Thoughts on 3rd Ward Alderman Race

Posted: September 8, 2013 in Elections
Tags: , , , ,

thirdwardThere’s a primary coming up this Tuesday for the Republican candidate for 3rd Ward Alderman. Running are Anthony Leggerio and Ron Barone. As is usual with our local elections, I’m searching high and low for an actual platform, rather than rhetoric for either of these candidates.

The Recorder ran an article on the candidates on September 3rd, 2013 from which I gleaned a few scraps of information.

I had to laugh because “high taxes” is the very first thing mentioned for both candidates – (Flippin called it). So both candidates are obviously concerned about it, as are we all.

So what are their ideas to lower taxes? ………………………………………………………………………  Buehler?   Other than the standard catch phrases all politicians use, I found no actionable plans put forth for either of them.

Barone has served for many years  as 3rd Ward Montgomery County Supervisor and currently serves on the AIDA board. So he’s got a long track record of government experience. While nothing especially stands out to me about his record, he strikes me as a pragmatic person, the most recent example of which is how he is trying to handle the current mural preservation controversy in a diplomatic fashion.

Leggerio is currently a DPW foreman and has worked for the city for 25 years. He has also previously served on the GASD Board of Education. My impression of Leggerio comes mostly from his outspoken comments on blogs and on Facebook and such. And from that I know he clearly has a long-standing grudge with Mayor Ann Thane. Several years ago he boycotted a veteran’s event citing Mayor Thane’s attendance as a reason. Every other post on his FB page seems directed at the Mayor personally. This might be a strategy, but to me it comes across as borderline obsessive.

Leggerio also cites his service in Air Force. I have tremendous respect for those who serve in the armed forces. However when someone scans their certificates of merit and posts them in a photo album titled “Pull Head Out Of Ass Ann” (and creates similarly themed captions for every single photo) that causes some concern for me.

I want someone on the Common Council who can constructively challenge the Mayor when needed. But I also want a council that respects each other and is functional.

Looking ahead to the general election, we have Debra Baranello running on the Democratic line. I like the positive approach that Debra takes on her FB page. I also know that she tends to support the Mayor’s vision. But again, I’m still searching for some specific ideas or initiatives she will bring to the council. I’m also wondering how she would handle taking a position that opposed that of the Mayor.

So based on my impressions, I would say  if elected, Barone would “get along” with the Mayor, Leggerio would “fight with” the Mayor, Baranello would “support” the Mayor.

What’s your take? Put it in the comments section. And as they say up north, remember to keep your stick on the ice!

Voting times and locations can be found here.

Update 9/9: Well obviously Ron’s off to bad start as far a getting along with Mayor. However, I would still maintain he would get along with her better than Tony.

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Comments
  1. Ann M. Thane says:

    If one is looking for an indication as to how closely Ron is going to work with me, look no further than Main Street. AIDA is going to cover up the mural downtown without further discussion or care.

    I’ve repeatedly asked to get into that building to put together a fundraising and marketing plan. Ron out and out lied to the Recorder and said he hadn’t heard of my desire to visit the building with a team.

    Their “marketing plan” seems to be giving the building over to a realtor buddy to promote, an individual that seems to have no interest in our heritage or the possibilities this unique space offers. There has been no expressed attention to our comprehensive plan or vision for downtown development, and the AIDA Board never extended the courtesy of a reply to over six requests in writing from my office to do a walkthrough with a team of interested, connected folks. It sickens me that there is no respect shown to my office or our community’s heritage.

    Shortsighted is the word of the day.

    They are going to rent out spaces, but instead of marketing from the start and building out to suit, they have built spaces out generically and are just starting to look for tenants. So, if they are indeed looking for a restaurant for the first floor, they have already sheetrocked and put up false walls in an odd configuration that may not well suit that purpose. PLUS, I’ve had two restauranteurs interested in the space that have not been responded to, especially Amsterdam’s own Danny Petrosino, that has the most fabulous restaurant in Saratoga now (Mio Posto, you should give it a try) because he got tired of waiting for AIDA to get back to him.

    The space on that third floor is fantastic for a single Gen X’r residence or office.

    I have always promoted and pursued the comprehensive plan. I’ve worked for years at downtown revitalization and historic preservation. I see no visionary action or willingness to work collaboratively. We should be alarmed, because just as AIDA has no plan for their building, they have no strategic plan for their organization (even though, again, I’ve been asking for years for one.)

    As you note, Ron has no concrete platform to address this city’s needs (indeed, one wonder if he’s even identified areas of concern beyond cutting taxes – hey, how’d he do with that at the County level? How’s their budget now?), he cannot point to specific successes beyond spending out AIDA’s coffers and acting irresponsibly in his position as County Supervisor (can anyone tell me WHY he would have voted against dissolution of the MC Health Insurance Trust – a move that saves us hundreds of thousands of city and county taxpayer dollars a year? Oh yeah, vacation and lunch buddy/AIDA member Pat Baia lost out on quite a bit of cash. Hmmmm.)

    If anyone thinks Ron is going to “get along” with my administration, it’s time to take off the blinders. “Voice of the people.” More like a wince.

    • Rob Millan says:

      I’m glad someone is finally putting AIDA to the test. I had mixed feelings about their hiring an outside guy to do their marketing for the ‘mural’ property. I thought it was a good idea and then I read that it turns out the guy is a friend of an AIDA member or two. Shocker? Hardly.

      And I really thought AIDA was supposed to do the marketing for these roperties. Why did they need to find a friend to do this for them, and at a cost no less?

  2. Debra Baranello says:

    Tim,

    Thank you for the post covering the upcoming election for our ward. I think it’s great you’ve highlighted the general idea of everyone’s campaign in this race.

    About me and my desire to represent the people of the Third Ward: I decided to run for Alderman because I could no longer sit on the sidelines watching year after year all the recent progress Amsterdam has made and not want to be an integral part of the momentum.

    I feel my ideas are innovative and that they play right into my actions with the city, from litter clean up and other beautification projects to being a vocal proponent of code enforcement, which I feel has gone far by the wayside over the years. I’ve invested countless time, effort, and money here in Amsterdam, and I feel the time to share that investment with others is now.

    Taxes? We all want lower taxes. The questions are ‘how?’ and at what cost? It’s easy as a candidate looking for votes to say you want to lower taxes, but tougher to actually do it if and when elected. It’s not that simple; you need to work together with others to achieve a compromise that involves negotiating with businesses to bring and keep them here. So what’s the plan?

    Jobs:

    Working closer with AIDA to bring commerce and light industry to Amsterdam to set up shop. There currently exists a small but growing gap to be filled for start-ups, including the technology, consulting, and even finance sectors. Let’s fill it! After all, taxes wouldn’t be so high if we had more people paying into the pot.

    To that end, I feel that AIDA has really lost its way. People should be reminded that this organization is charged only with bringing in and developing business in Amsterdam and prime it for job creation. Where has that happened? Where are the new businesses? Where are the jobs? All I see around are businesses that have been here for years and others that are leaving. Where do we replace those that have left and add more to make up for the loss? We need an AIDA that is actually put to the task of fulfilling its organizational mission and to get and retain jobs here in our City.

    Plan:

    1. Of course- job creation. We’ll pull AIDA closer to the city since many people find them to be too distant from and only in the news when and if it involves any attempt to shy away from preserving part of the city’s history. Incidentally, one of the candidates for the Republican ticket was an AIDA board member and is now its chairman. I’d like to discuss that in more detail once we get passed the primaries this Tuesday.

    2. Yes, code enforcement! I’d like to propose a plan that would require enforcement officers to bring the city a defined number per week, set by the Council, to be brought before City Court for prosecution. If other municipalities can have beautiful streets, neighborhoods, and homes, so can we. It’s about more than being a guard dog- it’s about preserving the city while keeping property values steady so they don’t decline due to a landlord’s negligence and ignorance of local law.

    I’ve always made myself available to the needs of the Third Ward as well as the rest of the city and will continue to do so. I ask for the vote for Third Ward Alderman to see that the progress and vitalization the city is poised to experience do just that and even more.

    Sincerely,

    Debra Baranello

  3. Kim says:

    I will begin by saying I can’t vote for either Primary candidate. However, I have read alot of Leggerio’s comments on blogs and social media and almost find him refreshing. He really doesn’t care to be “politically correct” and doesn’t care who is offended by his thoughts and comments. There is something to be said for such honesty, whether you agree with him or not.

    • Tim Becker says:

      I think it’s one thing to speak one’s mind without caring if someone is offended, it’s another thing to purposefully go out of one’s way to offend and disrespect someone.

      • diane says:

        When someone speaks out, it is usually about something that has happened. We are only privy to the comments posted here and elsewhere, but suffice it to say, something really got under Tony’s skin to spark the comments he has made and the fact he wants to see change in the city. I am not speaking for him, but something has precipitated all of this 🙂

      • Tim Becker says:

        I have no doubt that something got under Tony’s skin. He may even have a justifiable grievance against the Mayor. That doesn’t excuse “Get head out of ass, Ann” repeated a dozen times.

  4. Kim says:

    Good point, Tim. He just strikes me as someone who is completely honest and stands alone instead of behind party lines. I could be wrong but that’s my perception. I don’t know him personally so I could be way off mark.

  5. Rob Millan says:

    This is of course notwithstanding any conflict of interest Anthony Leggiero’s presence on the Common Council would be with his father Richard sitting as the Fifth Ward alderman and with his being an employee of the city. I’d be more concerned with the latter than anything.

  6. ROGO says:

    Does anyone care that if you look at city budget (under debt) that the mayor has borrowed $22.677 million dollars (bans and loans) since she has got in office, and maybe Mr Barone may stop this borrowing. Mrs Baranello will just be a rubber stamp to borrow more money. Is anyone thinking we may have to pay this back, unlike this year when the $3.2 million due on 8/8/2013 was, as the mayor said “we rolled it over.” Sooner or later you have to pay the piper. Maybe when the state audit comes out more people will realize this. Vote Ron Barone (and yes he is a friend of mine just as Mrs. Baranello is a friend of the Mayor. Again vote for Ron Barone

    • Rob Millan says:

      Rogo, first, ‘The BANS were rolled over, Rogo. We didn’t pay $3.2M on August 7th,’ said the Mayor on her blog response to you, which also addressed the sharp jump in popularity Shuttleworth and Riverlink, both of which have been heavily promoted by Thane. That’s serious money, which we should all hope continues.

      Second, Mr. Barone cannot singularly stop anything. That’s why we have a democratic form of government after all.

      If you’re going to call a Democrat contender for the 3rd Ward alderman a ‘rubber stamp’, then I think it’s only fair to call Mr. Barone a ‘rubber stamp’ for defeated ex-part-time-mayor Joe Emanuele, who- as County Republican Chair- has made it very clear he wants his candidates to do nothing but be a polar opposite of anything Thane does or wants. That’s hardly a move in the forward direction, probably out of a personal vendetta for her.

      Third, again with the debt issue that was evidently never an issue ever in the history of elected officials: it doesn’t matter on how much debt you have; if you continue to generate revenue, the debt is negligible, especially when you can manage finances to the point where spending remains flat while revenue jumps by leaps and bounds.

      • ROGO says:

        Rob
        One of 2 things you are not an accountant or 2 you don’t pay city taxes. shuttlworth and riverfront are paid by taxpayer money. I ask mayor how much they cost the tax payer and she doesn’t respond. What serious money are you talking about? as far as debt anybody can stay under 3% tax cap if they borrow14% a year.

      • Rob Millan says:

        Rogo,

        Nope. Not an accountant. And never claimed to be. But I know what loans and bonds are and how they work, municipal or not. I know you can’t float them as easily as Diane thinks you can.

        I also know that your argument about spending is unilaterally unfair if you don’t consider revenue growth.

        Having a well maintained municipality costs money, and that’s not even including any beautification projects you and others would prefer stop. Unfortunately, a very, very select minority in Amsterdam continue to scream bloody murder over ‘spending’ that without addressing revenue growth or alternatives to how money can be sourced more creatively.

        Further not surprising is candidate Diane’s incessant attempts to cry foul for spending that comes at the expense of a better city, one that’s in solid shape inside and out. I also challenge Diane to formulate at least one alternative revenue source for every spending cut she would prefer the City take.

        —- Edited out personal jab – c’mon guys you are doing good when you stick to the issues, just leave off the character judgments at the end – thanks —–

  7. diane says:

    Mr. Millan.

    I will quote you from the consultant that was hired by the city last December of 2012:

    Current debt along with pending BAN of $3.9 million will result in approximately $29 million in obligations. Too excessive for current revenue stream. In comparison, 2007 debt was $14 + million. Debt has more than doubled over 5 years. (the length of the mayor’s tenure, and that is my comment, not his.)

    It all has to be paid back!! The fact that the Bans were rolled over should indicate we do not have the money to pay it. We cannot continue to just roll things over !

    At the current time our city books of accounts cannot be balanced due to the fact that people were careless over the past 15 or so years. We have checking accounts that have not been balanced since 09. Our capital projects budgets appear to have never been recorded or balanced in forever in the controller’s office! There are too many other things that have gone on over time because the controller’s had no qualifications for the job at hand. They did not know what they were doing and apparently, based on this and previous audits I have just completed reading, just plugged numbers in any ole column they wanted. Incorrect papers were filed with the state, I could go on and on. And the debt issue, that IS now an issue, is because we had previous mayor’s that were not trying to spend every dime in every account. They also did not give out astronomical raises and contract increases when we have not had a balanced or audited budget in some 4-5 years, with even those numbers being questionable.

    And yes, the council is just as responsible as the mayor, because they support her at every turn, including passing a budget in May without having correct numbers. It has to stop or we will be bankrupt!!

    —— edited out personal jab – keep yer stick on the ice Diane! —————–

  8. Ann M. Thane says:

    Debt increased because it had been so long since critical purchases and projects were funded. Our fleet of vehicles and equipment were decades old, infrastructure was failing, deteriorating buildings falling down, a 500-year flood ravaged our city, and stagnation had settled solidly into this section of our valley. Putting off these purchases ultimately lead to more costs, as the price of these projects and items only increased over time.

    Diane, you cannot cut your way to prosperity or move this community forward without investment.

    Our Council supplied the resources needed for our departments to function responsibly and our projects, like Bridge Street reconstruction, water distribution upgrades, storm/sewer separations, or the Chalmers demoliton, to progress. Many of these projects were reimburseable through grants and are exempted from our debt limit and tax caps. Currently, we are at about 23% of our debt limit (7% of our full valuation is allowable.) This is a reasonable expense, given the extent of need we have in this community.

    Short-term borrowing allows us to pay our costs while we wait for reimbursements, thus retaining our good standing with vendors and contractors. Long-term debt is determined by the period of probable use associated with each purchase or project. “Rolling over” debt is commonly utilized when going from short-term bond anticipation notes to long-term bonds. Again, much of this bonding had been done in anticipation of reimbursement through grants and FEMA.

    The spending we have done has had a dramatic physical effect on our surroundings. Radical change is evident everywhere, the first really impactful change I’ve witnessed since moving here 30 years ago. I’m proud of the progress we’re making and will continue to push for much needed improvements across the board.

    I have been requesting accurate and timely reporting from the Controller’s office since 2009 (http://wildthane.wordpress.com/2009/06/27/no-good-is-good-news/) I wish you had supported my request for professional help those many years ago, Diane. Just think how much better off we may have been today.

    • diane says:

      Mayor, you have failed to read what I posted above to Mr. Millan, which is a direct quote from the consultant hired by the city last fall. Daryl Puritan very clearly states in his Dec 14, 2012 letter, “our current debt is too excessive for our current revenue stream “. How can you or any council member justify passing a budget when you had no firm numbers from the previous years in hand? Until there is a current revenue stream that can support the current debt already out there, this city and its’ budget committee have no business passing any more bonds. The continued spending must come to a halt until such time as there is progress on the accounts reconciliations and we know what we have or do not have in the bank. And as of today, that was not possible.

      • Rob Millan says:

        Diane,
        “[O]ur current debt is too excessive for our current revenue stream.”

        Why are you looking at just one part of that statement? The part that says “revenue is too much”, without also looking at the part that addresses “the current revenue stream?”

        Do you not think we could do something that? It’s unfair of you to address only debt and spending without addressing on how to counter that with innovative ways to grow revenue.

        Like I said: issues of debt could be rendered meaningless if we had more and more ways to grow revenue to the city.

  9. ROGO says:

    Mayor

    Does this mean you will provide all info on what the bans from last year are actually for????

    • wildthane says:

      All projects bonded for last year are stated in detail in the bond resolution. This has always been a transparent process.

      BTW, I don’t borrow on behalf of the city, the Budget Committee (Common Council) does.

  10. Tim Becker says:

    Ok I’m sitting on a couple comments just because they are re-hashing the same ideas and/or going off topic. I think everyone’s made their points, so I’m closing the comments. Thank you everyone!