Throughout February and March, I campaigned in the village on a platform of setting a new path for Fultonville’s future. A future built on investment in aging infrastructure and providing tools to local property owners to bring new life and vibrancy to our downtown and neighborhoods. On Election Day, the voters of the village turned out overwhelmingly with nearly 40 percent of registered voters casting ballots. Sixty-two percent of those voters chose to support my platform.
Since assuming the role of mayor on
April 3, the board of trustees has proven through their words and actions that they would prefer to focus on the village’s past rather than on its future. Members of the board claim corruption and unethical behavior have been widespread in the village for many years. To that I say — you have betrayed the public’s trust by letting it occur. Combined, you all have served a total of 38 years as trustees. To let this perceived injustice go on for that time is reprehensible as it happened on your watch.
In particular, we have spent an inordinate amount of time discussing the village clerk-treasurer and deputy clerk-treasurer. When the village board became aware of Mayor Headwell’s pending resignation, Mr. DiMezza offered his resignation at the same time. To this, the board asked DiMezza to stay on for three months to train his eventual replacement as clerk, and for these services, as well as upgrading the village’s utility billing system, the board of trustees voted unanimously to increase his salary by $4,000 a month. If the board had no confidence in the clerk or deputy clerk, as is claimed now, why did you all vote to have him train his replacement? Wouldn’t that be counterintuitive to start “fresh” with a new clerk? Additionally, if things were so bad in the clerk’s office, why didn’t the board simply accept DiMezza’s resignation when he offered it in December? No, you all chose to keep him on at an increased salary and continue to justify this on the record at subsequent meetings as having been “extorted.”
After being sworn into office, I asked you all to afford me the same opportunity you gave yourself — a three month time period in which I could come up to speed on the village’s operations and work with you to find a new clerk, an appointment we could all agree on. This was something you could not accept. Apparently something changed between December and April.
In respect to the claims about compensation for the clerk and deputy clerk, this too was something you have all been aware of for many years, and failed to address. At the very least, there is no denying you all did not know the rates of compensation after interim-Mayor Donaldson provided unredacted W-2s from 2015 and 2016 to Trustee Denton that included names, addresses, salaries, and Social Security numbers of all village employees. This information has been displayed and discussed at multiple meetings in April alone. Not only was this a breach of confidential personal information, putting employees at risk of identity fraud, but these documents clearly show the breakdown of compensation for the clerk and deputy clerk for the stated years. For Denton to make potentially slanderous claims in this regard, especially when having no first-hand knowledge of why the salaries were established at those rates prior to her being elected as a trustee, is a gross transgression.
Lastly, but certainly not least, it has been truly breathtaking how little effort you all wish to contribute while offering incessant complaints. Most apparent is that none of you were willing to serve as Deputy Mayor until Trustee Law finally relented. You all wish to offer harsh criticisms and plenty of inquiries, but are unwilling to put in the time and effort to be part of the solution, work as a group, or even undertake the necessary and appropriate research before you act.
You all were elected to represent the best interests of the village. The majority of you now claim that the village has been a “mess” and “corrupt” for decades. I would ask you, what have you done to fight this during your tenure? To be fair, Trustee Romano has been in office since 1998; Trustee Law has been in office since 2003; Trustee Rose has been in office since 2014; and Trustee Denton has been in office since 2015. And yet, you all claim that you did not know that water and sewer rates increased last year in the budget you all approved; that you did not know of the compensation rates of employees; and that you did not even know the village had an employee policy amongst many other items.
After much contemplation of the events of the past month, I hereby tender my resignation as mayor, historian, cemetery sexton, and member of the Joint Wastewater Treatment Board effective immediately. I will not be accepting any payment for mayor for the month of April.
It has been my utmost honor to serve as historian for over nine years and as sexton for nearly eight years. The restoration of the village cemetery and progress made on preserving and promoting our history has been a labor of love, and I will miss my time doing so.
To the many residents of this village that supported me through my campaign, and continue to do so silently in the wings, I thank you tremendously and apologize that I could not “hang in there” as many of you have asked me to do. I encourage you all to remain vigilant of what your village board choses to focus on and what they chose not to be transparent about. The hallmark to a functional democracy relies on a well-informed public.
Former Mayor of Fultonville