Sunday, January 04, 2009


A member of the Ethics Board has missed most meetings since 2007. When I meet with the Ethics Board on Wednesday I will propose a town law to address this matter. The suggestion I have: If a member of any appointed Board misses 3 meetings a year without a legitimate excuse (medical, family) the Town Board should have the ability to declare the position vacant and appoint a replacement.
What do you think?


herb rosenberg said...

Not three meetings a year. That is too long to wait. Make it three meetings in a row, four at most.

Anonymous said...

Paul you are so afraid to fire the one person that has not showed up at any meetings.that now you are looking to set up some reason to cover up your failures.
Grow up!!!!!!!and try to be a man.

Anonymous said...

to 12:49, Paul can't fire him without a change in the law. ethics board members are appointed for a specified term.

Anonymous said...

Ut oh. Does Paul have it in for the member that has missed the meetings or is this member irresponsible?

hal samis said...

If you have a five member board such as the Ethics Board, a non-attending member is a quorum guaranteed disaster. I understand that the Ethics Board seeks to expand to seven members. What is the Town Board's response to this reasonable request?

As a preamble to my comments: serving on a Board is a responsiblity, a burden and a job requiring a lot of effort and time upon those that are willing to assume these roles. On the other hand, Board appointments convey a title of esteem to those who are appointed. To those still active in the business world, such a title on their resumes may garner for themselves a financial payoff, not in terms of peddling influence although that can exist, but in terms of vetting the holder as a person judged by his or her community to be worthy of consideration for roles or assignmentsleading to finacial rewards in the larger business community. Does anyone really believe that even the most casual mention by a lawyer that he is on the Zoning Board is a neutral statement to present and future clients?

Thus, the Town Board needs to recognize that some of its appointees serve selflessly without any reward and some may be eligible to profit from being associated with what advertising calls "added value" to their personal brand.
end of preamble

In the seven member boards, such as Zoning and Planning, the larger membership can better tolerate an absentee member.

The frequency of the normal Board meetings is another consideration. The Zoning Board meets once a month. The Planning Board meets twice a month. The Ethics Board meets once a month. The Library Trustees meet once a month. There are other boards whose names and schedule I have omitted, not being as facile with their names, standing or meeting obligations.

Summer schedules for all may vary.

In the specific case of the Ethics Board, the absent member was exercising the right of last laugh on the system in that he was appointed by a Town Council that wanted to get the Board up and running and didn't care that the last slot was filled by someone who told them face to face that he didn't have time to attend the meetings. Well he didn't and he didn't resign either. Logically enough, I applaud him for making fools of Mr. Sheehan, Mr. Bass, Ms. Barnes and Ms Juettner. He is only guilty of doing what he said he would do and listening to a Town Council that assured him it wouldn't matter.

On the other hand, the Town Board always had the power to remove Board members for cause. I think the Ethics Board situation is a clear enough example of "cause" and yet the Town Board has failed to act on this matter for a year and a half. Why the sudden "concern", Paul?

What I am introducing in the paragraphs above is the notion that one formula does not fit all (Board). And, at this writing, I don't have a ready answer either.
But why should outsiders, me or the Town Board, be the system tinkerers.

What I would like to bring to the table (and I don't know the legalities regarding this: the make-up, alternate mechanisms to govern or appointing or removing members, etc.) is that, if possible, the Boards themselves should make their own housekeeping rules and vote among themselves on such matters as whether or not to remove a member for ANY cause that the Board concerned, itself defines. Even to the extent that the Board has the power to reject appointees that the Town Board sticks them with. These Boards are viewed as independent and abiding by that determination should be the first consideration of the Town Board. Otherwise by the power of appointment, to renew their terms or not, the Town Board actually can take control over assumed independent Boards.

What the Public assumes is that what the Town Board really wants to do is to control independent Boards and bend them to its will by its retained power of appointment.

Adding a separate note of practicality, if a member repeatedly fails to appear, his work becomes the burden of those that do appear and if the Board can't conduct business due to the failings of its individual members, then it should be the responsibility of those that do make the effort to add the temporary burned of cleaning their own house. The Town Board talks repeatedly about its own rules, such as conducting Town Board meetings. That it changes these rules as it suits them is really their business and not the object herein of my concern. My point is that the Town Board governs itself. If the Town Board initially appoints who it considers responsible and capable (even dependable if that takes on more than face value) adults to Board positions, it should be willing to let the majority of the membership deal with the few bad eggs that elude the Town Board's due diligence.

Thereafter, once appointing a Board, the Town Board should butt out.

Cultivate your own garden -- Voltaire.

Anonymous said...

Hal: You are not consistent. For over a year you suggested that the Town Board interfere with the Library Board. Now you want the Town Board to bud out of independent boards. What gives? Are you trying to become mainstream?

herb rosenberg said...

Hal Samis said:

"the Boards themselves should make their own housekeeping rules and vote among themselves on such matters as whether or not to remove a member for ANY cause that the Board concerned, itself defines."

I almost always agree with Hal. This time, in the sentence quoted above, I think he has missed an important point.

There have to be some standards for removing a Board member. Absenteeism is certainly one -- I stated in an earlier blog that three or four unexcused absences should be a standard, and it may make sense to leave the removal to the other members of the affected board rather than the Town Board. There may be other fair standards.

But to permit a board to remove a mamber "for any cause" is bad policy. Let me just give one obvious example -- a board would be able to remove a person who raises issues that the other members find uncomfortable and want to stifle. To illustrate, suppose that Hal were on the Library Board. How long would he have lasted if he could be removed for any reason by the Library Board, which he has criticized mercilessly but legitinately?

Need I say more?

hal samis said...

I always argued that the Library is a Town Department not some unique mutated interpretation of State Education laws. Even the Trustees aren't wholly certain or at least send the annaul reports to the State as one type of Library and defining themselves before the Town Board as another.

However, what I have written, especially regarding their budget, I have acknowledged that the Town Board believes that they have no control over Library funding once they determine the Library budget and as a result, I have proposed methods for the Town Board to get around this...such as a memorandum of understanding "we'll give you these dollars, in return you agree to supply these services..."

As for today's post and in the larger picture, whereas I do not want the Town Board to run the Library, I want the Town Board to voice its dissatisfaction with the Trustees who are running it by its only weapon, the funding.

Why should the Trustees provide a separate compensation package for Library management that differs sharply from what other Town departments follow?

The difference, as above is an example of, is that the other cited Boards do not handle money.

Why should non-elected officials, not even town employees (Library Trustees) solely determine how $3.4million of taxpayer funds are disbursed and without any liability.

The idea was to turn the heat up so that the Library Trustees get serious about becoming an independent library district. They all have said that they favor this but they have favoring this for ten years. Being an independent Library District makes them 100% free of the Town Board and if residents vote to give them $10 million to spend each year, far be it from me to protest. In short, let the Library be run like a school district OR let it be run like a Town Department: eliminate the Trustees and have a Department head. It is the hybrid vehicle that doesn't work.

And if you think I painted myself in the corner, read again:

"at this writing I don't have a ready answer" and "introducing the notion that one formula does not fit all".

I could be cute and say "that I'm always true to you in my fashion..." but I needn't. I find nothing that I have written here as inconsistent.

You're welcome to reload and aim again.

hal samis said...


Boards are either limited in longevity being formed for a specific purpose (scoba) or continuous to deal with an never ending stream of new resident interfaces (zoning, planning) or to hear complaints (ethics) or to run an operating business (library).

Being one vote against six on a board is not a satisfactory position to be in. Or trapped forever in a minority of three against four. Ultimately, if you take the trouble to join a board and follow the regimen of what the board does, you want some sort of psychic payoff for your effort. Something like being on the winning side. When I fight my battles as an independent, I make my own appointments and my own itinerary -- not so on a board. Thus, for me, being a minority member has no reward from being an insider able to watch the others.

For the board, itself, spending their time fighting dissidents is not the reason most of the members joined. If you choose to view it as "my way or the highway", with the my being the majority, you would be right. However, as you know from the boards you have served on, these boards have to move things along and end up with results. To achieve this effectively, they need members working together toward attaining this goal. Boards are not formed or exist just to deal with theory.

If board members get sidetracked fighting the same member and squandering their available time by neutralizing the dissident, then they would do better instead working to remove the pebble from their shoe, the thorn in their side.

In an organization formed to do process a function or do business, it's either from one side "if you can't beat em, join em" and from the other side, "get rid of the son of a bitch". Action boards should not function like the United Nations. Therefore, I argue that they should have the right to maintain a team that works well together.

And that is why I don't offer my services as a board member when I feel that I am just going to be hitching a ride as a passenger. If I can't drive or at least sit in the front, I can get more reward sitting at this keyboard.

And a board's gotta do what a board's gotta do.

herb rosenberg said...


This is a discussion between friends about something that merits discussion. But it doesn't need too much discussion, so let my response to your posting be the end of our discussion.

I do not see disagreement as necessarily being fighting -- at least not the kind of fighting that ties up action. I have noted, by the way, that school boards tend to operate with unanimity as though any disagreement is dangerous. I don't like that. Constant unanimity scares me because often it isn't genuine.

My view is simple. If one person tends to disagree (and I posit that it is for sincere reasons) and finds his service therefore unsatisfactory, he can resign. I just don't want the others to be able to kick him off. Unless, as I have said, that there is some reasonable standard for doing so.

All this may be academic, by the way.

Anonymous said...

" ... the Town Board should butt out." EXACTLY, and especially Mr. Feiner who will only make matters worse with his involvement. Stick to what a town supervisor is supposed to do, and stay out of others' business.

Anonymous said...


Paul this is the most childish method of running a town.
I know that you are kidding.
Fire the person and thats it.

Anonymous said...

The supervisor is not kidding.
He has lost all his marbles.

How many on your staff bring in doctors notes when they cannot perform or cannot come to work.

I have come to one conclusion that children have more brains than you will ever have.

the doctor said...

doctor's orders for greenbugh - term limits.
18 years of feiner is enough
now he wants 20!

Anonymous said...

Should appointees to the board of ethics loose their positions tell me pau why can't you for once in your life make a useful decision.

Anonymous said...

Sal Hamis you really need to get a life try dating it may help your complextion really