June 8, 2014

Editorial: A cautionary tale of two towns

Obviously, supervision is a big piece of the job of town supervisor.

Altona Town Supervisor Larry Ross says he didn’t realize secretary/bookkeeper Danielle Peryea — according to the State Comptroller’s Office — helped herself to some $13,000 over four years and failed to perform vital duties, like banking hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks.

In Mooers, Town Supervisor Jeff Menard went overboard, taking it upon himself — without Town Council OK — to hire a contractor to clear rubble from a demolished funeral home before asbestos issues were resolved.

What seemed, to Menard, like a simple solution quickly dissolved into a massive mess — when the state informed the town that there was asbestos in the rubble and shut down the cleanup, when the local school was closed because trucks of infected debris rumbled past.

As Ross pointed out to the Press-Republican, just about anyone can run for town supervisor and take office, with little knowledge of their responsibilities. So they rely on experienced staff to see that work gets done properly.

As he has been town supervisor for about two decades and his tenure far exceeded Peryea’s, those excuses don’t fly. It is the supervisor’s job to safeguard town funds by a series of checks and balances, with the Town Council holding some responsibility as well. 

One person should never have complete control of government funds. Taxpayers should be justifiably angry.

Menard’s excuse for his actions? He said he wanted to get an eyesore cleaned up, as good weather approached and more people would be outside.

It appears he didn’t stop to think that children and seniors might have breathed in asbestos fibers in the process.

This is a cautionary tale.

Before running for public office, learn what the job entails. And if elected, learn the job.

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