Look into Princetown clerk's claims

Sunday, January 5, 2014
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Princetown may seem like a sleepy little town, but politically it’s anything but — as a pair of stories in Tuesday’s Gazette makes clear.

In one, Republican Supervisor Michael Joyce took on departing Town Justice Michelle Van Woeart — endorsed by the Democrats — accusing her of abdicating her responsibility by canceling numerous night court sessions during the fall. Van Woeart didn’t deny canceling some — though far fewer than Joyce accused her of — but said it was mostly because Joyce had defunded her court’s security detail, leaving her vulnerable.

The two have been at loggerheads for awhile, of course, with the supervisor spearheading the move to fire Van Woeart from her part-time court clerk post early last year.

The other story had Carol McClaine resigning her post as town clerk (to which she was freshly re-elected by the narrowest of margins) and complaining in a letter to several top state officials about the (Republican-dominated) Town Board’s “financial irregularities.”

It’s not the first time McClaine and Joyce have butted heads, either; after getting her budget cut last year, she (as well as Van Woeart) filed complaints with the state Division of Human Rights, accusing Joyce of gender discrimination. (McClaine’s complaint was subsequently resolved, Van Woeart’s dismissed.)

We don’t presume to know who started either of these tit-for-tats, and don’t particularly care. But some of McClaine’s current allegations are concrete and appear to be serious. For example, she’s accused Joyce of changing already-approved vouchers and abstracts, paying bills from the wrong budget lines and making purchases without vouchers.

These are allegations that go beyond the petty politics Princetown has become known for, and we hope someone at the state takes a look at them.

We also hope that Van Woeart’s and McClaine’s departures bring about an end to the childishness that has marred Princetown politics for years, but wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t.

 

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