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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 21, 2005

Petitioned challenged

By Holly Grosch

NEW SCOTLAND — Political squabbles have already begun to play a role in the upcoming town elections.

"As chairman, I feel very slighted," Albany County Conservative Party Chairman Richard Stack told The Enterprise this week. He claims New Scotland Democrats are undermining the Conservative Party.

Four petitions for an opportunity to ballot in the Conservative Party primary were handed into the Albany County Board of Elections on July 14, the day they were due.

During a general election anyone can write in any name on the ballot. For a primary, however, voters enrolled in that party, have to submit a petition for an opportunity to ballot, requesting to be allowed to write in a name of an undesignated candidate.

The Conservative party leaders have endorsed and designated New Scotland candidates who are also running on the Republican ticket.

On the four petitions to ballot, there are a total of 18 signatures. A majority of the signatures are from relatives of candidates running on the Democratic ticket, or relatives of town officials already in office as Democrats.

It is not uncommon for voters to request an opportunity to ballot, but what is unusual is that the Conservative party chairman is challenging the petition.

Stack said he is challenging the first petition of the four, labeled sheet one, on the grounds that the dates next to the signatures have been illegally changed.

Illegal altering"

The challenged petition was circulated by Sharon Boehlke, who lives on New Scotland South Road and is a member of the Conservative Party.

Stack filed his general objection to the board of elections on Friday, July 15. He has six days to hand in his specific challenge.

He told The Enterprise this week that it is obvious to anyone looking at the petition that, next to several signatures, the date July 7 had been altered to show a "5," and there are no initials of the signers to verify the date change, Stack said.

On July 6, Boehlke signed as a witness at the bottom of the page.

The Enterprise obtained a copy of the petitions from board of elections, and, of the eight names on this one petition circulated and witnessed by Boehlke, four of the dates do appear to have been written over a second time with ink. (see illustration)

Boehlke told The Enterprise that she has been involved in politics for 30 years and has been a member of the Conservative Party for 25 years. She said she has "never done anything in any way not correct in terms of a petition," because, she said, she knows the importance of them.

In this case, she did not change the dates; and she did not use an eraser she said. She is so meticulous in gathering signatures that she used the same pen to retrieve each signature, she said.

She did not write in the dates for the signers because, Boehlke said, she knows that’s illegal and, she watched each person sign and date their own line.

When she submitted the petition to the board of elections, the dates were in no way unclear, she said and she was surprised that the petition was being challenged.

Boehlke said, if the dates appear to have been altered, then the only possible explanation is that the papers had been changed after she handed them in.

The Enterprise called a few of the signers on the questionable lines to find out what day they had signed. Some could not be reached while one signer said she did not remember what day it was, since it was two weeks ago.

Choosing candidates

The petition states, "I the undersigned, do hereby state that I am a duly enrolled voter of the Conservative Party and entitled to vote at the next primary election."

Boehlke said that she is not a person who just in the past couple of years switched her party affiliation, she said, she is not trying to start a write in campaign because she is vindictive toward the conservative party, but instead she is petitioning because she is opposed to Supervisor Ed Clark and how he’s running the town.

Stack said that the Conservative Party received applications from candidates who wanted to run on the Conservative Party ticket, and then the party interviewed 135 people for positions across the county.

The conservatives chose Andrea Gleason and Douglas LaGrange for town board seats and Ed Clark as supervisor of New Scotland. These candidates are also running on the Republican ticket.

Stack said the Conservative Party likes what Gleason and Clark have done so far and that they have done a great job. And, after meeting with LaGrange, the committee was able to see that LaGrange "is a family person that represents fiscal conservativeness," Stack said. He added that LaGrange has done a decent job on the planning board as well.

Boehlke said she doesn’t think Clark has the enthusiasm or the energy to face the upcoming development pressures, and, while he claims to not be party-affiliated, she said he is most certainly a Republican. Boehlke also said that she disapproves of Clark "encircling himself with very expensive [financhial] advisors." She said she believes he delegates too many of his responsibilities.

"I think it’s time for a change in supervisor," Boehlke said.

Clark responded that he has been most forceful about preparing for change, launching a citizen’s committee and now advocating for a comprehensive plan.

Currently not enrolled in a party, Clark was formerly a Republican, and he said he welcomes the Republican support, and that he’ll accept support from any party who’s ideologies match his.

He said he continues at town hall to work with the Democrat-hired employees of previous supervisors, because they are "good people" who are good at their job, and that he hasn’t hired any new consultants.

Another objection

Stack is not the only person challenging the petition witnessed by Boehlke. Anne Carson of Voorheesville submitted a general objection letter to the board of elections on July 18, she has six days to file the specifics as well.

Carson told The Enterprise this week that she is questioning some of the people who signed the petition, and if they are enrolled and registered to vote. She said she is also questioning three of the dates, that appear to have been changed but then not signed again.

Carson said that she is part of the Republican Party and, while not tied to any one person’s campaign, she is in support of the Republican candidates.

"On democratic principle"

Stack said that while people do have the right to file for the opportunity to ballot, he is surprised to see the illegal altering of the dates to achieve a means. "It’s not right," he said, adding that there is a process for this and it should be followed.

Any party can circulate petitions for any other political party, Stack said, and he sees two of the four petitions as a way for the Democrats to intervene.

Stack said he is feeling undermined by the Democrats and particularly referred to one of the petitions that is signed by five people with the last name of Reilly and is notarized by Herbert Reilly, who Stack said is tied to the Democratic machine.

Reilly, a democrat was formerly New Scotland’s supervisor and is currently an Albany County legislator.

Herbert Reilly’s response to Stack’s statement was, "My children are Conservatives," he added that they listen to Rush Limbaugh more than anyone. Reilly said he simply was serving as a notary public for them, and that he didn’t have anything to do with circulation of the petition.

At the top of all four petition sheets, the same three conservative party members Boehlke, John Reilly of Voorheesville and Michael Cootware of Clarksville are designated as a committee to receive notices.

Boehlke said that she circulated the petition for the opportunity to ballot, "on democratic principle."

She said none of the members on the Conservative Party’s executive committee, who authorizes candidates for office live within the town of New Scotland.

"The party bosses should not be picking our candidates," she said. She said that she had a lot of respect for the Conservative Party and Stack but just as she would not go into Colonie, the home town of a number of executive committee members, and tell them who the party is going to endorse for their town elections, they should not do so for New Scotland. "This is my town," Boehlke said.

Democratic and Republican endorsements for New Scotland town elections are made by the respective political party organizations from within the town.

The county-wide Conservative Party executive council members don’t know the functioning of New Scotland town government, Boehlke said, they are unaware of the daily functioning and monthly meetings, she said.

Clarksville water district:
Without aid, town mulls how to go it alone

By Holly Grosch

NEW SCOTLAND — The town board is now reviewing seven options for much-needed improvements and desired expansions of the Clarksville Water District.

This spring, the town’s water committee applied once again for aid from the state through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, to not only repair the existing Clarksville Water District infrastructure but to also supply public water to additional houses on Lower and Upper Flat Rock Roads, Morningstar Lane, and along Route 32.

The town received word from New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation that no grant money or interest-free loan is available for this project and that other state-wide ventures received higher priority ratings. All that the EFC could offer New Scotland is a normal loan with the same interest rate the town could receive from a private bank.

R. Mark Dempf, the water committee chairman and the town’s engineer, reported to the board that the water committee is back to where it started. "We submitted for funding, but they won’t help us," he said. "To them sulfur is not a health issue."

One of the projects on the state revolving fund intended use plan with the highest priority rating had reports of E. Coli contamination; these are the types of problems and projects that New Scotland is competing against for state funding.

Seven options

Dempf analyzed the cost of seven projects, ranging in size from simply repairing the current systems to adding some new water-users along some pieces of road.

It’s now up to the town board to decided how to proceed.

The town board is holding a special meeting on Wednesday, July 27, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall to discuss further with Dempf the water and engineering issues of the Clarksville Water District project options.

One of the most vocal groups following the progress of the potential project have been members of the water committee who are live on Morningstar Lane. An extension to Morningstar Lane is currently only included in 3 of the 7 options being investigated.

Dempf said the one thing that is for sure, is that the town has to make the improvements and repairs to the Clarksville/North Road Water District, and the cost analysis of this is laid out in option A.

Option A improves the infrastructure by replacing a tank; upgrading booster pumps, improving the well house; and bringing the North Road Water District into the Clarksville District, consolidating the two into one district as the original agreement stated would happen three years after the North Road District was formed, Dempf said.

Under option A, it is estimated that Clarksville users will have to pay $130 a year more, meaning an average annual user cost of $661, with North Road. residents paying the same.

That cost exceeds the maximum set by the state’s comptroller, Dempf said, so he had to look at ways to reduce the per-resident fee.

Last year the comptroller’s limit was $621, Dempf said, and now it’s even lower down to $575.

One way, is to bring in a few more users, Dempf said, and the easiest way to do that, outlined in option G, is to allow the people who live along the existing water main that runs along Route 32 and Lower Flat Rock Road join up.

This helps to divide up the Clarksville Water District improvement costs across more users, and also allows more residents to benefit from a public water supply. This total project cost of option G is estimated at $567,000, which includes the required repairs, plus the inclusion of the 43 parcels along the Lower Flat Rock Road water main. The total annual user cost would be $608.

Dempf said that people are paying this kind of money annually for cable TV without batting an eye, but then don’t want to pay $600 for water.

Dempf said if the board wanted to bring in some residents living on Upper Flat Rock road that would be option B, which then has the added cost of installing new water line bringing the project cost to $700,000, with only seven additional users.

Option E is the least expensive at $410,000, which is the same construction project as option G, but also includes a capital improvement cost reduction. A capital improvement cost reduction, such as a of $2,500 start up fee drops the average annual user cost below the comptrollers limit at $560. This is the only option of the seven with an annual user cost below the comptroller’s limit.

Seed money"

This fee up front would really just be paying for the connection, Dempf said, which is something that the town has paid for in the past in water-extension projects.

Dempf estimated that, on average, it will cost $2,400 to $2,500 hundred dollar for the town to put in pipes from the water main up to residents’ property lines.

Then the homeowners, as usual with water extensions, would have to pay the expense of bringing water from the property line into their houses.

Water committee member Robert Cook said that residents should look at the $2,500 capital improvement cost reduction as a great investment.

"My whole logic falls apart once people don’t want to join," Dempf said, and as a result won’t be paying the hook up fee.

Dempf wondered if the town could make it a mandatory fee instead.

Town attorney Michael Mackey who told the board he would look into it and talk to the comptroller, told The Enterprise this week that the "town can not impose mandatory seed money." And, if there were to be a hook up fee, it must actually be related to the cost of the hook up, he said. The town can’t impose a fee and then extend the line down the Road, Mackey said.

The issue, Mackey went on, is that water is desperately needed down the side roads and Dempf is trying to think of ways to extend the line to as many people as possible, but, Mackey said, it can’t be done by imposing a mandatory fee.

Many homeowners in this area have contaminated wells and have drinking water shipped to them.

Morningstar resident Ray Oaks questioned the engineering figures. He said that the cost for putting in piping in gravel on Morningstar Lane is a lot less than boring through rock on Upper Flat Rock Rd, making an argument for Morningstar Lane to be a more appealing extension.

Dempf said that no soil work had been done yet, and that he was working off general thoughts.

Councilman Scott Houghtaling favored option C, "A lot of people will walk away happy," he said.

Option C incluedes makeing the needed improvements to the existing districts, adding 43 parcels next to the water main running along Lower Flat Rock Road, servicing the the lower half of Upper Flat Rock Road, and the lower half of Morningstar Lane. This project C, will cost $990,000, meaning a total average annual user cost estimated to be $698, if a capital improvemnet cost reduction is inclueded.

Houghtaling who works as a corporate banker, stated that he will run some financing numbers and get back to the board. He wants to look at longer-term financing, and refinancing the debt.

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