED!!! That is a fact. Duh...You can't ever possibly admit that anything except YOUR interpretation of ANY issue could be correct, and this isn't even about an "issue", it is about YOUR ego. When I was 17 years old, I also knew everything ...

Sean said...

"If the locality makes no decision at all, the State Code is STILL in effect."

You are merely restating your case from your previous post, which I've already refuted. Adding "duh" doesn't really add much I'm afraid.

You ask if I get it. However, I'm pretty sure it's you who is missing something here, and your stubborness is what's distracting you.

You're free to go about indulging any and all "interpretations" you like.

However, the fact is, while the state code is in effect, every second that goes by without the municipality in question supplementing it, a decision is in fact being made. The choice or decision is not contingent upon action, it is implicitly embedded and inseparable from the fact that municipalities have the ability, and are aware of this ability, to augment the state code.

So in fact, you are correct in saying that "no decision is necessary" because an implicit de facto "decision" is being made regardless of whether the municipality makes an official decision or not.

Yes, it is somewhat paradoxical in a sense, but given these terms it is quite impossible for a municipality to NOT make a decision. No matter how hard a municipality would try to ignore its prerogative to adopt more stringent code regulations, it finds itself in an inescapable paradox: one must in fact decide to make no decision or to make one.

The only way your premise is acceptable is if we assume that local officials are unaware of their "choice" to accept state code as is or add on their own provisions. In this case, I will accept that no local decision is evident.

However, assuming that this is not the case in Cobleskill, we have ourselves a very real and substantial debate.

I look forward to pursuing it further if you are so inclined, and I will thank you to refrain from personal insult, as I myself will do.

Anonymous said...

That reply is laughable....
and I certainly don't "look forward" to continuing this waste of time. Have a nice day.

Sean said...

Fine, but it is obvious that you demur only because you lack the capacity to maintain meaningful debate at this level of intellectual rigor. Even worse, you cover it up with cheap and unimaginative personal insults.

Whatev...

Anonymous said...

Sophistry, thy name is Sean.

Anonymous said...

forget intellectual honesty

Anonymous said...

Bring back McGiver. This blog is starting to suck.

Anonymous said...

can't we all just get along

Anonymous said...

For investigating at it's best go to

http://www.schohariecounty-ny.gov/CountyWebSite/villcob/index.jsp
click on search
click on document search
click on search titles
click on 9/23 attached minutes and read
click on 10/7 attached minutes and read

nothinh like having the fox inspecting the chicken coop.

Anonymous said...

Wonder who you think is "the fox"?

Anonymous said...

correction!!!! make that foxes

Anonymous said...

boring----find another slacked jawed liberal like Macgivin

Anonymous said...

Sacket, the District Attorney to whom Galasso sent his accusations, says his investigation reveals McGuire did nothing wrong.

Anonymous said...

Galasso has taken it to AG Cuomo.

Anonymous said...

please bring back Nick Iorio

Anonymous said...

If you are going to call someone a slumlord and other things maybe you should meet the person and check things out before you go blowing your mouth off. He has never put Tenents lives in danger. In fact he has helped alot of tenents who weren't able to pay the rent or need food, electric etc. Yes, he can be loud but he really tries to help people. Every building that he has taken and changed he has changed for the better. Remember what the small mall on the corner used to be? It was a shack called the Christmas store. Now it houses 4 stores in new condition. Have you ever seen the building by the Pet store. Those apartments were beautiful. Have you ever met Mr. LaPietra and ever had a conversation with him? If you did you would find a caring man who was a College Professor with high intelligence, who only wants to make a difference. He has never been greedy as you put it. Did you know that when he owned the motel he had to sell because the taxes were 750.00 per week. You should investigate your facts before you speak.

Sean said...

"Have you ever met Mr. LaPietra and ever had a conversation with him?"

No, I have never been able to drive out to Morris, NY or down to Florida (during the winter) to converse with Mr. LaPietra. Sorry.

As for putting his tenants' lives in danger, I'm only referring to the fact that he illegally rented out a residential apartment building for two years despite having been told repeatedly that it was not zoned for residential and was not in conformance with local codes*. The quality of the interior decoration is hardly relevant.

*see debate above over use of "local codes".

Otherwise thanks for providing the other side to the story. At this point though, we'll just have to let the voters make up their minds.

Anonymous said...

TEA PARTY TRIUMPHS. MCGUIRE OUT

Anonymous said...

CONGRATULATIONS TRUSTEE ELECT LAPIETRA

Anonymous said...

Lapietras been elected. That doesn't make him not a flimflam artist. Had to sell the motel because of taxes? Why? He never paid the taxes! Nothing he "owns" is in his own name...why would a person do business that way? You Lapietra supporter cretins will be crying out of the other sides of your mouths in a short time.

Anonymous said...

Next year 6 elected positions will be on the ballot. Three in the town and three in the village. That shouled be interesting. I believe that Obama's mantra of change resonates down to the local level. Bad economic times this coming year could spell trouble for incumbents next year. They would be wise to put their best face forward on TV.

Anonymous said...

Best face forward is to late they all got to go and will

Bill Halsey said...

problem is , who in there right mind wants to take the helm of a ruddderless ship headed for the rocks?