Monday, February 9, 2009

The Forces Behind Consolidation

Apparently, the town/village consolidation study conducted by the Center for Governmental Research was intended as the local equivalent of a show trial in support of dissolving the village. It was to provide supporters of dissolution with a heavy stack of papers confirming the many presumed benefits of eliminating the Village of Cobleskill. That the study actually failed to provide any solid, compelling arguments for dissolution, and actually recommended becoming a city, seems to matter very little, if at all, to a majority of the Village Board who have chosen to selectively interpret the study and, with blinders firmly in place, feverishly rush toward dissolution of the village, as it always intended to in the first place.

To those of us who have followed village affairs closely over the past three years and have watched numerous developers unsuccessfully request village water service for projects located outside the village, it is obvious that this is the real impetus behind the push for consolidation. Village officials may attempt to throw sand in your eyes by telling you consolidation will save money and increase efficiency. But this is not true and THEY KNOW IT! The truth is, this attempt to consolidate the village into the town is essentially a smash-and-grab operation to plunder the village’s water and sewer services in order to fuel growth benefitting only a handful of developers.

Additionally, the move would consolidate all local planning and zoning functions in the hands of Republican-appointed members of the town planning board and zoning board of appeals. These people will be tripping over each other to accommodate companies like Lowes and the Shad Point mystery manufacturer. Dreams of a rebirth of Main Street would be just as shattered as the windows of the Newberry Square building.

The move to dissolve is currently being led by a three-person majority on the Board of Trustees consisting of ultra-conservative developer Mark Galasso, indicted felon Robert LaPietra (recently elected despite pending felony charges) and curiously enough Mayor Mike Sellers, a member of the Green Party who used to think that this community mattered.

When it comes to this issue, the Board of Trustees is operating in an ethical black hole. Both Mark Galasso and Bob LaPietra stand to benefit personally if the Village is dissolved. Almost two years ago Galasso requested that water service from the Warnerville Water District be extended to his company Lancaster Development, but that request was denied by the Village Board of Trustees. Does anyone here seriously think Roger Cohn and the Republicans on the Town Board will say no to Galasso or, for that matter, go out of their way to reconstitute the Village’s tighter planning and code enforcement regime? The latter of course being a prime source of Bob LaPietra’s headaches with regards to his illegally rented apartments.

But behind Galasso and LaPietra there is a handful of developers and bought politicians who want to get the village’s water flowing so that they can rev up development throughout the eastern half of the town.

Frankly, it would only be appropriate for Galasso to recuse himself from voting for consolidation given that his company, Lancaster Development, stands to benefit directly.

I would also like to know why Mayor Sellers is going along with this scheme which will only lead to unchecked development (read: sprawl) in the town causing Downtown Cobleskill to dry up that much faster. As a member of the Green Party you might think Sellers would want to encourage smart growth and sound development practices and stand up to blatant corruption and conflicts of interest in local government.
If Mayor Sellers doesn’t wake up to the brazen corruption underlying this consolidation scheme and distance himself from Galasso and LaPietra, village residents may wake up one morning to find that their community has been broken into and picked clean by thieves in the night.


Strikeslip said...

You hit the nail on the head when you said that the reason for consolidation of Village and Town is to plunder village water and sewer services.

Villages grew from the "bottom up" -- people collecting themselves together in a compact area where they could provide services to themselves in a cost effective manner.

Towns, on the other hand, are "top down," merely lines drawn on a map by bureaucrats in order to ensure that there was some government entity regulating things everywhere. They, unfortunately, have now been given many of the same powers as villages, and can tax villagers to provide services to people outside the village -- a double taxation. The village residents end up supporting the whole region.

Merging Village with the town would only make it easier to plunder village resources.

The response would see to be for the Villages to become their own towns.

Anonymous said...

Strikeslip said
"The response would see to be for the Villages to become their own towns."

Interesting concept.Secession. First time I have heard that. Worth analyzing. Any suggestions for a name for our new town. Lapietraville comes to mind.

Strikeslip said...

You mentioned that the developers wanted village water . . . Did they seek just the water or did they request annexation by the Village?

Greens and Beans said...

Town government seems to be a duplication of services with county government. In today’s failing economy, it would only make sense to dissolve the town governments. Let the essential town tasks to be assumed at the county level. Allow the villages to provide essential services to the residents within the village borders only. This may stifle ultra expensive urban sprawl and foster a more sophisticatedly planned economic development within the village boundaries. Villages would realize a greater real estate value, preserve their village flavor, and provide some tax relief for village residents. By expanding utility services to the outer reaches of the towns to the enrichment private developers is wrong. Village residents will assuredly take the brunt of the costs to finance sprawl with corporate retail scourge.

Anonymous said...

Greens & Beans...
One step further, lets dissolve the counties and let the State take over.
Better yet, dissolve the States and let Obama's team of tax-cheats run everything. That puts us only one step away from joining all the socialists in Europe,and someday, the whole damn world can be just like France!!

Pierre La Reoux said...

No Bernie Madoff's,Barney Frank's, Chris Dodd's, Tom Daschle's, George Bush's, Rush Limbaugh's in France. Maybe that would not be so bad.

Sean said...

WTF? Who gives a shit about France?

G&B I agree with you as far as villages are concerned, but I don't think this alleged
"duplication of services" is that pressing of a problem in NY's rural areas. Aside from Erie County (Buffalo), Long Island and New York City, our state's structures of local government are for the most part appropriate to the size, scale and purposes of our communities.

Consolidating municipalities into each other would be a highly complicated, time-consuming process that would yield very little in cost-savings. As far as I'm concerned, this is a solution in search of a problem.

I would also take exception to the assertion that town boundaries were all established arbitrarily. Surely, this was frequently the case. But as often as not, town lines were true to impactful historical settlement patterns.

As far as using village water to fuel sprawl, I'm afraid these are merely pipe dreams. It's probably going to take 3-5 years (optimistically speaking) to get out of this recession and until we do, there ain't gonna be much sprawl anywhere. What's worse, by the time all is said and done, this area probably won't have the population to support its existing sprawl.

Rush limbaugh said...

It's probably going to take 3-5 years (optimistically speaking) to get out of this recession

What Sean-- No faith in Obama?

Anonymous said...

just out of curiosity, what will these developers be developing during these economic times. Why build anything when there is no one that can afford it, unless its welfare or public housuing of course.

Anonymous said...

Just ask Mark Nadeau. He keeps hammering away.No telling when he will run out of relatives to give his condos away to.

Scary County Phil said...

Matt Loder and good ol' country boy Alton seem to be able keep the fire sales (oops)going too.