Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Standing Up

“If you let a bully come in your front yard, he'll be on your porch the next day and the day after that he'll rape your wife in your own bed.” -Lyndon B. Johnson

bul·ly  [bool-ee]

a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.


1. to act the bully toward; intimidate; domineer.

2. to be loudly arrogant and overbearing.

Fire Starter read with great interest the Press & Sun Bulletin's articles on bullying. They highlighted a growing problem in our schools, work place and society in general. Unfortunately, thus far, the Press has failed to recognize the bully in its own backyard, Dennis Hannon.

We can start with Marty Maney, a Johnson City Fire captain and Union President. He raises concerns regarding the safety of Village fire fighters and residents. Does Mayor Hannon take these concerns to heart or attempt to find common ground with the union? No! He seeks to bully Maney into submission by suspending him for 30 days without pay (at Christmas time) and threatening his job.

Fire Marshal Robert Dempsey. He questioned the Village's decisions which left fire fighters short staffed and the public vulnerable. He is suspended twice and his job is threatened.

Doug Potts, the former Johnson City Police chief. His offenses started with the Mayor taking as a "personal affront" the fact that 1/8" of snow on New Year Day was not cleared from in front of the police station. As a result, the witnesses to Hannon's coronation were forced to "brave" these ungodly conditions. He then questioned the need for a K-9 unit in the JCPD and this was the last straw.

And what of the lowly maintenance man Fire Starter wrote of recently? Apparently he would typically be responsible for snow removal (even of the 1/8" variety). But he had the day off. So Recreation Director Gallagher (who could use the exercise) was "forced" to sweep away this 1/8" snow drift. What an outrage! At about this same time, Gallagher is trying to get the lowly maintenance man fired from his second job. Not too long after, when Gallagher's scandal begins to see the light of day, Hannon gets his revenge on the lowly maintenance man and terminates him.

The pattern that has emerged clearly makes the case for classic bullying. Hannon's misuse of the power with which he has been entrusted continues to grow. His arrogant and overbearing approach seeks to eliminate enemies and intimidate potential foes.

The answers to bullies are time tested and timeless. We must all stand against the bully. We must identify it and condemn it when we see it. We must not allow the bully to think that his actions are going unnoticed. And finally, we must strike back wherever possible and show Mayor Hannon to be the coward that he is.

Johnson City deserves so much better than Mayor Hannon has the character to deliver.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Buying Complicity

“Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation (of power) first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence” - Thomas Jefferson

Firestarter read with great interest Mayor Hannon's claims of great savings with the acquisition of part time chief and full time lackey, Joe Zikuski. The press reported these claims unquestioningly. However, The Press & Sun Bulletin's own website gives lie to these claims.

Much like the "Joint Fire Administrator" there are no savings for Johnson City and reduced service for both communities.

Today's Press & Sun Bulletin reports that Johnson City's share of the part time chief is $84,411. Mayor Hannon claims $42,154.00 in savings. No explanation is given for this number. However, one can only assume that it contemplates bringing someone from the outside to replace Chief Potts. Had the Mayor promoted from within, the pay increase would have been no more than $14,000.

Chief Pott's salary is listed by the Press & Sun Bulletin as $85,692.76 for 2009. There are currently several high ranking Johnson City police officers who made between $70-75K per year. Had Mayor Hannon promoted one of these officers, the cost to village taxpayers would have been 11-13k per year in salary. Instead, the village will have a part-time chief at a cost of over $84,000 per year.

A new patrolman would have cost the Village less than 70k in pay and benefits. So Johnson City could have promoted from within, hired a new patrolman and still come out ahead. And they would have a full time chief!

So again, tax payers need to ask themselves: why is this a good deal from Johnson City's perspective? It appears that, much like the Village's deal with Endicott, only Binghamton saves money.

If it is not about saving taxpayers money, it has to be about control. Fire Starter has learned that the remaining high ranking police officials are unwilling to bend to Mayor Hannon's misuse of the police department. They are unwilling to do the Mayor's dirty work. They take their oath to uphold the law and Constitution seriously.

So what exactly has Mayor Hannon bought with $84,000 of taxpayer money?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hannon's Police Gambit

“It is weakness rather than wickedness which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power” - John Adams

It appears that Hannon has found his soul mate in Mayor Ryan. They both have aggressive political agendas that have little to do with economic development or public safety. Both are pursuing power for its own sake rather than for the public well being.

The Johnson City Village Board and the Binghamton City Council will be voting this week on the "sharing" of a police chief. Both municipalities are claiming great savings from this arrangement. However, this deal appears to be much like Johnson City's deal for a shared "Fire Administrator". If there are savings, it appears that they will be Binghamton's.

A quick review of the inter municipal agreement for the "Fire Administrator" is called for. Below is a summary of the agreement Endicott and Johnson City. Had Johnson City promoted through the ranks, it would have cost approximately $30,000. Instead, Mayor Hannon chose to spend over $83,000 to obtain a "yes man" part-time fire administrator. In Mayor Hannon's world, one can't put a price on the acquisition of power (especially when the taxpayer is footing the bill!).

Enter Binghamton Police Chief Joe Zikuski. This is an individual who's entire career has been plagued by personal and financial woes. Whether it is his divorce, dating and marrying a subordinate, or his personal bankruptcies, Chief Zikuski has shown himself unable to manage himself much less a police department. This is the person we will depend on to stand for the rule of law in the face of political pressures from Mayors Hannon and Ryan? Could Mayor Hannon have picked a more personally vulnerable candidate for Chief of the Johnson City Police Department? Mayor Hannon knows weakness when he sees it and Chief Joe Zikuski (much like Joint Fire Administrator Hrustich) fits the bill.

And what of the Johnson City Police Rules and Regulations? They hold that "Financial irresponsibility is contrary to the special public trust granted to all officers of the Department." Failure to be financially responsible is a punishable offense under the Department's Rules. And the reason for this rule is that financial irresponsibility makes officers more vulnerable to graft or political influence in carrying out lawful duties. It now appears clear why Chief Zikuski is the candidate of choice.

Hannon's bullying has also insured that there will be no one left to question his hand picked lackey. Most, if not all of Johnson City's police command structure is retiring to avoid being plagued by Hannon's abusive use of discipline.

Mayors Hannon has repeatedly shown his willingness to abuse his position to attack and destroy all enemies. Does this further consolidation of power serve the public's interest or his own personal schemes. Once Hannon has taken control over the "police power" in Johnson City, is anyone safe?

Joint Fire Administrator Agreement

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cowardly Politicians And The Political Calendar

"The short memories of American voters is what keeps our politicians in office" - Will Rogers.
Fire Starter has noticed a phenomena amongst politicians both nationally and locally. It is borne of a contempt for the voter and our attention span. It appears that politicians believe that because they will not have to face the voters for several years, they can do most anything and the voters will forget by the next election.

Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan is a case in point. Does anyone recall him promising this "cost of war" counter during the election? Was this the centerpiece of his plan for Binghamton redevelopment? If it was it was a well kept secret. But now that the next election is 3 1/2 years away, it has come to the fore as a pressing need for Binghamton.

That politicians pander to their base is of no surprise. However, Fire Starter questions whether such a divisive issue is what the community needs in these difficult financial times. At a time when we should be uniting around common goals and shared values, we are torn apart for a cheap political gimmick that pleases only a handful of our community's most radical elements.

This phenomena is not unique to Binghamton. Mayor Hannon was appointed mayor of Johnson City last spring. At that time, he hid behind his fellow board members in taking action against village fire fighters. All was quiet until he was elected Mayor in November. Once secure in the fact that he would not face voters for 4 years, he began his systematic attack on anyone whom he deemed his enemy.

Does anyone recall Mayor Hannon's platform of squelching dissent and punishing enemies? Does anyone recall being told that the key to revitalization of the Village was hinged on the persecution of the enemies of the state? Or did his jack-booted tactics only come to the fore after he was elected?

We have Dempsey, Maney, & Potts for starters. All individuals who dared to speak truth to power. There was the proposed "speech policy" which sought to limit the public's right to question its representatives. And don't forget the political pay-offs. A lowly maintenance man was fired to cover for Hannon's cronies, the Gallaghers.

Mayor Hannon always claims to be acting in the "public interest". But the real test is to ask yourself: Would Mayor Hannon have taken these actions if he knew he would be facing the voters in the fall? If so, why did he wait until after the election.

Probably more importantly you can ask yourself: If I knew then what I know now, would I have voted for Dennis Hannon or Matt Ryan? Was this really the program I was supporting or was there a "bait and switch".

And most importantly, am I willing to tell these cowardly "leaders": "I WILL REMEMBER".

Friday, May 7, 2010

"Public Trust" : Further Details Emerge

As Further details become available, the story of misuse of public positions becomes more disturbing. The details begin to paint a picture of Nixonian enemies lists and payback on the public dime.

Fire Starter has received additional information regarding the ethical lapses in the Hannon administration. Some of the players are coming to be known and their exact role better defined.

The individual who attempted to use court records or state database information for a personal smear campaign was Mayor Hannon's Recreation Director, Scott Gallagher. Gallagher, in addition to collecting a 10k plus salary from the Village is the assignment's editor at WBNG-TV. Fire Starter has learned that Mr. Gallagher used his position at WBNG to pass along the information to lowly maintenance man's second employer. Specifically, it appears that he suggested that he was researching the issue as part of his day job at the television station.

In an attempt to convince the other employer of the legitimacy of the information, Mr. Gallagher told the employer he got it from his wife, Rachelle Gallagher, who works in the Village Court. Fire Starter has been advised that the second employer felt harassed by Mr. Gallagher's persistence in pursuing this vendetta.

Finally, Fire Starter has from reliable sources that Mayor Hannon has been aware of this situation since at least December of 2009 yet took no action against his employees. Only as it has begun to become more public has he taken action...AGAINST THE VICTIM!!

Fire Starter is convinced that there has been a serious "breach of the public trust". Scott Gallagher has violated the public trust by using ill gotten personal information for his personal smear campaign. He has violated his position of trust both in his Village job and his job at WBNG. Should a person with so little integrity be working with our children? Or making editorial decisions at a news station?
Rachelle Gallagher has "violated the public trust" by apparently (according to her own husband) utilizing public resources to pursue her personal attacks. Is this a person you want with access to your personal information? Who will her next target be?

And Mayor Hannon. He has been aware of these ethical lapses for over 5 months but has taken no action except to fire the victim of this attack. Is this a man who can be trusted with the power of the Mayors office? Especially when he surrounds himself with fawning supplicants who are willing to do his bidding without regard to personal ethics and the public trust? Who's next on the Mayor's hit list?
Fire Starter is pursuing information pertaining to the motivations of these various miscreants and will report on it in the near future.

With the additional information obtained by the Fire Starter, we become more and more troubled with Mayor Hannon's version of "public trust" and ethics. He appears less and less fit to hold the office of Mayor.

Hannon's Glass House

Fire Starter recently commented on Mayor Hannon's letter to the editor regarding Sheriff Harder. We concluded that Hannon lacks character and fails to recognize it (and often tries to punish it) in others. What we did not realize is that Mr. Hannon appears to be living in an ethical glass house.

Fire Starter has learned that yet another Village employee has been targeted by the Mayor and his henchmen. This time it is a lowly maintenance man in the police department. His crime? Apparently attracting the ire of a Village Court Clerk for reasons that are yet unclear.

This clerk, who has media connections of her own, used Village Court records or restricted computer databases to pursue her personal grudge against this maintenance man. She apparently found two minor prior criminal convictions and, through her media connected husband (who is also a Hannon appointee), attempted to get this maintenance man fired from a second job. In other words, this dynamic duo unethical conduct used Village computers, time, and/or state resources to pursue a purely personal grievance.

So what does our pillar of public integrity, Sheriff Hannon do about this "breach of the public trust"? He squashes the investigation into his friends and goes after the lowly maintenance man. He "opens his own investigation" (sound familiar?) and finds that our lowly maintenance man has, alas, forgotten to "clock out" on his time sheet. This, Sheriff Hannon determines, is a grievous offense and a "breach of the public trust" and tantamount to stealing. The only solution is to fire our lowly maintenance man so as to attempt to inoculate himself and his friends against any future claims of malfeasance.

What does this illustrate? That Mayor Hannon is in no position to be questioning the ethics of other public servants. That he is willing to go to any lengths to attack his opponents and protect himself and his cronies. Fire Starter believes that Mayor Hannon's glass house reveals some very ugly truths about his character. Mayor Hannon needs to examine his own ethics and the ethics of his cronies and ask himself -"Am I fit to be Mayor?". Fire Starter doubts he ever was.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hannon Confused By Character

It was with great wonder that Fire Starter read Mayor Hannon's letter to the editor this morning. In it, he criticized Sheriff Harder over his use of drug seizure money.

First, one would think that the Mayor had enough on his plate without weighing in on this issue. Maybe he plans to pursue discipline against Sheriff Harder.

Second, and probably more shocking is that Mayor Hannon believes that he can speak for the people of Broome County. Fire Starter does not believe that he even speaks for the residents of Johnson City in this or any other matter. If anyone has lost the faith and trust of citizens, it is Mayor Hannon.

Perhaps the Mayor is upset that someone else already has the title of Sheriff.

Or perhaps he is confused by the image of someone making a mistake and then admitting it. This is obviously a character trait Mayor Hannon lacks.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Cost of Shared Services

It was with great ballyhoo that Mayor Hannon announced his intention to enter into an shared services agreement with the City of Binghamton to share a Chief of Police. In support of the concept, the, reiterated his lie of the great savings achieved by the Village in sharing a "Fire Administrator" with the Village of Endicott. As Fire Starter recently pointed out, the village achieved NO SAVINGS in that agreement and actually spent at least 50K more than if they had promoted through the ranks. And only got a part time "Fire Administrator" in the bargain. (See - Found: Wealthy Fire Fighter post below).

Based upon the Mayor's history, Fire Starter is skeptical to say the least. The Mayor has never explained where the Village realized 60k in savings by spending an extra 50k. Fire Starter has explained in detail the raw deal the Mayor negotiated.

Which again brings us to the question of why the mayor is so eager to spend more to get less. Is he counting on "buying" another yes man in Chief Zikuski?
If so, this is an even more dangerous trend since the Mayor has already shown a history of using the police department to go after his enemies. When he met with someone who was unwilling to debase the position of Chief of Police (Potts), he sought to destroy him personally and professionally.

Has Hannon found a new henchman in Zikuski? And at what cost?