Thursday, November 17, 2011

corruption scheme

register star article on the stuyvesant budget

2012 Amount To Be Raised By Taxes: $376,953    

That will pay for a lot of lawyers. 

Is it 3% or 8%? I heard 8.5% at the meeting. Martin, do we have audio or was I hearing things?

Dog park? Yes, $72,000 could have paid for a dog park. I think the paper meant dog bark, not park. Funny that a bark costs more than a park, I could see how you might get that wrong.

What does the budget look like with all the numbers in there? The public will never see that budget? That's how I understand the quote below. Or are the figures in the budget now and that budget is available somewhere? Anyone seen it? Or will the public comments be closed with the numbers still not in there? 

If I were on the board, I would make sure this was all clear before I voted, if only to protect my own reputation. 

Jamison brought up the $72,491.59 payable to outside attorney, Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna, LLP...

Bertram responded by saying that although the cost, “is a reality,” the Board decided “not to put it in there (the 2012 budget.)”

According to Bertram, “on the date agreed upon to finish the public hearing, all the numbers will be plugged in,” for a finalized budget. Bertram added that the town will vote on the finalized budget after the allotted time for the public hearing has been closed.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What's up with the attorney line in the budget?

There are a lot of questions about the 2011/2012 Stuyvesant budget.

Here is one question about the 2011 figures: Why the games with attorney fees?

Before we start, I have to make this clear: all expenses to deal with me up to now, the money spent by the town to date, in 2011, have been related entirely to their campaign against me in town court, at the town zoning board and at the town planning board.

NONE of the actions in the budget now and NONE of the money spent prior to October 26, 2011 were spent on actions which I initiated. THEY initiated all the actions and spent $100,000 based on their choice to hire a special prosecutor. The federal lawsuit has been covered by insurance up to now.

Now, I have sued the town, naturally. My article 78 is unlikely to be covered by insurance, unlike my federal civil right suit filed in March. Anyone in my shoes would have to sue them. They forced me to sue them.

In 2012, yes, they will have a lot of legal expenses based on suits that I filed against them. So, there will be legal expenses in 2012, just like in 2011. The 2011 expenses are from them hitting me and the 2012 expenses are from me hitting back.

Clear? 2011: them hitting me, 2012: me hitting them. Now, on to the budget... Note, they hit first. I'm exercising my right to self defense.

The town spent $90,000-100,000 on a special prosecutor for me in 2011, David R. Everett of Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna. Those funds are mostly not in the 2011 budget.

The year is almost over. The money has already been spent. About half of the fees paid are actually in the budget, about $50,000 of the $100,00 spent.

Half the funds are not in the budget. The budget shows $95,000 in the bank. Does that mean the town really has $45,000 in the bank? Or where is the other $50,000 coming from? Or does the town owe David R. Everett and Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna another $50,000 and will pay out of the $95,000 that's still in the bank?

When the fees to the special prosecutor are in the budget, the funds are listed under the zoning and planning, not in the "town attorney" line. When David R. Everett of Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna works on my case, his fees are applied to zoning and planning.

Here are the potential problems with the way the money is listed: 1) some of the money was spent in criminal court, not zoning or planning; 2) when Tal Rappleyea worked on the same issues, his fees were applied to the town attorney line.

In short, the listing of the expenses as entirely in zoning and planning, pretending that criminal court never happened, is a flat out lie. Listing these expenses as zoning and planning is not how the town usually handles the same kinds of bills in the past.

Why would the town do this? Here I have to speculate: 1) not to raise any red flags at the comptroller's office (a 450% increase in actual expenses in November 2011 over projected budget in January 2011 in the attorney line might trigger an automatic audit); 2) the town attorney's fee was set at $125 an hour in January at the organizational meeting, but David R. Everett of Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna was paid at a much higher rate and the town never amended the pay schedule set at the beginning of the year.

Now, let's take a look at the 2012 figures, again concentrating on the attorney line. The proposed 2012 budget does not include any increase in town attorney expenses over the anticipated expenses of January 2011. Say what? Do they plan to fight at least 2 lawsuits with the same $30,000 they budgeted in 2011?

No. They will have $100,000 or more in additional legal expenses in 2012. As noted, it isn't clear how much carry over there is to handle these additional fees. They have $95,000 in the bank? Or $45,000? How can you cover perhaps $150,000 in fees with $45,000?

Why not raise the attorney line and put in the actual fees? Well, next year, they can legitimately claim to have been sued. When the comptroller comes and says, "Why so much increase?" they can say, "We were sued!" But that won't explain 1) why the expenses in 2011 before the suit and 2) why they didn't increase the budget in 2012 when the first suit (and there will be many) was already filed in October before the budget was made?

So, how much did the town spend on David R. Everett and Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna in 2011? Can't tell by looking at the budget. How much does the town expect to spend defending suits as a result of the stupid decision to hire David R. Everett of Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna? Can't tell by looking at the budget.

Is this even a budget? Looks like an exercise in creative accounting to me. If I was on the board, I would in no way vote for this possibly fraudulent document.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

at least 8% increase


NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a public hearing will be held before the Town Board for the Town of Stuyvesant at the Stuyvesant Town Hall on the 19th day of November 2011, at 10:00 a.m., regarding the adoption of a Local Law to Override the Tax Levy Limit established in General Municipal Law §3-c. This law is being proposed to comply with subdivision 5 of the General Municipal Law §3-c which expressly authorizes the Town Board to override the tax levy limit by the adoption of a local law approved by vote of at least sixty percent (60%) of the Town Board. At such time and place all persons interested in the subject matter thereof will be heard concerning the same.
Copies of the proposed law shall be available at the time of the hearing and shall be available at times prior to and after the hearing at the Town Clerk’s Office during normal business hours for the purpo! se of inspection or procurement by interested persons.
The proposed Local Law to Override the Tax Levy Limit Established in General Municipal Law §3-c establishes the Stuyvesant Town Board’s intent to override the limit on the amount of real property taxes that may be levied by the Town of Stuyvesant.
Melissa Naegeli, Town Clerk
Town of Stuyvesant
Dated: November 11, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011


Dear Town Board, 

At last night at the meeting, public comments were not closed on the budget hearing. Here are my comments.

The theme of this criticism, my opinion as a taxpayer, of the 2012 budget is lack of consideration of cuts and savings through consolidation and too much reliance on tax increases. The proposed 8% increase is likely to only be the first of many increases on an already ridiculous amount of property taxes we pay. The supervisor herself said that if all the costs that really exist, and if the town were not draining the reserves, the increase would be much higher. 

The justice department costs the town about $30,000. This could be outsourced to another town. This might save as much as $20,000.

We have lighting districts. There is no evidence that street lights improve safety on rural roads. Turn the lights off would save $18,000.

The assessors office could be outsourced or consolidated with other towns, as has been recommended by study after study for decades. Not only would this save money, it would likely produce better and fairer assessment. Savings: at least $20,000 after the first year.

Part of all of the highway department could be outsourced. A town of 2000 people with 25 miles of roads should not have a highway department. It’s inefficient. Savings? Who knows? Many a hundred thousand, maybe more, per year.

In the short term, the problem are lawsuits and legal expenses. I am the guy suing the town. If you have mediation, as I proposed a year ago, you might have avoided all these fees. 

Next, instead of the town getting involved in neighbor to neighbor disputes, the town should tell people who complain about their neighbors to sue their neighbors in court and leave the town out of it. It's called a Nuisance Use lawsuit. Make it policy to recommend it to people who complain.

Zoning Control Officer/Building Code Enforcement: again, outsource. The few building inspections could be covered on a fee per inspection or fee per enforcement action that would likely save the town $15,000 in expenses (salary and benefits) and hundreds of thousands in legal costs due to liability because the current town employee has a habit of stirring up trouble. 

After the town gets rid of all these inefficient functions, what would be left for the town to do? Stuff that is not happening now: grow small business with services and support, support agriculture with services and support, improve the agro-tourism infrastructure with trails and services, improve education with tutoring and classes for adults and kids. Most of this would be paid for by grants, small fees (sliding scale/voluntary) and fundraising. All of these things would be investments that would increase the tax base and property values and essentially be revenue neutral.

The cuts proposed here would be from 150,000 to 400,000, as much as 33% of the current budget, allowing for a cross the board tax cut of 25% over two years while simultaneous increasing the tax base, improving services to residents, protecting open space and creating a better place to live, raise a family and invest.

Thank you for consideration of this statement on the budget.

Will Pflaum
Stuyvesant Falls, NY 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

the sheep ratted me out

I think this cartoon explains it. 

But my own dog did not rat me out. It was a sheep. 

The man came over telling the sheep, "Imagine a world with no dog... now sign here."

Dave Everett saw the affidavit, got all sheepish, "No good. What about Will's donkey, was it braying?"

"Why, Dave, does Suyvesant's annoying noise law apply to jackasses?"

"Yes, but you'll need a special prosecutor who specializes in ass."

"You're hired! Break out the executive session."

audio from tonight's meeting

About transcribing tapes and audio.

And here is the budget hearing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Woofergate update: missing paperwork

I filed a lawsuit on the 26th. They wrote me a ticket on the 30th which could lead to 15 days in jail. False charge.

My lawyer wrote to the special prosecutor on November 1. On November 9, tonight, I show up in court and no paperwork seems to exist. No explanation. No one from the town showed up at all. No Tal, no special prosecutor, no officer.

Lawsuit filed, retaliation with ticket, tapes destroyed, paperwork missing in court, $80,000 budget hole, two news stories about the same thing, an election-- all in one week.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Ron Knott and company won... congrats.

In the meantime, other breaking news in Stuyvesant: the Town Clerk, Melissa Naegeli reported that the town destroyed evidence that pertains to two lawsuits.

As you can read in that email exchange (linked above), I don't think the town routinely makes transcripts of tapes and then destroys the tapes. I believe that the tapes existed as late as last month. They tapes were destroyed to conceal the truth.

There is nothing routine about this.

I want the tapes to exist and be public. Why? I have nothing to hide and I'm not lying.

Tal Rappleyea, Ron Knott, David R. Everett of Whiteman Osterman and Hanna, Gerry Ennis and the rest want the tapes to cease to exist. Why? They are afraid of the truth.

Tal Rappleyea is guilty of various crimes that have to do with the tapes. He lied about what happened in that Planning Board meeting in this letter. Very convenient for Tal that the tapes ceased to exist, don't you think?

Convenient, but dangerous.

You will note that Rappleyea threatens to sue me if I say he is guilty of crimes. Well, I say he is guilty. My defense? It's true. Let's settle this by listening to the tape... oh, they got destroyed.

Criminal violations:

What is Tal Rappleyea guilty of? He submitted a request for payment when I was an applicant before the Planning Board, claiming to have preformed services that were not in fact preformed and coercing payment.

By demanding payment as a public official for services, fees which applicant was in no way obligated to pay even if the services had in fact been rendered, Rappleyea engaged in official misconduct.

Rappleyea received $10,000 in 2009 and other additional funds in 2010 with no paperwork, invoices, vouchers, or contracts to justify these appropriations of funds. Rappleyea and Bertram have noted different explanations for these discrepancies at different times, none of which are consistent with the invoices themselves.

That's what the missing tapes are about.

Other matters relating to these tapes:

Gerry Ennis, Tal Rappleyea and David Everett all claim that I made some sort of misleading statements about by business when I was explaining what I did at that hearing. I deny it.

Election Day in Stuyvesant

When your position is indefensible, you don't defend it. That has been the Republican strategy in this election. Ron Knott and the Republicans refused to debate. They sent out fliers full of nonsense. Ron Knott lied to the Register Star.

The town, under Ron Knott's leadership, spent probably $100,000 to prosecute and close down a small business because they didn't like the guy who owned it. Now they have two lawsuits are are $100,000 in the red.

The town has spent $100,000 and will certainly spend much more over the next year. Nothing will change about how I run my business. I never stopped criticizing or, now, suing this town. The campaign achieved nothing. The business is still open and they still don't like that guy, me.

How do you defend what they did? You don't. You run a whisper campaign. You lie. You gin up "us versus them" sentiment.

The Republican strategy may work: this is a very Republican town. Oh well.

If the harassment and unconstitutional abuse of power continue, the suits will keep coming, the blog will keep coming, the dog signs will go back up.

Luckily, the founding fathers of this country, like James Madision, understood factional rule.

James Madison in Federalist Paper 10 wrote, “a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction.”

“By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”

To allow the Town to act as it has done and continues to do would suggest that populism outweighs fundamental law in the United States.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

castro figured it out... now, hello, Stuyvesant?

“The state has no business getting involved in a matter between two individuals.” — Raul Castro

Well, the communist party of Cuba figured that out. Now, just waiting for the government of the town of Stuyvesant to figure it out.

Figure this out: butt out. When people start yelling across a fence, don't take sides.

Instead of wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on special prosecutors, why not  tell anyone complaining about their neighbor to do one of these:

Note: "Odor and noise from a dog kennel"
There is precedent for this kind of suit. 

Someone complains? Tell them to go to mediation.

They refuse? Tell them to file a nuisance law suit.

Let the neighbor deal with it themselves. Let them pay for it if they think they have a good case.

Have the town butt the hell out.

That's what Communists do these days. But here in Stuyvesant, the wall is still up. Big Brother meddling in private matters between neighbors.

Big Brother is too expensive for a Small Town. 

on loud

Here is an essay on what loud means.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

radio interview

Thanks, WGXC.

more than the figures in the paper

By the way, in addition to the numbers in the paper, the town spent on Tal Rappleyea about another $10,000 to harass me and the numbers for Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna do not include October or their response to my article 78.

that's better, a good article

This is real journalism. Nice. The article is simple neutral and accurate.  That's all I want.

Now, forget the paper. Let's look at Ron Knot, candidate for supervisor.

I proposed with mediation (and wrote to Common Ground and asked them to come speak), compromise (my application to the Planning Board to add voluntary conditions to my permit), and concern for other (the more than $5000 I spent on sound proofing) before my permit was revoked.

I have now filed two lawsuits. They are only asking for fairness that could have been achieved here in town. They certainly can be settled with little fuss and expense.

Election in 7 days. It's not to late to change course and be reasonable.

Here is a quote from the paper:

Knott said, and explained that as Pflaum’s business grew (not true and how would he know?) and “neighbors complained (after the zoning officer went to them and asked them to complaint 4 months after he revoked the permit), we as a Town Board had to respond. All we’ve been asking is for him to comply with zoning,” Knott said. (although he didn't violate any provision of the zoning and the town board has no role in the process so this "we" is kind of illegal)

Total bull. Here are the "findings" the town spent $80,000 to produce. Does this sound like they are giving me a fair chance to run my business without a ridiculous amount of interference? Does this sound like David Everett of Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna was fair?

Read it for yourself.

Did I work for mediation or not? Yes, I did. I wanted a town-wide policy of professional mediation services through Common Ground services for all neighbor-to-neighbor complaints. I was not against participating in such a process myself but I wanted it to be a town policy first.

Here is Ron Knot at the February town board meeting. Here Ron thinks zoning and planning board hearings ARE mediation. They are not. They are enforcement, which won't work. I called for a different process.

Here is my letter read by Valerie Bertram. Audio.

Here is the letter I wrote that Ron was responding to.

Here is the blog entry I wrote at the time.

Ron Knott is lying. If not, refute any of these statements:

1) Ron says "the neighbors complained." That's not even true. No one submitted a complaint in writing prior to the revocation of the permit. The only people who complained prior to the revocation are Mary Kline and Patty Yerick. Kline lives 1700 feet away and the zoning officer solicited the complaint from her.

2) Ron says my business grew. How would he know? The complaining neighbors said the problem started in Fall 2009. That makes zero sense. In Summer 2009 when they wrote this letter, I had more dogs than in Fall 2009. I had more dogs in 2007 than in 2009. What a lot of horse rubbish.

3) Ron says I violated some kind of zoning ordinance. Which one? Specifically, what did I violate? The "findings" the town paid $80,000 to produce don't even allege that I violated any rule.

So, therefore, Ron is lying. Isn't he?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

the dog ate my budget! then he went on my computer and pissed on my spreadsheets! then he logged into my email account and sent out this email asking to hire a special prosecutor in a dog barking complaint in secret executive session! honest teacher, it was the dog!

Here is the Register Star piece on my conflict with the town.

Here is more about the coming dog tax in Stuyvesant.

You know how in China after they execute you they send a bill to your family for the bullet? That's what the Register Star is doing in today's article.

The town spent $100K to harass me and now they are blaming me for the expense. Outrageous.

My fault the town spent the money? Only if you are retarded.

Wow, it's the worst article they could have written. This is so stupid its hard to know where to begin. The legal fees TO DATE are for process in TOWN HALL that the government had complete control over.

The money was paid to Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna, not to Burke, Scolamiero, Mortati & Hurd. Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna has not responded to ANY LAWSUIT.

 Burke, Scolamiero, Mortati & Hurd has responded to a lawsuit but they ARE PAID BY THE INSURANCE POLICY.

 Is the Register Star awake?

To what law firm and in what venue? How can you screw something that fundamental up accidentally?

The fees below are only for municipal actions, within Stuyvesant jurisdiction. These numbers do not include fees for representation in courts outside of the Town of Stuyvesant (State and Federal).

Tal Rappleyea for work on Glencadia matter:
August 2010 = 1562.50
September 2010 = 437.50
October 2010 = 937.50
 November 2010 = 1406.25
 December 2010 = 875
January 2011 = 593.75
February 2011 = 375
March 2011 = 1125
April 2011 = 250
May 2011 = 312.50
June 2011 = 250
Total for Tal for 2010 and 2011: $8115

 Whiteman Osterman and Hanna:
 March 2011: $11,811.53
April 2011: $7,141.56
May 2011: $6,694.17

Total legal expenses as of May 1: $57,761

 Missing: WOH for June, July, August, September and October. At $8,000 per month, an average of the three available months, WOH would have been paid another $40,000 making the grand total to date approximately: $97,761 WOH and Stuyvesant signed a contract on March 10, 2011.

 Burke, Scolamiero, Mortati & Hurd, the town's lawyer in Federal court, is paid by insurance.

Expenses to town: $0