Sunday, November 25, 2012

Small town missing big money

Small town missing big money - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Czajka and Rappleyea, February, April and November 2012

I am a small business man who paid a kickback to my town's attorney. I eventually FOIL requested all of the attorney's invoices and found that the guy billed as much as 26 hours per day. And he is not alone. It's a racket at the heart of local government involving many attorneys. The 26 hours thing was front page news. There is a lot more to this than a few 26 hour days and more than just this one lawyer, Tal Rappleyea.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

reading my book

I will be reading from my book, Juba, and hope some folks can come... thank you. 

Inquiring Minds Bookstore, 65 Partition Street/ Saugerties, NY 12477 (845) 246-5775 


Here is the whitewash article: "unwanted attention to the county Attorney’s Office." Definitely unwanted. I mean, if you're stealing millions of dollars, you usually don't want attention, right?

This "article" is the press release for the whitewash in the works by the "joint investigation"of the comptroller, the DA.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Jurkowski and Everett, together again

Here is an article from Canaan. Key points:

The developers were also represented by attorney David Everett of the firm Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna LLP.... The town’s engineering consultant, Ray Jurkowski, of Morris Associates...

Can anyone say Gravy Train? Town attorney for Canaan? Andrew Howard, assistant county attorney, the guy who defends this guy, as they are both submitting false timesheets to the county. Andrew Howard was paid $15,000 by the town of New Lebanon for 45 minutes of work, to add on to the $70,000 in benefits and wages he gets on a false basis from Columbia County for many years. He is still getting all that money for nothing.

I wonder who the bookkeeper was/is? Not Fitzgerald? Or is there another bookkeeper in the pack?

Same guys everywhere you turn. They rove as a pack. Tal Rappleyea, Andrew Howard, Jurkowski, all part of the gang. The county attorney scandal involves more than a million in ongoing fraud involving five attorneys, not just Tal Rappleyea, as reported on the front page of the Times Union. Howard is as guilty of grand larceny as Rappleyea and Fitzsimmons. But back to the other guys in the gang...

Jurkowski did the highway garage project for Stuyvesant -- a salt shed and a new roof for the garage the town spent up to $700,000 to do when other towns have built the same size salt sheds for $70,000 and the garage repair should have been nothing really... the roof didn't leak or anything. It was fine.

Anyway, Jurkowski collected $70,000 for himself as engineer when the whole project should have been about that much. Meanwhile, by sheer co-incidence, he also found time to try to write some kind of idiotic nonsense against me, as the person trying to stop his garage/salt shed boondoggle.

Then there is David R. Everett of the firm Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna LLP. He wrote this letter, a bit on the nuts side. I know law is adversarial, but you have to wonder what the guy was thinking, if he was thinking at all.

David Everett is also the chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals of Chatham. Guess who is the attorney for Chatham sitting next to Everett at the ZBA hearings? Tal Rappleyea.

When Stuyvesant had trouble with me calling Tal a crook and needed more fire power to hurt me for revealing more than a million dollars in ongoing fraud, they called in Everett to beat me up.

Everett collected $200,000 from Stuyvesant to pursue a dog barking complaint that does not involve an allegation that the dogs were actually loud. He broke some laws to get his money in secret, in violation of a bunch of laws.

Everett, Rappleyea, Howard, Jurkowski, Fitzgerald... Stockport, Stuyvesant, Chatham, Canaan, New Lebanon, the county. A criminal syndicate is running Columbia County and robbing the taxpayer blind. $250,000 from Stockport, much more from Stuyvesant, million from the county...

Starts to add up to real money.

Monday, November 19, 2012

saying the pledge in the 1930s and 1940s

Back in the days of Americans doing this quite familiar salute, people were killed for sitting the pledge out. That picture, all those kids doing the "Nazi" salute, that's America.

And the supreme court said that you could be kicked out of school. Some took that decision as a green light to lynch the refusniks. 

In my experience, the ones who say the pledge the loudest have the least idea what the constitution actually means.

How many people know this chapter in the history of the pledge? Knowing what the constitution means is not something you can achieve with mindless pledges. In fact, mindless recitation is the opposite of understanding the fundamental principles that make the principles behind the US constitution a major step in the history of humanity learning to live with itself.

Another commentator said, "When Bellamy originally wrote the pledge in 1892 it said 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' In 1942 the US Congress formally recognized the pledge with the following wording I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Still no "God" mentioned. Then in 1954, during the cold war, the phrase "under God" was introduced into the pledge as a way to differentiate the US from the atheist communist states. At best this form of the pledge is outdated, and at worst it's unconstitutional. Thus I won't stand for it."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

pflaum v. casey,

Here is a post on the blog Thanks for paying attention, Greene County. Sleepergate is a two county scandal.

Next, here is a lawsuit I filed last week. This suit is technically about the zoning equivalent of a traffic ticket. The zoning officer gave me a ticket and punished me at the same time, revoking my business permit. I appealed to the town zoning appeal board. Instead of ruling on the ticket, they revoked my permit again for a bunch of different reasons. They knew the ticket was not true so they came up with a different reason to do the same thing they wanted to do all the time, revoke my permit and put me out of business.

So I went to state court. The court said no to the town zoning board: you can't do that, make up a new charge and get him for something unrelated to his appeal. Just rule on his appeal. The judge threw it back to the town zoning board. The board voted against me again the second time around. So I went back to state court.

In the petition linked above, I explain that this is a first amendment, free speech case. There are some 800 pages that are linked to the petition, plus a lot of video and audio.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

sleepergate and Register Star chaos

If the Register Star wants to improve their image as a news source and not a propaganda outlet, they should cover Sleepergate, as it ran on the front page of the Times Union already. It's in Columbia County. It's never been mentioned in the pages of the Times Union. Do the editors think a guy not standing for the pledge is news but the county attorney justifying more than a million dollars in ongoing fraud and larceny is not a story?

Here is the story about the Register Star in the Times Union. Here is another take:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tal, lawyer on call 26/7

Here is the article in the Times Union again. And here is a quote:
Asked how it's possible to work over 80 hours a week and not collapse from exhaustion, Rappleyea said, "I'm in pretty good shape."
He'd have to be... in order to work 26 hours in a day, he'd have to be moving at 20% of the speed of light. 
"When I submit (bills) to a town they go by at least six eyes."
Let's see, See No Evil, one monkey, two eyes, Hear No Evil, another monkey, two more eyes, Speak No Evil, third monkey, six total eyes. Yup, six eyes, all closed, unless I just saw one wink a bit when you passed him that envelope.
"I worked all these hours." Rappleyea said. "Yeah, I'm a workaholic. My wife and I talk about it all the time."
When would you see your wife? Unless your wife is the supervisor of Cairo and you're billing her for these phone calls. Working 26 hours a day does not leave a lot of time for pillow talk unless you're billing for it.
DA Czajka did respond briefly, saying only: "I can neither confirm or deny if I am conducting an investigation."
We are trying to determine if there are in fact only 24 hours in a day. 
Fitzsimmons said the office employed a "two-sets-of-eyes approach," where at least one attorney in the county office was aware of what another attorney was working on.
Does this other guy with these eyes have a name? 
"At the county level he did what he needed to do," Fitzsimmons said of Rappleyea. "He got the work done."
He must have worked in the highway garage repairing trucks because he did not produce a single solitary legal document of any kind. I FOILed and am in court and there is not one scrap of paper, no record, no memo, no court filing, nothing, indicating any such work.

Unless he was changing oil every Sunday for 15 hours. The guy just cannot stop working!

And when I say "what he needed to do" I mean to keep his trap shut. He did that. So we gave him so dough. If he keeps doing it, we'll give hims some more.
Fitzsimmons was asked if, as a county and municipal attorney himself, he felt working a 90-hour-plus week seemed plausible or even possible. "If you're willing to put in 90 hours, so be it," he responded, "I used to tell (Rappleyea), 'I don't know how you do so much but more power to you.'"

12 hours invoice is "more power to you." 

26 hours billed in a day is "you lying ass." 
"I never felt that we didn't get what we paid for," said Chatham Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt. "He's served us well."
Boy, does he regret this quote. If he could get in Tal's time machine and re-do this one...
In Germantown, however, Supervisor Roy Brown described his relationship with Rappleyea as "OK." 
And after this article it went from "OK" to "Tal who?"
"Certainly as a supervisor it feels like we're on call 24/7," Brown said. 
But Tal? Tal is on call 26/7.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

welcome times union readers

Welcome, Times Union readers. The story is now online.

A couple of points: this billing 26 hours in a 24 hour period business is the tip of the iceberg. I call the no show job scandal at the county attorney's office Sleepergate. There is a lot of evidence, beyond the invoices. (The FOIL lawsuit, the phone records, the videos, the emails, etc.).

If Tal Rappleyea were defrauding welfare of say, $1,824, he'd be in jail. The District Attorney Paul Czajka has no trouble filing charges against these guys. But what about a connected lawyer?

I met with Czajka in February. He has known about the 26 hour problem for nine months. What did he do? Rappleyea stole 100 times more than the schmoes he prosecutes routinely for welfare fraud.

The story is not about one crooked lawyer. It's about the whole Columbia County Board of Supervisors, every elected official in Columbia County, Democrat and Republican, rubber stamping a million plus dollar fraud ring lead by the de facto county administrator, Robert Fitzsimmons. Unanimous vote, the elected supervisors let the gang of crooked lawyers do whatever they want. Five no show jobs in just the county attorney office. When you have this kind of corruption at the top, how hard do you think the rest of the people are working? Or showing up?

Here is an older Times Union story about my fight with Stuyvesant.

I am a small business man still under siege from the local government because I refused to pay them more bribes and kick backs, although I did pay Tal Rappleyea $437.50 in one kick back. Rather than pay them, I FOILed their documents. I'm in court defending my business (or will be soon). They came at me harder. They tried to lock me up, hired a special prosecutor (two actually) from Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna, the capital district's largest law firm to try to close down my small family dog boarding business. They spent $200,000 to close my business and lock me up. Criminal court in town on a false charge based on perjury, zoning abuse, planning abuse, sent the county sheriff to my house, they threw whatever they had at me.

Millions are being stolen in this county and, I'm sure, many counties in the state.

What do you expect? There is NO SYSTEM to enforce ethics (or even the penal code) at the local, municipal level. Comptroller: no jurisdiction.

The Attorney General thinks it's okay for local guys to steal. The Joint Commission on Ethics is a joke. The BAR association?   Local oversight? Right. The comptroller?

I'm in court looking for documents. I'm in federal court (Northern District New York) to stop assessment fraud and more lawyer invoice fraud (1:11-cv-00335-GTS -RFT Pflaum v. Town of Stuyvesant).

These crooks throw away what I send them in sales taxes in five minutes. Everywhere I have looked, I found nothing but crime. New York local government is completely broken.

We need a new ethics regime in New York. Not kabuki theater. A real, effective system. It's possible. The guys in Albany, the elected officials, don't want to pass a real law. They'll authorize a commission to study the issue every once and awhile and stack the commission with cronies then ignore the conclusions of the report, but no, the senators and representatives like it the way it is. They have friends at the local level who are doing just fine as things are now.

Do you want to stop the kleptocracy? Then throw up one of these signs.

The dog sign means you believe New York needs a real system of ethics that includes local and municipal government, that 1200 jurisdictions can not be left alone to police themselves.

Email me and I'll get you a sign. More corruption stories here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

last night's budget hearing

Links to come: video (below! verify for yourself), budgets, and salt shed/garage contract (this one piece of documentation may take awhile).

Here is the Register Star article on the same hearing you can watch in video below. No mention in the paper of the fact that the same accountant/bookkeeper in Stockport and Stuyvesant and that Stuyvesant's numbers don't add up. This article is from the same hearing. Also, not really what I took away from the meeting. The website had the wrong boat on it. A number of residents objected that this is The Half Moon,  Look at the boat on the website when it comes out and see if the one the town paid for looks historically accurate. This is in the public domain.

Otherwise, it seems like a waste of money to hire a firm to make a website with no more functionality than this blog that I spend $15 a year on ($10 for the domain name and $5 to have google use the domain instead of

At the start of 2011 end of 2010, the town reserve fund was about $200,000. I found the preliminary 2012 budget passed in November 2011. UNEXPENDED BALANCE, last line of the 2012 budget page 7 says $100,000. In 2011 the town spent $100,000 of the reserve fund by November 2011, or so they reported.

Supervisor Ron Knott said $180,000 as of January 1, 2012. Not true. Less than $100,000 as of the beginning of 2012. Ron is clearly wrong. Not $180,000. Can't be. Less than $100,000. Must be.

See minute 5:00 in the video at the end of this post.

At the time the budget listed $100,000, November 2011, the town only listed $40,000 in the budget for Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna but had already spent or received invoices for $100,000.

Lines A8010.1, A8010.4, A8020.4.

I can post the 2012 budget and the invoices and I will, when I get the video of the hearing. The documents (video, budget, invoices) will confirm that 1) Knott said $180,000 when that cannot be true, 2) the budget listed $100,000 as of November 1, 2011; 3) that the town paid Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna in excess of $75,000 between the November 1, 2011 and February 1, 2012. 

The town wrote Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna a check for $75,000 after the November budget, meaning the reserve fund would have been $100,000 minus $75,000. Some of the $75,000 paid in late 2011 may over lap with the missing $60,000 from the budget but not all of it.

The tax increase only added about $65,000 according to the budget we received tonight.  I will scan and post that document too.

Look at the current revenue lines in the current budget.

The total amount billed by Whiteman and Better is more than $200,000 and it has never been fully listed in the budget. It mostly came out of the reserve fund. Only 150,000 is kind of listed at Lines A8010.1, A8010.4, A8020.4 this year but some money is missing, maybe $50,000 not reported. 

Next, the board announced they were planning to borrow $700,000 for the garage/salt shed project. However, the town only received one bid for this entire project and that bid was for $450,000.

I will post those documents too when I get them. 

The town sold a truck for $40,000 and didn't list it. The money went into and out of the reserve fund. 

Further, the town accountant, Fitzgerald, penciled in $2750 for Tal Rappleyea in 2009. There is no other paper justifying the money moving into Tal's pocket other than Fitzgerald writing the number on a list of payments on a computer print out. You can't just write in a number by hand on a print out and say "That explains it." 

The same accountant/bookkeeper Fitzgerald did not notice $250,000 disappearing from Stockport. 

The truck covers the difference between the reported $150,000 lawyer expenses and the $200,000 actual expenses. The $700,000 bond covers the fact that they spent the whole reserve fund, all $200,000. They are borrowing to cover operating expenses.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

pflaum v. grattan

Here is the latest filing in my FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) lawsuit against Columbia County. What I asked for was a single piece of paper produced by Tal G. Rappleyea before he quit one week after I posted the first episode of the Sleepergate scandal. You would think if the guy was clocking 30 hours a week for nine years, he would have made some kind of paper, being a lawyer and all, right? Apparently not.

So far, six reasons not to give me a piece of paper but no paper. Read the court filing for yourself. I can put the other papers up from the suit if anyone is interested. Thanks for following the case.

post election day blog post: 3 questions

1. How come a county that has gone consistently for Democrats presidents and governors has been so totally dominated by Republicans locally at the town level? Will the local Democrats ever get the Obama votes to the polls on an odd numbered year?

2. How will Republicans like Gibson in districts that went for Obama stick with their sometimes fairly extreme Republican leadership or will these kind of Republicans, particularly Gibson, work with Obama to pass the agenda the people of the county want: universal health care, higher taxes on the rich, funding for science research, no more wars, environmental protection, green energy, and an economy that works for the middle class, not the oligarchs?

3. Can the Republicans change? Will they listen to their reasonable members or will they continue to be dragged down by the nuts?

Columbia County: President
Barack Obama (D/WF) (inc) 14,068 55%
Mitt Romney (R/C) 11,059 43%

New York House District 19
Christopher P. Gibson (R/C/I) (inc) 135,328 53%
Julian Schreibman (D/WF) 118,358 47%

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

election day blog post

Here is an endorsement in a local court race. And meanwhile, here is an interesting blog from East Greenbush.

Now, I was in Brooklyn last night. I saw people waiting in line for gas. In Brooklyn, you have Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Secular, college-educated, high school drop outs, rich, poor, native born, foreign born, and yet Obama will probably carry Kings County with about 85% of the vote.

There is probably some rural, southern county, plus somewhere in Utah, where Romney will carry the county with 75% of the vote (but not 85%). The difference is that the Republican county will be all white, rural, all Christian, less than average percentage of college educated, etc.

The Democrats are failing to reach one piece of the electorate. The Republicans are failing to reach many parts of the electorate. If the Republicans cannot get some kind of divide and conquer thing going on in a place as diverse, with as little common ground, as Brooklyn, they are doing something very wrong. You can't write off this broad a swath of the population.

Meanwhile, of a different topic, whenever I hear local politicians discuss any issue, any issue at all, Democrat or Republican, I think: kabuki theater. I can imagine a sincere conservative speaking to a board of elected officials, talking about high taxes or something, then a sincere liberal talking about the environment of something, and I just imagine the internal dialogue in the head of the normal elected official in New York: "I can't wait until this naive peasant stops talking so we can do what we always do." The Democrats go around talking about some issue, then the Republican talk about another issue, and then you find some paper that one gang or the other is stealing. Silence.

More to the point, the bookkeeper in the Stockport case, the missing $250,000, is also the bookkeeper in Stuyvesant. While the fact that Stuyvesant Town Attorney Tal G. Rappleyea was part of a gang that stole more than a million dollars from Columbia County over several years should not mean we forget that he also stole $10,000 from Stuyvesant in 2009.  Other members of the gang include Robert Fitzsimmons of Fitzsimmon, Mack and Mills, Andrew Howard of Freeman Howard and a few others.

Bookkeeper Mark Fitzgerald or his partner and uncle penciled in $2750 for Rappleyea here:

There is no way to get to the amount Rappleyea received, $10,000 more than he billed, without Fitzgerald penciling in $2750.  Here are the monthly amounts billed and recieved:

Here is Tal's incoherent explanation. Here we have a linked between the missing $250,000 in Stockport, to the missing $10,000 in Stuyvesant to the missing 1.5 million in Columbia County through Rappleyea, Fitzgerald, Fitzsimmons, etc. Oh, and about $500,000 in assessment fraud, tangentially related. 

Same gang. Republican gang. Any Democrats care to complain? No. Why? They are doing the same crap here and other places.

Everywhere I looked, I found problems.

Vote for them today. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

like father like son
Everyone is for Rapp!


Meanwhile, a few years ago in the same town with the missing $250,000 now...

Former NY town judge charged with grand larceny
The Associated Press - August 4, 2009

ALBANY, NY -- A former town judge is accused of using $27,000 in court fees and bail money to pay taxes and utility bills at his restaurant and stave off foreclosure on his home. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office filed charges against 47-year-old James Funk, the former town judge in Stockport, 25 miles south of Albany. Cuomo says a state audit found the money withdrawn by Funk was mostly bail money held by the court. Funk was the only person authorized to sign for the account. Funk was charged Tuesday in Stuyvesant (STYE'-veh-sihnt) Town Court with grand larceny, falsifying business records and official misconduct. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison. He was released without bail. Funk's lawyer, Peter Moschetti, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.