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Nothing improper with handling of Princetown’s finances

Friday, January 10, 2014
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Nothing improper with handling of Princetown’s finances

This is in response to the Jan. 5 editorial [“Look into Princetown clerk’s claims”] regarding certain “claims” made by the former Princetown Town Clerk Carol McClaine and misunderstandings involving former Town Justice Michelle Van Woeart.

First, there was no effort to “fire” Van Woeart from her position as court clerk; party politics were not involved. The new Town Board was concerned for potential improprieties and town liability in the situation where a town justice was also acting as the court clerk. We sought input from the state attorney general and the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Justice Van Woeart helped draft the letter the town to the attorney general inquiring whether a single person could hold both positions. Both of these professional organizations consider the positions of town justice and court clerk of the same town court incompatible. The attorney general clearly and emphatically said no and indicated that one position must be vacated. Once the town board received the ruling from the attorney general, it had no choice but to comply.

With regard to former Town Clerk McClaine’s claims of financial irregularities, we have not been provided a copy of these allegations and making reference to them in the Gazette is upsetting to all town residents.

The town has a series of checks and balances built into our processes. Vouchers are submitted, approved by department heads, checked by town clerk’s office, reviewed and approved by the town board and finally by the bookkeeper before any checks are issued.

As a result of these processes, we received an A-plus rating from Standard & Poor’s when we re-financed our water bonds this summer. We also had the state comptroller perform a two-week audit in 2012, with no negative findings reported.

Though the town clearly has checks and balances built into its processes to avoid any improprieties, I will draft a resolution and ask the Town Board to fund an outside audit of the town’s finances. I will also contact the state comptroller’s office to request an additional process audit. We will share the results of the audit with the residents of Princetown and the media.

Finally, by state Municipal Town Law Section 123, the town is required to perform an audit every year before Jan. 20 of all department financial records. The town has scheduled its audit for Jan. 14, starting at 5 p.m. I cordially invite the Gazette to come, observe and to some extent, participate in the audit with the Town Board and staff of Princetown. All books, vouchers, abstracts, etc. will be open for inspection.

We (the staff, town board and I) are committed to open government. We welcome your and the state comptroller’s review of our processes and practices.

One thing in the editorial that I can agree with is the observation that the departures of McClaine and Van Woeart will end the childish behavior, constant obstructions of town operations, and the endless monies wasted on these disgruntled officials. This bickering and petty politics have been going on in Princetown for well over a decade, long before this Town Board was seated.

With the changes in personnel, the staff at town hall is looking forward to performing their jobs in a more harmonious and cooperative atmosphere. We can now focus our energies and resources on all the good work we have planned for the coming year and no longer have to waste our time and energy battling individuals who seemed interested only in preserving the status quo.

Michael J. Joyce

Princetown

The writer is town supervisor.

New York’s SAFE Act will prove anything but

The irony of the atrocity known as the SAFE Act is that it will not make anyone safe. In contrariety, it will ultimately result in greater incidences of violence and death.

One of the curiosities regarding this subject are the people who have a firmly entrenched opinion that guns are bad — “assault weapons” in particular — yet they refuse to discuss the subject civilly or at all. I can only surmise their beliefs are unsubstantiated; it is difficult to civilly discuss a position based on emotional rhetoric. For a person to have such a stance is perfectly understandable if their source of information is the mainstream media or the various anti-gun groups and politicians.

These sources are distorting the facts or outright lying regarding violence issues and the effectiveness of gun control legislation.

Here are some facts on the subject from such sources as the FBI, the Department of Justice, the National Crime Victimization Report, U.S. Supreme Court rulings, etc. In reality, the number of crimes involving firearms has significantly reduced over the last 20 years while gun ownership has significantly increased; during this same time period, numerous states passed right-to-carry laws.

Firearm-related homicides have fallen 39 percent and non-fatal firearm crimes have fallen 69 percent. In other words, increased gun ownership equates to less crime. “Assault weapons” is a misnomer the media has placed on a variety of commonly owned firearms, magazine-fed, semiautomatic rifles and shotguns. And, yes, they are suitable for hunting.

The Supreme Court has settled the “militia issue” already regarding the Second Amendment, it ruled that the Second Amendment is an individual right in D.C. vs Heller in 2008. Mentally disturbed people bent on carrying out a mass shooting almost exclusively seek out “gun-free zones.” Long guns in general are used in a small percentage of crimes involving firearms, thus “assault weapons” are used in a very small percentage. Guns are at least five times more likely to be used to prevent a crime than they are to be used by a criminal to commit one.

The information is out there. However the old adage is still applicable: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. I cannot make a person become informed.

Meanwhile this unconstitutional and unSAFE Act’s day in front of the Supreme Court is inevitable. Don’t be surprised when, by and large, it doesn’t stand up.

Don Steciak

Schenectady

Story on SAFE Act protest unbalanced

The Jan. 7 front page article about area gun advocates planning to “sound off” against the SAFE Act by shooting in unison is quite one-sided.

[Reporter] Edward Munger calls it a “grass roots demonstration.” There is no attempt to allow anyone who supports the SAFE Act to express their opinion. Many of us who live upstate support the SAFE Act as a good start toward common sense gun reform, and consider ourselves to be quite “grass roots.”

On the same day, the Daily Gazette ran a letter from Kevin P. O’Shell, against the SAFE Act, in which he made an incorrect statement. The murderer at Newtown did use a Bushmaster assault rifle. That is how he was able to put three or four bullets into each of his young victims’ bodies in less than 11 minutes.

Mr. O’Shell states that a pistol grip makes an assault rifle no different than a hunting rifle. Not true. These weapons were carefully researched and designed for the battlefield in the hands of trained soldiers. The pistol grip and other features of an assault rifle allow the shooter to maintain control over the recoil of rapidly firing the rifle, and keep every shot on target. There is no legitimate reason for civilian ownership of these weapons.

Check out New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, http://nyagv.org/.

Timothy Widenor

Scotia

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