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Dear Rick:

It seems to me that you asked Mr. Villa and me to list our priorities, not to debate.

My priorities are as follows:

1. Financial stability/accountability, 2. Economic Development, and 3. Quality of Life.

Much of the success of this administration falls under these broad themes and our work in the coming years will continue along these lines. The following list is not all-inclusive but I hope the readers get a sense of the scope of work I propose.

Financial-auditing-small-businesses
FINANCIAL STABILITY
and ACCOUNTABILITY:

• Craft a fiscally conservative budget that sustains operations and invests in improved performance. Make sure every dollar spent is necessary and effectively allocated.
• Continue the implementation of the 2014 Corrective Action Plan scripted by the Controller, Corporation Counsel, the former Council and I. Ensure that resources are allocated to the Department of Finance to adequately track, reconcile and report all financial transactions.
• Pursue grants to augment the $27M in funding for capital improvements, equipment and transformative projects that we have received over the past seven years.
• Share services creatively: I offered a list of 34 initiatives to the County that can benefit us by cutting costs, increasing efficiencies and, sometimes, produce much-needed revenue.
• Explore new services that will generate revenue to offset property taxes.

growingtheeconomy-300x268
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:
• Expand water distribution to surrounding municipalities.
• Expand the Edson Street Industrial Park.
• Continue the redevelopment of our waterfront and downtown areas. Relocate trains station to urban core: create multi-modal transportation hub with commercial and banquet space.
• Repurpose industrial sites into multi-use commercial spaces, low tech incubators, or residential units.
• Continue to nurture partnerships with economic development entities (MCBDC, AIDA, CEDD, URA, CEG), our regional development partners on the MVREDC (I serve on the executive committee), state agencies and surrounding municipalities (our relationship with Schenectady is flourishing.)
• Capitalize on our location along the Thruway, Rail and River. The year 2017 will mark the 200th Anniversary of the Erie Canalway which will be an ideal time to showcase the new Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook.
• Build the Recreation Center to attract visitors from across the Northeast.
• Revamp our promotional materials and website to publicize opportunities in our community.

IMG_0691
QUALITY OF LIFE:
• Continue strategic infrastructure improvements (roads, water/sewer/storm distribution systems). Allocate necessary resources to our newly created Landbank.
• Fight blight through code enforcement, demolition, and targeted neighborhood revitalization strategies. Share code enforcement information and best practices with surrounding municipalities via the new software module we are creating with CTG and neighboring cities.
• Grow citizen engagement programs, e.g. neighborhood watch/beautification efforts, community gardens, citywide clean ups, etc.
• Support public safety departments adequately.
• Continue to offer recreational opportunities to youth and families at the Bacon Recreation Center and Creative Connections Arts Center, e.g. summer camps, free swimming lessons and transportation to city pool, after-school tutoring, sports tournaments, 4H club memberships, public arts projects, etc.
• Grow citywide celebratory events such as Spring Fling, National Night Out and Homecoming.
• Provide continued support for the downtown merchants, Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation, Library, Inman Center and the new Farmers’ Market.
• Continue to foster partnerships with the GASD, FMCC, SMH, W1shfu1Th1nk1ng, Centro Civico, churches and other not-for-profits to nurture body, mind and spirit.
• Continue to improve our municipal golf course, parks, playgrounds and monuments.
• Continue to promote historic preservation of our heritage properties.
• Re-engage community in master planning.

Again, there’s much more to this than I have listed here, but carving out a vibrant future for our city demands great thought, budgeting, planning and many, many hands.

One would think that, given the complexity of this job and extreme needs of this city, any candidate would have given considerable thought to priorities before announcing a run for office.

It’s been four and a half months since Mr. Villa announced. He hasn’t come up with any priorities in all of this time? THAT fact speaks for itself.

My motto:
“Be content to act, and leave the talking to others.”
~ Baltasar Gracián, translated from Spanish

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QUESTION: do you follow the person that points out problems or do you follow the person that’s done something about them? The city’s finances have been out of wack for over a decade.

This administration has:

• called these problems to the attention of the council and the media for six years (documented in writing);

• WITH THE COOPERATION OF PAST COUNCILS,
purchased specialized municipal accounting software;

• WITH THE COOPERATION OF PAST COUNCILS,
hired outside experts to help unravel the problems;

• WITH THE COOPERATION OF PAST COUNCILS,
brought in $24M dollars in grants and stimulus funds to fix infrastructure & equipment, advance huge capital projects, and offset the cost of bonding;

• WITH THE COOPERATION OF PAST COUNCILS,
scripted the Corrective Action Plan submitted to the state in order to move past our troubles;

• WITH THE COOPERATION OF PAST COUNCILS,
reworked utility fees so that they BENEFIT CITY TAXPAYERS; and

INCREASED REVENUE by millions of dollars to the annual budget.

The FACTS speak for themselves. My administration has proactively handled problems with creativity and action.

That’s LEADERSHIP.

“Anyone can hold the helm, when the sea is calm” – Publilius Syrus

leadership

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Letter to the Editor

To whom it may concern:

I read the editorial in the Recorder today (Monday, May 20) regarding campaign finance law and political corruption with little amusement and quite a bit of distain. The points the editorial makes are sound: campaign finance laws are routinely broken and condoning small violations creates an environment in which more serious corruption flourishes. My issue with this expressed opinion is two-fold. 1. The missive seems to only target State politicians, and 2. it indicates that it is the sole responsibility of the State to audit and call attention to abuse.

Got ethics ?

There is no doubt that State politicians should be held to the highest standards of conduct, especially when handling contributed money because of the influence, either perceived or real, that it may have. The same must be held for all elected or appointed officials at any level of government.

This topic is particularly relevant to my experience during the last campaign. In August of 2011, my team brought irregularities in the reporting practices of the Emanuele Camp to the attention of the Recorder and other media outlets. Mr. Emanuele was interviewed about a donation that had exceeded the legal campaign finance limit and, because of the article, the contribution was returned. Mr. Emanuele said the transaction was the result of a strong supporter’s misunderstanding of the contribution limits, all of the while touting accountability as one of his first priorities. At the same time, he had not reported in-kind donations and costs associated with fundraising. It seemed to me then and still holds true today, that someone that had been an Alderman, Mayor and Chairperson of the Montgomery County Republican Committee should be well-versed in campaign finance laws and procedures and should definitely play by the rules.

Unfortunately, this did not turn out to be the case.

As the campaign progressed, I became increasingly distressed by Mr. Emanuele’s reluctance to make full disclosure of all contributions and expenditures. I wrote about this in my blog, wildthane.wordpress.com, in a posting entitled “Slight of Hand.” The following is that observation, dated November 4, 2011:

campaign

“I am baffled by the claim that Joe Emanuele is paying for his materials, when his NYS Board of Elections Campaign Finance Reports do not show this activity or the resources to produce them. His campaign manager tells us the committee to elect Joe paid for them and they only used the NYRSC return address for a better postal rate. There is no claim to support this activity on the NYRSC report, though they show contributions to races around the state. How can this be so? What gives? or who? and why?

Before the primary, I mailed out an 8.5″ x 11″, full-color card much like those now being delivered to households in Amsterdam every other day. The mailer cost me $3,234.77 for design, printing, and postage. We sent this card to Democratic voters in the city. The Emanuele pieces are evidently being mailed to Republican voters, but the numbers of cards being sent must be relatively close in number, so that I’d wager the cost is as well. To date, we’ve received four mailings at my house and I figure they must run around $3,000 a pop. Since August, the Emanuele coffers have hovered between $4,200 and $5,200, with small expenditures listed for literature: postcards, magnets, stamps… nothing over $210.00. My question becomes, how was the approximate $12,000 disbursement for mailed campaign material (and I dare say, there will be more) paid for?

As well, I notice when driving around our city a plethora of Emanuele signs of all sizes and materials. I purchased 250 signs for $1,438 and, once 70 or 80 of them went missing, reordered another 100 for $672. Mr. Emanuele shows no expenditure for signs, though he does show an expenditure of $108 for stakes. Research shows the Montgomery County Republican Committee paid $486 for Emanuele signs. To my mind, this just doesn’t add up, even without a math degree…

Where’s all of this money coming from? How come it is not being reported, even as in-kind donations? Why isn’t the lack of reporting being reported? Doesn’t this matter when my opponent has made integrity an issue in this campaign?”

The issues of honest fundraising and campaign reporting matter most on the local level. Your alderman, mayor or county official have much more of an effect on your day to day life than your assemblyman or senator. And, most importantly, it’s the law.

Unfortunately, this apparent lack of respect for the law wasn’t sufficiently reported during my last election. Now that the issue has drawn attention on a state-wide level, I trust that the media and our constituency will apply the same level of scrutiny to the upcoming local elections.

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AUGUST
Mayor’s Report

Community Engagement:
• Community Task Force: Wishful Thinking
• Department Criminal Juvenile Justice Grant
• 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament – HUGE success
• 7 on 7 Kickball Tournament planning (September)
• Neighborhood Association “Meet & Greet” planning (September 22)
• Lois McClure Riverlink Park visit planning (September 22)
• Homecoming planning (October 5)


Economic Development:
• Interviews conducted for CEDD position
• Developer Luncheon planned – September 6
• MVREDC strategic plan – final touches for submission
• Train Station Relocation: meeting at DOT, August 9th – projected $45M impact
• Pedestrian Bridge community forum co-hosted with Amsterdam Common Council
• Land Banking Advisory Committee meeting
• BOA meeting: finalizing reports (East End, Northern Trolley Neighborhoods, Waterfront Heritage)
• CEO Roundtable Discussion hosted by Dusty Swanger: public/private investment and partnering for revitalization
• NYCOM Executive Committee meeting: mandate relief, training
• Hydro-electric study
• Waste Water Treatment Digester study
• Highland/Holland PILOT


Engineering/DPW:
• Market Hill water/sewer/road infrastructure improvements completed
• Market Street Traffic Improvements
– excavations nearing completion
– one bad valve identified
– State to start repaving in next few weeks
• I/I contracted, start September (need $90K to do manhole inspections)
• Traffic Re-patterning progressing rapidly
• Bell Hill: rebuild retaining wall
• Series of sink holes/excavations to be remedied in the coming weeks
• Only 19 hydrants out of service

• Interviews conducted: Codes – Wilkie Platt appointed

 Insurance/Trust Issues being resolved; accounting must be set up, finalize Delta/Davis contracts

Need attention:
• Capital Projects
• Professional Assistance: Controller
• IT Contract: County
• Dove Creek solution

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Thank you to all of the good people that helped me, supported me, and spirited me through this difficult process.

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Much has been made of the recent campaign mailing from my opponent’s camp. In this case, the offenders feign innocence and the local media moves on.

It is what it is.

Copyright issues aside, I am baffled by the claim that Joe Emanuele is paying for his materials, when his NYS Board of Elections Campaign Finance Reports do not show this activity or the resources to produce them. His campaign manager tells us the committee to elect Joe paid for them and they only used the NYRSC return address for a better postal rate. There is no claim to support this activity on the NYRSC report, though they show contributions to races around the state. How can this be so? What gives? or who? and why?

Before the primary, I mailed out an 8.5″ x 11″, full-color card much like those now being delivered to households in Amsterdam every other day. The mailer cost me $3,234.77 for design, printing, and postage. We sent this card to Democratic voters in the city. The Emanuele pieces are evidently being mailed to Republican voters, but the numbers of cards being sent must be relatively close in number, so that I’d wager the cost is as well. To date, we’ve received four mailings at my house and I figure they must run around $3,000 a pop. Since August, the Emanuele coffers have hovered between $4,200 and $5,200, with small expenditures listed for literature: postcards, magnets, stamps… nothing over $210.00. My question becomes, how was the approximate $12,000 disbursement for mailed campaign material (and I dare say, there will be more) paid for?

As well, I notice when driving around our city a plethora of Emanuele signs of all sizes and materials. I purchased 250 signs for $1,438 and, once 70 or 80 of them went missing, reordered another 100 for $672. Mr. Emanuele shows no expenditure for signs, though he does show an expenditure of $108 for stakes. Research shows the Montgomery County Republican Committee paid $486 for Emanuele signs. To my mind, this just doesn’t add up, even without a math degree.

Take a look for yourself: Campaign Finance Reports. What do you think? While you’re there, check out your candidates for Aldermen. It’s fascinating who has reported and who has not, especially if you are paying attention to signs in the first ward.

Where’s all of this money coming from? How come it is not being reported, even as in-kind donations? Why isn’t the lack of reporting being reported? Doesn’t this matter when my opponent has made integrity an issue in this campaign?

www.mayorthane.com

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disappointing

It’s telling that my opponent has sent out a mailer that talks about a budget proposal that was made but never implemented, features a photo of me that is very unbecoming, and makes disparaging remarks about me.

The mailer does not talk about his time in office or reference accomplishments.

The mailer does not offer a glimpse of his plan for the future.

The mailer does not tell us anything about my opponent except that he is willing to engage in the dirty politics, a practice that drives qualified people away from involvement in public service and reduces the election process to meaningless rhetoric and ugliness.

How disappointing and weak. It is a political equation that doesn’t add up.

Our voters deserve better. I’d rather focus on what I’ve done and what I plan to do in the coming years as Mayor. Please see my complete platform, past, present and future, at www.mayorthane.com. Thanks.

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I’ve listened with a mixture of patience and fury to misinformation circulating for quite some time, but now that the election is upon us, it’s time to set the record straight. The fund balance has not suffered from gross misuse of funds. We have not been spending wildly for four years, and in fact, I’ve never exceeded my departmental budget or overspent what had been budgeted for city hall repairs. We’ve been very careful with your money and have, in fact, grown our sources of revenue.

Fund balance fallacy
My opponent states that he left the city flush with a $3M fund balance. The actual calculation was closer to $2.7M, but that was also incorrect. During my first year in office, the Controller informed the council of a $500,000 error, as she had failed to budget for MVP premiums. This came after the budget committee had already allocated funds to maintain a flat tax rate at budget time. So, from the get-go, we had started with much less in the coffers than we had anticipated.

Couple this scenario with an $800,000 shortfall that had been decades in the making and not discovered until the sale of foreclosed-on properties last year. Reserves had not been adequately set aside for uncollectible taxes (when a tax bill goes out, it is considered paid whether it is collected or not. It is necessary to budget reserve funds to offset this loss. This had not been done for many, many years.)

Toss in the $300,000 reduction in state aid, sales tax, and mortgage tax and we find ourselves where we are today. These losses would have occurred regardless of whom was in office.

My tax and rate increases were less than those of my opponent’s.
Over four years, my opponent increased city taxes 9.37% and water/sewer/sanitation fees a whopping 24.58%. This compares to a 6.91% increase in city taxes during my four years and 8.19% increase in fees. Obviously, my opponent doesn’t acknowledge this record when telling us he is going to protect us in the future (in fact, his record is never mentioned at all, nor a plan as to HOW he plans to protect us in the future. Personally, I find that troublesome.)

Truth: monumental budgetary successes over four years.
In my first two years of office, there were no tax increases. Money was appropriated to keep taxes stable and provide for legitimate operational services. In years three and four, excluding debt, we stayed within the 3% cap.

We’ve gone on to harness over $1 million dollars in new revenues that will add to our budget every year from agreements with Beechnut, GAVAC, the County for sales tax redistribution, and the towns for water. We’ve realized real savings by reining in discretionary overtime, renegotiating labor contracts and switching insurance carriers. We’ve shaved thousands off of our lean budget and are running departments more efficiently.

We’ve been tremendously successful in securing over $20 million dollars in grants for everything from infrastructure and neighborhood revitalization to recreational enhancements and marketing (most of our marketing materials were produced with the $40K in grants I received in my first year of service.) Beyond funding, you cannot discount the value of the time, effort and donations of our volunteers that supplied us with flowers for Church Street (FREE), videos (FREE), events such as Spring Fling and National Night Out (FREE), city-wide litter pick-ups (FREE), neighborhood watch (FREE), and murals (FREE).

I’m proud of the performance of my administration. Running the city has been a full-time, passionate commitment for me. I’m proud that I have more to reference than tired slogans and empty words. We deserve better and should expect better. I will always try to live up to that expectation.

www.mayorthane.com

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Parsnova
thoughts on
the Mayoral race.

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Click here: www.mayorthane.com

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Thanks for stopping by.

Please click on the following link:
Campaign handout 6.13.11

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I welcome the opportunity to match my record point-for-point with the former, part-time mayor.

Having taken over from him immediately following his time in office, it has taken years to address administrative shortcomings he left behind, including:

• his lack of oversight or ability to progress capital projects; i.e. Bridge Street, Riverlink Park Phase II or Church Street;

• his failure to proactively address long-standing infrastructure problems involving deteriorating water lines, hydrants and valves;

• his disregard for goals established in our comprehensive plan:
– no attempt to improve our downtown, gateways, greenways or traffic patterns
– no plan for neighborhood engagement or revitalization; and

• his failure to discipline or address employee issues, such as overtime, poor performance or theft of time; and

• no attempt to improve our identity or image in the region. We didn’t even have a city website.

In fact, he eliminated the economic development department during these critically competitive economic times.

I ran because I saw the same old faces doing the same old thing and nothing changed. The former mayor had his chance to serve four years ago but was never in the office. There was no plan and there still isn’t. His time has past.

I’m quite proud of the 60-70 hours I put into this commitment and my record. Please see my State of the City Speech for my long list of accomplishments. Again, I’m willing to go down this list and compare performance.

Our City deserves better than the failed practices of the past. It demands the rapt attention I’ve given it and nothing less.

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