June 17, 2009: Questionable reporting on board story

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To The Editor:
In last week’s News, Jay Braman “reported” on a meeting he didn’t attend. His report is nearly word for word, the same report printed by Brian Powers in the Phoenicia Times, after Mr. Powers did attend the meeting.
Mr. Braman said, of Shandaken’s Supervisor Peter DiSclafani, “…he has been given a quote for an even better insurance package for around $70,000. Instead of being congratulated for finding such a savings, DiSclafani was lambasted by frequent DiSclafani critic Joan Lawrence-Bauer, who said that expenses like that should be put out to bid instead of just having the supervisor make a couple of calls about it. DiSclafani, who told Lawrence-Bauer to not yell at him, agreed to hold off on taking the new quote.”
Those exact same words, in exactly that order, appeared in the Phoenicia Times. Since Braman isn’t listed as a reporter for that paper, it’s fair to wonder how these words were duplicated. Was it plagiarism? Was there collusion between the papers?
How did two different newspapers single me out as a “frequent critic,” when I have attended just three meetings in the 18 months of this administration? This particular meeting lasted for well over three hours and many others, more frequent critics than I, asked exactly the same questions I asked. Here’s the background.
DiSclafani signed a no-bid contract for designing a sewer system in a manner that New York City had already rejected. It was rejected again. Now the same company wants even more money to fix the proposal they knew was unacceptable in the first place.
DiSclafani illegally demanded a $2,500 payment from a planning board applicant. Then he was forced to give it back, with interest. Taxpayers will now undoubtedly pay legal fees to defend the supervisor.
Last month, DiSclafani, Doris Bartlett and Tim Malloy tried to pass a law without even giving two other councilmen a printed copy to review. In that same meeting, they tried to slip new wording into a measure they were passing, without first putting it to a public hearing. This month, these same people voted to pass a law, then had to take it back for a do-over because once again, they had not followed proper procedures.
With numerous other well-documented failures to follow legal or ethical procedures, when the supervisor announced he could save money on the town’s insurance, red flags popped up. Why did he wait 18 months for a sudden interest in saving money on insurance? Who was invited to quote on this package? Is he saving money by dropping coverage?
These seem like reasonable questions. As always, DiSclafani could not even name the firms he supposedly called, let alone answer the other questions. Maybe he can save money with the same amount of coverage. Maybe if he put it out to bid, he could save even more. Either way, he and this board have legal, fiduciary and even communication responsibilities that must be met before signing yet another no-bid contract.

Joan Lawrence-Bauer,
Oliverea