One wonders if getting slammed with a $25 dollar fee for complaining that your slumlord won’t fix the furnace is what the Boston colonists had in mind when they dumped all that tea into the harbor. Probably not, but that’s okay. We’ll just add irony to the list of things Village Trustee Bob LaPietra, who ran on his own ‘Tea Party’ line, doesn’t quite get.
At February’s first Village Board meeting, Cobleskill’s most patriotic slumlord attempted to strike a blow for deadbeat property owners everywhere when he introduced a motion to charge village residents a $25 dollar fee for reporting codes violations. Shameless, I know. But if that wasn’t bad enough he also made a motion to Nelli Mooney, head of the Department of Planning, Environment and Codes with two part-timers. If passed, these two measures would have discouraged cash-strapped tenants from filing complaints and removed an experienced village employee, effectively dismantling the codes office in the process. The message to village employees would have been simple: if you do your job by protecting village residents from people like me, I’ll have your job.
Though Trustee Mark Galasso supported LaPietra’s measures, they were blocked by the other three members of the Village Board (Linda Holmes, Sandy MacKay and Mayor Michael Sellers).
LaPietra’s abuse of power was so blatant that even the Times-Journal, which is usually supportive of LaPietra, had to take a step back and wonder what the hell this guy was thinking. They correctly point to LaPietra’s long and sordid history of flouting local zoning ordinances and building codes. As recently as several months ago, LaPietra was ordered by a state court to remove residents from the upper floor of a commercial building that was out of compliance with both the local zoning ordinance and the state building code.
The Times-Journal said LaPietra’s proposals “raised alarm bells”, and that’s reassuring. However, the editorial extended LaPietra little more than a slap on the wrist for his naked attempt to gut the codes office. They also completely failed to hold Trustee Mark Galasso accountable for his support of that attempt. This raises the question, far more urgent and critical than the Times-Journal’s “alarm bells”, of whether or not LaPietra and Galasso will be held accountable at all. LaPietra casually violates the law and then goes after the jobs of the people who attempted to stop him. Meanwhile, Mark Galasso, whose Daddy handed him a multi-million dollar highway construction company, wants to charge Schoharie County’s working poor $25 to file a complaint against their slumlord. It’s obvious that these two men have no shame. Jim Poole's ears are ringing, but where's the outrage?
Were I LaPietra or Galasso I would seriously consider holding off on the whole American Revolution theme as now would probably not be a good time for them to remind people of that whole tarring and feathering thing we used to do.