Monday, June 04, 2007

SEWER DISTRICT AUDIT BY STATE COMPTROLLERS-CONT

Some bloggers have requested that we continue the post re: decision by the NYS Comptroller's office to audit the special assessment sewer district. Last week about 115 comments were posted on this blog (see archives) from residents. The issue: Are some districts being over assessed? After residents complained to me about this matter I immediately asked for follow up action: we had many meetings with dept heads and citizens to resolve the issue. I supported the hiring of a forensic accountant and felt that the Town Board had a responsibility to investigate the matter. Unfortunately, the Town Board decided not to handle this matter internally. I am pleased that the comptroller's office is reviewing this matter and I look forward to their recommendations. The current policy under review has been in place for decades.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

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www.sewerdistricttruth.com is the website that contains all the relevant information, history and legal issues involved in this matter.

Anonymous said...

Paul,

Given the information presented on the website listed above, I can understand why you would want to hire a forensic accountant to substantiate the documentation. What I don't understand is why your fellow Town Board members refused to go along with you. The idea that they were trying to save the Town money is a red herring. The documents presented to the Town Board were their own documents. There is no getting away from the fact that the Town has failed to properly assess new housing built in special assessment sewer districts. By failing to support the hiring of a forensic accounant, the rest of the Town Board has just delayed the inevitable. The State Comptroller will determine that the citizens were right and the Town was wrong and the Town will be forced to fix the situation. How unfortunate that this issue could not have been addressed properly by the entire Board. Running away from the truth is no way to run a Town.

Anonymous said...

Francis Sheehan was last seen running away from this issue at record setting speed.

Anonymous said...

The three stages of truth are:

1. First, it is ridiculed.

The May 3 2006 document on www.sewerdistricttruth.com indicate that a Town Board member (likely Sheehan) attempted to dismiss the evidence as only a letter from a Town Clerk.

2. Second, It is violently opposed.

On June 20, 2006 Town Attorney Tim Lewis stated that the position of the Board was they "They did nothing wrong," disregarding the mountain of evidence that proves otherwise.

3. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

People are reading the documents posted on www.sewerdistricttruth.com and coming to the conclusion that the Town has horribly mismanaged sewer taxes and compounded their errors by denying them publicly.

Anonymous said...

Why is Feiner saying he supported the hiring of a forenic accountant when in fact, as he well knows, all town board members were in favor of doing that?

Why isn't Feiner disclosing that he held up the hiring the auditor because he wouldn't permit use of town-wide funds to pay for it?

And if the town attorney really said at a civic association meeting that the town did no wrong here, why is Feiner not rebuking him -- after all the town attorney was his appointee?

Anonymous said...

5:37 asks "Why isn't Feiner disclosing that he held up the hiring the auditor because he wouldn't permit use of town-wide funds to pay for it?"

I don't know whether 5:37 is making this up. since so many of the attacks on Feiner are made up. But the answer to the question is that sewer districts are legally separate taxing bodies and their expenses are not townwide expenses. The expense should be a sewer district expense, or else a B budget expense, since the sewer districts are outside of any village responsibility. If some of the activists wouldn't try to turn everything into a "who pays" question we would have a lot less trouble.

Anonymous said...

Paragraph 1: Not Accurate. Sheehan was only in favor of hiring a Forensic Accountant if the residents who brought the issue to light would pay for the cost of said Forensic Accountant should the Forensic Accountant state that the Town was right.

Paragraph 2: Not Accurate.
See above paragraph.

Paragraph 3: You have a point here.

Anonymous said...

The 6:04 post was in respone to the 5:37 post

Anonymous said...

Francis ran for office on the premise that he would correct past wrongs. I don't understand why he refused to embrace this issue. I am so dissapointed in Francis.

To 6:01 PM said...

A single sewer district should not have been burdened with the expense of hiring a forensic accountant since it was proved beyong any doubt that the issue was a town wide issue. This is not an issue that impacts only a few residents. If every special assessment sewer district operates under the same rules, then well over 8,500 properties in Greenburgh might have been impacted by the Town's failure to institute a system to properly assess new housing.

Anonymous said...

If by town-wide rather than sewer district-wide you mean the town government, you may be right, since the DPW has responsibility here. But if by town-wide you mean the town government and the village governments ot the villages you are wrong. This is legal no-brainer.

Anonymous said...

The issue is one that involves the Town, not including the Villages. It would be easy to say Unincorporated Greenburgh. Your point on the DPW is well taken. According to the documents presented on the website, the DPW supervised the construction of the sewers.

Where is Young Kaminer said...

So far we only have Paul's comments on the subject. Where is Young Kaminer with his clever remarks? Can't he see that his benefactor has been taking a pounding on this blog? I wonder if Francis is saing to himself "E tu Gil?"

Anonymous said...

Francis has bad mouthed Paul from day one--we thought Francis would be our knight in shining armour--he has just become the bully of the board and tried to use scare tactics to those concerned about the sewer issue and thought he could make them go his way the way he has with the entire town board.

To 9:35 said...

An interesting comment. Possibly we have not heard from Francis because he is in fact a bully. You know what they say about bullies, punch them in the nose and they run home crying. Francis the bully has met his match.

Don't worry Francis, in a short two years the voters will put you out of your misery.

Anonymous said...

Where is the outrage against Regula, Heslop and Lewis? All I read about is Sheehan. If Regula, Heslop and Lewis sat in on all those meetings, they knew the truth as well as Sheehan. All Department Heads involved in this issue should be subjected to questioning from the public. What did they know and when did they know it? Regula, Heslop and Lewis cost us well over $500,000 in salaries and benefits. What are we paying for?

hal samis said...

Exactly.
Right on.
The fault, dear 10:10, lies with our stars.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Regula, Heslop and Lewis is that they act like sheep instead of department heads. The reason they act this way is because Sheehan intimidates them. We need some new department heads,but above all we need some new Council people.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the Sewer District Issue is that the entire Town Government failed us. Department Heads failed to put a system in place to assess new housing. After Sheehan effectively took control over the Government, the politicians (who all were informed of this failure) declared that they did nothing wrong. On one hand we have Department Heads who don't know how to do things right and on the other we have Francis & Co. who don't have the guts to admit when they are wrong. The worst of both worlds!

Anonymous said...

135 posts on the subject and not one successful defense of the Town's actions or in this case, inactions. This issue needs to be up front at the next Town Board meeting. Answers are required. How can we ever trust a government that tells us that they never do anything wrong when we all know better.

Anonymous said...

How is it that Feiner is off the hook here?

In the 18 months that this controversy's been brewing, Feiner has never introduced a single proposal to deal with this matter at any town board meeting.

You can blame Sheehan all you want, but Feiner's the supervisor, not Sheehan, and Feiner's the one who gets paid to work full time at town hall.

Sheehan may work harder, he may even be smarter, and he's a helluva lot more articulate, which drives Feiner supporters crazy, but Sheehan's just a part-timer all the same.

While it may take three to legislate, it takes one to lead and under our system of town government, the leader is supposed to be the town supervisor -- not some put-upon gadfly masquerading as one.

Anonymous said...

5:47 will never admit it, because bashing Feiner is what he is all about, but since Sheehan was elected two years ago Feiner has been Supervisor in name only. Sheehan has taken over the leadership power in the town. Sheehan and the other three council members ignore Feiner and Feiner can do nothing.

I would like to blame Feiner for what is wrong but that is no longer possible since Sheehan came on the board.

Sheehan's Problems said...

Sheehan's first problem on this particular issue is he is the one who insisted on forcing the sewer district residents to pay for the forensic accountant.

Sheehan's second problem on this issue is he is probably the one who ordered Tim Lewis to tell the Council of Greenburgh Civic Associations that "The position of the Board is that they have done nothing wrong."

Sheehan's third problem on this issue is he will never be able to brush aside Problems 1 & 2. Too many first hand witnesses.

5:47 PM asserts that "Sheehan may even be smarter" than Feiner. If Sheehan were smart, he would have embraced the evidence that the sewer district residents brought forth and attacked Feiner for being the Chief Financial Officer of the Town during the entire sewer assessment fiasco. Now Feiner can attack Sheehan for being a cover up artist and violating the Constitutional Rights of Greenburgh Citizens.

One thing that the Feiner detractors can not say is that Feiner hid the issue. When it was brought to his atention, he and his department heads performed their due diligence. It was only after Sheehan took control of the Board that the issue died on the vine due to Sheehan's insistence that the sewer district residents pay for the forensic accountant.

Anonymous said...

Sheehan is a bully, plain and simple. You know what they say: What goes around, comes around. I can't wait to see what line Sheehan uses to defend himself on this one.

Anonymous said...

Paul announced this story last Sunday on this blog. Even though thousands of Greenburgh citizens might be impacted, there has not been a peep about it in the Journal News. The Sheehan/Kaminer control of the press is clearly evident.

Anonymous said...

I am starting to notice that some of the council members are trying to publicly distance themselves from sheehan. Finally happening. They see the light.

Anonymous said...

Dear 12:01

They realize that Sheehan has placed them in great political and legal danger. A successful lawsuit for the violation of constitutional rights will most likely end a politician's career.

I wonder if Suzanne Berger will distance herself away from Francis as well.

Where is Greenawalt in all this???

Anonymous said...

Sheehan has probably hurt himself more than he realizes--since Berger is perceived as his friend and Greenwalt doesn't have the backing--Sheehan may have insured Paul's re-election.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Sheehan realizes it. That is why no public comments. He missed a golden opportunity to end Feiner's supervisor career by not embracing the evidence presented to him, calling for a full investigation of the issue and then attacking Feiner for incompetance. Instead, Sheehan has given Paul new life and quite possibly has led himself; Bass, Barnes and Juetner into illegal behavior. The Town has without a doubt violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and possibly has committed the felony of Filing a False Certificate. Sheehan knew that sewer district taxes were wrong but he didn't care and ordered no adjustments be made. This quite possibly violated New York State Penal Law. The website www.sewerdistricttruth.com has the definitions of the laws on it and it seems to me that since the Town knew that the taxes were wrong but sent out the tax bills anyway, they might be in serious trouble.

It makes you wonder what type of lawyers we have working for us at Town Hall.

Anonymous said...

This is from another blog but it is appropriate for this issue as well:


Does anyone see a patern here:

Sheehan gets elected.

The Valhalla School District Superintendant is threatened by Gil Kaminer. She is told that she had better not make a circus out of her public comments. Paul is outraged and calls for an investigation. The rest of the Town Council (including two women) remains silent.

Citizens from a sewer district document that the Town has been assessing sewer district taxes improperly for years. Paul is given the information and acts upon it. Meetings are held between Paul, many department heads and the citizens. Paul and the department heads vote to hire a forensic accounant to sort through everything.

Sheehan gets elected.

Sheehan takes control of this process by requiring that the residents of the sewer district must pay for the forensic study should the forensic accounant state that the Town acted properly. This deal is ILLEGAL. It is a violation of Constitutional Rights. It is illegal for the Town to target a specific sewer district for reimbursement when ALL the sewer districts would have benefitted from this study.

Sheehan gets elected.

Open Meeting Laws are violated.

So, I ask again, does anyone see a pattern here????

his is from another blog but it is appropriate for this issue as well:

hal samis said...

The problem with all these topics is how to sustain interest as the election nears. By primary date, the closest event, this topic will be old news, especially after a normally quiet summer vaction period. And when it leaves the front page of the blog, it has already started its trip to obscurity.

Anonymous said...

Not necessarily. The State Comptroller's report will revive it for a period of time. Also, I think that members of the Town Board are in more legal trouble than they would like to comment about. Stong evidence has been presented that they have violated constitutional rights and possibly committed a felony. While neither the Westchester District Attorney or the State Attorney General might be inclined to prosecute for political reasons, a civil lawsuit could prove just as fatal politically to certain members of the Board. I wonder just how many calls Francis has placed to attorney friends' of his to assess the troubles he is in???????

Anonymous said...

Hal, Why Sheeahan??

Anyone who thought the meeting should have been open, should have just walked out, leaving just Sheehan if he is the only one who wanted to meet in private. One person can generally meet by himself.