Little things

Sometimes you can tell a lot about a person by the way they deal with little things. For instance, little things like obeying the law.

My problems with Geneseo Supervisor Wes Kennison started a few years ago over what some might consider a little thing. One morning I was sitting in my newspaper office when I heard the fax machine chime. I walked over and picked up a notice of a 9:30 a.m. special meeting of the Geneseo Town Board.

I quickly glanced at the clock and saw that it was 9:35.  I grabbed my notebook and ran down the street to find out what was going on. When I arrived a few minutes later I found the board still sitting around the table, but was told the meeting was already over.

In those days, when my temper was a little less under control, I reacted with predictable anger.  The law clearly requires that local media be given notice of any special meetings of the board. How could a 9:35 notice be adequate for a 9:30 meeting?

Wes’s reaction was to laugh at me and tell me that the matter under consideration was not important. His attitude semed to be that breakimg the Open Meeting law was no big deal, and I was being unreasonable to demand that the law be followed. Sound familiar?

In the next issue of the paper I wrote my column about this incident and pointed out that anyone who didn’t respect the law in a small thing would probably be willing to break laws on bigger matters. I suppose some people will think this is a harsh personal attack, but I believe that subsequent history has proven the truth of this observation.

While the true facts surrounding Petitiongate are still under investigation, it would fit Wes’s pattern if it turns out that he was in this thing up to his eyebrows. My understanding is that his alibi to investigators will be that he was in Italy when all this happened and he had nothing to do with it. This is simply not credible to anyone who knows the circumstances and the personalities involved.

There is also a continuing problem with the town’s compliance with the Freedom of Information law. PDDG’s Article 78 lawsuit was dismissed by the courts after the judge accepted the town’s assurance that they had diligently searched their files and could not find public documents that were clearly listed as existing on the town attorney’s billing records.

If this is true, (and if you believe that, I have some prime swamp land in Florida I want to sell you), then that means that the town is in violation of the NYS Arts and Cultural Affairs law, which requires that all public records be preserved for at least six years. Another little thing, perhaps, but kind of important if the public is to keep track of what is being done in our name.

We deserve better from our public officials in big and little things.

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