Imagine a situation in which two members of a jury in a high-profile trial announce that they had made their minds up even before the trial opens. Next, imagine these same two jurors trying to convince the public of the rightness of their premature verdict by advocating for it at every opportunity. A similar troubling ethical problem is on display in Croton right now. Two trustees who have each sworn to keep an open mind before voting on any law have been advocating changes to an existing law even before the new legislation has been framed.
Of even greater concern is that the two trustees, Ann Gallelli, whose relationship to the Harmon Committee was only to be as liaison, and Richard Olver, are now actively lobbying for their premature support of the Committee’s unilateral recommendations. They do this despite evidence that all of Croton is in economic doldrums. It is interesting to note that both Ms. Gallelli and Mr. Olver live far from Harmon and any personal consequences of their hasty decision-making.
A case in point is Mr. Olver’s recent letter to The Gazette. After two patronizing paragraphs in which he tries to scare residents with exaggerated rumors and then knocks down the straw men he has erected, Mr. Olver offers such gems of wisdom as: “The experts tell us the current zoning is not attractive for business investment and vacancies and empty lots in Harmon confirm this. The zoning change would make Harmon more attractive for the smaller businesses and professional offices we need to revive the area.” He concludes with, “The Harmon proposals would encourage private development of new, tax-paying commercial and professional space. Now isn’t that something that we all want?”
When I voted for Mr. Olver last year, I never thought he would turn into a snake-oil salesman. It was experts, Mr. Olver, who gave us those three ugly gigantic parking lots in downtown Croton. The inadequate current zoning to which you refer happens to be the disastrous Gateway Law of 2004 that Ms. Gallelli pushed so hard on—the law that has not attracted a single new business investor to Croton in five years. Who’s going to take the fall for that? Moreover, Harmon is not unique in vacancies. And Realtor Dick Albert would dispute that Croton needs more professional space; he owns plenty of such empty space. Finally, if you think that high-rent stores and high-rent apartments in Harmon will be Croton’s salvation, I’ve got a big dam I’d like to sell to you.
— Robert Scott