Monday, September 5, 2011

Time for Action (Not Sound Bites) by the Common Council

I cannot comment on the charges against Mr. McGowan because he was once represented by the law firm which employs me, and the case is technically still pending. I can comment, however, on the general issue of what needs to be done to avoid something like this from ever happening again without reference specifically to Mr. McGowan.

Andi Turco-Levin has demanded that the Board of Ethics conduct an investigation. However, this is not permitted by the City Charter.

Under § C 49-2, the Board of Ethics only has the power to issue advisory opinions. Moreover, the Code of Ethics deals only with receipt of gifts, conflicts of interest, etc. It does not deal with incompetence in office. Thus, there is no point in even asking the Board of Ethics to get involved. It sounds great for a sound bite, but it actually has no teeth.

It is not the Board of Ethics which is responsible to the people to investigate the copper scandal or things of similar nature. It is the Common Council. Yet, not one member of the Council has asked the Council to review the matter. The only one talking is Andi Turco-Levin. Unfortunately, she is asking the Board of Ethics to review this and they have no legal authority to do so. It is a purely political stunt.

Instead of political sound bites, the Common Council needs to take rational steps to protect city taxpayers. Here is what actually needs to be done according to the City Charter.

Under § C 13-3(B), "The Council shall have the power to investigate the affairs of every department or agency of City Government and the official conduct of every officer and employee. The Council shall have access to all records kept by all City Officers, departments of agencies of city government."

Furthermore, under § C 13-3(D) , "All powers of the city shall be vested in the Common Council, except as otherwise provided by law or this Charter, and the Council shall provide for the exercise thereof and for the performance of all duties and obligations imposed on the city by law. The Common Council shall be responsible to the electorate for the efficient and economical management of city government. "

Still further, under §13-3(F), "The Common Council shall limit city officers from making contracts for the city and regulate the manner in which the same are made."

The Council needs to use its authority under the Charter to first examine all of the documents involved in the matter. Then, the Council should turn over all documents to the District Attorney's Office to allow them to complete any criminal investigations. Other than full cooperation with the District Attorney's Office, the Council should not involve themselves in a current criminal investigation. Politics have no place in a criminal investigation.

Second, the Council should pass a law pursuant to its authority under §13-3(F) of the City Charter requiring that all contracts dealing with city owned properties must be in writing and be available for review by the public via a FOIL request. Oral contracts in this area are unwise. If something goes wrong, the responsibilities of each side (particularly the city) must be clear and in writing.

If the Council does this, then there can be no questions concerning the scope of authority given to any particular contractor or individual working on city property in the future.

I therefore call upon the Common Council to take action and pass this law immediately.


Anonymous said...

You are right. There should be a requirement for all of these contracts to be in writing.

No more deals over drinks at the golf club.

Anonymous said...

Rich you should go public on this and call the council out! If this is the way the charter reads, then what the hell is the council waiting for? Furthermore, that said, I must say I dont have alot of faith with the DA's office under Carnwright.

Anonymous said...

The state police should be asked to come in and investigate. Or maybe the freeman needs to foil the amount of the copper that was stolen, Kellar has the info but wont say. That is outragious and we need to know the amount of our money that was generated by the sale of the copper and metal sold at junkyard.

Anonymous said...

10:57. Apparently you are not as well versed as Mr. Cahill is. The true question here is why isn't Levin, Hayes or Polloco exercising their authority as current council members to find out what happened here. Not to mention, allow this to happen in the first place.

Futher with respect to the DA's office, you must not be following the work this office is doing throughout the County. Mr. Carnright's administration has a 95% conviction rate throughout his 4 years in office. You should have your facts straight to avoid politics as usual.

Anonymous said...

a grand jury investigation should began ASAP this goes right to the top. Taxpayer money squandered , for personnel gain. Somebody but McGowan should go to jail.

Anonymous said...

First you offer no comment about your law firm representing said individual and then you comment that the case is still pending. Was it necessary to even mention any of that? That said individual is a client of your law firm is relevant, how? Second, do you really think the current members of Common Council are going to step up to the plate and pass legislation NOW on how contracts should be written? Most of them don't know what they are responsible for and what is written in the Charter. Case in point is Turco-Levin insisting that the copper dilemma be reviewed by the Ethics Board. Before that it was the school district investigation. We know that is already being done. All she has managed to do is get her name in the paper, pounding her chest on her soapbox and nothing she offers has any substance. It’s getting ridiculous.

Richard T. Cahill Jr. said...


First, it is relevant because I cannot comment on the charges against McGowan due to legal ethics.

Second, I did not comment immediately because I needed to determine what I could comment about pursuant to the rules of ethics. I also wanted to do some research on the matter so as to make an informed response, instead of a knee jerk reaction.

Third, I do not think the current Council will adopt my idea. Hopefully, the electorate will elect a new Council more willing to listen to reason and do the right thing.

I have offered another proposal that I believe will help the City of Kingston. I have offered more proposals than all of the other candidates combined. That is the type of campaign I have offered -- one of ideas and proposals.

Anonymous said...

Rich, I was putting together some notes for tomorrow's meeting and came across your post. You are right on with this one. The council does have the authority to approve all contracts and establish standards for which contracts (written or oral)are established. I don't recall signing that right away. Who in their right mind would allow the mayor to enter into an agreement - for which there is no indemnification or hold harmless agreement, a standard contractual arrangement??
I have some questions that I would like answered about this case. What was the criteria the mayor used to determine that this contractor was qualified; was the process opened to all contractors in the city? Were there any rules of procurement followed - verbal or written quotes etc. How many employees were on the jobsite? Did the contractor pay proper insurances for these employees such as unemployment and workman's comp or is he claiming these employees were subcontractors? Were these employees or subcontractors specially trained and certified in the use and handing of asbestos removal? Is it reasonable to think that $4000 is the standard rate for the scope of this job which according to the Freeman involved multiple people over several days? Was the collection of appliances and metal doors to be used as supplemental payment for services rendered under this oral contract? What employees from the city had any knowledge of activities at this site or visited during the time this work was being conducted?
I am deeply offended by this entire debacle and have to take some responsibility as a member of the Common Council. Moreover, I am very concerned about what our financial exposure is going to be if there is also asbestos related claims. Finally, if somebody from our administration at any level knew about the asbestos at this site becoming friable and knowingly put our neighborhood and members of the National Guard who will be doing demolition at this site at risk they should be terminated from employment and face the full force of any legal consequences for malfeasance.
I missed the last Finance meeting when the additional request for funds was discussed, but that is no excuse.
Jen Fuentes

Anonymous said...

Hear,hear Jen Fuentes! I am hoping Ms. Fuentes is vocal about this matter at the next meeting and publically over this disgraceful activity that happened at KingsInn. Assistant Superintendent Ed Boyle was at the site several times during the day along with Gerry schatzel a retired city detective that was hired along with McGowan. I agree with Jen, any city employee that had knowledge and visited site while activity was going on should be terminated! Lets keep in mind that Jim Sottile plows snow for the Mcgowan family in the winter and is paid to do so on the side... Rich keep researching and and posting you are doing good!

Bill Berardi said...

Who got paid $ 100,00 so far?

Who will get paid the $ 135,000 to borrow?

Where is the contract for asbestos removal?

Where is the contract with the NY National Guard?

Anonymous said...

Wait one miute..Sottile PLOWS FOR THE MCGOWAN FAMILY AS AN EMPLOYEE IN THE WINTER? If that is so, he is way out of line in having hired the McGowan family for ANY contract whatosever. He needs to be impeached and thrown out of office immediately.

Anonymous said...

8:44 If you have evidence that Ed Boyle was there on City time step up to the plate and prove it.

Ed Boyle was never there and you cannot prove it. The only City employees there were wearing white shirts and had badges. Sounds like firemen not Boyle. I have seen him work and he dresses like a slob.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to the contracts though, is the Mayor exempt from following rules or aren’t there any in that exalted position? What document would be attached to the voucher for payment of services if this was an oral agreement? Does it matter if said project is under $5,000 or $10,000? Kudos to you though for pointing out the sections of the Charter where the Council's responsibilities are clearly defined. You did your homework and get a passing grade in that assignment.

Anonymous said...

2;38, You are right Boyle does dress like a slob. So much for an assistent superintendent setting the example to lesser employees that are held to dress code, huh? Fact is, MORE THAN ONE city employee saw Ed Boyle at Kingsinn site. He was over there checking on the city rolloffs that were being filled with debris and articles and (piping) coming out of the site. Most employees know that Boyle doesnt play fair, so why would any employee come forward when little Eddy Boyle gives out assignments? However, if you go to the surveillance tape at DPW you will find him swiping a weed whacker that he was caught on tape stealing too. He only came forward with the weedwhacker AFTER survellance video was reviewed, and AFTER the dept was searching for several days as to where the tool was! So if he is saying he wasnt at Kingsinn, then he is fibbing again just like he fibbed about "borrowing" the weedwhacker. No credibility!

Anonymous said...

I agree, Ed Boyle does dress like a SLOB! The guy is a boss, it is a disgrace the way he comes to work.

Ed Boyle was one of the employees that was part of the sexual harrassment case that was high profile a couple of years ago. His name never made the paper, but he was definetly charged. Boyle was a sidekick of Steve Gosline and worked after hours with him on sidejobs. How do you think Ed Boyle became a boss so fast? Schupp keeps Boyle close because Schupp is clueless and Boyle is a bit of a workaholic. Some people drink too much, some do drugs, but Eddy is obsessed with work and does so at the expense of the taxpayer by coming for overtime WHENEVER any other employee comes in wether he is needed or not. Dont believe me? Check out how much O.T. Boyle has racked up by now, at least 15-20K. Why does he need to come in when foreman are already on sight? Why does the taxpayer have to pay him in addition to the workers that are on call EVERYTIME? HE IS FLEECING THE CITY AND IS DOING WHAT GIVES PUBLIC EMPLOYEES A BAD NAME...PADDING HIS EARNINGS, SO HE CAN RETIRE WITH A BIG RETIREMENT. No other employee does so other than the mayor's neighbor Allen Winchell. Thats why they are so cozy with each other!

Anonymous said...

As a lawyer what are the chances that the people who did the work at the Kings Inn and were not given masks and breathed in asbestos dusk winning a lawsuit against the City? also I here one person got injured at the sight and is now sueing the city any truth to the rumor? and how much could this cost us the taxpayers?. is the mayor legally responsible for any of this mess?.

Anonymous said...

Now a lawsuit has been filed by a worker of the contractor against the City.

Anonymous said...

If this is true about the employee Ed Boyle he should be investigated. I dont want my tax dollars going home with Boyle when he 'borrows" our weedwhacker or any of city owned tools. What makes his behavior not only criminal but makes it shameful because he is a supervisor! Is this the so called "improvement" that DPW chief Schupp would have us believe he is carrying out at DPW? Furthermore, if Boyle was at the Kings Inn and saw our copper and the asbestos being disturbed why didnt he speak up? The common council need to have more oversight regarding the overtime that is being "worked" within schupp's department as well.

Anonymous said...

Mr. McGowan will be successfully suing the Mayor and City & Fire Dept for false arrest and defamation of character. Will your firm represent him Rich?

Richard T. Cahill Jr. said...


Any decisions on whether the firm represents someone is made by the four full partners. As an associate, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on your question.