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Freeport Village News
December 2001

Mob/Village Attorney Says Whatever He Wants
Freeport NY, December 21, 2001

FREEPORT WATER RATES HEADED SKYWARD
December 17, 2001
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December 21, 2001

Mob/Village Attorney Says Whatever He Wants

Freeport NY, 

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 intentional.

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 hall.

Related Story
Vil Board Blasts Through Meetings
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September 11 & 18, 2000

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 year."

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:

FNYN: Can you tell me when you plan to fix the acoustics?

DEPUTY MAYOR 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: Thatís right.

FNYN: Might it be this year?

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?

TRUSTEE MAUSSERBERGER: I thought that was pretty clear. What didnít you understand?

FNYN: I didnít understand when it is going to be fixed.

TRUSTEE MAUSSERBERGER: Obviously you donít.

FNYN: Do you understand when it is going to be fixed?

TRUSTEE MAUSSERBERGER: 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:

"The Morristown 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 Consultant

On December 18, 2000, the village board accepted a proposal from Artec Consultants of NYC, 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 the public?

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 recognized.

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 interrupts)

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 this room?

MAYOR GLACKEN: 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 speaking)

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 continue].

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 honor.

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 Village Hall.í"

On December 14, 2001, Senator Fuschillo forwarded Edwardsí response, "The sound system has already been improved..."

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December 17, 2001

FREEPORT WATER RATES
HEADED SKYWARD


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 think?"

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 mains"

Bagatelle asked Mob/village attorney Harrison Edwards, "Everything else will stay the same?"

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 for tonight.

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 meeting.

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 come."

The public hearing is scheduled to convene at 8:00 p.m. in the main conference room in Freeportís Village Hall.

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