Former board member sees conflict

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

I attended the March meeting of the Jerusalem Town Board. Approximately 25 people were in the audience. I wish more residents of the town were there to see how things are being run. It is quite evident that of the five board members, three of them are consistently controlling all decisions.

At the meeting, an engineering firm was approved to represent the town on various matters as needed, including the ‘Fracking” questions. Three engineering firms had been interviewed.

One of the board members was not present for these interviews. The absent board member stated at the March 16 meeting that he had spoken to two of the other board members and was aware of the offerings by each of the three engineering firms, and “he would be voting,” even though he had missed the presentations.

A motion was made to have Larson Engineers represent the town on an as needed basis; the vote was three to two in favor of this firm. I learned during the meeting that this engineering firm employs a council member’s son, and this council member was the one who missed the presentation and voted for this firm. I immediately inquired about a conflict of interest by this board member, and was told by the town attorney that there is not a direct conflict. I think that there is definitely an ethical reason for this member to abstain.

Further, it was stated that this firm represents 19 gas drilling companies and only 27 percent of their revenue comes from municipalities. The two firms not chosen do not represent any gas drilling companies and their revenues from municipalities are a lot higher. Do you think the town is going to have unbiased information regarding ‘Fracking”?

Another concern of mine is the implementation of a time clock for the employees at the Town Hall. This has come at a significant cost to the taxpayers of Jerusalem. A policy was written a month ago for the town handbook as to who was to punch the time clock, but one employee refused to punch a time clock, so the board went into executive session and the policy was changed to accommodate the one employee who now does not have to punch the time clock.

Again, the same threesome voted to make the change.

I think it is time we all take a hard look at our town board before it is too late.

Richard Ackerman