Freeport Village News
Attorney Says Whatever He Wants
December 21, 2001
WATER RATES HEADED SKYWARD
Mob/Village Attorney Says Whatever He Wants
by Stewart Lilker
Mob/Village Attorney Harrison J.
Edwards may have finally bit off more than he can chew when he
lied to NY State Senator Charles Fuschillo. Edwards, Freeportís
three hundred thousand dollar a year Village Attorney and Mayor
William F. Glackenís brother-in-law, is considered by many
village insiders to be Freeportís de facto mayor. Edwards,
Glacken and the village board have been ignoring the publicís
right to hear the proceedings in village hall for years. Many
residents and non residents alike believe that it is
The trouble began in 1998 when
Mayor Glacken, disregarding the dire financial straights of the
village, decided to renovate the main conference room in village
Before the renovation, the walls
of the room were lined with various echo resistant flags and
drapes. After the renovation was completed, Glacken refused to
have the sound absorbing materials reinstalled. From that time,
the public complained about the acoustics.
At village board meetings,
zoning board meetings and at the public hearings, the public,
the court reporters and the Mayor himself, are constantly
straining to understand what is being said. Making matters
worse, the Mayor and the Village Attorney at times,
intentionally refuse to speak into the microphones or speak so
quietly as not to be heard.
The most prevalent public
complaint recorded in the village minutes since 1998 has been
the poor acoustics in village hall. A source inside village hall
told FNYN, "They [the village board] donít want the
microphones turned up."
For four years, the Mayor and
the board have been asked when they are going to take care of
the problem. Their answer has been, "By the end of the
At the November 19, 2001 board
meeting, your reporter asked Deputy Mayor Frierson when the
village planned to fix the poor acoustics in the conference
room. Trustee Mausserberger, who spoke up only for the third
time in two years, joined in:
you tell me when you plan to fix the acoustics?
FRIERSON: (unintelligible due to the acoustics)
FNYN: Ms. Frierson,
for the past four years the administrationís answer has
been by the end of the year. I would like to point out that
we are getting close to the end of the year.
DEPUTY MAYOR FRIERSON:
OK, so we still have time.
FNYN: Do you think
you might get it done by the end of this year? Your answer
has always been by the end of the year.
DEPUTY MAYOR FRIERSON:
FNYN: Might it be
DEPUTY MAYOR FRIERSON:
Thatís the answer.
FNYN: Do any of the
trustees have any idea when the acoustics are going to be
fixed in this room?
I thought that was pretty clear. What didnít you
FNYN: I didnít
understand when it is going to be fixed.
Obviously you donít.
FNYN: Do you
understand when it is going to be fixed?
I understand what she is saying.
DEPUTY MAYOR FRIERSON:
OK, weíve answered that question
The Village Knows the Law
In July of 1993, the NYS
Commissioner of Open Government, Mr. Robert Freeman, responded
to a question by Ms. Patricia Tocatlian, of Ogdensburg, NY. Your
reporter has shared the following opinion with the Mayor and the
Village Attorney over the years:
The staff of the Committee
on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions.
The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the
facts presented in your correspondence.
Dear Ms. Tocatlian:
I have received your letter
of June 23 in which you requested an advisory opinion
concerning the Open Meetings Law.
According to your letter:
School Board has held several board meetings at which the
board members spoke so quietly members of the audience
were unable to hear their deliberations. This behavior
went on for long portions of the meeting and was not
accidental as members of the audience cried out to them
to, 'speak up' over and over again."
In this regard, with respect
to the capacity to hear what is said at meetings, I direct
your attention to ß100 of the Open Meetings Law, its
legislative declaration. That provision states that:
"It is essential to
the maintenance of a democratic society that the public
business be performed in an open and public manner and
that the citizens of this state be fully aware of and able
to observe the performance of public officials and attend
and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into
the making of public policy. The people must be able to
remain informed if they are to retain control over those
who are their public servants. It is the only climate
under which the commonweal will prosper and enable the
governmental process to operate for the benefit of those
who created it."
Based upon the foregoing, it
is clear in my view that public bodies must conduct meetings
in a manner that guarantees the public the ability to
"be fully aware of" and "listen to" the
deliberative process. Further, I believe that every statute,
including the Open Meetings Law, must be implemented in a
manner that gives effect to its intent. In this instance,
the Board must in my view situate itself and conduct its
meetings in a manner in which those in attendance can
observe and hear the proceedings. To do otherwise would in
my opinion be unreasonable and fail to comply with a basis
requirement of the Open Meetings Law. (emphasis added)
The Mayor Ignored His Own
On December 18, 2000, the
village board accepted a proposal from Artec Consultants of
a world renowned acoustic consultant firm,
to provide acoustical engineering services for the Village Hall
Main Conference Room and the Village Court.
Artecís expert findings were
that "the space was too excessively reverberant, because of
the relative minimal area of sound absorbing materials. The
primary solution is to add sound absorbing materials to the two
spaces." Artec did not recommend upgrading the sound system
until the sound absorbing materials were installed.
This past Monday, December 17,
2001, your reporter, who is also a resident of Freeport had the
following conversation with Mayor Glacken:
FNYN: My first
question is regarding what Mr. Edwards just said when I
couldnít understand what he said. He said I should
"Mind my own business." Could you tell me if what
Mr. Edwards says is everybodyís business?
MAYOR GLACKEN: I
think Mr. Edwards was talking to Mr. Jay and at the moment
he was doing so -- unintelligible --.
FNYN: He was speaking
to Mr. Greco. When Mr. Greco asks a question about the power
plant, is Mr. Edwards answer only to Mr. Greco and not to
MAYOR GLACKEN: It is,
but that doesnít give you the right to shout out.
FNYN: I couldnít
understand what he was saying. Do I have a right to hear
what goes on in this room?
MAYOR GLACKEN: It
doesnít give you the right to shout out, without being
FNYN: You have done
nothing about the acoustics and I do have a right to hear.
What goes on in here is my business and everybodyís
business. Open Meetings Law is clear and specific (Glacken
MAYOR GLACKEN: --
unintelligible -- You donít have the right to interrupt. I
have the right to interrupt.
FNYN: You do?
MAYOR GLACKEN: Yes I
do. -- unintelligible --
FNYN: Can you tell me
what has recently been done, other than occasionally keeping
the volume of the microphone up, to improve the acoustics in
Actually, I have spoken to a person who is in the recording
industry and who may be interested in doing some recordings
here -- unintelligible -- because the acoustics are good. (Glacken stops
FNYN: My question
sir, what have --- (Glacken interrupts)
MAYOR GLACKEN: Excuse
me, youíre out of order, donít interrupt me. Do not
interrupt me or I will adjourn this session.
FNYN: Go ahead [and
MAYOR GLACKEN: Thank
you very much. We have been talking to this person about the
acoustics in general in this room. This is a professional
person. And in general, this is whatís known as a live
room, which is actually good for recording speeches, because
of the acoustics. The problem that I think that you are
relating to, we think can be resolved, without putting sound
panel devices in the niches in the walls, rather speakers
can be mounted on the lower part of the dais here. I will be
looking into that very seriously.
FNYN: That is clearly
not what the experts have said. But my question was, your
honor, with all due respect, what were the improvements that
were recently done in this room? Could you explain that to
me, please? (Glacken looks around) Would it help if I put
the microphone up? What were the acoustical improvements?
MAYOR GLACKEN: I have
consulted with the person who has -- unintelligible -- is
very interested in using this room to record --
unintelligible -- speeches.
FNYN: So have there
been any improvements? That is my question. Have there been
any improvements done?
MAYOR GLACKEN: --
unintelligible -- the suggestion has been made.
FNYN: Iíll try it
again. Have you done anything in this room? (to the trustees
and Edwards on the dais) Have you done anything? (Edwards,
Glacken and trustees sat silent)
MAYOR GLACKEN: I
think I have answered your question.
FNYN: Thank you, your
NYS Senator Can't Get The Truth
On November 29, 2001, your
reporter met with NYS Senator Charles Fuschillo and shared with
him the peopleís frustration regarding their continuing
inability to be aware of the proceedings in village hall.
Senator Fuschillo wrote to Mayor
Glacken. "I have been contacted by Mr. Stewart Lilker who
has the following concerns, "ĎMr. Lilker would like to
know when the Village is going to improve the acoustics in
On December 14, 2001, Senator
Fuschillo forwarded Edwardsí response, "The sound system
has already been improved..."
by Stewart Lilker
At the conclusion of the
December 10, 2001 village board meeting your reporter asked
Mayor Glacken if he intended to raise the water rates at the
next board meeting. Glacken smiled and said, "What do you
At the December 3d board
meeting, NW Civic Association President, Ken Bagatelle,
commenting on an agenda item and concerned that the water rates
were going up, asked the Board which water rates were changing.
Deputy Mayor Frierson shuffled through the packet of papers in
front of her, while the rest of the trustees sat motionless. She
told Bagatelle, "We are changing the size of the water
Bagatelle asked Mob/village
attorney Harrison Edwards, "Everything else will stay the
Edwards shuffled through his
papers and told Bagatelle, "For the moment, yes."
The legal notice in the villageís
official newspaper, the Leader, even with the use of a
magnifying glass, is so small as to be illegible. Other than
that illegible notice and a notation in the November 17th
agenda, the Glackenites have made no effort to advise the public
or the media of the impending water rate increases.
A check of the villageís web
site makes no mention of the water rate public hearing scheduled
On Friday, contrary to a board
resolution that states agendaís are to be ready on the Friday
before the board meetings, Anna Knoeller, the Village Clerk,
refused to release any part of the agenda for this Monday nightís
Freeport, mismanaged for decades
by Republican rule, is now once again desperate for money. After
having raised village taxes over 43% in the past four years, the
Glackenites are now proposing increasing the basic water service
charge 150% over the next four years, while also proposing an
additional water rate increase of 85% in the same time period.
If a Freeport water customer is
having a problem and needs their water meter read the charge,
which is now included in the basic service, will now cost
$27.50. If a customer has an emergency and needs their water
shut off, they will now be charged $70.00. When the situation is
cleared, it will be another $70.00 fee for a total of $140.00
per incident. In some cases, the charges to tap into a village
water main are going up almost 1000%. If a resident needs
emergency water to their home, the increase is 150%.
Long time village resident Vince
Greco told FNYN, "It's no wonder they are having the
hearings so close to the holidays. They haven't they made an
effort to advise the public and now they can be sure no one will
The public hearing is scheduled
to convene at 8:00 p.m. in the main conference room in Freeportís