Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good Government Booth at the County Fair

4h, hot dogs, rides, crafts and anti-corruption campaign: what could be more American? Want to know about the white dog on a red sign? Come to open government booth at the Columbia County county fair.

Want my story? Try this.

Want a complete rap sheet on the town, try this.

Will Pflaum
Small business owner:
American citizen

Live blogging from the county fair

The dog blog is at the county fair by the main entrance to the exhibit hall. Come on by. Also, we got a top level domain cooking ...

Come by and say hello.

Sign a petition. Thanks.

Friday, August 26, 2011

audio and video from Tuesday night

You can see video of the hearing below. Audio links at the top, video at the bottom.

Here is the audio about the fence as not being a structure. Here is my point that a fence is a structure under town law.

Here is the audio when they vote on the issue of noise. This was the resolution: Should they restore the permit because Gerry Ennis failed to prove that my facility produces noise that exceeds that produced by a normal residence?

Jeff Jensen has to acknowledge that there was no noise. Votes yes.

Kent Kneller votes yes very quietly.

Bill William Vick votes no. Hard to understand that.More people said they don't hear squat and no one consistently even complained about noise. They complained about other stuff, not noise. No complaints of loud noise. Go back and check it out. Who said "loud noise" and stuck to that story? No one.

Next is Margaret Pino. She says the noise must be annoying to someone. She acknowledges that it is not loud. If it is not loud, there is no law that can possibly apply.

I jump in and say "annoying" is not in the law. The law says, "Unusual noise that exceeds that produced my a normal residence." We don't know what an unusual noise is. We don't know what a normal residence is. We have no evidence at all that there was ever any loud noise because that defies the laws of physics.

Annoying noise ordinance? You can play that CD you like but you have to skip track 3, the song that has that bell in it, because I don't like track 3? And you can listen to Fox News because I like Fox but if you play Aljazeera or the BBC at the same volume, you are in violation of the ordinance?

Amy Abatti votes yes. The resolution gets a majority of those present, 3 out of 5, but fails to carry because the majority is 4, out of a number of possible seats of 7 on the board.

So, two people voted no. They knew for a fact it is not loud when they made those votes. Pino said that it is not loud. Vick was here at the site and cannot possibly argue that it could ever be loud. Yet they think that Gerry Ennis proved that it is loud.

Did Ennis prove something? You stood there, heard nothing, you know it's not true, yet you vote that an officer proved something that you know is not true? You vote on some standard other than the law, "annoying" or merely citing the existence of a complaint without noting the existence of more letters not complaining and stating something you experience first hand: not loud.

You did not allow me time to demonstrate that the complaints are malicious. Then you base your vote on the same complaints, assuming they are valid when I was not allowed to show that that are not valid, again, ignoring the more numerous letters supporting your own personal experience of not loud.

Those are really, really bad votes. David R. Everett of Whiteman Osterman and Hanna, an Albany law firm with 80 lawyers, attorneys, specializing in municipal law, did not bother to re-read the law to clarify what it was they were voting on and seemed to have to problem with the "annoying noise" vote or the "complaint" vote.

Bill William Vick of Stuyvesant heard nothing at all. He was right here. He knows. Margaret Pino admits that "volume is not the issue." But in the law, it is the issue.

Law. You are supposed to uphold the law. Not vote your prejudices. Jeff Jensen, Amy Abatti and Kent Keller knew that the truth matters. William Bill Vick and Margaret Pino should re-think the law and the evidence and give it another try.

Thank you.

And here is the magic window:

Patricia Yerick discussing her window from glencadia on Vimeo.

Now here are members of the board not caring particularly that the window and the noise don't exist... willful disregard of the truth.

William Bill Vick of Stuyvesant arguing in favor of the magic window from glencadia on Vimeo.

And below (video) David R. Everett tries to confuse everyone with mumbo rumbo about irrelevant hypothetical situations. The ZBA does not have the authority to enforce civil actions based on New York Town Law. The fact that the town could file a civil suit in state court based on state law is entirely irrelevant to this board, which is a town board ruling on town law. The town could file a case in federal court. The town could vote to paint town hall green. So what?

The ZBA is here to rule on town law. New York law is not the issue before the board. There is no civil suit in New York court. That is a hypothetical option the town did not take. The town chose to use town law to enforce town zoning violations only the town did it WRONG. State law does not come into this. The ZBA is here to rule on the town's zoning rules. Gerry Ennis, the town's zoning guy, did not follow the town law.

Civil suit in state court, please. They would need EVIDENCE there...

Amy is right about town law. Everett is wrong about town law. He just tried to throw legalistic smoke in everyone's eyes to ignore the clear language of the law that the ZBA is charged to enforce. Outrageous. What the hell is Everett thinking? Where is the public interest in paying taxpayer money illegally to David R. Everett to throw smoke in the board's eyes and prevent them from enforcing the law they are bound to enforce?

If I need legal advice in the future, I'm calling Amy. Any normal municipalities out there thinking of hiring David R. Everett or Whiteman Osterman and Hanna might consider that as a cheaper option as well. This is pretty shabby legal work. The law is not Mr. Everett's toy.

David R. Everett of Whiteman Osterman and Hanna from glencadia on Vimeo.

And speaking of law, here is Maraget Pino making up an annoying noise law... I mean, if you don't like the law you are sworn to enforce, why not just make up your own on the spot to fit your mood at the time? Isn't that what tyrants do?

here is margaret pino of stuyvesant legislating from glencadia on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

fence = structure

The latest silly argument against me is that my permit allows me to run a business in an accessory structure but since the dogs go outside to the yard, they are not "within" the structure.

But not according to town zoning ordinance (supposedly the law we are talking about here) from page 12 of the zoning ordinance:

Structures – Anything constructed on or under the ground or upon another structure of building. Among other things, structures include buildings, mobile homes, walls, fences over four (4) feet in height, billboards and signs.

A fence is specifically designated to be a structure. Mine is over 4 feet.

The dogs are behind a fence. They are within a structure as defined by Stuyvesant Town Zoning ordinance.

Not loud. Within the structure. No evidence of any problem with waste. Farm insurance. No complaints to dog control officer of dogs running away. Not an issue that the barn and house are on separate lots. Anything else? Other than you don't like my music or my blog?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

hearing 13: stalemate, public safety, community and the law secondary to other concerns

Can anyone tell me what it is that I am supposed to have done wrong? I mean, what I'm accused of having done wrong?

To review quickly, the town of Stuyvesant issued me a permit to run a dog boarding facility. The zoning officer revoked the permit a few months later on the grounds that my facility produced too much noise. He supplied no evidence. The noise was supposedly from dog barking, and I had a permit to operate a kennel-like facility. Over the next year, I have been to 13 hearings in town hall about this issue, including criminal court, planning and zoning. I have done a sound test by an international acoustics firm that was affirmed by the editor of the leading peer review architectural acoustics journal in the world and two other PhD acoustical engineers with long track records of peer reviewed publication. This test showed that the charge of "loud" defies the laws of physics as measured and calculated.

I appealed an issue of noise but the board decided to look into any other issue that they might be able to use against me. They moved the goal post.

Tonight they finally voted on something.

The board was unable to reach a majority vote. They need 4 out of 7 votes but only 5 were there to vote, so any resolution would have had to be 4 to 1 to carry.

The first resolution, proposed by William Vick, chair, was to re-classify my business as commercial. He made the silly fence argument. He mentioned that my barn and house are on separate lots, only because of a planning board mistake which I filed to rectify and the planning board refused to ratify. So, yes, on two lots. Is that so bad? Fence. Is that bad?

We argue that the zoning board does not have the authority to do this, overrule the planning board's previous designation of class 2 home occupation permit. Also, this is moving the goal post. I appealed a dog barking issue. If you take some other action for some other reason, you are not hearing my appeal. The zoning board of appeals exists to prevent oppressive use of zoning not to engage in oppressive use of zoning.

The motion got 3 votes: Margaret Pino, Jeff Jensen, and William Bill Vick. Kent Keller and Amy Abbati voted no. 3 to 2.

The next motion was suggested by Amy Abbati. She offered that as town law says that the zoning officer "shall" issue a notice to the potential violator to appear in town court, and as Gerry Ennis didn't do that, that his notice of revocation is void. This is in fact why we appealed.

This resolution went down: Kent Keller, yes, Amy Abatti, yes, Margaret Pino, Jeff Jensen, and William Bill Vick, no. 2 to 3.

The next resolution was about noise, introduced by Kent Keller, to rule that Gerry Ennis did not establish that I produced unusual noise is excess of a normal residence. Kent Keller, yes, Amy Abatti, yes, Jeff Jensen, yes and William Bill Vick, no, Margaret Pino, no. 3 to 2.

William Vick was here during the sound test Sunday and knows for a fact that there is no unusual noise in excess of that produced by a normal residence. But he voted no anyway.

Margaret Pino said that even if the noise was not loud, if people say its annoying, that's good enough for her. Not good enough for the law, but she didn't care and David R. Everett of Whiteman Osterman and Hanna was comfortable with board members members voting on whims and prejudices and did not bother to cite the law.

Our side was not given an opportunity to present evidence. I was not allowed to show that there are no complaints that do not also contain false statements. I was not allowed to show the threats leveled against me and my family by the same people who are complaining. I was not allowed to discuss the relevant town law on zoning issues. I have not been given time to show that the complaints are malicious. I have never been given a chance to present my full case.

I was not allowed to discuss the kinds of zoning in town and why I have the right kind. No one has presented any evidence that there is any impact of my business on the community at all. Some of the board ignored the fact the supporters out number complainers in the neighborhood 4 to 1.

The Register Star called after the hearing but it was late. He didn't call back in the morning. Just as well.

Audio and video to come.

This is old:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

third sound test

On February 18, 2011 I did a sound test. I invited all the board members to come and no one indicated they wanted to come, so I did the test anyway. I was going to do the test on Saturday if some board members wanted to come.

In November 2010, I invited the whole town to come to an open house and a couple of planning board and zoning board members came.

On April 16, 2010, I hired an international acoustical engineering and architecture firm to do a professional sound test.

On August 7, 2011 I invited the whole town to come to the dog barn again. Second open house.

Today, 3 members of the zoning board and 2 lawyers joined my family and employee Amy doing another sound test.

Please note the phone calls at the ends of each video.

Here is next to the barn:

Untitled from glencadia on Vimeo.

Here is down by the end of the road:

Untitled from glencadia on Vimeo.

Are we done yet?

August 21, 2011 at Glencadia Dog Camp from glencadia on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

James Madison and a dumb dog barking complaint?

When I drive to NYC with a bunch of dogs, I listen to lectures, part of the time. I was listening to this excellent course on the US Constitution, particularly interested in lecture 7 on James Madison in the Federalist Papers.

I remember telling our town board that section 10 of the 2010 dog law was unconstitutional because it allowed for removal of a dog from someone's property without a warrant, violating the 4th amendment. Town attorney Tal Rappleyea rolled his eyes and explained it was just a little law in a small town and they aren't really going to go around grabbing people's dogs. Still, I said, it's unconstitutional and you should get rid of that section. They didn't.

Its small, its not a big deal, don't go bringing up the constitution, that's for big stuff and this is too small. Please don't drag James Madison into a petty little dispute. That's the kind of stuff I hear.

But James Madison is relevant. I think the big and small follow some of the same patterns. Listening to what Madison said in the 18th century, I was floored by how prescient he was, how exactly right he was about human nature and how, broadly, to design a government that accounts for human nature in such a way as to allow people to live together in community.

James Madison was pretty negative about human nature. Living before Hilter, before Stalin, before Napoleon, he nevertheless saw, from a careful examination of what was then known about ancient Greece and Rome and Renaissance Italy, how carefully a Republic must be built. His main concern was the tyranny of the majority, demagoguery, and the mob.

A successful Republic was a rare thing in 1790 and even today most people on earth do not live in stable, functioning Republics. I think we in the US do, more or less, live in one, although we have some huge, massive, staggering, constitutional and structural problems that are fundamental and our situation is far from ideal.

Madison saw human nature much better than did Plato, for example. Madison and the federalists studied ancient politics and noticed that although these Republics lasted for centuries and produced many geniuses, they were generally violent, chaotic messes and eventually an Emperor had to step in. They didn't want that to happen here.

The Federalist papers, Plato's Republic, Thucydides are all about the same thing.

Since he and his colleagues wrote the constitution without ever mentioning women in any way and only mentioning blacks as "persons who owe labor" you might see Madison's dislike of direct democracy as suspect, really an elite dislike of the masses. He just ignored the majority of the population!

But he was talking about a system, passion, and human nature. The system works the same when you expand the membership. I think he hit the nail on the head in terms of how the system has to work to avoid a "faction" being a majority and oppressing the other "factions."

Some of the stuff they did in 1790 to avoid the tyranny of the majority is plainly anti-democratic and I don't like it. I don't like the Supreme Court gutting the 13, 14 and 15th amendments in the 1880s and 1890s or getting in FDR's way in the 1930s or installing Bush in 2000 when Florida has jurisdiction. I could go on.

All in all, though, I see why America is, if we stick with Madison and his institutions, unlikely to be ruled by Hugo Chavez or Vladimir Putin. They were both elected by majorities. Yet Russia and Venezuela are not democratic.

Do I need to draw all the parallels and implications for this little town? Majority rule is one aspect of democracy. Any attempt to create a homogenous or organic community where everything is perfect and everyone gets along and there are no conflicts is a recipe for tyranny. Conflict and factionalism are endemic and natural to humans and the system must allow for human nature to flourish as it is, not as we wish it were.

Don't pine for a condition of perfect unity. Don't assume majority rule is sufficient for a stable democracy. Multiple layers of government are necessary to avoid faction rule. Those are the links between James Madison and this petty dispute in Stuyvesant.

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 19 at Glencadia Dog Camp from glencadia on Vimeo.

another letter to the zba

Here are all the letters written since the last zoning hearing. I cited some of these before in this post.

This is a letter of support for will Will Pflaum and the operation of his business that not only provides a service to dog owners and jobs for area residents, but is also a source of income and support to a family in our community. Come on, folks, we are a community. What is happening in this case is a travesty. It borders on being un-American...

...Will has given a great deal of thought and spent not a little bit of money on designing and locating the facility in such a way as to be appropriate for both their canine boarders and their neighbors.

What is happening here -- the attempt to close down a family run business -- is just plain wrong. Here is family that left the city to raise their children in a rural area, to teach them about what is real and important, about nature and farming and, yes, community. What a lesson for those children, to see their parents unfairly judged and harangued.

We are aware that will has had to spend a great deal of money to prove his case, money could have been better spent for his children's education among other things. We believe his case has been made and proven: it is strongn and is unassailable. Still the town of Stuyvesant continues to throw money at a dead horse. Why?

We are writing this letter as people who care deeply about community and about fairness. We hope that you will consider this in your deliberations.

Teresa Parsons

art and government

The latest news around town is that someone looked up some old songs I made and is going around playing them for people in the neighborhood, suggesting that the song or songs proves something or have some kind of relevance to whether or not the town government is well run or some song is supposed to be relevant to whether or not the town has a legitimate reason to have spent $60,000 prosecuting me. Sound, light, and gravity decay at the inverse square of distance, meaning the charge against me is impossible, even if some people do not understand art.

Shakespeare wrote Richard III but he did not murder his nephews. Nevertheless, the theaters were closed by religious zealots in 1642 and the Globe theater was destroyed by puritans.

Satire, character, context... the zealots didn't care about that. When you read an individual sonnet, for example, you can be sure Shakespeare is Christian, Protestant, Catholic, Pagan, atheists, gay, straight... if you take an individual piece out of a play you could say he was a murderer, insane, a liar... etc.

And no I didn't say I produced art as great as Shakespeare's. I wasn't trying to. But you can't hear the songs and not notice satire, humor and character, can you?

But that Shakespeare is beyond reproach, or suppression, was not obvious to everyone in 1642, was it? Lot of people hated Shakespeare and the theater in general. Actors will little better than prostitutes, in their opinion. Yet here we are 500 years later and we kind of know who was right. Not the zealots.

So someone is going around playing some song which supposedly proves something in order to try and stop people in the neighborhood from supporting me against a town that is spending tons of money to get me for legitimate reason.

Which song is it? And of these? You see some of where whatever song they have or don't like is coming from...

I wouldn't waste my time on this problem but it kind of shows malice to me, with no real legitimate issue for people to complain about. I didn't make them go download a song they don't like... they hate it so much, they are going around playing it for neighbors.

Sigh. All I want is to run a small business and be able to exercise my constitutional rights at the same time. I would like open, accountable government. I would like the government to treat all people equally and fairly. I would like due process and the rule of law. I would like the economy to grow and small business to be able to invest without interference from intrusive government.

While were at it, I would like art to be off limits as a reason for a government to deprive me of my property.

Members of the government are aware that the people who filed complaints on "dog barking" originally are the same ones downloading and sharing the song. They can do that -- share the song -- but the government is obligated to note the fact that the legitimacy of the original "dog barking" complaint is extremely suspect. If the government continues to work with and promote the agenda of people who have outed themselves as having a malicious and personal agenda, well, that would be a problem. The government should say, well, maam, you seem to have changed your story or have an agenda with no public interest. We only do things that have some kind of public interest. Sorry, the constitution does not allow us to work with this complaint any more.

See? If you say you hear loud dogs, you cannot then say you're real problem is you do don't like some song. Or you cannot make racially charged comments on the internet. You have to stick to your story, which is dog barking. If the government doesn't care that you changed your story, then the government is in error. If the government spends $60,000 to make your charges stick even though you keep changing your story, that's a problem too.

The government has the burden of proof. The government has obligations to treat all fairly under the 14th amendment.

You call the cops. You say Fred stole your horse. Fred says no, it was always my horse and shows the receipt from when he bought it and a photograph of him on the horse from 5 years ago. Then you say yeah, well, but Fred tried to hit on my wife or he is just such an ass... at this point the cop is supposed to leave, not hire a special prosecutor from the biggest law firm in Albany and figure out if there is a secondary charge they can get Fred on now that the horse stealing situation isn't panning out...

The government long ago should have walked away from a cabal of complainers who have no legitimate complaint. The opposite happened in this case. In fact, it may be worse than the analogy with the horse above. The cop may have asked you to report Fred for something before it had occurred to you to file a complaint.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

accounting and the bond

Will there be a separate account for the bond funds to assure that money from the bond issue goes for construction and project specific purposes or will the borrowed money be dumped into the general fund to experience the kind of irregularities we've seen in the past with the general fund?

Friends -

The zeal with which the Town pursued this tax-raising project, despite their long-touted position of being categorically against tax increases (used to justify their failure to pursue grants for the Railroad Station Project and Hummel Park) makes me think that the project is to someone's benefit....I will be watching closely, as I know others will, to insure that the Town dots every i and crosses every t, and that no "sweetheart" or "quid-pro-quo" deals are struck here.

Is the Town's new motto: "Hundreds of thousands for a Highway Garage, but not one cent for the Schoolhouse Road Bridge?" They ignore critical infrastructure problems that don't affect them or their cronies directly, but all of a sudden it's no problem to indebt the Town to the cost of over a million dollars (including interest) for a project that's far larger and more expensive than it needed to be.

The Board ignored lower-cost alternatives and the objections of a significant percentage of the Town's residents - if slightly less than half of those who voted - to push this through. In the law there is a principle in investigation of corruption: cui bono? - meaning "who benefits?" Let's watch closely and see...


today at sleeping dog farm

55K versus 450K: paying 900% too much

Note that Claverack just got Clean Water Program to help finance (50%) a salt shed that only cost $110,000 to begin with. Supervisor Andrews got her taxpayers a better bang for their buck through a bit of extra effort and willingness to cooperate with another program.

-- Lee Jamison

Register Star runs a piece without mentioning the opposition, namely, me, for example. Register Star ran highway superintendent's opinion but not one from the opposition.

$250 per month per mile in salt storage

Look on the bright side - it's only about $3000 per mile of road per year, on top of the regular highway budget. I should have posted this sooner, but just got around to doing the math today, and didn't have time to type it up until now.

$845,000 at 4% over 15 years => $280,065 interest
$845,000 + $280,065 = $1,125,065 total project cost

$1,125,065/25 miles of town road = $45,000 per mile of road, on top of the regular highway budget, assuming they can actually get a 4% loan.

Or, annually: $6250.36 * 12 months = $75,004/year
$74,004/12 = $3000/mile per year, or $250/mile per month in addition to the regular highway budget.

-- Michelle Richardson

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

lost, damn... would have liked to stop this bad project

Well, the voters chose to increase their own taxes. Go figure. Terrible waste of money. If people don't vote... you're taxes go up for no good reason.

Why did 253 people vote to increase their own taxes? 179 people voted no. 730 people didn't vote. Still, all of our taxes will go up. The majority didn't vote. I tried.

check back after 9 pm for referendum results

I'll bring my iPad to town hall and post here. No wifi at town hall.

stuyvesant architect on the garage project

The same people who rejected a qurater-million dollar grant (not a loan, a grant) for the Hummel Park because upkeep would add to the tax burden, now apparently think nothing of spending almost half a million dollars to build a salt shed that could be built for less than 25% of that amount.

They have ignored documented evidence that the fabric structures - even used by the NYs DOT - are a much better and cheaper alternative to the monstrosity they hope to build on Sharptown Road.

It is our money, not theirs. If they were right to pinch pennies around the issue of Hummel Park, they should be just as frugal in spending our tax dollars on this extravagant monument to bad planning.

As Martin points out, emerging technologies like liquid salt are the wave of the future, but our Board is locking us into the "wave of the past" with soon-to-be-obsolete infrastructure we'll be paying off for decades to come. This is the wrong time to make such an expenditure, and it is the wrong kind of expenditure to make.

Vote NO.

Ned Depew

vote no

Today, 2-9 PM, Stuyvesant Town Hall. No new tax.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

this town is insane

Yes, at least $57,000 to get me on a dog barking charge... which is impossible.

How much doez the city of Albany spend on a murder indictment?

It is a DOG BARKING compliant. Not even true one. The town spent about 15 per cent of the non-highway budget on this.

This is insane.

VOTE NO ON TUESDAY!!!! These people are insane!!!!!

Here is what I got through FOIL:

Tal: the town lawyer's fees relating to my case

August 2010 = 1562.50
September 2010 = 437.50
October 2010 = 937.50 (Hook Boat Club 7 hours to lower assessment)
November 2010 = 1406.25
December 2010 = 875
January 2011 = 593.75
February 2011 = 375 (Hook Boat Club meeting with county 2 hours)
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: big Albany law firm

March 2011: $11,811.53
April 2011: $7,141.56
May 2011: $6,694.17
June and July unavailable but likely well over $7000 per month. August will be much higher. So let's do 7, 7 and 10 for the three missing months.

Total legal expenses: $57,761

Friday, August 12, 2011

stuyvesant and the law

Will Conclusion at Zoning 8/9/11 from Rhonda Granger on Vimeo.

That's the video from the hearing. Here are some of the letters written after the hearing. Nieghbor Jamie Pilkington wrote, "There was no one in the audience who spends more time walking/biking past Will’s farm than me. No one. I can assure you, the dog barking that comes from 7 other locations in the hamlet far exceeds any sound I’ve ever heard coming from Will’s farm." Neighbor Pam Herzing wrote, "No Justice in Stuyvesant." Neighbor Janardan Culver wrote, "Will Pflaum and his family are a big asset to our community and are wonderful, considerate people."

"We hear dogs barking on a daily basis both from our neighbors and as we walk through the community. We have never noticed any difference in the loudness or quantity of dogs barking when we are near the Glencadia Dog Camp, in fact, the barking from our neighbors dogs is much louder and more frequent," said David Reynolds and M. Carol Leber.

"We the Vlad family live on 66 Rybka road which is very close to Will's family business and we don't hear the dogs barking from Will's business. On August 7th 2011 we went to the open house in the Dog Barn and we saw all the dogs which were very friendly and very happy. It would be foolish and not fair to close down Will's family business."

Observer Larissa Phillips wrote, "The way that the town board is going about this process seems unprofessional and inexperienced... to the point that it looks very much like bias or bullying or something much worse, probably illegal, is going on."

Observer Liz Rice wrote, "I was shocked by the disrespect and bullying that was allowed. I cannot believe the allegations were so feeble and that proof was not needed or required by those people opposing Mr. Pflaum. The board members were rude and intolerant of Mr. Pflaum's attempts to clear his name and treated him with bias and disrespect."

Observer Megan Lipke noted, "The town board is gaining a reputation for being a collection of ignorant, racist and resentful hicks."

Melanie Bonventre said this to the board: "I hope you can find it in your hearts to back down. I know it is hard to admit you are wrong or have lost. But you are wrong and you have lost."

Matthew Wohlers coninuted, "I am astonished to hear that in these difficult times of high unemployment and hardship, the Board of Stuyvesant is prepared to destroy not only a family business, but also jobs of members of its own community."

Here is the case I was not allowed to make by the zoning board: all the complaints are false and the existence of "complaints" is entirely dependent on the hostility of the town government. If the government were not hostile, the complaints would not exist.

The complaints did not emerge because of something I did. The complaints emerged because the town board wanted to get me. The hostility of the town government pre-dates the complaints. The town was involved in and encouraged the complaints.

Not only are the complaints the product of a government encouraged campaign of harassment, all the letters included bald face lies.

That is my case. It's not that people have legitimate complaints, or that they are mistaken about what dogs they here. I could make a case about that, or that this is simply a misunderstanding between neighbors.

I don't believe the evidence supports those cases. The case I want to make, because I believe it is true and something I can and hopefully will prove in a court of law, is that the town started the whole thing, went out fishing for complaints, and that the people who complained did so because they wanted to accrue advantages for themselves in future dealings with the town government.

The whole process was illegal from the start. By encouraging public comments when they are not necessary, after the town encouraged people to submit letters full of lies, the zoning board, in illegal coordination with the town board, is promoting a climate of violence and harassment that is a threat to public safety. The ZBA process itself is part of a broad conspiracy to deny me my constitutional rights and attack me and my family extra-judicially with threats, vandalism and denial of essential services.

That is the case I wanted to make. The board didn't want to hear it. I have the evidence to prove it.

I didn't get a chance to finish my presentation. Here are the files I would have present. I would have presented this list of vigilantism, threats and surveillance. This list has grown longer since the hearing. This witch hunt has consequences for public safety and the zoning board seems not to care about the safety of my family.

If Bill Vick had not interrupted me, I would have gone over the law and science with a fine tooth comb.

If I had not been stopped, I would have explained that the reason people felt comfortable or even obliged to send in coordinated letters full of statements that the writers knew to be false at the time is because the town board made it very clear that they approved of this kind of illegal lying. Patty Yerick claims to have an upstairs, bedroon window out of which she can see dogs on my property and see my house and has continually contracted herself. I paid for a sound study that has been endorsed by the editor of the world's leading peer review acoustical architecture journal in the world. Ron Knott, the town's deputy supervisor, sided with the lady with the magic window, not with the guy with 3 PhD acoustical engineers and a PhD physics on his side. Here are the problems with Ron Knott piling on and saying things he couldn't possibly know and in fact was very wrong.

If I had not been interrupted, I would have shown that the town engaged in bad faith negotiations and simultaneously encouraged the complaint campaign in the first place. The behavior of the town is so outrageous, my evidence is so good, they stopped me from talking.

If they had not deprived me of the opportunity to make my case, I would have shown that David R. Everett's presence in this process is a violation of New York State public officers law.

We would have talked about Al Sharpton. We would have shown this video about the magic window.

I would have played this statement by Valerie Bertram that I am convicted already. Here is Valerie Bertram explaining how to solve the problem: but what is it that they are asking me to do, other than move out of town? Here is what the supervisor thinks about the fire chief telling me to get out of town and a member of her town board threatening to beat me up.

The board didn't give me time to go over all the things Gerry Ennis did wrong.

What is the different between this resolution in the town board and this act of vandalism? No difference. The town board encourages vandalism and engages in threats. The town board encourages divisive hearing and then there is vandalism the next day in the neighborhood.

The town board is lawless. This town government is utter disrespectful of the rule of law and encourages extra-judicial behavior. This combination is a recipe for damage to property and public safety and is utterly reckless and dangerous.

How can I say that? I can prove it. But they cut me off before I was done.

I just got the invoices for Whiteman Osterman and Hanna, Albany attorneys lawyers, David R. Everett, partner through FOIL. Mr. Everett and the rest of the team at Whiteman Osterman and Hanna has been an enthusiastic even zealous enablers of the dangerous vendetta of the town government of Stuyvesant against my family and small children. Yes, Whiteman Osterman and Hanna, I will demand you answer for your role as lawyer to the ... cronies.

When my mother-in-law said this reminded her of her parent's generation, you did do the math, right? She was born in 1947 in Germany.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

martin roby on the salt shed

After attending a number of hearings on the proposed salt shed and garage project in Stuyvesant, I am shocked how irresponsible the town board is with money. The board proposes to fund this project with borrowing 100%, no money down, nothing set aside over the years.

The town has not looked into sharing services with other towns or the county. The county has a huge salt shed in Kinderhook. In addition more modern liquid (or wet salt) methods use a fraction of the salt the current bulk dump systems use. Sand can be applied after for grip. This would result in using a less salt, less pollution, less cost to the taxpayers, and the evidence suggests wet systems melts the ice better and more safely.

The town is insisting on a custom built salt shed which will cost anywhere from two to four times as much as a pre-fab shed. In
addition, the town has been sued in Federal court for alleged misconduct and illegal activities. Banks don't loan money out to Plaintiffs in lawsuits and the taxpayers should not either.

I'm asking the residents of Stuyvesant to do the right thing and vote no on borrowing almost a million dollars for a project than may be unnecessary or it at least vastly inflated. All residents (even Stuyvesant Falls) vote at Stuyvesant Town Hall, August 16 between 2:00pm - 9:00pm

first audio clip from tuesday's meeting

Here is the end of my speech -- stick with this clip through the first couple of minutes...

letter to the zba

If you are here for the garage project, click here .

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shirley Narzynski
Secretary of Planning and Zoning Boards
Town of Stuyvesant
P.O. Box 250
5 Sunset Drive
Stuyvesant, NY 12173

Dear Members of the Zoning Board of Appeals,

The matter before you pertains to my ability to earn a living to provide for my family. To revoke my permit or attempt to close my business without evidence of wrong doing or due process in a fair hearing with the right to appeal would be a serious injustice. To be fair, this process cannot include charges beyond my original appeal.

Government does not exist to arbitrarily close down business. Zoning and planning are often or occasionally necessary for the community but these functions of government can not be allowed to become oppressive. The ZBA exists to prevent zoning oppression. If the ZBA were to be an agent of oppression, the board would help drag the economy down. Small business should not be at the mercy of boards. We need stability, security and clarity in order to invest, experiment and grow. What we are seeing in Stuyvesant makes no economic sense and is not just.

The matter before you pertains to the safety of my family. The irresponsible and unfair actions of town officials, the planning, town and zoning boards have lead to a climate of hostility, threats, vandalism, surveillance, and intimidation. I have lost a year of my life, $70,000 to date. There is a long list of trauma and mental anguish suffered by my wife, my kids, my mother-in-law and me.

When an officer receives a complaint that is unproven or not actionable under existing law, the responsible thing to do is to advise the complainant that he is sorry but there is nothing he can do. This obvious choice is all the more apparent when the underlying complaint is trivial, a nuisance complaint, and not an issue of public safety not affecting any substantial issue of property or the environment. This sane response is for the benefit of both the person complaining and the subject of the complaint.

That should have happened in this case. The only law that applies here, “no unusual noise… that exceeds that of a normal residence,” is vague. The noise in question is not unusual. The quality of a single bark does not change whether the bark is at my facility or at some other residence. There is not even any evidence that barking audible to someone other than me is more frequent from my facility than other residences. To call dog barking “unusual” is strange. There is no evidence that sound exceeds any residence at all. Gerry Ennis has not attempted to provide a reasonable definition of a “normal” residence. In Stuyvesant Falls, there is quite a range of residences. There are households with large numbers of dogs in Stuyvesant, some located closer to neighbors who have filed against me than I am.

I have worked to bring professional mediation services to Stuyvesant in neighbor-to-neighbor disputes. Rather than continue to persecute my family and me, I would hope the zoning board would consider joining me in calling on the town board to invite Common Ground services to a town meeting to discuss professional mediation in neighbor-to-neighbor disputes.

In order to run a small family business, I should not need to be a public speaker. I should not need to be perfect. I should not need a large amount of home equity to borrow against to pay for lawyers. I should be able to run a small family business even if I were shy. I should be able to run the business even if I were to belong to a minority religion. I should be able to operate a business without unfair government interference even if I have political views at odds with the government. An owner of a business should be able to exercise his or her free speech rights and continue to sell pizza, board dogs, or do whatever it is that the business person does without interference. The government should not interfere with the operation of my business even if I am a complete jerk. The government doesn’t have to like me or me them. The government should butt out as much as possible. You, members of the zoning board, should vote to let business thrive and government to butt out unless there is some really pressing reason to jump in and some very compelling evidence of harm.

Here we a situation of a trivial complaint and zero evidence of harm. Time to butt out.

Here are some specific issues I would also like the board to consider:

Issues with the presentation by Mr. Jurkowski

1) Mr. Jurkowski spoke prior to the public comments as if he held a position of expertise in the subject of acoustics. He was given more time than other members of the public. This difference in treatment creates the false impression that he has some expertise in the matter at hand. I have seen no evidence that he has any professional credentials in acoustics. He does not have a degree in the matter at hand and should not represent himself as an expert in the field. He is no more qualified to speak on acoustics than a pediatrician is to remove my mother’s cataract.

2) Mr. Jurkowski did not give us his documentation in advance in order to allow our acoustic engineer to have an opportunity to respond.

3) Mr. Andria has already answered many or all of the issues raised by Mr. Jurkowski last night. Please note Ken Andria’s response to Mr. Jurkowski’s previous questions about the study. His legitimate concerns have been addressed.

4) Mr. Jurkowski made a number of errors in his presentation: 1) He failed to note that the relevant standard is that the noise from Glencadia Dog Camp cannot exceed the noise from a “normal residence.” 2) He failed to understand how the sound test was  conducted. 3) He did not understand the issue of increasing amplitude being dependent on the simultaneous barking of more than one dog and that this is an issue of probability not a flaw in the way the study was conducted. In order to increase the decibel level, more than one dog has to bark at the same time. Due to probability, the more dogs there are, the more possible a simultaneous bark becomes in theory. However, it is likely never possible to have all the dogs bark simultaneously. If you throw 30 pennies in the air, you might have one land on top of another, or even two on top of one to make a pile of three. If you throw 50 pennies in the air, the chances of 3 landing in a pile is somewhat higher. It would be very unlikely for all 30 or 50 pennies to land in a perfect stack. It is unfair to expect the test to include an impossible event, although Mr. Andria did include a calculation for such a “super bark” were this event ever to occur. Even in the event of a super bark, which is likely impossible, the decibels produced by Glencadia would not exceed those of a normal residence, given the levels recorded on the day of the test for the neighboring dogs. 4) If wind is a significant factor, then the noise is not loud. 5) There is no evidence that ambient noise is lower at 5pm than at 11am. 6) There is no reason to study the sound 1000 feet to the north, east or west. The minor variations in direction to atmosphere and topography are irrelevant in this case since the noise under consideration is below ambient noise levels.  To conduct the sound test in any direction other than south would have required Mr. Andria to stand in the middle of various owner’s fields.  7) Mr. Jurkowski stated that sound “decays with distance.” This is an insufficient statement. The correct expression would be that sound decays at the inverse square of distance. Given that fact, there was in fact no reason ever to conduct the sound test in the first place. The dog camp is 1000 feet from the nearest residence or public road. 8) Mr. Andria reviewed a list of standards from other jurisdictions and other areas of law in his original report and the noise calculated and measured from Glencadia was far below all of them.
5) Mr. Jurkowski has a conflict of interest in that I am leading the opposition to the town capital project that he will benefit from personally. His claim to be unaware of my role in opposing this project is disingenuous, as I have indicated my opposition to this project to him personally at public meetings on at least two occasions. He was in the room when I first called for a referendum in October 2010. I questioned him on this project at the 2011 July town board meeting. I paid for a mailing to all registered votes only a week or two before last night’s hearing. My name, blog and dog logo were on the mailing.
6) There is no reason to hire a local engineer who has not visited the site. Why not hire an expert in acoustics with no conflict of interest who lives anywhere else in the world if the engineer does not need to personally visit the site? If Mr. Jurkowski has problems with Mr. Andria’s study, then he can do his own with independent witnesses to observe the test. I would cooperate in any test proposed by Mr. Jurkowski.

In short, Mr. Jurkowski is probably the least qualified engineer available to speak on the subject. He is the only engineer I can think of with such a substantial conflict of interest. He has no credentials in the relevant area. By failing to provide a copy of his document prior to the meeting, by misrepresenting his qualifications in acoustics, by failing to accurately report Mr. Andria’s findings, by misrepresenting how the sound study by Mr. Andria was conducted, by declining to visit the site, by failing to take his own measurements with witnesses or visit the site, by failing to note the supporting comments of two Ph.D. acoustical engineers in addition to Mr. Andria, Mr. Jurkowski presentation was less than candid, open, fair and full.

Presenting my case thoroughly and fairly

At last night’s hearing, I was not allowed to present all the evidence I would have liked the board to see. This is unfair only because the board has expanded my appeal to include a laundry list of possible avenues to ruin my ability to provide a good life for my family.

If the board would agree to simply rule on my appeal, simply on the issue that Gerry Ennis did not have right to revoke my permit without giving me due process, simply consider whether or nor Mr. Ennis has provided sufficient evidence to justify his actions, then I would not need to give any additional evidence or make a long presentation. Since the board insists on heaping on additional and vague charges, I would like time to fully and completely present all the evidence I was unable to present at the last meeting. I would like to do my presentation, including audio, video and documents, with time to set up and without interruption. I feel that without a full disclosure of all the evidence I have, I have not been given a fair hearing. As I write this, you do not have all the evidence I would like the board to have.

Again, were this a simple appeal on the issues I raised, then there would be no need for additional evidence and I would not insist on a full airing of all the issues below. Again, as the board insists on expanding the scope of the hearing, I insist on expanding the scope of the evidence to consider. These are the issues I want considered, no other issues:

1) Is there any evidence that I ever produced any unusual noise that exceeds that produced by a normal residence?

2) Did Gerry Ennis have the right to revoke my permit without due procees?

I know I’m being a bit redundant on this, repeating those two point over and over. That’s all you have to rule on. Expanding my appeal beyond these issues is simply bizarre and un-American. If the board insists on considering issues beyond my appeal, then I insist on time to fully and completely present evidence to explain this bizarre and un-American situation.

I have evidence to sustain the following broad points:

1) All letters written to the planning and zoning boards in December 2010 and January 2011 contain false statements. No one has consistently and independently complained of dog barking. No one has credibly complained of loud barking. The board should consider the credibility or complaints and not assume they are credible without allowing me a chance to demonstrate that they are not.

2) The hostile environment created by the town government contributed to the willingness of people complaining to respond positively to a coordinated effort to gather complaints.

3) The complaints were gathered as part of a coordinated plan involving bad faith negotiations in December 2010 and January 2011, an effort involving town officials and complaining neighbors.

4) Gerry Ennis has manufactured, encouraged and manipulated the production of complaints.

5) David Everett has no legal standing to claim to be the attorney of record for the planning or zoning boards. Any decision taken with David Everett in attendance claiming authority as the attorney to the board is likely subject to challenge.

6) The public interest in reducing the climate of vigilantism, threats, racially charged internet posts, vandalism, denial of essential services, and surveillance far exceed any public interest in any charge laid at my feet or of continuing with this badly flawed and unfair process.

7) The inclusion of charges beyond my original appeal defies the essential purpose of the ZBA and is unconstitutional.

8) The science is absolutely settled and clear.

I do not feel I was given a full and complete opportunity to present the evidence I have that proves all of these items to be true. I believe I should be allowed to make the case I believe best explains the process before the board. I believe the combination of factors above, fully explored in an open hearing based on evidence, is the best way to understand how and why this process before the board is so deeply flawed, unfair, dangerous, anti-rational and unconstitutional.

If my appeal were limited to my issues, I would not insist on additional time to fully and completely present the case I have. The board should only hear my appeal, discard the additional charges. If the board does discard the additional charges, I will not insist on more time to present additional evidence.

List of objections

I would like to list my objections to various matters to be clear on my problems with this process:

1) There is no public interest in charges beyond the scope of my original appeal. Adding additional charges to my appeal flies in the face bedrock principles of American justice.

2) David Everett was hired illegally. The unexplained discrepancies in the process of retaining special counsel cast a shadow over the whole process.

3) Expanding the scope of my appeal is unconstitutional, unfair and turns the appellate function, the primary function of the ZBA, on its head.

4) Margaret Pino is a close relative of Valerie Bertram, someone I have sued in court and should consider recusal.

5) David Everett has supported the expansion of my business competitors in his role as chair of the Chatham ZBA and as such presents the impression of a conflict of interest and should consider recusing himself.

6) I have not been given adequate time to present the case I think best explains the problems with the list of additional charges.

7) There was no purpose in holding public comments, as Peter Lynch and I indicated prior to last night’s meeting. I believe the board’s insistence on public comments when the issue at hand is fundamentally jurisdictional unnecessarily stoked hostility in a situation already rife with threats, vandalism, and malice. The board should consider the public interest in fairness, public safety, the constitution and the rule of law when addressing this matter in the future, as this board as well as other organs of town government have disregarded the important issue of the safety and mental health of my family in the past, not to mention our right to our property.

In conclusion, this process, from Gerry Ennis’s illegal revocation of my permit a year ago to me finding my appeal transformed into a witch hunt, is an absolute disgrace. The complete lack of fairness, respect for the rule of law, and fundamental principles of American government is positively shocking. To continue to use every agency of town government to harass and harm my business, my family and me is utterly indefensible, counter productive and dangerous.

The proper role of the ZBA is to hear my appeal and rule on the substance of my appeal and nothing more. Ruling on the jurisdictional and evidence questions I posed in September 2010 is fair. Doing anything else is unfair. I want to know: 1) Did Gerry Ennis have the authority to unilaterally revoke my permit? 2) Is there any evidence that my business produced an unusual noise that exceeds that produced by a normal residence?

Rule on my appeal. Stop the witchhunt. Government does not exist to pursue anything other than the public interest. There is no public interest in continuing this madness.


Will Pflaum
PO Box 40 / 3 Rybka Road
Stuyvesant Falls, NY 12174

From an email about this post:

Will, one more thing about the town engineer's statement: he stipulated that the audio engineers could not perform one of their tests because of dog-barking noise from the town road. In saying so, he basically has stated that the TOWN ENGINEER has stipulated to the facts presented by the audio engineer that the level of noise on the road off of your property is measurable and emanates from barking dogs. Ask your lawyer about this, but the next obvious question is, where are the complaints filed against those dogs? Where are your neighbor's complaints filed against those dogs? If they are not extant, then it kind of proves the point that you are being blamed for the noise of all the town's dogs barking because you have a dog camp.

Monday, August 8, 2011

next up, hearing number 11

Open house at Glencadia Dog Camp yesterday. Hearing at Stuyvesant Town Hall tomorrow:
Tomorrow night, Tuesday, August 9 7PM, Stuyvesant Town Hall.

Pictures and video from the party to come.

Tomorrow will be my 11th hearing in Stuyvesant Town Hall. I hope a lot of people come to watch what happens.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Did you get a card in the mail about the town garage? Click here. Get a card about a hearing and a party? Click here.

1. Did an interview on a community radio station. That is the complete interview. Thanks, Tom. Some talk about my case, and about the town garage there at the end, for those interested.

Here is me on why this town operates like a third world country.

Here is me on the garage project.

Here me talking about how the whole county is implicated.

2. The t-shirts came in and look great. Video and pictures tomorrow. Everyone who ordered shirts, hold tight, they go out tomorrow. Thank you. And thank you Equal Vision for great shirts.

3. Had a scheduling hearing in Federal Court, our first contact with the magistrate. Went well. It was all procedure and no substance but at least the judge does not seem predisposed to make narrow, legalistic rulings that alter the character of the case. The broad case remains intact for now. Copy of the ruling below.

4. Highway superintendent wrote an op-ed in favor of his project.

My problems with this article: 1) the roof does not leak. 2) DEC has not fined the town for not building this salt shed. 3) Material can be stored in other facilities elsewhere in the county. 4) How do we know the town board won't steal the money? 5) Why not put in a pre-fab? 6) Why did the reason change from road safety to the environment? 7) What is this: "Some in town will oppose this project, because they oppose anything they don’t have to be responsible for." You're not talking about me are you?

I oppose anything proposed by a town that lets the town attorney walk out the door with $10,000 he never submitted any paperwork for and cannot consistently explain and the town board doesn't think its a problem. If you can't mind the store you got, you don't deserve another one.

I made a comment on the Register Star article, just asking about the pre-fab issue. In the past, the Register Star has banned my comments, even the most pleasant "nice article" kind of thing... let's see if my comment sneaks through this time.

Yup, thanks Register Star. My comment went through.

First, make sure finances are secure. Open the books. Then borrow money when necessary.


8/03/2011 ORDER ADJOURNING THE RULE 16 CONFERENCE: During the Rule 16 Conference, the parties informed the Court that immediate motion practice is warranted. Based upon those representations, the Court adjourns the Rule 16 for thirty days. The parties shall file their respective motions on or before September 9, 2011. If no motion is contemplated by September 9, 2011, the parties must file a status report. Should no motion be filed by September 9, 2011, the Court will convene the Rule 16 Conference and set a Scheduling Order. SO ORDERED. Signed by Magistrate Judge Randolph F. Treece on 8/3/2011. (Treece, Randolph) (Entered: 08/03/2011)

08/03/2011 Minute Entry for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge Randolph F. Treece: Carl Person, Esq. and Sharon Segal, Esq. participate in a Telephonic Rule 16 Pretrial Conference on 8/3/2011; Conference adjourned 30 days for filing of motion to dismiss. (rzh, ) (Entered: 08/03/2011)

Monday, August 1, 2011

support dog

Click here to buy the shirt.  You can get it for free if you come to the party next Sunday August 7. Click here to read about the hearing. Click here to stop wasteful spending.