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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, March 1, 2007
Town fires highway worker
By Rachel Dutil
NEW SCOTLAND Gary McVee, a town highway worker for 18 years, was fired after losing his commercial drivers license following a December 2005 drunk-driving arrest, the last in a series of arrests.
The town board voted unanimously to dismiss him after meeting in executive session last Wednesday.
McVee, 58, of Voorheesville, "stupidly, immaturely, and ignorantly" got into his Chevy Camaro on Dec. 10, 2005 after drinking, he told The Enterprise.
Court records indicate that McVee was pulled over by the Albany County Sheriffs Department after his vehicle crossed the double yellow line on Route 85 A in New Scotland.
The arresting officer testified in New Scotland Town Court on Jan. 21, 2006, that, when he asked McVee if he had been drinking, McVee responded, that he had had "three whiskies." The officer also testified that McVee failed field sobriety tests, and registered a positive reading on an alcohol pre-screening device, according to the records.
A blood alcohol test administered at the patrol station following McVees arrest recorded a .22 percent blood alcohol content, more than twice the legal limit, the records show.
McVee testified that he crossed the double-yellow line because "the normal travel lane was partially blocked by two, possibly three police cars which were in the process of conducting a routine traffic stop of another vehicle," court records say. The officer pulled out from the side of the road, in front of McVee, and then made a U-turn, passing McVee heading in the opposite direction as McVee passed the other stopped vehicle. The officer then made another U-turn, and was then following McVee, and "immediately turned on his lights," according to McVee’s testimony.
McVee’s position, the documents say, is that the officer "never followed him for a distance," and wouldn’t have seen him cross the yellow line.
"The court accepts the Arresting Officer’s version of how this arrest took place," the records say.
On Feb. 21, 2007, McVee’s commercial driver’s license was suspended "for at least one year," court documents say.
The town board, after multiple executive sessions on the matter, decided unanimously following its Feb. 21 meeting that McVee should not continue in his position as an Operator 1 with the highway department, Supervisor Ed Clark told The Enterprise.
The towns employee policy manual states that all highway-department employees, with the exception of clerical staff, must have a valid commercial drivers license, Clark said.
"I am in no way carrying any personal animosity toward any board members," McVee told The Enterprise this week.
"I don’t think the punishment fit the crime," he said. "I made a stupid mistake."
"I can drive all town vehicles except dump trucks," he said. His conditional license allows him to drive vehicles that don’t require a CDL to operate.
McVee was suspended without pay by the town on Jan. 29, he told The Enterprise. "I was, of course, very concerned," he said of the prospect of losing his job.
"When you lose a $37,000-per-year job, that hurts," McVee said. "It hurts more than just me" I have three children."
McVee is going to apply for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), and for food stamps, he told The Enterprise.
Highway Superintendent Darrell Duncan was McVees direct supervisor. He told The Enterprise that he was uncomfortable commenting on McVee. "Anything that has to do with him is a personnel issue, and a matter of privacy," Duncan said.
McVee had been arrested on numerous other occasions, according to court documents on file at the New Scotland Town Court.
He was first arrested in December, 1970 by the New York State Police for burglary: illegal night entry with criminal intent, a Class C felony. The April, 1971 disposition was "dismissed or acquitted," the papers say.
McVee said that the morning of that arrest, he had attended the funeral of a 17-year-old friend who had died of an inoperable brain tumor. He and a friend went to the Catholic church to light a candle in his memory. The church was locked, and they knocked on the door of the priest, who called the police on them.
"We weren’t breaking and entering or anything, we were saying a prayer for a dead friend," McVee said.
He was then arrested in July, 1974 for reckless driving, a misdemeanor. The charges were withdrawn in Berne Town Court.
He was arrested in January of 1985 by the Albany County Sheriffs Department for assault with intent to cause physical injury, a misdemeanor; driving while intoxicated, first offense; and driving with a blood-alcohol content of .10 percent or greater, first offense. He was convicted in New Scotland Town Court in May of 1985 after pleading guilty, and his license was revoked.
He enrolled in a drinking and driving class, "passed with flying colors, and got my license back," McVee said.
Court papers also show arrests in 1999 and 2001, but there were no records for those dates.
In the state of New York, after 10 years, the slate is wiped clean of drunk-driving charges, McVee said, so his 2005 arrest was treated as if it were his first offense.
He said he is currently taking a drunk-driving class, and admits that it was "stupid" to drive while intoxicated.
McVee is unsure where he will go from here, but he hopes to apply for a job in the town parks department, which does not require a CDL license, he said. That job will be open in April.
"He would be eligible to re-apply" for a job within the highway department when he gets his license back, Clark said of McVee. He said he is unsure of what sort of recommendation the town would give McVee for any jobs he may apply for outside of the town. That would be a decision for his supervisor, Clark said, referring to Duncan.
"I feel that Mr. Duncan was discriminatory against me for the length of time that he has been the department head," McVee said of his supervisor. "We did not see eye to eye on a lot of things related to the highway department."
Duncan did not return a call to The Enterprise late yesterday to respond to the allegation.
Everyone working for the town "should be subjected to the same punishment as me if they are in violation of town policy," McVee said.
Girl calls foul
Coach Krajewski claims innocence
By Saranac Hale Spencer
ALBANY John Krajewski is maintaining his innocence while the father of the girl who claims he raped her says he is eager "for justice to be done."
A year after his arrest, John Krajewski, 26, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Albany County Court on Tuesday morning. A grand jury last Friday indicted him on charges stemming from allegations of a sexual relationship that he had with a 14-year-old girl. She played on a basketball team that he coached at St. Matthews Church, and Krajewski babysat for her family.
On Jan. 23, 2006, State Police arrested Krajewski for rape and the Voorheesville School District fired him from his job as a teachers aide in the elementary school. Voorheesville Superintendent Linda Langevin said yesterday that it was a coincidence that Krajewski was fired from his job the same night that he was arrested; he did not have the proper certification to be a teaching assistant, she said.
Christopher Rutnik, Krajewskis lawyer, said that he has since been working for an insurance company.
Krajewski has been out on $25,000 bail since his arrest; that bail was continued at Tuesdays arraignment. He is charged with three counts of second-degree rape, a felony; two counts of second-degree criminal sexual act, also a felony; and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.
His client wants a trial, said Rutnik. Krajewski wont take a plea bargain; he wants to exonerate himself, Rutnik said.
Although its a risk to go to trial, Rutnik said, because of the uncertainty of what the jurys decision will be, Krajewski will take the chance.
"Some juries may take an adverse look upon a witness’s testimony and the unexpected occurs," said Rutnik. "You just can’t have any guarantees in a jury system."
Testifying before the grand jury was difficult for the girl, her father said, but she knows that it was necessary.
The Enterprise has a policy of withholding the names and identities of sex crime victims.
"She was upset," her father said Friday, on hearing news of the indictment. "She has some type of feelings for this man." But, he went on, "She knows he needs to pay." The family is gearing up for a trial, although her father said that they would consider a plea bargain if it includes prison time in a state penitentiary.
Any plea deal that the Albany County District Attorneys Office would offer Krajewski would take into consideration the wishes of the girls family, said Heather Orth, spokesperson for the office.
"He does not want to plead to anything that he did not do," Rutnik said. "He’s innocent."
Although the DA’s office would not comment on evidence in the case, the girl’s father said, "We have tons of people" who witnessed stuff."
Rutnik said that it is early in the process so he doesn’t know of any evidence other than the accusations made by the girl. "The facts will show that these allegations " were born in the mind of a troubled 14-year-old," he said.
"I have no doubt in my mind that man did whatever my daughter said. He needs to pay the price," said her father, explaining that she would testify in court and the family would do all they could to get a guilty verdict.
"The jury is going to have to assess the credibility of this young girl when she testifies," said Rutnik. "We’re confident that the jury will discredit her."
The girl’s family moved to South Carolina after the incident and has been back for the grand jury proceedings. "I had no desire to leave where I was. We started a whole new life" It’s not easy," said the girl’s father. "She couldn’t function here," he said of Voorheesville.
He said other students at school were nasty to her after the allegations were made public, particularly members of the basketball team that Krajewski volunteered with at the high school. Langevin said that she hadnt heard anything this week from students at the school.
The move has helped his daughter, her father said. "She has a great support group. She’s doing OK," he said, adding, "This needs to be resolved. It’s a year later. She wants it done."
The last year has been hard for Krajewski, too, who has no prior offenses, said Rutnik. "For someone that’s never been involved in the criminal justice system, it’s horribly traumatic," he said.
"It’s just horrible because I loved that damn guy like a brother, like a son," said the girl’s father. "He was welcome in our house, he was helping both of our girls."
Krajewski signed an order of protection as a condition of bail and is scheduled to be in county court again on March 13.
Egan says government is about the human condition
By Rachel Dutil
NEW SCOTLAND John Egan is looking forward to helping out "the little guy and gal." He used to be one.
Egan has just been appointed by Governor Eliot Spitzer to act as commissioner of the Office of General Services, which rents hundreds of millions of dollars of space annually. Egan also held the post from 1960 to 1989.
Egan, now in his 70s, grew up in Dannemora, in Clinton County, with his parents, six sisters, and his brother. His father worked at the Clinton Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison the town industry, said Egan. His mother was a homemaker.
Egan, himself, went to work in the boiler room at the prison when he was 18. He worked there for 10 years, and served in the United States Army during that time, he said.
It has been more than 40 years since Egan left the small town in the North Country where he grew up, but, he says, it is still home to him.
His upbringing makes it easy for Egan to relate to the people "that maybe sit in the back row, and seldom get recognized," he said.
"It all comes down to the human condition that’s what government is all about," Egan told The Enterprise.
"I came into public service to make things better for people," he said.
He moved to the Albany area in 1960, and has lived in New Scotland for 25 years. He has since worked under five governors. In addition to his commissioner post, Egan also served as the executive director of the New York State Dormitory Authority, and as commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation.
He is also the president of the Renaissance Corporation of Albany, a charitable organization that is dedicated to establishing education and medical facilities. Egan will oversee the completion of a 21-acre University Heights project, which will combine the resources of Albany College of Pharmacy, Albany Law School, Albany Medical College, and the Sage Colleges.
Egan serves as the chairman of the Harriman Research and Technology Development Corporation, which is re-developing the campus he originally helped build for modern technology. He also serves as executive director of the New York State Task Force on High Speed Rail, and has overseen developments for improvements to the state rail system.
Egan was the chief executive officer of the Albany airport from 1995 to 2003. When he started, "The airport was a dismal place," Egan told The Enterprise. He rebuilt it, constructing a new terminal, parking garage, air traffic-control tower, cargo facility, and New York State Police Executive Hangar. The total cost for the project was $262 million; Egan was able to finish the project ahead of schedule, and under budget.
Airports can often be unpleasant, with lengthy layovers, delayed flights, and crowded terminals. Egan helped to create "a pleasant environment" at the Albany airport, he said, installing an art gallery on the third level.
"Artists need to be shown to survive," Egan said. There are great artists around the Capital Region, and the art gallery provides a venue for their work to be displayed, he said.
The Office of General Services, Egan said, "is the most diversified agency in state government." OGS manages 19.5 million square feet of building space throughout the state, and leases 16.5 million square feet of space, he said.
A primary function of the department is to make government run more efficiently, Egan said. His appointment to head the OGS is "an opportunity to do the things we came in to do" to help the little guy and gal," Egan told The Enterprise.
OGS was created nearly a half-century ago, in 1960, with Egan at the helm and modeled after the Federal General Services Administration. The mission of the agency is to ensure that the state functions optimally. It employs about 2,000 people.
In 2006, OGS sold properties that generated $25 million in revenue for the state, and it brought in $224 million in rent from leased space.
During his first run as commissioner of OGS, Egan built part of the Gore mountain ski center, along with 26 prisons throughout the state, and was part of a team that built the Empire State Plaza in Albany.
Although prisons provide good jobs and industry for towns such as Dannemora, Egan said, "Prisons represent failure on the part of the individual, and on the part of society."
In running a large agency, Egan said, "It’s people who make a difference. People who have a good morale will be more productive" If you work hard, you’ll be lucky."
Egan said that Governor Nelson Rockefeller the first governor Egan worked under had a notion that "art should complement architecture." "Where we have built buildings, we have carried out that notion," he said.
The Empire State Plaza in downtown Albany is a significant portrayal of art complementing architecture. It holds nearly 100 pieces of artwork at a value of $80 million, Egan said.
Egans office sits on the 41st floor of the tallest building in the state outside of New York City the Erastus Corning II Building on the plaza. From his office window, the Catskills and the Helderbergs provide the backdrop for a stunning view.
But he appreciates more than the view. Egan has always been surrounded by outstanding people, he said. "My staff is the best."
Though Egan stays busy with his involvement in various agencies, he said, "Family is my primary interest. Family is what sustains all of us."
Egan has spent the last "fifty-some-odd" years in a "long-lasting honeymoon" with his wife, Ginny, whom he met on a blind date after he came out of the Army. They have four children.
In his free time, Egan said that he enjoys restoring old farm equipment, mostly tractors and farm trucks.
"It’s therapeutic," he said of his pastime. Egan lives in the rural northeast quadrant of New Scotland. The rural character of town is one of the qualities that Egan likes most, he said.
Egan chaired the New Scotland Residents Planning Advisory Committee that drafted a master plan for the Route 85 and 85 A corridor.
"There’s never enough time with your family," Egan said. "You have to guard that preciously."
"We’re simple, not complicated," Egan said with a friendly smile.
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