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Friday, 08 January 2016 18:32

If They Build It, Will They Come?

Malta Apartment Boom

MALTA — Construction has begun in Malta on Park Place, one of three newer apartment complexes in the town, and some are concerned.

“There are a lot of apartments going up in the town of Malta, and it’s transforming our town, not in a positive way,” said Paul Sausville, former Malta town supervisor.

Matt Gourlay, financial analyst with LeCesse Development Corp., said the GrandeVille at Park Place apartment complex off Landau Boulevard on Route 9 — about 3 miles from GlobalFoundries — broke ground in early September. DGA Builders has finished most of the foundations and started framing for the first phase. It is expected to be ready for tenants to move in during summer 2016.

Sausville said he’s concerned that with the number of people moving in and bringing their vehicles, it will create traffic problems and an added cost for snow removal, especially if there’s on-street parking.

“I don’t think we need more people in our town,” Sausville said. “We’ve got a population of 14,000. We need businesses and jobs. Apartment buildings are outpacing the demand.”

The new town supervisor, Vincent DeLucia, said he’s not personally excited about the large-scale apartment complexes going up in Malta, but he added that developers have a right to build new apartment complexes if they fit within the existing zoning laws and requirements.

“I believe in well-organized, balanced growth between residential, rural, commercial and agriculture,” he said.

DeLucia was sworn in January 1.

Gourlay said as far as GrandeVille is concerned, there should be plenty of room for everyone.

“The layout and plan call for a more pedestrian-friendly layout, so we’re hoping there will be ample parking and room for people to move around,” he said.

Anthony Tozzi, the building and planning coordinator in Malta, said that with his more than 30 years of experience in four municipalities, residents often complain about new development, but Malta traffic should be fine.

“Every project of significant magnitude is required to submit a traffic study that is reviewed by the town’s engineer for compliance with applicable standards,” he said. “In terms of overall townwide traffic, Malta has exceptional north-south transportation infrastructure, with the Northway and Route 9 having significant capacity for additional traffic.”

Malta is more challenged with east-west transportation, Tozzi said, particularly Route 67, Old Post Road, East High Street, and other “older” roads, but the town is spearheading improvements to Round Lake Road to address high-traffic issues from GlobalFoundries, the Intermodal facility on Route 67 at Halfmoon and development in Ballston.

Besides the GrandeVille complex, there’s also the Lofts at Saratoga Boulevard and Ellsworth Commons. The Lofts, located at 18 Lofts Way, is about two-thirds complete, Tozzi said, and Ellsworth Commons, located at 2101 Ellsworth Blvd., has been up for a while but still has a small townhouse section that needs to be finished. The Winter Development Group also has plans for an apartment complex.

“We do have an application in, but they haven’t been moving it forward,” Tozzi said.

LeCesse Development Corp., Morgan Management and UC Funds are behind the GrandeVille apartment complex.

Gourlay said the first phase will include 292 units. There will be 19 structures, including a mix of garages; three-story, elevator-serviced apartment buildings; townhouses; carriage-house-style buildings; and a clubhouse. Rent will be between $1,295 and $2,100.

The second phase’s plan allows for 243 units in two- and three-story buildings, Tozzi said. There is no set timing for the second phase.

Published in News

MALTA – Prior to the Malta Town Board agenda meeting on Monday, April 28, Town Attorney Thomas Peterson read a letter of counsel arising out of findings from the town ethics committee, which had affirmed its earlier findings of misconduct by Town Clerk Flo Sickels.

 

The ethics committee recommended that the town board “…issue a letter of counsel to the Town Clerk expressing its disapproval with the violations…” to Ms. Sickels, and further that she be required to attend live ethics training and show proof of attendance.

 

The letter of counsel from the town board, which was approved by a 3-0 vote (with Councilperson Tara Thomas recusing and Councilperson John Hartzell absent), changed a key word “required” to “recommended” ethics training. 

 

Tax Receiver Linda Bablin, who initiated the original complaint last September, noted this nuance:

 

“This letter of counsel is a joke,” she said “They couldn’t even follow the Ethics Committee’s recommendation, which stated Sickels should be “Required to attend live ethics training and furnish to the Town Board evidence of completing the training.” 

“All they did was suggest she attend ethics training.” Ms. Bablin continued. “Every committee, every elected official and every department head was already “required” to attend the ethics training put on by the Town on March 7.  Some of these people are paid employees and were not even compensated for that.  Sickels chose not to attend that training. Since she is the only one who has been found “guilty” of unethical behavior, the fact that the Board opted for an even lesser consequence for her and her actions, is deplorable.” 

Published in News
Friday, 11 April 2014 17:05

Malta Town Board: The Process of Progress

MALTA— The Malta Town Board meeting on Monday, April 7 brought about significant actions on two fronts:

 

The first was the adoption, by a 4-1 vote (with Councilman Peter Klotz voting against) of the adoption of the Stewart’s Planned Development District (PDD) #315, which would eventually lead to the issuing of a building permit for a Stewart’s Shops (with gasoline pumps) and an Adirondack Trust branch office. 

 

This building would be sighted on the high traffic roundabout at the intersection of NYS Route 67 and Luther Forest Boulevard – on the way to and from the nearby technology park. 

 

As noted in Saratoga TODAY’s issue of February 28, the Stewart’s Corporation has offered a sum of $200,000 in seed money to the town, to pay for the costs of construction extending water lines (via Saratoga Water Services) along old Route 67 and Dugan Hill Road in a neighborhood to several homes, in the nearby neighborhood of Maltaville. Stewart’s agreed to not receive their building permit until this condition was completed. 

 

A presentation/public hearing preceded the final vote, the last in a series over several town meetings, that was delivered by Mr. Tom Lewis, who has retired as Real Estate Representative at Stewart’s, but was staying on to shepherd this project through the process. 

 

At Monday’s meeting, he delivered his portion of the proceedings before an audience which included Charles Wait, Jr. and Mr. Lewis’ successor at Stewart’s, Chuck Marshall. 

 

On February 28, the story was subtitled “Growth That Works” and despite Klotz’ dissent, it says here that this was a favorable deal for the town and for everyone concerned. It is an example of a good public-private sector partnership that any place, let alone the Town of Malta, should want to replicate as often as possible. 

 

The epitome of win-win. As in you get your water; I get a make-your-own sundae and some unleaded on the way home from the tech park. Mr. Lewis scored on his final drive and those who have seen him in this arena before were not at all surprised with the result.  

 

The second front concerned a trio of resolutions regarding what is labeled the Round Lake Improvement Plan, or more commonly “the roundabouts”. The town board voted, also 4-1, but this time with Councilman John Hartzell voting no, to formally seek determination of the town itself as the lead agency, and to authorize the town’s designates to begin the process of eminent domain on several parcels along the corridor by evaluating the public benefit and providing a calculation of ‘just compensation offers’ to the given landowners for their parcels, a mix of both commercial and residential properties. 

 

Round Lake resident Woody Sloat, in the pubic comment period, reminded the town board that continued action on roundabouts was contrary to the wishes of over 500 petition-singing area residents (see: mymaltany.nationbuilder.com) and later elaborated: 

 

“A number of citizens who live in this area consist of professional engineers, educators, doctors, lawyers and law enforcement professionals who work in highway safety every day. These residents refused to be duped by the slanted statistical data that supports the point of view of individuals who created their position based on profit. The residents’ genuine concern is safety and quality of life.” Mr. Sloat said. 

 

 

“It is a big disappointment to see the town supervisor and three of his councilpersons dismiss the 514 residents who appealed to their common sense. Their poor decision will not be forgotten.”

Published in News
Friday, 04 April 2014 09:42

Breaking Boundaries in a New Running Season

 

Local Fleet Feet Sports Opens Registration for Training

 

 By Colette Linton

 

 SARATOGA SPRINGS— For some people who never thought they could run before or needed an extra push to get out the have found that facing the challenge with a team and skilled coaching staff, they can go much further than they had ever thought they could.

 

 Six years after the Fleet Feet Sports Store of Albany, and at their Malta location as of November, started its “No Boundaries” walk/run 5K training program, dozens have crossed the finish line of their first event, and more to come.

 

Nancy Radigan was among that first group to do so. She and her husband, Kevin Radigan, have been with the program since its inception. Nancy was a swimmer in high school and college but didn’t think about getting into running until having watched her husband and son complete races together.

 

“I was just like ‘wow’ that’s so cool, and I wanted to do it, but I needed a lot of help,” Nancy said.

 

She admits it wasn’t easy to cover the distance at each practice, but the motivation and encouragement from the coaches and the running group, which is both diverse in age and running experience – if not complete beginners, kept her moving toward her goal and eventually finishing races with her husband and son.   

 

“For me, even though I've run these six years, it's still very hard for me,” she said. “It truly makes a difference, them (coaches and fellow runners) being there. The motivation and the encouragement is just… I cannot say enough.”

 

 “It brings tears to my eyes to look at people we've seen,” she added. “They've (Fleet Feet) had people who have not run a step and for them to finish a 5K,” she shakes her head recalling the experience that she said was inspiring. “And it doesn't matter what group they're in: at the race, everybody is at the finish line cheering.” 

 

No Boundaries is now one of four programs - Walk Fit, No Boundaries, No Boundaries II, Faster Farther 5K (3.1 miles)/10K (6.2 miles)/15K (9.3 miles) and Half (13 miles) & Full Marathon (26.2 miles), in which training lasts 10-12 weeks ahead of  area races.

 

 Lessons that focus on the basics of posture, reach, cadence, breathing and team support, Fleet Feet Sports Owner Charlie Woodruff said that during the first year of the No Boundaries program, 23 of 37 completed the program. However, since 2009, the number of individuals who start and finish the programs has been over 90 percent, exclusive of injuries.

 

“People come back, time after time after time,” Woodruff said.  “People pick up a program, they ramp up a program, and they do more than they ever dreamed they would be doing.” 

 

Woodruff said that when he had opened the stores in the area, one thing that he didn't anticipate, which has now become enormous, is the culture of the community that is created in the running programs. 

 

“I routinely hear at our wrap up meetings: ‘I went to a meeting, and I didn't know anybody. I went to a couple of workouts, and these people became my running buddies and now they're my friends.’ So the community part of this is unbelievable,” he said.

 

Individuals submit a medical waiver in order to participate in any of Fleet Feet Sport’s tiered programs for walkers, beginning runners, intermediate and advanced runners and a 12-week program cost $125, which includes educational clinics, training plan, entry fee into the designated goal race and continued education.

 

For dates and times of information sessions prior to registration about training options, can contact Fleet Feet Adirondack at 518-400-1213.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in News
Friday, 28 February 2014 08:06

Growth That Works

Stewart’s Seed Money To Make It Happen in Maltaville

MALTA— The town of Malta has been challenged with coping with some of Saratoga County’s greatest growth issues arising out of the as a result of the siting of GlobalFoundries at the Luther Forest Technology Campus. 

 

Often the results have been regarded as haphazard: either overreaching or inadequate – a dozen roundabouts (with potentially more on the horizon) and the retail vacancies in the Ellsworth Commons project being two visible examples. 

 

The Town Board, to its credit, has attempted to take a fresh approach. At the February 3 town meeting, they established a Route 9 South/Route 67 Rezoning Committee, which is charged with looking at the entire area in a comprehensive way to avoid individual “spot zoning” of parcels in this key gateway area to the GlobalFoundries plant. 

 

This will be a developing story for quite a while, but there is a situation in process currently that, if adopted, can illustrate how growth and development can have multiple positive outcomes. 

 

It may come as no surprise that this situation sprang forth from the private sector. 

 

The Stewart’s Shops Corporation is advocating the formation of a Planned Development District and the Town Board has heard presentations by Mr. Tom Lewis, who is now a consultant but formerly was the company’s Real Estate Representative. Stewart’s has an option on a key parcel (see aerial map) along the roundabout located on route 67 and Luther Forest Boulevard – a key entranceway to GlobalFoundries and the LF Tech Park. It would like a building permit to construct a shop that would have gas pumps. 

 

The desirability to Stewart’s to have this site is obvious; also obvious is the desirability of having a convenient gas/convenience store for the thousands who will be passing by to and from work at Fab8 and other sites.  

 

Stewart’s would be able to hook up to an existing water main. As part of an incentive to receive a building permit for the site, they have offered the town the sum of $200,000 as seed money for the purpose of extending water lines along old Route 67 and Dugan Hill Road in a neighborhood known as Maltaville. Mr. Lewis had a representative from Saratoga Water Services verify that for that amount of seed money, a 10” water main could be extended 1000 feet, which includes lateral connections to individual (both existing and future) parcels as needed.  

 

This could be the spur needed to stimulate future residential development in a desirable location that is very close to the Technology Campus. After this, the water lines could be extended further in the neighborhood by residential developers. 

 

The next stages are to develop the final legislative language. There are some minor issues to be settled, such as the Saratoga County Water Authority taking ownership of the parcel upon which a water tower would sit. The water authority needs that provision in order to borrow money for the tower.  Mr. Lewis also indicated that he was willing to accept a contingency that Stewart’s would receive a building permit after the pipes were in the ground.

 

Once the legislation is finalized, an item can be put on the town board’s agenda that would schedule a public hearing. It appeared that everyone was going to push to finalize the language in time for this item to be on the next meeting’s agenda, which takes place on Monday, March 3, with a public hearing at the April meeting.

 

This could be an example of growth that works—a win/win for everyone concerned. 

 

As noted above, Stewart’s option on the parcel is contingent upon receiving a building permit but “the optimist in me says this is going to happen,” Tom Lewis said.

 

 

Published in News
Thursday, 12 December 2013 15:28

Hard Times in Malta

Ethics Complaints Move Up the Ladder to State Attorney General

MALTA – “I don’t care what happens to me. This kind of stuff must stop.” 

- Lynda Bablin

Saratoga TODAY has exclusively learned that Lynda Bablin, Malta town tax receiver, has filed a complaint with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office alleging improprieties in the way the Malta Town Board has attempted to circumvent her original ethics complaint, which was initiated on September 11. 

Saratoga TODAY has received documents, which in some cases were notarized; email trees and other supportive materials from Ms. Bablin that appear to indicate that the town board sought ways to avoid acting on her complaint. 

Ms. Bablin’s original complaint was regarding the conduct of Town Clerk Flo Sickels. As reported in Saratoga TODAY on November 1, the town of Malta’s ethics committee, in a 7-0 vote, found that Ms. Sickels had “…solicited on multiple occasions, employees to make a political contribution, through time, effort, endorsement or signature” on behalf of the Malta Republican Committee during town working hours. The ethics committee’s findings also noted, among other things, that more than one town employee described specific examples of behavior by Ms. Sickels that they believed were retaliatory against people who objected or did not comply with her requests.  

This report was issued by the ethics committee on October 28, which is a significant date: The Malta Town Board, which installed the original guidelines for filing and processing procedures, had given themselves up to 45 days to act upon the ethics committee’s findings. They could accept, modify or reject the findings which called for Ms. Sickels’ censure on those two counts. 45 days from October 28 is December 12 – yesterday. 

Ms. Bablin claims that the town board instead concentrated on procedure instead of substance. “Keep in mind, these were procedures that the town board itself had approved. They were listed in the employee manual. I used their guidelines,” Ms. Bablin said. “And I followed everything I was given to the letter.”  

During the next regular meeting on November 6, the town board held an executive session, which is closed to the public, to discuss the ethics committee’s findings. 

In the public portion of the meeting, town board members (with Councilperson Tara Thomas recusing herself from all discussions, public and private, because she is Ms. Sickels’ daughter) discussed ancillary recommendations by the ethics committee, such as an overhaul of the ethics section of the employee manual. 

There was by no means universal agreement among board members as to whether any changes were necessary. 

Councilpersons Maggi Ruisi and John Hartzell indicated that procedures for filing complaints were very clear. However, the town board did agree that the ethics committee should have the advice and counsel of Attorney Christine Karsky to them at least for the balance of the year. Ms. Karsky had previously advised the ethics committee on other matters (though not on Ms. Bablin’s complaint up to this point.) 

But there was no public finding on the merits of Ms. Bablin’s original complaint at that November 6 meeting.

A key point is that the ethics committee proceedings are largely done in secret in order to protect the confidentiality complainants. 

A member of the ethics committee had contacted Ms. Bablin on November 3 to say that it would be advisable that 1) she have her complaint form notarized, with her address and contact information and 2) that she state in writing that she was signing her complaint under penalty of perjury. 

“This was my understanding anyway,” Ms. Bablin said, “so I had no problem doing what was requested, even though these requirements were not specified when I had originally filed my complaint in September.” The now-notarized form was completed and dated on November 13 and sent back to the ethics committee via snail mail. 

What makes this interesting is that, though Malta town code chapter 11, section 18, subsection C that Ms. Bablin referenced does state that a complainant attest to the facts under threat of perjury, it does not specify a notarization requirement. 

Ms. Bablin was working with the knowledge that she had at the time, and immediately responded to the request for the additional notarization and information almost immediately when requested. 

It would appear that the town board either had no idea, or perhaps chose to ignore that such a contact and those subsequent actions had transpired though, for on November 18, five days later, at a special town board meeting for the purpose of discussing the ethics committee findings, the town board in a resolution remanded the complaint back to the ethics committee, stating that:

“WHEREAS the Town Board wishes to provide the Ethics Committee with legal assistance and to ensure that the procedures required by Town Code Chapter 11, Section 18  are followed, specifically: 1) that the complaint be signed under penalty of perjury; and that 2) that “clear and compelling evidence is used as the standard of proof rather than “weight of the evidence”; and further that, though not specifically required by 11-18 (emphasis added) the subject of the complaint should be provided with a copy…” 

In response to this, Ms. Bablin read a statement to the town board at the November 18 meeting which said in part: 

“There was a so-called established process for filing complaints with the committee at the time the complaint was made. Those processes were followed to a tee. Now you are trying to retroactively change the process that was in place at the time in the hopes of coming to a different result…. In my opinion you are doing nothing more than shooting the messenger because you didn’t like their findings…. This Board is doing everything in their power to bury this complaint…” 

Later, Ms. Bablin amplified “The three things they cited were non-issues. The first, I had already done five days before. Second, the ethics committee voted unanimously twice. Doesn’t a 7-0 vote indicate that the evidence the ethics committee received was “clear and compelling? The final requirement of notifying the complainant is something completely new — and in fact, in this case Flo was offered a copy, which she refused.”

After the remand, Lynda Bablin gathered her documentation and waited. After nearly another month of waiting for any result, she knew her next step was clear: next stop, Attorney General. 

Her complaint was received and acknowledged by the AG’s office. She was told it would be three to five weeks before they are able to begin the process of examination. 

One other fact worth noting at this juncture is that all the members of the Malta Town Board are Republicans, including Flo Sickels. 

But Lynda Bablin is also a Republican, an elected official whose term runs through 2015. The State Attorney General, however, is a Democrat. 

2014 should be an interesting year in the Town of Malta. 

 

Published in News
Thursday, 14 November 2013 10:58

Chips Ahoy

GlobalFoundries hosts open house

MALTA – The cars were backed up like rush hour on a NYC expressway (except for the roundabouts) as the public filled the parking lot of GlobalFoundries’ Fab 8 microchip plant at Luther Forest Technology Park on the evening of Monday, November 11. 

The occasion was the chip giants’ first ever open house that was structured to give curious onlookers an inside view of the manufacturing process. 

“It’s really a logical extension from what we had been doing for some time,” noted Jessica Kerley, communications specialist for GlobalFoundries. “We have hosted quarterly neighborhood meetings here to give resident’s updates on our construction and related subjects. During the question and answer periods, we would always get questions about how the manufacturing process worked, so we decided to refine the focus.”

Though Kerley said that they had done nothing extra to get the word out, it was obvious from the attendance that the interest was widespread. 

Kids and adults alike packed the company’s cafeteria (Global Café) whose walls were lined with several institutional ads that utilized Fab 8 which told of their involvement in the community, as well as motivational posters and flags from around the world. 

Exhibits were a combination of hands-on items and multi-media presentations. While the public never got to actually see computer chips being fabricated, they could see video of the process, and hold onto several examples of the finished product. Other videos talked about the company’s growth, which led it to upstate New York. Another exhibit displayed the nearly 40 patents that GlobalFoundries has.

By far, the largest fascination for kids of all ages was for the bunny suits and goggles that some people waited to try on for themselves. Kristy Bouillion of GlobalFoundries’ logistics department noted that the suits are worn for contamination versus cleanliness and that employees on the Fab 8 floor could not wear any makeup, which caused a few realtors to groan and decide to stick to their current occupation.

Regina Rodriquez of operations noted that though the Fab 8 floor is air conditioned to a cool temperature regardless of the time of year, the suits themselves were extremely hot and she had to adjust her clothing underneath to what most people would wear in the summer. 

Since 2009, Fab 8 has been holding regular neighborhood meetings in order to provide a unique opportunity for the company to meet with the community and provide updates on their projects. However, this was the first time they allowed the community to receive an interactive educational tour into the manufacturing facility. Given the popularity of this meeting, it seems likely the community will have many more opportunities in the future to learn about what goes on in the plant.

Published in News
Friday, 08 November 2013 13:32

Town of Malta Grapples with Ethics Issues

MALTA – The monthly Malta town board meeting on Wednesday, November 6 was moved back because of Election Day.

An extra hour was added for some anticipated public comment about the town’s 2014 budget, which turned out to be minimal. Later in the meeting, the town council passed a $9,521,866 budget for 2014 by a 5-0 vote, with Councilperson Tara Thomas needing to officially abstain from two payroll line items. The budget anticipated two percent sales tax growth from 2013 and estimates that $456,000 will be needed to be drawn from the reserve fund to balance 2014 expenses.

The major items on the agenda centered on the subject of ethics, in light of the town’s ethics committee recently citing Town Clerk Flo Sickels (who was at her seat during this meeting). Thomas, who is Sickels’ daughter, recused herself during this portion of the meeting and left the room. 

A discussion about the merits of the ethics committee’s findings were handled in executive session and have not been made public at this time. 

The public did hear a discussion led by Supervisor Paul Sausville as to other recommendations by the ethics committee which could be regarded as procedural.

The town council did reaffirm that attorney Christine Karsky of Saratoga Springs would continue to advise the ethics committee for the balance of 2013 as needed. Carsky was referred to the committee during its most recent deliberations. 

The ethics committee made several recommendations arising out of that complaint filing, which ranged from making procedures for filing complaints clearer and less ambiguous, to recommending ethics training, to an examination and perhaps an overhaul of either the ethics section of the employee manual, or revise the entire manual. The committee also recommended an examination of how town employees report their work on behalf of not-for-profit (NFP) organizations, though it was unclear to many on the town board whether the committee was referring to those NFP’s that were doing business with the town, or any NFP.

Many of these recommendations were strongly objected to by town councilpersons Paul Hartzell and Maggi Ruisi, whose remarks indicated that they felt the town council was over-genuflecting in response to one incident, in the manner of using a bazooka to slay a hummingbird. 

“A waste of time,” was Ruisi’s response to some of the committee’s recommendations. 

Hartzell was even more strident in his objections, noting that the town had just completed an extensive review of its 100 plus page employee manual. Both of them said they thought that complaint procedures were clear at the present time  

Hartzell also felt that the committee should make a list of specific items in the manual that might be worth examining and said that a list could be generated of NFP’s that did business with the town, which would be small and procedures developed around that limited universe.

In the end, the town board agreed to have Sausville draft a memo back to the ethics committee asking for specificity about areas in the employee manual they found troubling and to pay an outside consultant $300 for a general overlook of it.

Published in News
Thursday, 07 November 2013 11:59

Town of Malta Grapples with Ethics Issues

MALTA – The monthly Malta town board meeting on Wednesday, November 6 was moved back because of Election Day.

An extra hour was added for some anticipated public comment about the town’s 2014 budget, which turned out to be minimal. Later in the meeting, the town council passed a $9,521,866 budget for 2014 by a 5-0 vote, with Councilperson Tara Thomas needing to officially abstain from two payroll line items. The budget anticipated two percent sales tax growth from 2013 and estimates that $456,000 will be needed to be drawn from the reserve fund to balance 2014 expenses.

The major items on the agenda centered on the subject of ethics, in light of the town’s ethics committee recently citing Town Clerk Flo Sickels (who was at her seat during this meeting). Thomas, who is Sickels’ daughter, recused herself during this portion of the meeting and left the room. 

A discussion about the merits of the ethics committee’s findings were handled in executive session and has not been made public at this time. 

The public did hear a discussion led by Supervisor Paul Sausville as to other recommendations by the ethics committee which could be regarded as procedural.

The town council did reaffirm that attorney Christine Karsky of Saratoga Springs would continue to advise the ethics committee for the balance of 2013 as needed. Carsky was referred to the committee during its most recent deliberations. 

The ethics committee made several recommendations arising out of that complaint filing, which ranged from making procedures for filing complaints clearer and less ambiguous, to recommending ethics training, to an examination and perhaps an overhaul of either the ethics section of the employee manual, or revise the entire manual. The committee also recommended an examination of how town employees report their work on behalf of not-for-profit (NFP) organizations, though it was unclear to many on the town board whether the committee was referring to those NFP’s that were doing business with the town, or any NFP.

Many of these recommendations were strongly objected to by town councilpersons Paul Hartzell and Maggi Ruisi, whose remarks indicated that they felt the town council was over-genuflecting in response to one incident, in the manner of using a bazooka to slay a hummingbird. 

“A waste of time,” was Ruisi’s response to some of the committee’s recommendations. 

Hartzell was even more strident in his objections, noting that the town had just completed an extensive review of its 100 plus page employee manual. Both of them said they thought that complaint procedures were clear at the present time  

Hartzell also felt that the committee should make a list of specific items in the manual that might be worth examining and said that a list could be generated of NFP’s that did business with the town, which would be small and procedures developed around that limited universe.

In the end, the town board agreed to have Sausville draft a memo back to the ethics committee asking for specificity about areas in the employee manual they found troubling and to pay an outside consultant $300 for a general overlook of it.

Published in News
Thursday, 31 October 2013 13:11

Malta Ethics Panel Recommends Censure of Town Clerk

MALTA – “The town clerk solicited, on multiple occasions, employees to make a political contribution, through time, effort, endorsement or signature.”

So stated a report issued by the Town of Malta Ethics Committee in recommending by a unanimous 7-0 vote that Town Clerk Flo Sickels be censured for both conducting herself, or ordering employees she supervised to conduct political activities on town property during work hours. 

Sickels has been Malta’s town clerk for 22 years and is running for her twelfth 2-year term in the next election on November 5. She has been endorsed by the Republican and Conservative parties. 

The Malta town board has up to 45 days to act upon the ethics committee’s findings. They can accept, modify or reject the findings. A special ethics committee meeting has been scheduled for November 4 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the David R. Meager Community Center, Room 106, One Bayberry Drive, Malta.  The next town board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 6, which is the day after Election Day.

The ethics committee began investigating Sickels’ actions after receiving a written complaint from Tax Collector Linda Bablin regarding Sickels’ directing employees in the town clerk office to engage in activities on behalf of the Malta Republican Committee. 

The ethics committee reported that Deputy Clerk Jennifer Lanahan was directed by Sickels to prepare the Republican committee minutes “on at least one occasion, on town property, during normal business hours, while they were being paid for their time” by the Town of Malta. This was found by the ethics committee to be a violation of section 11-12A of the Town of Malta Code of Ethics, regarding use of municipal resources:

The report also states that Lanahan and former Deputy Town Clerk Linda Deprey were asked to contribute to Sickel’s political campaign in the form of signing petitions, getting signatures on petitions, writing letters of support and campaigning door-to-door.

The ethics committee found these actions to be in violation of sections 11-15a of the ethics code, regarding political solicitation.

The ethics committee also reported that more than one town employee described specific examples of behavior on Sickels’ behalf that they believed were retaliatory against people who objected or did not comply with her requests.

The report also included a third complaint, alleging that Sickels handled matters related to her role on behalf of the Eastline Romp and Play dog park, a not-for-profit organization during her workday as town clerk.

In this case the ethics committee was “not able to find evidence significant enough to either prove or disprove that allegation.”

 

Published in News
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Blotter

  • COURT  Billy R. Hendrie, 30, of Plattsburg, was sentenced Jan. 12 to 3 years of incarceration and 1-1/2 years of post-release supervision, after pleading to felony attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance, in Wilton.    Sonja N. Ambrosino, 41, of Amsterdam, was sentenced Jan. 12 to 2 months incarceration and 5 years of probation, after pleading to felony grand larceny, in Halfmoon.  Dylan K. Vella, 28, of Corinth, was sentenced Jan. 11 to 20 years-to-life, in connection with the murder of Paul Hollenbeck, according to a statement released by the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office. Vella was charged with…

Property Transactions

  • BALLSTON BDC Cornerstone LLC sold property at 55 Anthony Pl to Eugene Viti for $345,486. Traditional Home Builders and Developers sold property at 21 Mallory Way to Matthew Hall for $418,500. James Giannone sold property at 2 Miller Ct to James Margiotta for $506,500. Charles Russell sold property at 117 Charlton Rd to Michael Wizner for $325,000. Barbera Homes Kelley Farms sold property at 11 Stablegate Dr to Andrew Collar for $566,204. CORINTH David Kirchoff sold property at 222 Oak St to Bryan Eaton for $220,000. GALWAY Andrew Hathaway sold property at 9040 Nassell Dr to Rick Percoco for $250,000.…
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