The 2011 Mayoral Race So Far

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Elections
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No Debate For You!
According to the Recorder 1, Mayoral Candidates Ann Thane and Joseph Emanuele have turned down a call from Bill Wills to hold a debate before the September 13th primaries.  Both Thane and Emanuele must believe they’ve got their primary victories in the bag, and  at this point, it  probably makes sense for them to “play the game” safe.  Wills seems to know this as he was quoted as saying “Obviously I’m the one to gain on this if you look at it from a strategic stand point”.  However, I think it is a loss for the electorate. Wills is a legitimate candidate and I think the public would have benefitted from hearing all the candidates respond to the same set of questions.

A side thought…the other interesting point in the same article was that Wills has stated he will no longer try for an independent run. He’s shooting for either the Democratic or Conservative lines.  As long as Emanuele has the Republican line as well as the Tea Party endorsement, might  a Wills victory on the Conservative line end up taking more votes from Thane in the general election?

Need The In-Fo, People!
Being a registered Republican, I won’t be voting for a mayoral candidate in the primaries. However if I were, I would be really frustrated right now over the lack of online information about Emanuele’s positions on the issues. There is absolutely nothing, not even on his Facebook page.  Even searching through the Recorder archives, I can barely put together any sense of a platform.  Of course it’s not really surprising, given his recent quote, “A lot of people do not have the Internet or really don’t choose to use it as much in politics.”2 – Okay, the 90’s called and they want their candidate back!

Now I remember Wills making a similarly anachronistic comment a while back, so to see him with his own website up and running – wdwills.com –  (and even commenting occasionally on the Vox) is commendable. Thane also recently launched her re-election website – mayorthane.com.  Comparing the two sites, however, it’s obvious that Thane has put a lot more time and effort (or money?) into developing not only the quality of the website, but also in organizing and communicating her ideas.

Wading through Will’s site’s large swaths of text, I come away with the following…
1 – He will remind city workers that they work for the taxpayers, which will presumably inspire them to do their jobs better.
2 – He will take a pay cut
3 – He will re-arrange a few city positions, and require department heads to go out and work with their crews sometimes instead of staying behind a desk all day
4 – He’ll propose two pieces of State Legislation (seriously??)
5 – He’ll require rental units to have a code inspection each time it becomes available to rent
6 – He will get the Common Council members offices at City Hall

All snarkiness aside, there’s absolutely nothing I can see here that resembles any sort of credible plan for improving Amsterdam’s economy. He has a few nice ideas and good sentiments, but otherwise there is no vision here for seriously tackling the enormous problems we face in our city. 

By comparison, Mayor Thane has put together an entire page of specific ideas covering economic developement, infrastructure work, shared services,  downtown revitalization, budget process changes, etc. So far, she is the only candidate to propose concrete ideas that follow an understandable vision for the future of Amsterdam. The depth of thought she has put into her platform should set the standard for the other candidates.

Not to let her completely off the hook though. I know this has been blogged about before, but I have to say that I find it hard to believe that she does not know, or is unable to find out, who is publishing the anti-Emanuele web site. I think she could have it shut it down if she wanted to and I think she should.

1 – “Debate demand dismissed” by Jarrett Carroll, The Amsterdam Recorder, August 13,2011

2 – “Mayor’s contest heads to the Web” by Jessica Maher, The Amsterdam Recorder, July 2, 2011

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Comments
  1. Ann M. Thane says:

    Thanks for noting our many differences here, Tim. The fact is, I have also have been dissatisfied with the lack of a well thought out vision or plan by elected officials (please see my post: http://wildthane.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/any-meat-on-those-bones/), at local levels and all of the way up the state and national chains. There is quite a bit of rhetoric and very little substance. We deserve better.

    For almost four years, I’ve made it a point to articulate my goals and the processes I expect to follow to get us there. My successes are many and can be measured against what I said I’d do from the start. I hope that my methodology is plainly evident to the electorate come election day and will distinguish me from my opposition.

    As far as a pay cut from either of my opponents, they’ll both be taking payment from the retirement system. They’re just taking money from my state tax pocket instead of my city tax pocket. It’s a parlor trick, really, and we are wiser than that.

    I, like many others, know who posts the anti-Emanuele site, though I didn’t at first. It is no more my right or responsibility to insist that the author take it down than it would be to think I could make Gerry Skrocki or Bob Going or any number of local bloggers, including you, take down their sites. Misinformation and cruelty are stingingly served up daily on some of these sites and have, in fact, destroyed two sites that had were considered staples of the local blogging community.

    I have no need to participate in the dysfunction. I have my own blogs (wildthane.wordpress.com and mayorthane.com). I always state my name when I post elsewhere, I stick to the truth as I know it, and I am interested in issues, not nonsense.

    I like your blog. It is thoughtful and offers solutions. I wish you’d consider running for office. You’re just the kind of person we need (intelligent, organized, committed and honest) to move this community forward. In the meantime, thank you for focusing on topics that are salient. Please continue to point out the stark differences in platforms, or lack thereof, as the election season moves forward.

    • Tim Becker says:

      In regards to the anti-Emanuele site, let me put it a different way – given that they are clearly advancing your interests, I would think you would be within your rights to ask them to stop, or at the very least express your displeasure, and I would think they would respect that.

      • gail talmadge says:

        I don’t think it is the Mayor’s place to “find out and shut down” the anti-Emanuele site. (which by the way I didn’t know existed until this posting). So it seems to me that you are asking them to shut down. Isn’t that freedom of speech? And why would the Mayor need to express her displeasure or any opinion she may have regarding that site?
        I agree, that whoevers site it is, if they were honest with the public they would state who they are.

      • Tim Becker says:

        Hi Gail, see my response to the Mayor below.

  2. diane says:

    Tim,

    I find it interesting that the mayor states she did not know who the originator of the blog was, when in fact she was seen with him in public having a meal at a local restaurant. This individual was the same that blogged under various pseudonyms on the other sites and is very much in favor of Thane and Tonko. Why should she ask him to take it down, when in fact he is supporting her??
    Please refer to TSWNN where this information was posted and discussed by the individual who saw her.

    By the way Tim, have you ever read the city’s Master Plan?? You should. You will find that the mayor has taken the objectives in the plan and made them “hers”. What the mayor defines as “her” accomplishments are simply her doing her job as the coordinator of putting forth the plan. I find it very disengenuous of her to call them “her” objectives, when in fact they were set forth by a group of individuals who worked tirelessly for months to draw up the plan. I, along with 11 others were on that commission.

    Frankly, as someone who has watched and observed what has gone on in city hall for the past 11 years, I am amazed that the daily running of local government business has come so far that the mayor now touts everyday business as “her” personal accomplishments in detail. She was voted in to do a job, nothing more or nothing less. It will be up to the voters to decide what kind of job she has done.

    • Tim Becker says:

      Hi Diane –

      First, I don’t want to get in to any of this “who saw who” and where stuff – I don’t see how that matters to this discussion and we could get bogged down for days arguing over rumors . The Mayor says she knows who the authors are now.

      Yes, I have have read the Master Plan – or Comprehensive Plan – that’s what most of my previous posts have been about, and I know you were involved in the process as well. But thanks for the recommendation!

      I’m baffled why you would think that the Mayor making the goals of the plan her own was disengenuous. The plan was created as a guide for future leaders to follow. Mayor Thane is clearly stating that she is following it and has listed specific ideas as to how to implement it. What is disengenuous about that? I wish all candidates would address how they would implement the objectives in the plan. Diane, I would certainly like to know how you would help to implement the plan if elected.

      I also disagree with your take on Mayor Thane’s listing of accomplishments completed during her term. There’s no reason why a candidate can’t point to the things that went right under their direction during their term. This is what a person applying for a job puts in their resume, right?

    • Rob Millan says:

      Diane,

      I had breakfast with the mayor a few months back. This is not a crime nor is it important. I enjoy food, and what better way to compliment it with good conversation? I do it several times a week. I am still in wonder as to why that is at all relevant (it isn’t), but you seem to have gotten over that like you have the email remark to Kaufman. Having said that, it is grossly irresponsible for you to make the assertion that I am the person or persons behind joeemanuele.com, especially with absolutely no evidence of your own. And Bob Going, a/k/a ‘the individual who saw her’, admits he doesn’t know either, so where are you getting this from? Your claim still remains irrelevant and unfounded.

      It is my right to favor one candidate over another. Voters will do just that on election day, upon which we’ll have participated in the most fundamentally important aspect of the democratic process, one which you evidently have a disrespect for. You just seem to have an issue with people that favor the candidates you don’t, like my evident support for the current mayor (although I don’t think I have ever flat-out voiced support for Tonko; I remember only questioning your anti-support for him after further questioning how you would arrive at the bizarre conclusions you had about his proposals and legislation, this after circulating a petition that held absolutely no weight).

      Also, I must point out your flagrant use irony and hypocriticism. You have on many occasions lambasted the mayor as being the chief executive officer of Amsterdam for issues in the city by claiming that every little thing that happens in Amsterdam (more notably and specifically from your point of view, only the bad ones) can all be attributed to the mayor:

      -employees being held accountable and in some cases terminated for abuse of city time and by extension your tax dollars – Ann Thane’s ‘fault’

      -fire hydrant issues – Ann Thane’s ‘fault’

      -Chalmer’s – Ann Thane’s ‘fault’

      -Riverlink Phase II – Ann Thane’s ‘fault’

      …etc…

      …and yet the mayor outlining accomplishments such as $20MM in grants, maintaining or boosting our bond rating (side note: which, by the way, I am convinced you have no idea what that actually translates to nor do you care to acknowledge exactly how important that is for a municipality, just ask Schenectady what happened when they were downgraded by one of the credit rating houses. HINT: it starts with ‘Chapter 9’ and ends with ‘bankruptcy’), or following the Master Plan ignored by the previous administration.

      To observant others and me, this appears to be a double-standard you hold, one whereby you pick and choose the positives highlighting the mayor has outlined and then dare to call her out as being an attention hog that should instead focus on negatives. It’s not very fair, and I think people in the Fourth Ward deserve a candidate that is at least better versed at seeing the whole picture, not just the cherry-picked negative tidbits.

    • Tim Becker says:

      OK, I think Diane has expressed her view clearly enough and I think the rebuttals have also been clear. Let’s move on to new territory, thanks!

  3. Ann M. Thane says:

    Tim, I don’t think you reposing the question changes it contextually at all. Whether a site promotes my interest or not, I am not the author. I have no more responsibility for that site than you do. Again, the voice is not mine. You may read my thoughts on my blogs.

    Of course, I do wonder why this one blog seems to attract your attention over others.

    The thing about accepting a position in the public sphere is that you are opened up to criticism, unfounded or not. I’m sure my opponent understands this, as I do. That said, I would think you would take issue with any site or broadcast that attacks any individual personally or unfairly, and there are several that have thrived on that behavior since their inception.

    A very wise person told me to control what I can and leave the rest to God. I believe that this is the only way I may navigate these difficult and sometimes hurtful waters.

    • Opponents. There is a primary in September.

      Tim’s suggestion of why there should be a pre-primary debate is a good one. If I may, I’d like to add another reason. All three candidates have held or currently hold publicly elected office. All have public records they can, should and will be held accountable for. All three have very different positions on a myriad of issues facing the city. You don’t get that often on the local level. Voters are lucky to have this kind of choice.

      I had thought about hosting one until two of the three mayoral candidates said they had no interest in a debate. No sense in moving forward with one if two-thirds of the race don’t want to participate.

    • Tim Becker says:

      The anti-Emanuele site is different from any of the other sites because it has deliberately taken a candidate’s given name for a domain name and exists for the sole purpose of distributing negative information about the candidate during an election season.

      Now I would never argue that they don’t have the right to do that. Of course they do. And perhaps I should not have used the phrase “shut down”. But the fact is that the site has a negative stink, and like it or not, it is perceived to be associated with your campaign. I think it harms your otherwise very positive and issue-focused campaign. If I were an ardent supporter of a certain candidate, and that candidate told me that what I was doing was harming their campaign, I would stop doing it in a heartbeat.

      Of course, it is just my opinion that it is harming your campaign. If you think it is helping…

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  5. Ann M. Thane says:

    Tim, Whether it helps or hurts my campaign, it is not mine to control. Again, I’ve got my work cut out for me and I prefer to stay away from the dysfunction this forum often fosters. I look forward to a healthy discussion of issues that have real impact on our community. Thank you for offering this opportunity at your site. A.

  6. diane says:

    Tim,

    It is sad that none of the candidates want to debate, or at least sit at a table and discuss the issues. For years now, more and more people are coming out and getting involved in the process, and what better way to put your ideas forth than in a group setting.

    Charlie, any chance the paper will do interviews for the primaries??

    Tim, the mayor listing her accomplishments/goals to me is normal every day government work that she was “hired” to do. Anyone in her position should be/would be doing the same, but in her case she has to constantly take credit for many things that have been working their way thru the system/state for some time. It just so happens that they are now coming to fruition, not because she has championed them, but because it was their time in the grand scheme of things. Look at Chalmers, it would have been down three years ago, but for the Kaufman debacle, and now she is taking “credit” for the demolition of the property. It was the council’s decision not hers. It was her job to do what the council directed her to do through their resolutions. Not to mention some of this stuff was started back in the Duchessi Administration, but you never heard him rattling off every single thing he did in office.

    • karin says:

      . . . and so what if some of these previous projects were “started” by previous Mayor’s . . . SHE is the one who is getting the job done. SHE is the only one that has been able to pull it all together, continuing with sheer devotion, dedication and know how. Our City has not felt this much progress in thirty years. Mayor Thane, Thank you so much for moving things forward. Keep up the fabulous work – where would we be without you? Still stuck in the 1980’s rut! Voting for YOU – a progressive, dedicated, caring and strong person who GET’S THE JOB DONE!!

  7. Bill Wills says:

    Tim, I am wondering why you are not running for an elected office? It’s a lot harder than you think once you are in the hot seat making decisions that ultimately affect others. I have been an elected official for almost 24 years now and maybe it’s time to get out but I can hold up my head high and say that I tried and apparently had a positive affect on my constituents who allowed me such a long and gratifying tenure. It’s easy plagiarizing others ideas as yours. It’s hard to come up with new and unique ones and then implement them. It’s also better not to say anything as people like yourself have nothing to comment or criticize on. Thanks for the honest assessment though. But remember to vote in September as you apparently forgot you have an important primary in the City Controller’s race.

    • Tim Becker says:

      Mr Wills, from your own web site:
      “The people who elect us are essentially our bosses. They deserve the respect and attention due them.”

      Saying that I as a voter have no right to criticize your mayoral candidacy platform is hardly respectful. To say that I can’t speak on a subject unless I have held public office is just ridiculous. Are you looking for my vote or not?

      I am sure you have done a fine job representing your ward, I never criticized your past career. But what I am looking for in a mayoral candidate is somebody who has a vision for the future and and based on the information on your site, you don’t have one! Without a long term vision, Amsterdam will go nowhere.

      The Comprehensive Plan represents almost 2 years of effort by members of the community (from both political parties) and provides us with a guide to revitalizing our city. Are you suggesting we throw the whole thing out and start from scratch? We’ll never get anywhere that way. I want to elect a mayor who is actively following a long term plan and who will describe how he or she is going to do that. That’s what Mayor Thane has done. And you call that plagiarizing? I can’t even take that comment seriously.

  8. Bill Wills says:

    TIm, the only point I was making in asking why don’t you run for office is that we need new blood, young individuals like yourself to take an active part in our Government if we are ever going to move forward. That’s all.
    The comment about plagiarizing was in reference to the Thane document which if you take the time to digest is everyone else’s ideas, nothing original, which is ok but what are her accomplishments so far except to blame everyone else for the City’s troubles. Why does it take 6 to 8 months to close a hole dug to fix a water pipe? There’s more to taking care of our City then painting murals and planting flowers.
    THe comment about not saying anything is the Emanuele document. You can’t comment on something that isn’t there.

    Thanks for the opportunity to blog. It kinda cleanses you in a way.

  9. Ann M. Thane says:

    My accomplishments far exceed beautification efforts, though I am incredibly proud of our clean ups, graffiti paint outs, city hall rehab, murals, flowers, and improved public spaces all over the city. I am more than willingly to compare the results of my three and a half years in office, point by point, to anyone touting decades in the political field (which does beg the question, has Amsterdam been improving for the past twenty-four years or not?) Please visit my website, http://www.mayorthane.com, to understand the breadth of work my administration has facilitated. Especially review the sections that cover financial stability, accountability and public safety.

    I never claimed to have invented the wheel; I’ve always advocated for following paths that others have forged for us. The Comprehensive Plan is a useful document to springboard off of for economic development, but the problems our city faces are much more complicated and other areas are untouched by the Plan… budgetarily, operationally, and physically.

    I spend hours every day (frequently into the night) perusing the internet and networking with experts to cull best practices from other communities facing the same challenges that we do. There is a world of information and experience for us to tap into, just as there is enormous talent in our own community. We’ve never lived in a time when there was more opportunity to share solutions or work collaboratively in new, exciting ways. I hope we may meet this chance with open arms and minds.

  10. Ann M. Thane says:

    PS, while you’re at my site, please take note of the many capital projects that are finally coming to fruition after years of limbo prior to my taking office, and “The Plan” page that lays out ideas for the next few years. We’ve done so much, but there’s undoubtedly still so much to do.

  11. Ythan Lax says:

    I find politics interesting, even at the local level. I would call myself a “Facebook friend” of Mayor Thane who used to do some freelance design work years ago for me at the company I worked for. I know little of her accomplishments or lack thereof, but as someone with a degree in Marketing and Communications, I will say that I know more about Amsterdam than perhaps anyone living in Rochester, NY because through her Facebook page alone, there is no doubt that she takes her position as mayor very seriously.

    Because, to me, this is sort of “neutral politics”, I enjoyed reading this post and its comments top to bottom and although I’m not sure which is the main topic, it seems that two topics have emerged, 1) Should the third candidate be welcomed to debate and 2) Is the sitting mayor responsible for slanderous comments made against her opponent.

    As to issue number 1, I always say, when in doubt, follow the rules. If the third party candidate has the petition signatures he needs and is going to be on the ballot, whether as a Conservative or an Independent, he’s obviously part of “the game” and taking your ball and going home is never the best way to play. If he’s an extremist who frightens the people of your small city, or an underqualified candidate then I’m sure that will come out during the debate. If he’s a bright individual with ideas that can bring two sides together on whatever issues are current in your local government then I don’t see what harm can ever come from a fair moderated discussion. (Remember, they let Jim McMillan a.k.a. “The Rent Is Too Damn High Guy” debate against Cuomo, Palidino, and a prostitute)

    As for issue number 2, I must be missing the point completely. I can do a google Search on Sarah Palin and find HUNDREDS, maybe even THOUSANDS of Websites with quotes (real or not) that are strictly anti-Obama propaganda. Everything from the birthers to the socialist ties to Russia can be posted by anyone with a simple knowledge of uploading a website. I fail to see not only HOW Mayor Thane can control what other people say let alone take the time away from her job of leading the city while campaigning for re-election to also be the police of the process. I always thought that was what the Board of Elections job is.

    Mayor Thane has seen on Facebook that I always speak my mind and she could very well be scared to death that any word I type could bury her campaign, but I don’t think she’d ever feel that it would be her place to send me a note telling me either what or what not to say.

    Mr. Becker, COMPLETELY hypothetically (and with NO disrespect intended to your ethnicity and heritage), let’s say I’m a Nazi-hunter in Rochester, NY. and I were to do extensive research and find out that your great uncle’s, grandmother’s sister’s son-in-law’s stepson was responsible for thousands of deaths during the Holocaust and I started a website saying that you had family ties to Nazi killings. Would it be your responsibility to stop me personally or would I just leave instructions to 10 other nutty people who post whatever they feel like posting that if you shut me down, they should pick it up? I would think if you were being slandered ridiculously, your best bet is to either rebut it in a way that makes it clear that you are being blindsided, or contact Interpol and make sure that anyone who is slandering you receives warning that they will be held libel in a court of law. Or you could just realize that when you are in the public eye, it gives the public the right to say whatever they choose. I just don’t see any possible logical scenario by which Mayor Thane is responsiible for anything said about her opponent.

    I’ve never met Mr. Emmanuel but I think he’s a big meanie who just wants to win so that he can sit in a big chair. He also wants to increase military presence in Amsterdam, enforce 9:00 curfews for everyone and take down all the traffic lights because they just slow up everyone’s day. Well, I don’t know if any of that is true, but I think it must be Mayor Thane’s responsibility to make sure that I don’t spread hurtful rumors like that.

    Thank you for your time. I found this to be an interesting read.

    • Ythan Lax,

      You are probably only reading what the media controlling Mayor is allowing you to see. The Official City of Amsterdam Facebook Page and the Amsterdancin’ website are “whitewashed” of any comments that are not favorable to Ann Thane.

      Since the Mayor has chosen this thread to extoll what she feels are her vast array of accomplishments, it is only fair that the readers have the option of seeing a contrasting opinion of her job performance.

      I have a synopsis of articles describing another opinion on my website.
      http://gskrocki.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/the-spin-doctor/

    • Tim Becker says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Ythan. In regards to #1, I would generally agree with you. However since Wills has said he will not run as independent, if he doesn’t win one of the two upcoming primaries, he won’t be on the general election ballot. So from a purely strategic standpoint, it would be understandable that if the other candidates were completely confident of their victory, that they would see no need to debate.

      As for #2, I would not agree that your analogies are accurate. Firstly, to my knowledge there is currently only one site that has ever co-opted the name of another candidate for an Amsterdam City office, not hundreds or even dozens. And the Mayor has said she knows who it is. That’s hardly the same situation as exists on the national level. If it were that bad (and hopefully the trend doesn’t go in that direction), then I think your point would be valid.

      Secondly, try this for an analogy – there is a promotion available at work, and the boss is going to make a choice between you and one other guy. Your friend at work thinks you should get it so he starts sending out anonymous emails to the boss that trash the other guy. The boss (ie the voters) starts to look at you suspiciously thinking that you are responsible. Wouldn’t it be in your best interest to tell your friend to knock it off?

  12. Bob Stern says:

    Although I don’t live in Amsterdam my elderly mother does and i have to comment about the mayoral candidates web presence since i believe it is relevant to running the city. A few years ago, the water main near my mother’s house was being worked on and resulted in her water being shut off ino the evening. I attempted to find a phone number online to help her find out what was going on and was shocked to find no web page for the city and only a list of city council phone numbers. I called Mr. Isabel’s number only to get his mother, who was gracious but seriously? In the 2000s no website, no listing of after hours contacts, no promotion of the city? If mayor thane’s only accomplishment was to bring Amsterdam government kicking and screaming into the 21st century she deserves re-election. Candidates with disdain for the internet? I pity their constituents if they take office.

  13. diane says:

    Mr. Stern and Mr. Lax,

    I can tell you first hand that if anything negative or critical in the least is posted it is removed from the mayor’s web page. The same was true when comments were allowed on the city’s facebook page, unless it was complimentary it was not posted. The mayor accepts no criticism of anything in print.

    Secondly, the mayor cannot afford to debate Mr. Wills, because, in mine and many other’s minds she will not win. When on the radio almost weekly now she is handed fluff ball questions, nothing of any extreme importance. While she takes copius notes, she cannot answer many basic questions.

    Thirdly, it took almost 18 months to get a website up and running and at what I and others consider a rather high fee. Secondly it has had many mistakes at various times and takes many more months to make corrections. The website is not geared toward the residents of the city that are paying for it thru taxes, but it is used as a marketing tool. First and foremost it should accomodate the taxpayers that are paying for it. I do not think for a moment there is any disdain for the internet, only the way it is being used by the administration, Mayor Thane. (initially it was covered thru some grants, now is paid for by tax dollars) During the last elections four years ago, all four mayoral candidates agreed that a web precense was of great importance and would have happened whether she was elected or not.

    Finally many things that the mayor is taking credit for, are projects that were started 10-15 years ago in previous administrations and were winding their way thru the state systems waiting for grant funding etc. She is taking way more credit than she is due for things that just happened to have run their course and were finally “awarded”. Just the way things are in a very bureucratic state.

    • Tim Becker says:

      Diane and Jerry, I am guessing that Ythan was probably referring to the Mayor’s personal Facebook page. Folks, the moderation of the city Facebook page was discussed ad nauseum on the Venner Vox, let’s not keep rehashing that issue here please, ok?

  14. […] page and an election campaign website wdwills.com.  He has already addressed some issue on Tim Becker’s Pars Nova website.  Bill was criticized by both Bethany Schumann-McGhee and Mayor Ann Thane about his motives for […]

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