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Sage Advice from NCN Forum's Truth Hurts

April 28, 2009

“Jane:

Don’t let this pack of angry wolves get to you. They are pissed they lost the election and are looking for any excuse to bash the new administration.

Pettit’s paying job with the rec department didnt get cut and it is a strange conflict of interest for him to be on a committee whose recommendations could impact his own job. It’s a conflict of interest and it was the right move on the part of the new board.

Streany had his time on the RAC and its good to rotate people on and off committees to get a fresh perspective.

Responding to this crew is like leaving the heat on when all the windows are open, a needless and pointless waste of energy!”

This in response to the latest flurry from the angry squawkers over at the NCN Forum. Here’s a sample of their work:

jayoncroton: I strongly urge the posters and readers of this forum, some of whom voted for the new board, to ignore this boy. Instead, we are organizing phone calls to the press to bring this matter to their attention in a calm methodical manner in the hopes that more press will shed a light on this disturbing turn of events.
You can contact the papers by email at
http://www.ncnlocal.com/ncn_gotnews.asp
for the North County News
and for the Journal News
at 946-3600

Judith A.: “I am so sickened by this event. To think that Leo (I REFUSE to call him “mayor”) did this is appalling. Gary Petit is a fixture in Croton—-along with his wife Doreen. The two of them did more for this recreation department than anyone.

I will gladly sign any petition to get Jane Murtaugh (gee——the wife of the new TRUSTEE????!!!!) off this committee and get Gary back.

What a crock of “you know what”. All you Democrats should be ashamed of yourselves.”

jayoncroton: “No Jane there is not a parallel here.

Murtaugh

your name is MURTAUGH.

Mr. Waldman retired
Mr. Herbek retired

They were not fired.

Want copies of their retirement speeches? Look at the village website.

I have HEARD NO SUCH SPEECHES FROM STREANY OR PETTIT

No there is no parallell here Jane. Again, enough. Again I will happilly get signatures.

You said right here you wanted to be on the committee and ta-da, two seats open up, replacing two long standing contributors with vast experience in this area.

Discussion ended for my part. Again I will happilly get signatures.”

More here: GARY PETIT WAS REMOVED FROM THE RECREATION COMMITTEE

On April 29, 2009 11:06 AM, Anonymous said:

Does anyone have a clue why village Republicans leave the Trendell\Winterliar team at the helm of the party. These guys, with their infinite wisdom, managed to get their three incumbent candidates voted out. These two are complete and total failures as party officials.

Winterliar just does not comprehend things. It is amazing how niave and politically inept he is after all his years of “experience”.

This diatribe of complete nonsense is just the latest example of why Republicans have NO future in this village with these two bobble heads in charge.

On April 29, 2009 9:51 AM, Anonymous said:

Okay, so let’s try to follow your logic,Mr.Wintermeier. Traditionally, you remain in an appointed position with the Rec Committee until you move, die or retire. What is this the Supreme Court or something? Its an appointed position with a set term. Look it up. There is nothing nefarious here. Ah, yes but we go against the greatly valued Croton “tradition”. (Note to newcomers, your participation will not be needed, we old timers got ya’ covered.)

No body wants to someone out of a job in this economy but the position of Superintendent of Recreation did what exactly? And for how much a year? And its an essential position why? Uh, Mr. Wintermeier, don’t you represent the party of “fiscal responsibility”? I thought it was a good thing to have less government. Please explain.

Oh, yeah,while we’re at the replacing staff thing, didn’t Mayor Schmidt seek and receive the resignations from the former Village Manager, Village Attorney and Chief of Police? (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink…they weren’t fired.) Is it only responsible government when done by a Republican? Oh, I forgot Gregg Schmidt was a Democrat. Silly me.

Finally, Jane hasn’t been married to Ian for over 10 years. Ya’ll really need to get your facts straight. Word out.

On April 29, 2009 6:56 AM, Wintermeier said:

I received several phone calls and emails on Tuesday from concerned citizens regarding the elimination of Susan Snyder’s position and the replacement of Gary Pettit and Joe Streany on the Recreation Advisory Committee. As a result, I talked to reliable sources during the day to gather facts to set the record straight. Here are my findings:

Although it was not planned in advance, Don Daubney and I attended the Village Board’s meeting on Monday night. We learned about the elimination of Susan’s position as Superintendent of the Recreation and Parks Department from a Village Email announcement and wanted to register our opposition.

I believe it is now called the Recreation Department, due to an organizational change under Mayor Schmidt that moved the Parks component to our Department of Works under DPW head, Marco Gennerali. Contrary to an impression I got from Rick Olver’s comments during the meeting, there were no headcount reductions due to this change. Based on my understanding of the meeting, Marco retains responsibility for the DPW as well as the Recreation Department.

The Village clearly stated that Susan is being removed as Superintendent of Recreation for “reasons of economy and efficiency” and not for any other reason. While I have nothing but praise for Mr. Gennarelli, and his staff, I don’t get the warm feeling that our kids will get the same level of service and comfort that a professional Recreation Superintendent like Susan provided. Don expressed similar concerns and told the Board that he felt they were making a big mistake.

As part of the reorganization announcement, Jane Murtaugh (Trustee Murtaugh’s wife) and Peter Sedlmair (a soccer league official) were appointed to the Recreation Advisory Committee. Only after this announcement did I learn from Don that Gary Pettit’s position on the RAC was not being renewed. On Tuesday, I learned that Joe Streany met the same fate!

Normally, the RAC members are reappointed for a 3 year period unless a vacancy occurs due to a death, move, resignation, retirement, etc. That did not occur in this instance. Joe and Gary were told by Leo that their 3 year term had expired and they would be replaced by two other residents. There was no indication as to whom their replacements would be so it would be unfair to link Gary or Joe to either replacement.

Gary was involved in Croton sports for decades and taught my daughters to play softball. Joe has been involved with Croton sports for years also! I’m at a loss regarding the qualifications of the new appointees (I hope they provided time stamped resumes for review) but Gary and Joe have set standards of excellence and dedication that will be hard to match!

Susan, Gary and Joe made a difference and were there when our kids needed them. They will be missed.

Now to address Ms. Murtaugh’s concerns.

I don’t believe we can hold her accountable for the current reorganization debacle. Like Leo’s spamming incident, the blame clearly rests with the Wiegman faction. Based on commntary on this blog, their decision has given others the appearance of a purge, impropriety, cronyism or nepotism. That’s not a good way to start off a new administration after claiming to support bipartisanship (Both Gary and Joe are registered Republicans). Hopefully future decisions regarding committee appointments will be more balanced politically. If Ms. Murtaugh can’t understand this, there’s no need for further discussion.

Some other factors to consider regarding this fiasco:

  • I understand that Westchester law requires that the Susan get first crack at her old position if the Board decides to recreate it and she wants the job. However, I can’t imagine why she would return given the manner in which the entire mess was handled without any prior warning. She was told the Board’s decision last Friday and asked to leave. That’s normal procedure in these instances. She will continue to receive her salary until the end of May as she pursues new employment but that’s small solace in these difficult times when jobs are hard to find especially in a specific field. I know because I’ve been working with a talented programmer to try to find him a job without success for almost 4 months!

  • I seriously doubt that this Board will recognize any petition to return Susan or the others to their former positions. You may recall that Trustees Wiegman and Gallelli ignored a petition with hundreds of signatures calling for the close of Metro Enviro and more recently dismissed a petition signed by Young Street residents regarding the Harmon proposal.

  • I’m also concerned that with Susan being the only female department head, there may be a legal case for discrimination. I’ve expressed this concern to the Board and asked that they discuss this possibility with legal.

  • Finally, this may not be the end of replacing staff. During the budget review, there was mention of reducing legal expenses by a 6 figure amount. That could mean a change in legal firms. It will be interesting to see what other tricks Leo pulls out of his hat as the Wiegman team continues to get their act in order!

On April 29, 2009 10:54 AM, disappointedcarole said:

Let me say that i thank Mrs. Murtaugh for working so hard on the dog park but this just doesn’t look good, it really does not, and I for one would not have come on board under these circumstances. Thank you Mr. Pettit for everything you have done. What an unceromonious boot in the rear, and you DID deserve better. The same for Streany. An awful start for the new board and says nothing good like one official going to Montrose to tell THEM what to do too. Kind of embarassing all around and yes shameful.

On April 29, 2009 10:50 AM, Georgianna Grant said:

Welcome to Crotonblog, Bob. It’s good to see you posting here.

With respect, I congratulate BW on his on-going efforts as Vice-Chair of the Republican Committee in Croton. Anyone who puts in the amount of time to advance what they perceive to be good government is to be commended. However, I also find Bob’s “findings” after talking to “reliable sources” to “set the records straight” to be questionable. It would be helpful to know just who these sources were before accepting his conclusions.

Did he speak with the Mayor or any of the Trustees? They were the decision makers and it would be wise to base his “findings” on their first-hand input.

Did he speak with Mr. Gennarelli and his staff to investigate how they would give “our kids …. the same level of service and comfort” that the Rec, Superintendent gave?

Did he speak with the Village Manager or Treasurer to determine how effectively the move was for “reasons of economy and efficiency?”

Did he “find” out that Jane Murtaugh and Trustee Murtaugh have been divorced for over 10 years?

Did he look into qualifications of Jane/Peter/Joe and Gary to determine they were or were not qualified to serve in an advisory position to total recreation?

Did he “find” out that “recreation” includes not only “sports” for our youth but activities for our senior citizens, adult education, exercise, dance, yoga, belly dancing, tennis, arts and crafts and any number of wonderful programs offered by a good recreation department.

One can’t help but wonder what connection there is to Leo’s “spamming incident” (whatever that is); just what he views as the “Wiegman faction” (whatever that is); “purge, impropriety, cronyism, nepotism” (huh?) Were these “findings” arrived at from his “reliable sources?”

I suggest Bob’s “other factors to consider regarding this fiasco” are no more than an obvious and lame attempt to stir up a non-existent pot. It may work for the small republican inner circle but not the rest of us.

On May 1, 2009 6:44 AM, Wintermeier said:

The following comments are in reply to those made by Georgianna Grant on another blog.

We’ve been friendly adversaries for many years and I appreciate your congratulations. In fact, our relationship often reminds me of the political rivalry in “The Last Hurrah.”

Unfortunately, you mistook my comments as having been posted on the CrotonBlog by me. I do not post on the CrotonBlog and never will unless they provide a semblance of civility. The comments you read were copied from the North County News Blog. I heard about your comments from some one who visited that web site and sent them to me by email.

The sources for my comments were obtained from Recreation Program individuals who were present during many of the events that transpired over last weekend. Since some are still involved, I think you will understand why I will not divulge their names.

I spoke with at least 5 persons involved with Recreation programs but did not speak privately with the Mayor or Village Manager. As you know from your prior position with IBM Human Resources, they are prohibited for legal reasons from providing any information about Susan other than name, occupation and confirmation of employment. However, if you watched Monday night’s Village Board meeting, Don Daubney and I addressed the elimination of Susan’s position with the Board and indicated that we felt the board was making a BIG mistake. Aside from stating it was a hard decision, no one on the Board provided any more information other than that Susan’s position was being eliminated for “reasons of economy and efficiency” and not for any other reason. They certainly had an opportunity to comment further about their decision.

While the Board may have felt this was an economical decision, I feel it was penny wise and pound foolish. Mayor Schmidt left the Village Fund Balance with over $3 million and Susan’s salary was a small fraction of that amount and certainly in line with other non-union departmental salaries (See Schedule 5 of the 2009-10 Budget). She could have been retained or allowed to stay at a lower salary or offered a different position. Leo and Ann are great for exploring options but I’m surprised they missed these, especially in a difficult economy.

I did not speak to Marco Generalli, our DPW head. Susan is a professional recreation manager…Marco is a professional DPW head. I see few similarities in their functions other than park maintenance which was transferred to Marco earlier. I would not expect Susan to be proficient at his job any more than I expect him to be qualified for hers. You don’t need a degree in psychology to figure that out. In addition, it will be interesting to see where priorities fall when there is a conflict. (You asked a good question and I’m intrigued at how Marco will reply. I’ll ask him when I get a chance.)

In regards to Gary and Joe, I spoke with both. Gary had 40 years of experience with Croton’s Recreation groups and Joe had 10-15 years. That’s a highly commendable record as evidenced by the comments on this Blog. To compare their track record with that of their replacements, I checked with the Village to see if applications and resumes for Ms. Murtaugh & Mr. Sedlmair existed so they could be FOILed. I was advised they did not exist. So now we have around 50-55 years of dedicated experience being replaced with no way to compare the candidates! I guess some other criteria was used to compare them or was it?

The divorce between Jan Murtaugh and Trustee Murtaugh is irrelevant. It could be friendly for the sake of the kids or hostile. It’s the appearance of a relationship that became the issue for Ms. Murtaugh’s detractors. In fact, if you read my comments, the entire episode was not of her making but a BAD decision by Leo and the Board.

Like his decision about Susan, Leo’s spamming incident was another bad decision in my mind because common sense tells you not to send emails en masse unless you get the recipients approval and provide a way to stop the emails! In Leo’s case, the situation became worse, because irate responses to be removed from his email list went to Leo as well as others. I got 54 and Mayor Schmidt was chastised by some because they thought he sent them!

Leo’s solution was to just delete the email….WRONG! Who had the data base for the emails, what other data did they have, where did they get the data, and how do you prevent further privacy violations? Leo provided me with the firm’s name, Prime NY. I checked them out and had my name removed so it couldn’t be used again.

The entire episode involved a lot of unnecessary work especially in light of today’s concerns about identity theft and chould have been avoided entirely or with the application of better planning. I recommend that other email recipients contact Prime NY to have their data removed!

I think I’ve addressed all of your questions and look forward to the next exchange! Have a great weekend!

Bob

On May 1, 2009 11:07 AM, dclap10520 said:

Happy to hear Bob that you did not post there. People may want to know that their comments on this forum are being placed on that other site again like they went there and posted. That site did this once before perhaps to boost their low numbers and views/hits. I believe the paper put a stop to it once informed??? I will alert them again.

In the meantime there is an excellent letter from Daubney in the Gazette on Pettit and I will try to put it here later today.

On May 1, 2009 2:35 PM, jennifer said:

I just received a scanned copy of the letter from the Gazette, Doris Daubney

To the editor

GARY PETTIT. I doubt there are many Croton residents who are not familiar with his name. For a long number of years Gary headed up the Asbury Methodist Church youth group as a volunteer. Friends of kids who were part of this program were welcomed with open arms by Gary. At the time when other churches did not have active youth groups, Asbury’s youth group attracted kids from Temple Israel and Holy Name as well as other churches and non affiliated kids. As this program and the number of youth participating grew, the program became community based, picked up by the Croton Recreation Department. Originally a volunteer Gary is now paid a small stipend for his work in this program.

In spite of poor health Gary has persevered with the commitment to the youth of Croton. His year round program fills a gap on all school vacation periods with trips and outings (winter break, spring break and summers) as well as the weekly functions at the new village recreation room. Gary has won awards for this program and the parents of the hundreds of kids who have participated have the highest of praise for Gary. His program is well organized and supervised for ealthy youth involvement. Gary is often assisted by his wife Doreen who gives freely of her time. Many a Croton child has found a friend and counselor as well as a terrific role model in Gary.

Sadly I have just learned that Gary, who has also been an appointed member of the Croton Recreation Advisory Committee was due this year for re-appointment. Our newly elected mayor Leo Wiegman chose not to re-appoint him. Who could better serve? Jane Murtaugh is his replacement. I do not know Jane. I have no knowledge of her youth involvement in Croton and so it is not that I oppose the mayor’s appointment: I simply ask “Why was Gary removed?” If it is because he is not a Democrat or the fact that he is distantly related to a Joe Pettit who wrote letters in the election against Mr. Wiegman, then I’d say our new mayor is not coming close to practicing the “open government” promised in his pre-election campaign rhetoric.

Doris Daubney

On May 1, 2009 3:57 PM, marion said:

Shameful. Nothing like kicking a man when he is down after years of giving. How do some people sleep at night?

On May 1, 2009 4:00 PM, Tom Faranda said:

Jane,

If you are still reading this stuff.

I agree with you, it is useless to carry on a conversation online in a community forum with people who won’t identify themselves.

Tom Faranda

On April 29, 2009 10:46 AM, karenmcc55 said:

I was very saddened to see the comments of an X official with respect to this issue. Let’s be blunt. Gary Pettit’s non reappointment had nothing to do with the need to bring in new blood. If that were truly the case then someone with at least SOME experience would have been chosen. He knows the ins and outs of this village and should have been kept on because first and forement this volunteer position is about the kids and NOT about working with a new mayor. I spent the whole morning looking at the minutes and old newspaper and Pettit’s and Streany’s reappointments over almost 15 years under different administrations, with praises heaped upon them both as the reason for their reappointment. To replace Pettit with someone who knows next to nothing and whose health might have dictated not much more time doing it anyway, was crass pure and simple. To Mr. Pettit I say please know that the nearly half of the community that did not vote for this group, wishes you well. You deserved better.

On April 28, 2009 8:50 PM, Georgianna Grant said:

YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP

Unfortunately the tone displayed by the same very few ncnblogggers is some of the nastiest yet. One would think they were seer, judge and jury of information as they accuse, berate and insult good neighbors who may not always agree with them. They pretend to know the Mayor’s reasons for bringing in newer residents with new ideas to recreation planning. They talk about disgusting and sickening and a groundswell of irate citizens. I find their “groundswell” to be so out of touch with reality as to be pathetic. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m out and about in the village every single day and I’m hearing that people are thrilled with the forward movement and action. I hear “thanks to all the “oldtimers who have served so ably and well. And thanks to the Mayor and Village Board who have enthusiastically invited more of our citizens to participate in village government.” If any groundswell exists it’s comprised of relative newcomers to Croton who have been anxious to get involved. Mayor Wiegman’s call for volunteers resulted in huge response. It seems they were just waiting to feel welcomed. The baton has been passed and that’s all goodness.

Thanks Joe and Gary and welcome Jane and the other new member - sorry, I missed his name. And thanks Mayor Wiegman and Village Trustees. You made tough decisions and have begun to move this village forward toward open and inclusive government.

On April 28, 2009 4:30 PM, Sick of Konig said:

The cast of characters over at NCN, led by Konig and Maria Crudequest are a festering, oozing, infected cancer on the ass of this otherwise great village.

Their comments above only offer more proof of this fact. Not an original thought among the whole lot of them. Disgusting! Jane Murtaugh is a great person and does not deserve this.

The only upside to their constant tream of idiocy is that they will NEVER get elected again in this village!

On April 28, 2009 3:06 PM, Anonymous said:

Is it any wonder that no one wants to serve on these volunteer committees? Just look at the vitriol coming from this pack. Jane did a lot to get the dog park at Black Rock. During that time she was praised by the NCN blog for her efforts. Now she is characterized as some evil harpy who dares to threaten the tenure of two beloved Croton volunteers. Good God, people, get a grip! Why not get some new blood on the Rec Committee? The terms of Streany and Pettit were up. It is plainly posted on the Village website. The mayor has a right to appoint whomever he chooses. That, my friends, is how it works no matter which party is in power. And, the cry to write, email and call your local newspaper for a investigation is just plain pathetic. Jane, you have my deepest respect for trying to reach out to your detractors. Good luck on the Rec Committee but remember in Croton, no good deed goes unpunished.



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