Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shady Lawyer Gives Shady Explanation

"Lawyers spend a great deal of time shovelling smoke." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Fire Starter first reported on October 1, 2010 regarding the shady backround of Johnson City Trustee candidate Shawn O'Buckley.  Fire Starter learned that O'Buckley's law license in the State of Colorado was suspended because he:

"...recklessly failed to diligently represent or adequately communicate with a number of clients. He also recklessly charged unreasonable fees, failed to communicate the basis his fee, and failed to safeguard client funds."
These were not mere allegations.  Mr. O'Buckley admitted the misconduct and surendered his license to practice law.

The local media has finally begun to notice this shocking information and report on it.  What took so long is really hard to fathom.  All of the relevant information is freely available from official sources on the internet.  One can only imagine the headlines had the misconduct involved a Village employee.

Mr. O'Buckley now tries to say that he did nothing wrong.  This would seem to be contradicted by his admission of guilt to the Colorado Supreme Court.  So, as the saying goes...was he lying then or is he lying now.  As we have pointed out before, either way, this makes him a liar.

However, upon further review, we are convinced that he is at least as qualified for a Village Board seat as Balles and Silas.  All three mishandle other peoples money, make false public statements and  run from their record.  Based upon Balles and Silas' history, O'Buckley appears to be a piker.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Further Endicott Corruption

“Corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency.”
- Unknown
Fire Starter reported several weeks ago about the corrupt nepotism in the Village of Endicott and the Village of Johnson City.  It appears that the number one priority of both Mayor Bertoni and Mayor Hannon is to take care of family and friends.  And shockingly, the respective Village Boards sit idly by as these two abuse their positions of public trust.

Fire Starter has now learned that the corruption in Endicott goes much deeper.  This past summer, Endicott engaged in milling activity to improve the streets of the Village.  This process involves grinding up paving material, mixing it with new material and repaving.  This process results in some left over paving material which can be used as fill or for parking lots and driveways much in the way one would use gravel or cinder.  The material obviously has use and value.

However, in Endicott, this material has become another goody for Mayor Bertoni to give to his friends gratis.  Fire Starter has been reliably informed that at least several Village businesses were given this material at not charge.  In each case, the material was used as a base for a parking area.  In at least one instance, Village employees were instructed to spread the material for the business owner.  We are continuing to dig and will provide specifics regarding the businesses involved in the near future.

The gifting of Village assets to local business is clearly improper.  There can be no explaining away this conduct.  The use of Village trucks and equipment is also improper.  The use of Village employees by private businesses is probably most disturbing.  These employees were being paid by ALL of the taxpayers but apparently providing services to FOB's (Friends of Bertoni).  One can only speculate as to what Bertoni got in return for these Village assets.

The days of this sort back room corruption have long since past.  Endicott is not Mayor Bertoni's personal cookie jar out of which jobs and services are doled to his friends and family.  It is time for Bertoni to come forward and explain his hand in this theft.  And in all likelihood, it is time for Bertoni to step down.

However, Maybe this is some sort of new program in Endicott.  Therefore, we would encourage anyone needing a new driveway to call Mayor Bertoni and put in your order at 757-2420.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Economic Development...JC Style

"Where there is no vision, the people perish." - Proverbs 29:18

You may recall that several weeks ago, the Village of Johnson City Board was asked to describe their accomplishments in economic development in the Village.  Each Board member took their turn and attempted to justify their existence.  That is, each Board Member other than Trustee Silas.  Instead of outlining her "many" accomplishments, she "turned the question back" on community activist and Johnson City Booster, Julie Deemie.

Fire Starter speculated that Silas really had nothing to say in defense of her tenure and resorted to an "I know you are, but what am I" sort of defense.  Sadly, we were mistaken.  Hannon, Balles and Silas have many accomplishments as evidenced by the following photo array:

Hannon, Balles and Silas have done a remarkable job of economic development.  Should several dozen retail businesses magically elect to open businesses in the Village of Johnson City, the retail space is open and waiting for them.  Hannon, Balles, and Silas have done a remarkable job of presiding over the urban "Mumbai-zation" of Johnson City.

But there is still much work to be done.  There still are a handful of business which need to be chased from downtown Johnson City.  This is why Balles and Silas believe their re-election is so critical.  Only they have the skills to critically degrade police and fire service, pursue petty grievances at great cost and "fiddle" while businesses flee from the mess they have made.

As far as the Fire Starter can tell, the one economic development that Hannon, Balles and Silas have triggered was the creation and promotion of this blog.

Hannon, Balles and Silas lack the vision and leadership to move the Village forward.

It is time to send Silas and Balles packing.  Since there is only one qualified candidate on the ballot on November 2nd, we again urge you to only "vote for one".  This will send an unmistakable message to these petty autocrats.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Deemie Responds

“Corruption is nature's way of restoring our faith in democracy.”- Peter Ustinov

Fire Starter recently detailed the lies being told by Johnson City Village Board member and candidate Monica Silas.  Apparently unable to defend her own record, she made false accusations against one of her opponents, Greg Deemie.  In  a Facebook post, she accused Deemie of testifying against the Village at a recent court proceeding.  This was patently false and she knew it.  She was there.

Now Greg Deemie has written a letter to the press confiming what the Fire Starter reported last week.

Dear Editor,

I am a candidate for Johnson City trustee in this year's election. Misinformation has been circulated about me testifying against the village. Please allow me to set the record straight.

I was subpoenaed by the law offices of Hinman, Howard & Kattell to testify in the Public Employment Relations Board court in Albany on Sept. 20. I also was subpoenaed by the Village of Johnson City's attorney for their federal case.

I legally record the Johnson City board meetings; therefore, both sides demanded copies of my recordings. Because I received a subpoena, I was bound by law to appear in court. I was not there to testify against either side; I was there to authenticate my recordings. I was following the order of the law. I never testified because the PERB case was settled out of court and the federal case was dropped.

If those responsible had conducted themselves ethically, the truth would have been known.

Greg Deemie

We await any sort of contridictory evidence from Trustee Silas.

And while we are speaking of the Village of Johnson City, what's happening with Silas' Democratic running mate, Shawn O'Buckley?  As you will recall, Silas passed joint election petitions with Mr. O'Buckley.  Fire Starter later learned that Mr. O'Buckley was recently suspended from the practice of law in the state of Colorado.  Mr. O'Buckley admitted to failing to properly safeguard client money and overcharging clients. We now have the Court Decision regarding O'Buckley.

This guy is a real class act.  And a fitting running mate for Monica Silas.  It's easy to see why she would be confused by a person of integrity like Greg Deemie.

On November 2nd, you will have your chance to restore Democracy in the Village of Johnson City.  Use your vote wisely.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


"Man can not live by incompetence alone". - Charlotte Whitton

The State Comptroller issued a report last week regarding the financial operations of the Village of Johnson City.  Although Mayor Hannon tried to argue that the shortcomings in village finance were someone else's responsibility, a review of the Comptroller's report would reveal otherwise.  The Audit covered the period from June 1, 2008 to August31, 2009.

At the outset, the Comptroller correctly points out that the Village's "..elected five member Board of Trustees is responsible for the general management and control of the Village's finances and operations.  The Mayor, who is a member of the Board, serves as the Village's chief executive officer".  In other words, all five Board members (including the Mayor) share responsibility for all Village finances. 

Hannon, Silas and Balles were all Village Board members during the relevant time frame. Balles has been on the Village Board since 1998.  Hannon was first elected to the Board in 2007 and became Mayor June of 2009.  Silas was elected to the Board in 2008.  If there were deficiencies in the way Village finances were handled during the relevant time frame, these three bear a significant share of responsibility. 

The Comptroller found in relevant part that:
  • The Board failed to provide proper training to the former clerk treasurer and current accounts payable clerk.

  • The Board failed to fulfill its responsibility of  fiscal oversight.

  • The Board did not utilize accurate information as the basis of its budgeting.

  • The Board had no process in place to determine the appropriate balance for reserve for encumbrances.

  • The Board over expended 21 separate budget lines during fiscal year 2008-2009.

  • The Board failed to ensure that Village accounting records were accurate and current.
In short, the Village Board failed to meet its most basic responsibilities to the taxpayers.  Instead of safeguarding the taxpayer's money, Hannon, Silas and Balles have been distracted by petty squabbles and heavy handed power plays.  They pursued frivolous vendettas while the Village finances went unattended.

So now Balles and Silas believe that their performance deserves another term as Village Board members.  It is hard to fathom the arrogance that would lead these two individuals to this conclusion.  But the taxpayers know better.  It is time to turn out the incompetents.  And send a message to the lead incompetent, Hannon.

Monday, October 11, 2010


"He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual." - Thomas Jefferson

Fire Starter knows that this is no real news flash.  Trustee Monica Silas has repeatedly shown herself to be a characterless liar who will do anything to promote Mayor Dennis Hannon's destructive agenda.  We just have new evidence of her deceitfulness.

Silas recently posted on her Facebook page that her opponent, Greg Deemie, testified against the Village of Johnson City at a recent hearing pertaining to the suspension of Captain Marty Maney.  See for yourself.

First, Fire Starter has confirmed that NO ONE testified in Albany.  The Village surrendered in the face of certain defeat.  Fire Starter has learned that Monica Silas was in Albany for the hearing and clearly knows that NO ONE TESTIFIED.  This makes her Facebook statement nothing short of a lie.  Not spin.  Not an exageration.  A LIE.

Second, Fire Starter has reliably confirmed that Greg Deemie had been present in Albany under subpoena by both the Village and the Village Fire Fighters.  We can only guess as to the reason for his appearance, but it may have been because he and his wife Julie are regular attendees at Village Board meetings.  

Third, had Deemie testified under oath, he would neither be testifying for or against anyone.  He would be telling the truth; something that Silas does have even a passing familiarity with.

And finally, Silas seems to make this out as the Village versus the Fire Department.  Last time we checked, the Fire Department is part of the Village government.

Silas seems to believe she deserves another term as Village Trustee.  She certainly fits in with Hannon and Balles and the suspended lawyer, O'Buckley.  But Village residents deserve better than they have been getting from the Village Board.  Village residents deserve integrity in their leaders.  Silas must go.

On November 2nd, send a message to the dishonest, self dealing politicians and vote for only one candidate for Johnson City Village Board.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Improper Leave Time?

"A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies" - Mark Twain

The Press & Sun Bulletin recently ran an article regarding a state comptroller report on Johnson City.  In the report, the comptroller found over-expended accounts and "improper leave time".  The latter finding largely pertained to the fire department and was in no way explained by the story's author.  The story might lead the uninformed to assume that the fire fighters have done something wrong.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is that the "improper leave time" is what is commonly referred to as "comp time".  Comp time is additional time off granted in lieu of overtime.  In other words, instead of being paid in cash at time and one half for overtime, fire fighters were given additional time off. This allowed the village to avoid overtime costs.

Far from being beneficial to the fire fighters, this took money out of their pockets.  But it allowed the village to maintain essential services at little or no increased cost.  Even though they were not required to do so, Johnson City fire fighters agreed to allow the village to avoid this cost and pay them in "time off".

Mayor Hannon could learn a few lessons from the prior administration.  Hannon has repeatedly wasted money on fruitless, petty legal proceedings rather than seeking mutually agreeable solutions.  His "ham-handed" approach to leadership has cost the village dearly.  It is time to stop the madness and stop the madman.  Hannon must go.

Monday, October 4, 2010

All In The Family

“Corruption and hypocrisy ought not to be inevitable products of democracy, as they undoubtedly are today” - Mahatma Gandhi

Fire Starter has noticed a disturbing trend in local government.  Supposed fiscal hawks have cut public safety to the core while placing various friends and family on the public payroll.

In Endicott, Mayor Bertoni has placed numerous family members on the public payroll while slashing police and fire budgets.  John Green, an ersatz brother-in-law was hired to work at the waste water treatment plant.  This was done despite the fact that Mr. Green had no qualifications or experience for this position.  Prior to taking this position, Mr. Green was a sporting goods salesman.  Mr. Green was hired over Carmen Grecco, a former IBM chemist.

The Mayor's son, Brian Bertoni has also been placed on the Village payroll.  He apparently worked as a baker for a local bread company.  This apparently qualified him for a position in the Water Department.  Bertoni's son was hired over Greg Diaferio.  Mr. Diaferio has over 16 years experience in the field.

Mayor Bertoni also has a relative working in public works for the Village of Endicott.  Fire Starter will continue to dig for the details regarding this individual.

Johnson City Mayor Dennis Hannon enjoys crowing about his "fiscal responsibility"  What we didn't know was that he was talking about his family.

The Mayor's daughter, Kayla, works in the Village Court as a clerk.  She has no background or experience that would qualify her for such a job.  In addition, she is one of three clerks in a Village of  a little over 14,000 residents.  This doesn't even include "Senior Clerk" Rachelle Gallagher, about whom we have written in the past.  You'll recall that Rachelle's husband, Scott is an assignments editor at WBNG and ALSO on the Village payroll.

Fire Starter has recently learned that Mayor Hannon is proposing a take back of dispatching for the police department.  As part of past consolidation efforts, Broome County has taken over dispatching in conjunction with the local departments.  Under the guise of "putting more officers on the street", Hannon will propose sending the one officer in the station out on the street and hiring several civilian dispatchers to take his place.  In addition to not being cost effective and possibly detrimental to proper police supervision, it also appear to be self serving.

Fire Starter has learned that one of the leading candidates for one the dispatching jobs are Hannon's wife, and current Broome 911 dispatcher, Tammie Hotaling.  The other is retired Johnson City Police  Darren Hannon.  The last name is not a coincidence.  Darren is Dennis Hannon's brother.   Although both may be qualified, it certainly raises questions regarding priorities in these difficult economic times.

What all of these instances highlight is the arrogance of power and abuse of the public trust.  These go beyond the appearance of impropriety and approach corruption.  Public office is a sacred trust.  Not a trough for mayors to feed their family and friends.

If we can't afford essential public safety services, we certainly cannot afford this sort of graft.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Birds of a Feather

“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” - Aesop

Monica Silas, Johnson City Village Board member and candidate for re-election has spoken self righteously about honesty and integrity.  She has repeatedly chastised those who do not rise to her "high standards" of conduct and integrity.  In what has become an all too familiar scenario in politics, those who crow the loudest about their own virtue and chastise others are often shown to be hypocrites. (See Governor Eliot Spitzer, Senator Larry Craig, and others).

Monica Silas has been campaigning with Shawn O'Buckley for the Johnson City Village Board.  They passed joint Democratic petitions for the office.  Monica has repeatedly hailed the fact that although Mr. O'Buckley is a recent transplant to the Village, his experience as an attorney in Colorado makes him an ideal candidate for Village Board.

Fire Starter has just learned that Shawn C. O'Buckley was suspended from the practice of law by the Supreme Court of Colorado on September 16, 2010.  In the reported decision of the court, Mr. O'Buckley admitted that he:
"...recklessly failed to diligently represent or adequately communicate with a number of clients. He also recklessly charged unreasonable fees, failed to communicate the basis his fee, and failed to safeguard client funds."
As much as it pains the Fire Starter to admit it, it appears that he would fit right in with the current village leaders.  They both fail to represent residents diligently and are reckless in the use of other peoples money.  Further, the Village already has a lot of experience with unreasonable attorney's fees.  This sounds like a perfect fit.

That is...unless the people of the Village of Johnson City stand up and say ENOUGH!  As far as we can see, the only Village Board Candidate with exemplary character and dedication to the Village is Greg Deemie.  Balles and Silas are self righteous, soulless sycophants.  And it appears that O'Buckley is just another unethical shyster.

Village residents have a difficult task ahead as they need to choose two candiates from a field where only one deserves election.  Although you may choose two candidates on November 2nd, we suggest that you only vote for one.  Send a message to Balles, Silas and their new soul mate, O'Buckley.  There is a new sheriff in Johnson City.  And it's the voter!