Assermblyman Lopez Endorses Desmond for Re-Election

Written By Editor on 10/31/13 | 10/31/13


With Schoharie County's contentious three way Sheriff's race set to reach its ultimate conclusion on Tuesday, incumbent Tony Desmond received a significant endorsement from Assemblyman Pete Lopez in a letter yesterday that praised him as a "thoughtful, motivated and conscientious person."
 
 

Preparing for another Wave Election in 2013

In 2011, due to the flood and retirements, a series of changes remade the County Board. Longtime Supervisor Dennis Richards of Middleburgh did not run again and James Buzon won in November. Fourteen-year Supervisor Martin Shrederis lost to his 2009 opponent, Gene Milone. Anne Batz in Broome took her first term as Supervisor. Three other seats changed hands in 2009, introducing Dan Singletary of Jefferson and re-introducing Carl Barbic of Seward. After Supervisor Desmond became Sheriff Desmond, Sandra Manko took office in Sharon.

The whole situation was a sea change as the Board began seeing issues of instability between 2009-2011. Bill Cherry was removed as budget officer and two new ones, including Cassandra Ethington's ally Alicia Terry, took his place. Fighting among the Supervisors increased, but did not reach later levels.

After the 2011 elections, the situation deteriorated much further. The Board's infighting has been the worst in years and was the most severe leadership crisis on the County level in at least two decades.

In 2013 the situation will be similar, bringing in three separate wave elections in a row.

At least two Supervisors are retiring-- Mike Brandow of Conesville and Anne Batz of Broome. Another, Dan Singletary, is believed to be on his last legs. In Wright no Supervisor has been seated since the death of Bill Goblet-- so another new Supervisor there. In Esperance, Cobleskill, Schoharie, Blenheim, and Fulton there are competitive races.

Would nine new Supervisors govern any better than the current lot? Many would argue yes-- that the dysfunction on the Board must stop. Still, if some of the current candidates are also supporters of the group that placed Cassandra Ethington in charge, there could be far more problems.

Ultimately, it could be argued that the three wave elections in a row show a dysfunction of the current Board of Supervisors structure-- and as Gene Milone said, the lack of a County Executive.

Middleburgh's Candidates an Experienced Mix

There is no Supervisor's race in Middleburgh and incumbent James Buzon (D) has another two years left on his term. However, there are two council seats up next week and all of the candidates enjoy experience.

1. David Lloyd (R) is a long-serving member of the Town Board and currently serves as Deputy Supervisor. He was the GOP's nominee for Supervisor in 2011 and supports economic development. Mr. Lloyd is a business owner and was a key opponent of Mr. Hayes' effort to dissolve the Village earlier in 2013.

2. Brian DeFeo (R) is a former member of the Town Board, serving two terms until his retirement due to other work responsibilities in 2006. Mr. DeFeo supports consolidating Town and Village services to reduce the load on the taxpayers. He was nominated earlier this year by Marge Becker.

3. William Ansel-McCabe (D) hopes to use his years of experience as the Village's Mayor back to the Town Board. He is currently serving a one year appointment to the Board following former member Marcia Guntert's retirement in early 2013. Mr. Ansel-McCabe gave a rousing speech criticizing the opponents of dissolving the Village of Middleburgh at January's public hearing.

4. Sara Masterson (D) was a candidate for Town Board in 2011 and is known around Middleburgh for her volunteer efforts. Ms. Masterson ran for Library Board in 2012 and is still active around the community.

Opinion: Keep Earl Supervisor


There is but one logical choice in the Town of Esperance's contentious campaign between incumbent Supervisor Earl Van Wormer and Village of Esperance Mayor Steve Miller - and that is undoubtedly to "Keep Earl Supervisor," as hundreds of signs proclaim across the small town's roadsides.
Mr. Van Wormer, who was first elected to the position in 1993, has successfully accomplished the dramatic reduction of energy costs for county government and the acquisition of millions of dollars for Esperance projects through state grants, including his town's unique position as the only non-village in the county to receive funds in Governor Cuomo's recently announced $12 million package.
Although no longer serving as Board of Supervisors Chairman, a position he held for almost ten years in a time where county government worked effectively and without widespread controversy, Mr. Van Wormer continues to bring a sense of compromise and passion to his work on the board despite tensions reaching an all time high among the other supervisors.
Mr. Van Wormer's twenty years of service might be a good enough reason for some to pull the level for his opponent on Tuesday, but the way we see is that Earl still has a lot to contribute to both the town and county governments and that we cannot afford to lose a cool headed, independent statesmen in this time of political upheaval.
As such, the Schoharie News would like to endorse Mr. Van Wormer in Tuesday's election and hope he continues to play a pivotal role in shaping county politics for years to come.

Just in: Board to Hold Special Meeting Friday on Second Portion of Report, Meet With DA

Written By Editor on 10/30/13 | 10/30/13

The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors is holding a special meeting this Friday November 1 at 5pm. The agenda for the meeting was posted on the County website today-- and has just one item on the docket: meeting with the County District Attorney James Sacket.

There is word from our sources that there will be a push to publish the second portion of the Fitzmaurice Report, which was not released last week. Whether or not the votes will be enough to release the Report is not clear-- or whether County Attorney Michael West would suggest to do so. In the recent past, it has been implied that releasing the Report before having it reviewed by the DA and Civil Service could interrupt potential criminal charges being filed.

Schoharie 2013 Interview: Milone vs. Shrederis



Town of Schoharie voters will have to choose between incumbent Supervisor Gene Milone and the man he defeated in the 2011 election, former Supervisor Martin Shrederis, once again in next week's hotly contested town supervisor campaign between these polar opposites that the Schoharie News was fortunate enough to interview.

Background

Mr. Milone - Before retiring to Schoharie, Mr. Milone worked in the New York State Transit Authority for three decades where he rose up the ranks from a bus driver in Staten Island all the way to the presidency of his local union, and later served as a supervisor. Since moving to Schoharie he has served as Town Councilmen for six years and Supervisor for two.

Mr. Shrederis - Mr. Shrederis is a lifelong resident of Schoharie who owned a dairy farm for a number years and recently retired from Berne-Knox school district where he was employed as a bus mechanic. He has served as President of both the Schoharie Fire Department and Little League Association and previously served as Supervisor for fourteen years. 

Campaign

Mr. Milone - Mr. Milone stated that his campaign has "been very well" to this point, adding that he has visited "almost 650 houses," and that its "almost at its conclusion." He has used this opportunity to address issues that came up at monthly board meetings and to gain the public's perspective on the town's state of affairs.

Mr. Shrederis - Mr. Shrederis believes that he lost in 2011 because he "didn't have time to campaign," due to his many public responsibilities in the aftermath of Irene's devastation in addition to his own home being flooded and still holding a full-time job. He decided to run again because "people [have] asked me to keep running and running."

Town Level

Mr. Milone - Mr. Milone stated that "first and foremost [there] is a need for a grocery store," and that he has worked closely with neighboring Supervisor Jim Buzon and Congressman Chris Gibson's staff to bring one into the area. He also touched on his 2014 budget proposal that sees only a "0.9% increase in taxation," that "represents the cost of operation," and his position that he will not take a salary if reelected, emphasizing that he is a "firm believer of leading by example."

Mr. Shrederis - Mr. Shrederis named his "biggest concern" as bringing more businesses back to Main Street and that he's in favor of the pipeline looking to come into Schoharie, adding that the result will be "cheaper fuel." He also hopes that the Town of Schoharie and Cobleskill Stone's legal issues can be resolved, stating that "we won the last case," and that "maybe we can get this resolved." 

Tax Abatement

Mr. Milone - Mr. Milone said that he "struggled with himself for a long time since the flood" and that he spent that time "understanding their loss and the tears," concluding that his proposal for tax abatement would be the town's "opportunity for us to rebuild our community," and that if it doesn't work "we lose nothing." Four town laws were passed and it "offers something for everyone."

Mr. Shrederis - Mr. Shrederis position is that "first of all: we had many residents that were hit by Irene," and "they got a tax break for a short period of time." Adding that the tax abatement is "too long of a period," and "not fair to all residents who got a short-term break" that people who want to move in got a longer tax break. He conceded that "it's an incentive," but it’s "way too long."

The Report

Mr. Milone - Mr. Milone's motion twenty months ago before the Board of Supervisors initiated the entire Fitzmaurice Report process that resulted in the first section being released last Friday. Mr. Milone painfully opposed that release on the grounds that its contents would be "misleading," and that he wanted the full report published. 

Mr. Shrederis - Mr. Shrederis contends that the "amount of money [spent on the report] is a waste," and that the "second half isn't going to come out with more than the first," labeling the first section has nothing more than "scuttlebutt." He went on to label the report as a "witch hunt," but that it was "smart they sent it to the attorney general."



Esperance 2013 Interview: Miller vs. Van Wormer


Note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Mr. Van Wormer had "better things to do" if his bid for reelection failed. This was a mistake on behalf of the editor and has since been corrected to reflect Mr. Van Wormer's actual quote. 

Town of Esperance residents have a choice between two leaders in next Tuesday's election for supervisor: incumbent Supervisor Earl Van Wormer and Village of Esperance Mayor Steve Miller, both of whom recently discussed the upcoming election with the Schoharie News.

Background

Van Wormer - Mr. Van Wormer, who has served as Town Supervisor for twenty years, wears many hats including code enforcement officer, pest management and poultry judge to name a few, but he is most proud of the things he has "accomplished: not just on a town but also a county level."

Miller - Mr. Miller, who has served as Village Mayor for seven years, has owned Miller's BBQ Catering for thirty years in Esperance as well as an income tax firm for almost ten in nearby Duanesburg. He also served in the U.S. Navy for twelve years - four active, eight reserve.

Campaign

Van Wormer - Mr. Van Wormer admitted he "doesn't know" which way the voters of Esperance are leaning, but that he has been going door to door and was at the time of our interview planning a newsletter stating his case for reelection to the electorate, stating that "a lot of people don't know what's been accomplished in the Town of Esperance," and that his focus is to emphasize those accomplishments - including millions in grants received from New York State for not only flood recovery but town projects and future goals of flood mitigation in Fly Creek and continuing town road repairs.

Miller - Mr. Miller stated twice that town residents are "ready for a change" and that he will appear on the Democratic line despite initial attempts from Van Wormer supporters to block his nomination at their caucus. Mr. Miller is focusing heavily on his record as Village Mayor, which includes cosmetic enhancements to both the village hall and the local pavilion as well as an ambulance for the fire department. And stated that "the reason were successful in the village is because we work together."

County Level

Van Wormer - Mr. Van Wormer's record on the county level is extensive: serving as board chairman for nearly a decade, during which he fostered a decrease in county energy costs from nearly 17 cents per kilowatt hour when he was first elected chair to 6.24 cents today - with potential for that rate to fall to 5 cents in the near future. Mr. Van Wormer also gained fishing access for residents to the Schoharie Creek. His policies, if reelected, center around expanding broadband and cell access countywide and continued flood mitigation efforts.

Miller - Mr. Miller's record is Esperance-centric, but the candidate did have comments to offer concerning the board he hopes to sit on in January: declaring that "they are not working together," are "dysfunctional" and that he would "vote the best for my people." Mr. Miller, when asked if he would remain independent of the two leading factions on the county board, responded that he wasn't going there to "make friends," but to "do business."

The Report

Van Wormer - Mr. Van Wormer has been a strong advocate of the Fitzmaurice report from its origins almost twenty months ago and motioned for the first section's release last Thursday evening after four hours of executive session. Although concerned with the ballooning costs of the investigation, Mr. Van Wormer believes it was done for the right reasons.

Miller - Mr. Miller believes that it was "sad someone was given that amount of power," referring to Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington's implications in the report and that for her to run both departments was "done illegally." He also said that he would question County Attorney Michael West for not preventing her control of the Health Department.

Final Statement

Van Wormer - "If the people want me the next couple of years, I will do it. But if they think Steve Miller is the better man: I got other things I can do in this world." He concluded by saying that he does "all I can do to help everybody."

Miller - "Basically: if they vote for me they are going to get someone who's going to work for them," and his "financial background is strong," with years of public and private budgetary experience.

Milone's Budget Holds Taxes Steady in 2014

Written By Editor on 10/29/13 | 10/29/13

The Town of Schoharie has been through a lot over the last two years and many have been concerned that a sharp tax increase could hinder the recovery. The concerns of the voters has been listened to and the Town Board have passed a budget that reflects this.

With all of the issues, the Town Board is passing a budget with a tax increase of just .09%. With all of the special districts included, levy increases to 6.52 per thousand from 6.36 per thousand. Much of this increase comes from the nearly $9,000 that had to be budgeted in case of a new Supervisor. Mr. Milone currently donates his salary back to the Town.

Opinion: Both Desmond and Travis Fine Choice for Sheriff


The Schoharie News brought our readers three informative and wide-ranging interviews with each of next week's candidates for county sheriff back in September, with the end result being a better understanding of where each candidate stands and one very unsure editor of a then small news project.
 
All three offered strong first impressions and came off as knowledgeable in the field of their collective expertise. Sheriff Desmond and Chief Travis particularly impressed me, while Deputy Ethington had a certain charm about him.
 
However, in the end, the office of sheriff is one of the more honorable positions in local government. It carries a distinct job description that ultimately could lead to its occupants harm or even death, as occurred in this county when Sheriff Henry Steadman was murdered by a prisoner who concealed his revolver in 1930, and because of this the individual we put in charge of it must be of the highest caliber. With great power comes great responsibility and as such the decision must not be made lightly.
 
Which is why the Schoharie News is proud to endorse both incumbent Tony Desmond and Chief Larry Travis for Sheriff in next Tuesday's election.
 
We honestly believe that after months of consideration and learning about both men, that either would effectively serve the citizens of Schoharie Count atop our law enforcement apparatus: Sheriff Desmond holds a loyalty and passion for the men and women who work under him that speaks volumes, while no one could touch the respect and admiration that Chief Travis has for enforcing the law.
 
Both men understand the threat that illegal drug use poses to our residents and have effectively waged an offensive on their particular drug of expertise. The result of which has been the removal of drugs and thugs from Schoharie County's communities, with the Sheriff's department combating marijuana and Cobleskill police cracking down on heroin use.
 
Obviously it is impossible to vote for both candidates and only one can win next Tuesday. That decision is ultimately up to a majority (or in this case, likely a plurality) of voters who make their choice at the ballot box and our only advisement is that they take the time to consider both viable candidates and reach a conclusion without allowing outside forces, or fringe candidates, to cloud their judgment.
 
Oh, and as for the unsure editor, his vote next Tuesday is still yet to be determined.


Murray's Tenure Sees Mixed Economic Record in Cobleskill

Cobleskill Tom Murray is running for a third term in Cobleskill, fresh off of both his largest success and his largest failure of his tenure. The two events happened in succession this year: Supervisor Murray and other officials heralded the opening of an expansion of Cobleskill Village water lines towards Howe Caverns. Shortly thereafter, Murray and Mayor Mark Galasso's pitch for Butternuts Brewery to come into the former Guilford Mills building failed narrowly at the County Board.

Water lines will bring in a Stewart's.

No second loan will mean no brewery, and no expansion of 50-60 jobs.

To be sure, Tom Murray took office during a recession after the 2009 elections. He and then-newly elected Mayor Mark Nadeau intended to bring a new style of administration after the fall of past Mayor Mike Sellers. Sellers' indecision killed a deal to bring in Lowe's and other projects for Guilford.

However, Murray's experience as a businessman has translated into a mixed record for the community's businesses.

Primary growth has come from the building and re-building of businesses in town: one new and one improved pharmacy along Main Street and a "new" Stewart's and McDonald's. However, just down the street saw Borst Tire Center closed and in rough shape. Justine's has opened its doors but nothing has been done about the former mattress store near Key Bank.

Beyond this, issues revolving around business moving out of the Village has surfaced. Much as expansion along the Route 30 corridor have changed Amsterdam dramatically, Mayor Galasso and Supervisor Murray's water line idea will, by design, draw business away from the commercial center of town.

Ultimately, both Galasso and Murray have their re-election bids largely based on whether or not this business shift is a good idea. The voters will decide that on Tuesday.

Clear Differences Define Milone-Shrederis Race


The voters of Schoharie have little room for error in November 5th's town supervisor rematch between incumbent Gene Milone and former supervisor of fourteen years Martin Shrederis, as neither candidate shares a modicum of commonality with the other which has created a situation where their differences are clear and the election's victor will have a firm mandate.
 
In a combination of interviews set for publication tomorrow morning, the Schoharie News will outline the issue by issue differences between the two candidates ranging from the report to tax abatement to everything in between, as well as both of their accomplished resumes of community and work experience that offers Schoharie voters with two desirable choices.
 
At this juncture the editor of this publication can readily concede an inability to choose between the candidates, believing both to have skills and ideals that would best serve not only their respective community but also the county as a whole in regards to their position on the board of supervisors. It goes without saying that the residents of Schoharie likely share these misgivings and hopefully tomorrow's interviews will prepare them to make the final decision next Tuesday.
 

Watch Video of the Special 10/24 BOS Meeting

It was only ten minutes but worth a look.

This includes Supervisor Milone's principled stand calling for the release of the total report, and not just the first part.

Schoharie News Poll: 84% Say Charge "Report" Offenders

The next in the line of Schoharie News polls has shown great anger among voters in the County regarding the revelations released in part one of the Fitzmaurice Report. Since last Thursday the latest poll has been overwhelming against those implicated in the Report. The main person implicated thus far has been Cassandra Ethington, with a special appearance by Cobleskill Supervisor Tom Murray.

Yes: 223 -- 84%
No: 44 -- 16%
Total: 267

It must be noted, of course, that this is an unscientific poll and that the question was vague. The next poll is up on the Schoharie News' sidebar. Make sure to make your opinion count!

Larry Travis Picks Up Neary Support

Written By Editor on 10/28/13 | 10/28/13

Democratic nominee for Sheriff Larry Travis received another endorsement over the last week. This time it is Richmondville Mayor Kevin Neary. Neary is also the head of the Schoharie County Emergency Management Office.

Credit: Travis Facebook Page

The Report: Ethington Aimed to Fire Curator at Old Stone Fort

There were many incidents surrounding the reported "layoff list" created by Cassandra Ethington. Among the people on the list was the curator of the Old Stone Fort Daniel Beams. One of only three employees-- the Director, the Curator, and a groundskeeper at the volunteer-driven museum, Beams found out that Ethington added him to the list of layoffs. The Director Carle Kopecky was able to save the position by moving money meant to fix windows at the museum. He also had to give up his health benefits.

The Director said that the actions violated Section XI (4) of the union contract. and did not give adequate notice.

Remember that if you read this article to "like" our Facebook page and get the word out.

Middleburgh Hosts Haunted Library

The Middleburgh Library has held another Haunted Library over the past weekend. The event was attended by dozens and was set up by volunteers led by Bobbi Fain Ryan. MCS teacher Wes Laraway did a Haunted Cemetery tour to raise money for the Library.

Credit: Bobbi Ryan's Facebook

Just In: Another Heroin Bust in Cobleskill

Not much information has come to light yet, but there has been another bust for heroin in Cobleskill. There is a short story up on Channel 6's website that has just been released.

From their article:
Amber Sager, 21, is charged with Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Invstigators say she had her 2 year old daughter with her when she sold the drugs. Police say more charges are expected. Sager was arraigned in the Town of Cobleskill Court and remanded to the Schoharie County Correctional Facility on $5,000 cash bail or $10,000 bond.


Letter to the Editor: Hard Choices this Fall

Dear Editor,

Election day can be one of the hardest for any informed voter.  There are deserving candidates on the all of the electoral tickets, but two in particular stand out this year.

One is Supervisor Gene Milone of Schoharie. For the last two years, Supervisor Milone has been tirelessly fighting not only to bring back the Town of Schoharie from the damage of Hurricane Irene and is also looking out for the entire County. His actions proposing flood mitigation, seeking the truth for the people of the County regarding issues in the Personnel Department, and giving his salary back to the people of the community are just some of many that deserve credit. Mr. Milone is an excellent partner that I respect and enjoy solving problems with. He deserves two more years to continue building up Schoharie.

In Jefferson, Sean Jordan has been a major asset for the people of the community. His experience speaks very well of the man running for Supervisor. His work in the Planning Department would be vital for grant writing and management on the Town level while his knowledge of County government would make him indispensable on the Board of Supervisors. He has a clear mind and a love for his community that is sorely needed.

Sincerely,
Matthew Avitabile
Middleburgh

Introducing Letters to the Editor

The Schoharie News is launching its first round of letters to the Editor. This week we have received one letter that we will be publishing.

From now on, we will publish letters on Mondays. Please send them to us at aaaabraves@yahoo.com with the subject "Letter to the Editor." Include your name and location. We reserve the right to edit for profanity or potential libel.

Board Faces Upheaval at Ballot Box


With over 95% of respondents saying they disapproved of the current board of supervisors in a recent Schoharie News poll, one would expect a county wide upheaval of their elected representatives in favor of new, fresher voices - and they're going to get at least three to begin with heading into next Tuesday.
Citizens of Broome, Conesville and Wright are heading to the polls next Tuesday with no incumbent supervisors on the ballot and three contested races with competent candidates to choose from, due to Mr. Brandow's retirement; Ms. Batz's decision to run for town clerk and Mr. Goblet's unfortunate passing.

Add in the fact that incumbents are facing challenges in Blenheim, Carlisle, Cobleskill, Esperance, Fulton, Jefferson, Richmondville, Schoharie and Seward during this hostile environment towards elected officials and the end results could be transformational: anywhere from three to twelve new individuals may potentially be taking seats on the third floor of the county office building in January.

Residents of Gilboa and Seward can choose from only their respective incumbents, while Middleburgh and Sharon voters have to wait until 2015 for their say at the ballot box, due to lengthier terms of office in their townships.

Of course, not all members of the board deserve political exile at this time, and that includes members from both sides of the Skowfoe-Vroman divide who have legitimate passions for our county government and should be retained while voters begin initiating the process of implanting the next generation of public officials.

Although there is no worth to predicting next Tuesday's outcomes because there are just too many factors in play, it is safe to say that come January there will be a significant number of fresh faces sitting around the table and perhaps we can move past the Skowfoe-Vroman divide that is plaguing the board of supervisors and towards a more unified, productive administration. 

Cherry Denounces "Conscious Act of Deception," Calls for Final Report's Release


Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry, who previously blasted the board of supervisors decision to release only the first portion of Fitzmaurice's findings as a "betrayal," issued a press release this morning that further denounced the board's decision to release only the speculative original copy as a "conscious act of deception," that he "considered to be a betrayal of the public trust."
 
Adding in his conclusion that "I find it disturbing that the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors has intentionally misled the press and the public by releasing an eight-month-old summary of undocumented hearsay and deceptively labeled it as a “Final Report”. Stating in the last sentence that he hoped that the "public and the press will join me in demanding that the actual Final Report, which was delivered to the Board on October 24th, be released immediately."
 
Mr. Cherry's release in its entirety:
We have been told for months now that the investigative report into claims of discrimination and harassment in the Schoharie County workplace was still being investigated and compiled and was not ready for release.  This matter has been brought up month after month at Board meetings throughout the summer and fall of this year, most recently on Friday, October 18th when it was announced by the Chairman of the Board that Attorney Mark Fitzmaurice could not attend the meeting that day as expected because he was still working on the final report.  It is important to note that on the date October 18, 2013 the final Fitzmaurice report was not yet completed, as stated for the record by the Board Chairman.  
On Thursday, October 24th, after a entering into a four-hour executive session with labor attorney Mark Fitzmaurice of White Plains, NY, the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors released to the press and the public a document labeled the "Confidential Final Report Concerning Discrimination, Harassment and Intimidation in the County Workplace".   Note the very important word “Final” in the title of that document.  The Board of Supervisors also promptly posted this 104 page document on the official county website under the title “County Investigation Report”.     
It is no wonder that news sources as well as the public immediately concluded that this was, in fact, the final report that we have all been anxiously awaiting for the past 12 months.  We were lead to believe that this was the very same “final report” that was not ready for release just six days earlier on October 18th.  We believed that because that is exactly the way the Fitzmaurice and the Board have labeled it.  “Final”, by definition, means end result or ultimate conclusion.  But does anyone find it curious that on page 104 of the recently-released report, you will find that the date that it was actually delivered to the Board was on February 5, 2013?  More than eight and a half months ago…  This is NOT the document that was delivered to the Board on October 24, 2013.   

The document that was released and labeled as “Final Report” is actually nothing more than a “preliminary summary” and is more than eight months old.  Why was this stale document mislabeled as the “Final Report” and released on the very same day that Attorney Fitzmaurice delivered the actual final report to the Board?  Can it really only be a coincidence that on the same day that Fitzmaurice delivered the true results of their year-long, $317,000 investigation, the Board decided to release to the public Fitzmaurice’s preliminary report that the Supervisors had already had in their possession for most of this year?   They could have chosen to release this 104 page document at any time during the past eight months.  It seems to me that there is a distinct possibility that the “real” final report that was delivered on October 24th was going to be embarrassing to some members of the Board of Supervisors, most of whom are running for reelection, and election day is now only a week away.  That may be the reason for this conscious act of deception that I consider to be a betrayal of the public trust.  
I submit that this act of deception was not a coincidence.  I believe that the Board of Supervisors intentionally released the “old” preliminary report in an effort to satisfy the press and the public’s outcry for the final report.  They did this despite the fact that they knew very well that the preliminary report would unjustly damage the reputations of some public officials, including myself, because it included unfounded hearsay, rumors, and baseless accusations without any proof or evidence.  On page 5 of the report, Attorney Fitzmaurice says in reference to his questions during the interviews with county employees:  “Regardless of the source of the information, we wanted to determine if they had heard or knew about acts of discrimination, intimidation or harassment in the Schoharie County Workplace.  This part of the question was designed to elicit a broad range of information, including hearsay…  We told the interviewees we did not care where the source of their information came from.  Even rumor, innuendo and hearsay were to be confirmed or dismissed if possible.”  Not documented facts mind you – they were asked to give the interviewers rumors and hearsay.  
I find it disturbing that the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors has intentionally misled the press and the public by releasing an eight-month-old summary of undocumented hearsay and deceptively labeled it as a “Final Report”.  And worse yet, they released this compilation of hearsay on the exact same day that they did in fact receive the actual final report from Attorney Fitzmaurice in a closed-door executive session.  One can only conclude that the Board took this action in an effort to satisfy the public outcry for the report, while at the same time protecting themselves or their friends from the embarrassing results of what Fitzmaurice delivered to them on October 24th.  I hope the public and the press will join me in demanding that the actual Final Report, which was delivered to the Board on October 24th, be released immediately.

Opinion: Four More Years for Sacket

The Schoharie Valley has seen multiple issues with those in public service lately. There have been issues that require a clean break and a new start.

However, there are parts of the local government that are working for the interests of the people and not for the officeholders. There are multiple examples of this across the County-- with Supervisor Gene Milone and County Treasurer Bill Cherry fighting for the taxpayers and people's right to know what is happening in their local government. The same is easily said for District Attorney James Sacket.

Mr. Sacket is a humble man and lets his accomplishments often speak for him. He has prosecuted many of the most difficult chapters in recent Schoharie County history and has done so with a sense of professionalism that is sorely needed at the County level. Mr. Sacket has also done so with a fine staff behind him making sure that those that deserve to be behind bars are there.

Yes, Mr. Sacket is unopposed in this year's race. However, it should be obvious to observers why this should be considering his track record. Here is to another four years for Jim Sacket.

Schoharie County Newsmakers Interview Larry Travis

Written By Editor on 10/27/13 | 10/27/13

The Schoharie County Newsmakers recently interviewed Cobleskill Police Chief Larry Travis, one of three candidates hoping to serve as Sheriff after November 5th.


Donate to the Schoharie News

Written By Editor on 10/26/13 | 10/26/13

Maintaining the Schoharie News requires a lot of time and dedication, often times over twenty hours per week - in fact just over the past three days that number has soared to near twenty-five - working part-time, going to college and running a website requires just enough to keep the bills paid and the gas tank filled.

As such I have decided to include a "donate button" via PayPal on the right hand side of the website for readers to consider donating a few dollars to help me keep the Schoharie News afloat and not use what wages I earn from a nearby supermarket delicatessen on this increasingly time consuming news project. You can donate from a PayPal account, a credit card, or a bank account. Even a few dollars helps me keep the site up and expand.

Also: advertising is available for business and non-political causes. We will not accept any political advertisements whatsoever.

Schoharie News Poll: 72% Say No to Re-Electing Their Own Supervisors

Written By Editor on 10/25/13 | 10/25/13

Just a week after the Board of Supervisors registered an anemic 4% approval rating, we see similar waves of discontent across the County. According to the new unscientific Schoharie News poll, the incumbents on the Board have much to worry about. With the long-awaited Fitzmaurice Report implicating incumbents such as Cobleskill's Tom Murray, the current set of Supervisors are not looking very well.

  Regardless of Your Perception of the Wider County Board, Would You Vote to Re-Elect the Supervisor in Your Particular Town?

Yes: 71 -- 28%
No: 185 -- 72%
Total: 256

This poll is closed out and replaced with one asking readers if those implicated in intimidation, namely Cassandra Ethington, should have criminal charges levied against them. Vote!

The Report: Women Discriminated Against by "Good Old Boys"

Another wrinkle has emerged in the Fitzmaurice and Walsh report released by the Board of Supervisors. According to multiple female employees, there were claims that women were "subjected to acts of discrimination." The 14-male dominated body was described as a "good old boys club." Members of the Board and female department heads believed that female department heads made less money for doing the same duties on the Board.

Colleen Fulford from the Emergency Management Office claimed that she was interrupted by Supervisor Phil Skowfoe and Treasurer Bill Cherry after a disagreement at a flood-related meeting. Supervisor Harold Vroman said that Bill Cherry insulted her in the hallway. Mr. Cherry denied this version strongly.

Of those that argued that women were discriminated against were Supervisors Anne Batz, Sandra Manko, Bill Goblet, and Tom Murray. Ms. Batz believed that she was excluded from meetings for being a woman. Later during the interview she said that instead she may have been excluded because she was a new Board member, "does not carry many votes, and is a woman." She added that she thought that some members of the County Board did not believe that women should even be on the Board. She had no firm anecdotes, but it was a "feeling."

Sandra Manko said something similar. She said that the reason for the alleged discrimination was because "I'm a Democrat, I'm a female and I'm old." The worst of the offenders she stated was Cobleskill Supervisor Tom Murray. Murray "went up one side of her and down another" during a meeting.

Mr. Murray himself said that the atmosphere was instead due to others' dislike of intelligent women.

"Every time we get a really smart female-- we have some bright girls-- we have Alicia Terry, I'll just name a few. We have Alicia Terry, Cassandra Ethington's just so bright, Colleen [Fullford] I'm sure is bright. I see these people being, I don't know if it's discriminated against, but they aren't treated like they should be treated. These girls should be wrapped in cotton and put in a glass jar so nothing happens to them."

Murray said that Bill Cherry unfairly called out Cassandra Ethington. Mr. Cherry called for her resignation publicly in late 2011 and it was featured during a Board meeting and on the local news. Several employees, Supervisors, and Mr. Murray believed that it was intimidation. he also said that women in the County should be paid more.

Former Supervisor William Goblet testified before his death that he felt that women were treated poorly in the County and recalled Bill Cherry's call for Mrs. Ethington's resignation. He also said that some women were spoken to disrespectfully in general at meetings. He said, "Some of the way these guys talk to these women, you know, someone should get up and bash them."

Alicia Terry said that female employees not represented by the union contract were targeted. She also claimed to be at the Cherry-Fullford incident. When Ms. Terry was vigorously criticized by Phil Skowfoe at a meeting, no one defended her. She also believed that there was a gender wage gap and that she did not receive enough money for the amount of work she does. She also spoke to other Supervisors about the situation.

She recounted former County Clerk Lee Lacy saying that women should "wear a skirt and make-up if they wanted to improve their relation with the Board" about 15 years ago. She also said that Mr. Cherry questioned her and her staff's competency and that he had come publicly to the press to complain about her job performance.

Perhaps the most controversial comments regarding gender in the County workplace comes from Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington herself. She said that County Republican Party Chair Lewis Wilson said to Mr. Cherry that "she floats into a room, flaunts her boobs and blue eyes and gets the guys to give her whatever she wants." She said that this was told this by three Supervisors. This was confirmed by two.

The majority of female Department heads, however, did not state that they were victims of discrimination.

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The Report's Layoff List Findings; Supervisor Bob Mann's Response


During the initiation of what would become Fitzmaurice's original report twenty months ago, Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone argued previous to filing the motion that set this entire process into what was released last night that there were allegations of both harassment and misconduct within county government, including the creation of a so called list of potential layoffs that sent public employees into a panic in November 2011.
 
According to the original report that was released last night: after the completion of 2012's tentative budget by co-budget officer's Alicia Terry and Paul Brady, the compilation of an additional layoff list to that of the budget's recommendations was conducted by Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington at the behest of then Finance Committee Chairman Robert Mann, the Town Supervisor of Blenheim.
 
Personnel Director Ethington stated that the list was assembled based off her recollections of three years worth of Board and Committee meetings where various supervisors questioned the day-to-day activities of certain individuals and when seniority, "bump" and "retreat" rights were taking into consideration. It was never intended to be anything more then a potential layoff list and would be subject to Board of Supervisors approval.
 
Fitzmaurice concluded that "however well intentioned" the creation of Personnel Director Ethington's layoff list was that Supervisor Mann "may have violated procedures contained in county law." And that its creation "caused a great deal of panic through out county government," although "department heads were able to recover from the surprise... and successfully argue for the retention of their personnel."
 
Supervisor Mann chose not to participate during Fitzmaurice's interview process, but did agree to speak with the Schoharie News and offer his side of events leading up to and after the creation of an additional layoff list almost two years ago.
 
Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Irene the county's economic picture was bleak: initial projections by the budget officers showed a near 20% tax increase for taxpayers to cover millions of dollars worth of flood recovery costs and loss of revenue. However, the decision was made jointly between both of the budget officers and Supervisor Mann to take flood related expenses out of the budget, reducing the overall tax levy down from 20% but it still remained over the 2% property tax cap.
 
The budget officers and Supervisor Mann further discussed potential paths to reduce the budget without a significant tax levy on county taxpayers - including the elimination of the safety officer position, privatizing the EMS department, laying off jail guards and other items - but ultimately the tentative budget recommendations were left to Ms. Terry and Mr. Brady. Which after its release Supervisor Mann started to press for additional cuts.
 
According to Supervisor Mann he not only pressed Personnel Director Ethington but "other departments as well," and that they had "lengthy meetings with every department head. Many departments, in my opinion tried very hard to work with us and offered additional spending cuts or ideas to reduce costs. Some examples were EMO volunteered to accept the weights and measures responsibility in combination with the safety officer."
 
This was followed by the creation of the layoff list, which Supervisor Mann described as "a sort of worst case scenario" and after learning from Personnel Director Ethington that employees needed 30 days notice prior to lay off, "wanted a list that was larger than the actual cuts would be to make sure we had options while the full board considered the budget." Adding that they "of course could make changes to the finance committee recommendations."
 
As it turned out Supervisor Mann, who stated "the report has provided many examples of how the list negatively impacted many county employees," believed that his course of action was "a poor decision" and that he takes "responsibility for it." He also stated that "the list should have never been released to the public or even the full board at the November 18th meeting," and he been at that particular meeting that "things may have turned out differently."
 
 In summary the Finance Committee that the Blenheim supervisor chaired "never reached farther down the list than what we had originally discussed in committee," and that "we never even needed the list as it turned out." Supervisor Mann concluded his remarks by agreeing with the board's decision to release the first portion of the report and that with it "in the open everyone can see the recommendations and know that the board has done nothing in eight months" to act of them.

The Report: Ethington Accused of Destroying Documents

Cassandra Ethington's time at the Health Department also had her involved with the caretaking of records. Employee A was the Administrative Assistant of the Director of the Health Department until July 2010. She served under Mrs. Ethington.

Ms. A said that she followed the procedures of document removal. When Mrs. Ethington took over she was a "bull in a china shop." Ethington would come in and begin just throwing out documents after going through them. Ms. A cautioned Ethington and labeled what needed to be kept or thrown away. The project took a week. Then Mrs. Ethington came to the office and threw all of the files away because she believed the project was too slow. Ms. A was "disturbed" by the incident. When "A" told the state CSEA they told her there was nothing they could do. Meanwhile, she could not complain within the County civil service because she would be forced to testify to the Personnel Director.

Another employee, Mr. B, has spent dozens of years in the field. He was told in January 2011 by Mrs. Ethington to destroy files showing investigations into public water systems, lead paint, and hazardous waste. When told that the files were not expired, Mrs. Ethington destroyed them anyway. Then she complained that there was not enough room. She then had health staff throw away two filing cabinets worth of files into a dumpster right behind the County building. After being informed, some of the files were shredded. When asked why the employee did not pursue further he said "there was no point since she was in charge and he was afraid she would yell at him."

Mrs. Ethington denied telling anyone to throw away the files.

After the incident Mrs. Ethington took all of Mr. B's personal phone books and threw them away. He took one from the bin and saw Mrs. Ethington next to him. She said that he no longer needed the phone books. If he needed a number, she said, he needed to speak to the secretary. Mr. B placed the book back in the garbage but rescused them later that day.

Ms. A witnessed an event between Mr. B and Ethington. According to Ms. A, she witnessed Ethington "screaming at [Mr. B]. I don't know about what but there were people there that wanted some assistance and we took them out because it was not something that they should witness." Those visitors were looking for a permit. They needed to be led outside because Ethington "just kept going on and on, screaming at [Mr. B]."

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Todd Ethington in "the Report:" My Wife and I Were Harassed

During the course of the investigation into the Fitzmaurice and Walsh report, Deputy and current Sheriff's candidate Todd Ethington was interviewed. He was the only deputy that chose to speak without an attorney.

Ethington stated that there were "incidents of misbehavior in the Sheriff's Department" and handed the attorneys logbooks dating as far back as 2006 to show this. He said that he enjoyed a poor relationship with the last Sheriff, John Bates. On several occasions, Ethington said, Bates did not say hello to him.

He also said that his wife Cassandra was harassed. He showed an email allegedly sent by the Clerk of the County Board to the members criticizing his wife. He presented this to Undersheriff Ron Stevens, who said that he would investigate it. Ethington believed that this investigation was flawed and that Stevens had withheld information, reportedly saying "this is bigger than you think."

Due to this the husband and wife hired an attorney and filed a notice of claim against Schoharie County. After a meeting between this attorney and the County "the harassment stopped for a short period." Both Ethingtons say that they dropped their lawsuit after being assured by several Supervisors that the "harassing behavior would stop."

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The Report: Harassed Employees Felt Unprotected by Union

There are many issues of alleged discrimination and intimidation in the recently released County Report. However, many of the employees felt that they would not be protected by their CSEA-affiliated union. In fact, some believed that if they complained that they would be retaliated against.

The vast majority of employees said that they did not file a report with their Local Union 848. A lack of aggressiveness from the union was noted by the employees. A local union representative said that the reason for this was that CSEA in Albany did not give enough financial support. Neither did the union ask for assistance for two employees laid off in 2012.

Local union President Barbara Schaffer said that there are multiple complaints filed by employees per year. The more serious are sent to the state union.

Meanwhile the employees themselves said that even when they felt that they had legitimate grievances, they "did not have confidence in local CSEA representation." This was across the board in three different departments.

If they did file a claim and lost they could be fired or demoted.

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The Report: Health Department Civil Service Law Broken to Fit Ethington

Much controversy has surrounded the events in the Health Department over the last several years. With the departure of Mrs. Kathleen Strack in late 2010, Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington was charged with leading the transfer of the County Home Health program in early 2011. She was specifically not tasked with the role of leading the Department.

That changed as she became interim director on January 7, 2011. She received $3,500 for the appointment.

According to the New York State Public Health Law and NYS Department of Health in order to become a Director of Public Health a Master's Degree in public health or a related field is necessary. Mrs. Ethington instead has a two year Associate's Degree in Business Administration. The confusion on why she was appointed by the Board of Supervisors caused the staff to believe that Mrs. Ethington now held "an almost infallible position within the County and cast a cloud over the entire Health Department."

The New York State Department of Civil Service was appalled. Personnel Director Ethington requested an opinion on whether she could hold both positions. NYS Civil Service wrote back on February 21, 2012 stating that
"A member of a municipal civil service commission or personnel office... shall not hold any other public office or employment under the political subdivision over which such commission or personnel officer exercises jurisdiction.... By having responsibility as Public Health Director and Personnel Officer you would have the full range or responsibilities for appointments, terminations, disciplinary actions at the Public Health Department and also be responsible for reviewing, approving/denying and hearing appeals from the same decisions as Personnel Officer. This is an obvious structural conflict."
The Schoharie County Policies and Procedures manual describes the Personnel Officer being one of the people that employees can report claims of harassment to. So if an employee of the Health Department needed to complain about her role as Health Director, they would complain to... her as Personnel Director.

During her time as Health Director, tensions heightened. In the aftermath of the flood an empoyee was praising other employees for their role during the flood. Mrs. Ethington allegedly entered into the room and yelled at the staff for "a poor performance during the storm and thereafter." Several employees complained in the aftermath. Another employee said that this incident happened because Ethington had received a complaint from the State Department of Health. Ethington accused the employees of the Department of speaking behind her back and complaining to the State. She yelled at the employees and said that they would be written up and that some could be fired. That employee said that Mrs. Ethington's dual roles made them feel trapped. Another employee corroborated the same incident although did not remember Mrs. Ethington threatening jobs but did say that Ethington called the employees unprofessional and could be disciplined. She also felt that her job was threatened. Multiple other Health Department employees said similar things.

In another incident another employee was reprimanded by Ethington for "poor performance during a point of distribution drill where vaccines were distributed." She could not appeal the case because she would have had to appeal directly to the Personnel Director. Mrs. Ethington also screamed at the employee "for an extended period of time" for speaking to the Clerk of the County Board. This was confirmed by another employee.

Just six months later Mrs. Ethington recommended that the employee's position be abolished. The employee was to appeal to... the Personnel Director.

Another employee was yelled at for moving her desk. Mrs. Ethington screamed at her saying that she was a "diva, selfish, and had no right to adapt her plan" then made her move the desk back. Another employee heard the shouting from 60 feet away.

The Personnel Director did admit to shouting in the incident because she had worked on the floor plan for "an extended period of time" and that the employee  had argued with her. Mrs. Ethington was also on ear medication during the event.

As written about prior, yet another employee was berated by Ethington on two occasions, one for asking for union representation. Mrs. Ethington denies both incidents. Betsy Bernocco, who was present, in the Report said that both raised their voices during an incident. However, Bernocco earlier said in a court deposition earlier that this was not the case, a direct contradiction.

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Cherry: Board Has Betrayed the Trust of the People


Following last night's overwhelming vote in favor of releasing the original compilation by Fitzmaurice and Walsh concerning allegations of wrongdoing in the county workplace, Schoharie County Treasurer Bill Cherry blasted the board's decision to "suppress the second (and most legally important) part." Adding that "the Board has betrayed the trust of the people."
 
The motion to release was opposed only by Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone, who insisted that the report be released in its entirety and that publication of only the original version would be "misleading" to the public, a position that confused many in the aftermath of last evening's vote but was praised by Mr. Cherry.
 
"Gene Milone should be credited for being the lone Supervisor who voted to release the entire report," the County Treasurer declared forcefully. He followed up by stating that "Many of the rumors, innuendos, and gossip in the first part are unsubstantiated, but it's the actual allegations of law-breaking I care about," concluding that "The people have a right to know if civil service or election laws have been broken."
 
While the Board of Supervisors did vote to release Fitzmaurice's original findings, which are mostly hearsay and accusations, there is still a second and larger part of this waiting to see day light and until that occurs we can only speculate as to the validity of the first portion's contents.
 
 


The Report: Ethington Attempted to Rearrange Board of Elections Against Both Democrats and Republicans

Both the Republican and Democratic Party Chairs in the County have something to agree on. It is that Mrs. Cassandra Ethington tried to rearrange their office in 2010. Ethington told the Republican Chair Lewis Wilson that she was going to change the office schedule. She also said that some employees would be fired and others would be placed in part-time positions. Wilson told her to get out. The Democratic Chair Clifford Hay disagreed with Ethington's move. Only the two party chairs, as the heads of the Board of Elections, could make such a move.

The Board of Elections is arranged by this system to prevent corruption and possible election fraud, as laid out by New York State Law.

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The Report: Cassandra Ethington Had 'Almost Unquestioned Authority'

Written By Editor on 10/24/13 | 10/24/13

Many of the issues revolving around the Report come right back to the Schoharie County Personnel Office. The lawfirm Fitzmaurice and Walsh describe their initial disbelief that "the Personnel Officer could possibly possess the unfettered authority that was being attributed to her." As the author states "an overwhelming number of the general and specific complaints were related to the Personnel Officer."

Sheriff Tony Desmond said that he was present for a conference call in the middle of 2011 with the Undersheriff, an officer, the Sheriff's secretary, and Cassandra Ethington. During the call a disagreement between the officer and Mrs. Ethington began. Mrs. Ethington began "berat[ing]" the officer to the point that the conference call stopped. Desmond told the Personnel Director not to speak that way to an officer-- in response she hung up on him.

The officer that was on the conference call was concerned with an investigation on abuse of an inmate by a deputy. The deputy was suspended pending a full investigation after the case was brought to the Board. The documents were presented to Mrs. Ethington via email. She claimed that no one even interviewed the deputy and that she never saw the documentation.  When the secretary showed Mrs. Ethington a copy of the email she screamed over the phone, "Who the fuck do you think you are? You are fucking nobody. Don't raise your voice to me." The officer said that he never raised his voice and even stepped back from the phone. This version was confirmed by the Secretary and Undersheriff Ron Stevens.

The Sheriff also met with the budget directors Alicia Terry and Paul Brady about proposed layoffs. The Sheriff's proposed cuts did not include actual employees, but instead contractors and services. Immediately after he heard that there were 33 positions cut from the Sheriff's Department. The Sheriff and his secretary attended a meeting with Mrs. Ethington. Ethington handed the Secretary a copy of all of the layoffs that she had requested for the Sheriff's Department. Part of the document outlined demotions that included cutting all corporals back to corrections officers and reducing some dispatchers to part-time from full-time. Desmond had no input on the process and was "shocked" by the process.

When discussing the layoff prospects, Mrs. Ethington physically took the list from the Secretary and said "Screw you, the game's over. Get the fuck out of my office." The Secretary affirmed this incident's occurrence. She stated that the layoff list was in fact a jail schedule to operate the jail with fewer employees than mandated by the State. The Secretary said that Mrs. Ethington made the schedule to show how effectively "she could operate the jail." A copy of the schedule was included in the Report.

This version of events was entirely denied by the Personnel Director. She instead said that she was explaining the bump and retreat rights of each deputy. Instead, during the meeting the Sheriff and Secretary were "laughing, texting, and not paying attention" to her as she discussed possible layoffs. She said that her patience had worn thin already from being attacked in social media and did in fact tell them to "Get the fuck out of my office." She also said that the Secretary stole the layoff list from her-- and that this was the source of how it reached County employees.

Meanwhile another employee in the Sheriff's Department stated that he had been good friends with Deputy Ethington but had a falling out in 2006. When his wife applied for a job in Delaware County. Deputy Ethington allegedly called the company to make "false claims" about her. He also produced a recording of a call Ethington made that was aimed at an employee of the perspective company. The same recording made it to YouTube. Since then, he has feared for his job due to Mrs. Ethington's position.

Another deputy said that he had been eating in Middleburgh in late 2011 when he was approached by Mrs. Ethington and another employee from the Personnel Department. The deputy asked Mrs. Ethington how she was to which she responded, "You better watch your fucking job." After a moment he asked her what she meant to which she said, "You're about to be laid off." He had not heard of the layoff list at the time.

In a separate incident, Mrs. Ethington allegedly "forced" the disclosure of confidential information and used it to have another employee berate them. Mrs. Ethington reportedly threatened the job of an employee unless they divulged the confidential information. In this case  the former employee was investigating a report of potential workplace violence. He was asked to report to the Personnel Department where she demanded the identity of one of the people involved. When the Officer denied the request she later called him and screamed at him. She claimed that it was a matter of law enforcement importance.

Later, when he feared asbestos or mold in the County building he called  to have the substance investigated. It was not asbestos but Mrs. Ethington yelled, screaming, "Who do you think you are, I'm a department head, you're nobody." He was then thrown out of the office.

After the flood the employee was tasked with cleaning up damage at the County building. Mrs. Ethington started to tell him what to do. When he responded that he was tasked with the cleanup and to leave him alone. He complained to Harold Vroman saying that "She's interfering with stuff." She stopped showing up at the site but soon after saw him after a flood meeting. She said to him, "You son of a bitch, you want to run the fuckin' Board and rat on me. I can't wait until you are out of here." She had tears in her eyes.

One of the largest sections was that revolving around the Personnel Office.

She was praised by several Supervisors for her job performance.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Ethington claims to be the victim of multiple forms of harassment, including sexual harassment and intimidation. She believed that there was an overall atmosphere of intimidation at the County level.

She claims that the County Attorney Michael West and Bill Cherry conspired against her. She pointed to the YouTube video where Mr. Cherry called for her firing at a Board meeting. Meanwhile Mr. West launched investigations into her Department, which she claimed were meant to harass her. She said that this happened while she was on vacation and that her hard drive was taken and copied.

She said that letters and emails were also sent to harass herself and her husband. One email was vouched for by Earl van Wormer, who said that the information was true. Ethington asked West to put a halt to Mr. van Wormer's actions. Instead, it got worse, leading to the attempted lawsuit her husband spoke of. She also alleged that the employees at the Health Department refused to follow her orders.

One employee that was laid off, said Mrs. Ethington, lied about her to remove her from her position.

The Supervisors were reportedly not happy with Mrs. Ethington.

"Your reign of terror is over." said Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone.

Phil Skowfoe said he did not like her and when that happens "he chews on it like a dog with a bone."

Meanwhile another employee stated that she heard Mrs. Ethington scream at an employee that did not raise their voice themself.

On top of this, Mrs. Ethington has been accused of working with several employees at the Department of Public Works to change the DPW Commissioner's job qualifications to fit an ally.

Ethington allegedly placed a DPW employee on the layoff list after complaining that Ethington employed an ally for political reasons. Meanwhile another employee asked for a promotion in the Department and was granted. When he heard there were potential layoffs, Mrs. Ethington told him, "Quite frankly, I've been getting a lot of complaints about you, you are not doing your job very well." Immediately previous his job responsibilities were stripped of him and right after the conversation he was added to the layoff list. This led to his resignation.

In another case Ethington yelled at another employee after moving furniture and equipment after a move. She allegedly shouted "Who do you think you are? Coming down here are telling me what you can or can't take with you."

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Tom Murray Ally of Ethingtons, Involved in Civil Service Abuse in "the Report"

Cobleskill Supervisor Tom Murray has been mentioned several times in the Report. There are several portions describing actions supporting the actions taken by Personnel Director Cassandra Ethington and abusive towards County employees.

According to Murray's own words, he entered into Central Data Processing after the flood and swore at two employees. He did admit this unrehearsed and called his behavior "inappropriate." He was criticized by CDP's head. He then apologized to the employees. One of the employees interviewed was so upset by the event that they refused to continue with the interview in fear of retaliation.

Murray also asked the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Works if he wanted the Commissioner's job. He was told yes and received an email. Murray then told the Board of Supervisors that the candidate was not interested in the position. Murray denies this and says that he did in fact inform the Board Clerk through email.


Murray allegedly told another employee that after they complained about a hiring they believed to be political that he was not on the "right team." Murray, Ethington, and two others threatened the employee. The employee was then placed upon the layoff list.


In another incident Mr. Murray was with Mr. Goblet and Mrs. Ethington. Murray yelled at another female employee to the point of tears. Ethington said nothing.


Mr. Murray also pushed for the firing of Planning Department employee Sean Jordan, telling him that he was too young and inexperienced for the job. Jordan was 27 at the time and was laid off. He was replaced by a 28 year old immediately thereafter. In a court deposition, Mr. Jordan claims that Mr. Murray stated that according to Alicia Terry, part of the reason for the firing was that Mr. Murray did not like him.


Mr. Murray was also accused of sexism by Sharon Supervisor Sandra Manko. When asked about sexism in the workplace, the worst of the offenders she stated was Mr. Murray. Murray "went up one side of her and down another" during a meeting.


About sexism, Mr. Murray said, "Every time we get a really smart female-- we have some bright girls-- we have Alicia Terry, I'll just name a few. We have Alicia Terry, Cassandra Ethington's just so bright, Colleen [Fullford] I'm sure is bright. I see these people being, I don't know if it's discriminated against, but they aren't treated like they should be treated. These girls should be wrapped in cotton and put in a glass jar so nothing happens to them."


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