Wednesday, November 23, 2011

JC Corruption Continues

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

Well it may the day before Thanksgiving but it is not too early for Christmas.  Mayor Dennis Hannon and Joint Fire Administrator Hrustich are giving their gifts early this year...and you are paying for them.

First Mayor Hannon.  The Fire Starter recently reported on the Inter-municipal Agreement pertaining to Hrustich.  The Endicott Village Board recently voted to approve an agreement with the Village of Johnson City to continue to share the overpaid and under worked Hrustich.  There were many problems with the new agreement and it remains a bad deal for the Village of Johnson City. Johnson City will now pay even more for this part time employee than it did under the prior agreement.

But perhaps most egregious is the provision which guarantees Hrustich's pay for an entire year.  Under the agreement, if Johnson City terminates Hrustich, they will still owe their share of his bloated pay for the rest of the calendar year.  No matter how outrageous his conduct, his termination would not stop him from receiving his pay package which is worth nearly $170,000 when factoring in percs and benefits.  Yes, Hannon does not believe in job security for the brave fire fighters and police officers but for his lap dog Hrustich, money is no object (especially when he is not paying for it).

And now Hrustich.  Receiving his big fat gift from Hannon has really put him in the giving spirit.  For years, the fire department has maintained it's own rigs including changing the oil in the rigs.  This amounts to 80 to 100 gallons of oil yearly.  For many years, this oil was sold to offset the cost of maintenance.  Apparently this oil has value and can be burned as fuel oil and the village annually received payment from a local business.  Well no longer.

Fire Starter has learned that Hrustich has ended the long standing policy of selling the oil and is now giving it to an ally that is using it for heating purposes.  With current heating oil prices range from $3.00 to $4.00 per gallon this represents a gifting of $300 to $400 dollars per year.  And again, the tax payers are footing the bill.

This sort of corrupt cronyism is exactly the kind of thing we have come to expect from Hannon's corrupt regime.  It is long past time for the attorney general and the comptroller to investigate who is getting what and from whom.  The village coffers are not Hannon and Hrustich's personal piggy bank out of which favors are dispensed.  These gifts of public funds are a breach of the public trust.  It is time for someone to answer for this corruption.

UPDATE:  The Fire Starter has learned that Mayor Hannon has a special something for his favorite staff member.  Not to worry though.  It does not cost the public anything and is reputedly quite small.

Friday, November 18, 2011

JC Loses

Pyrrhic victory - n. a victory achieved at too large a cost

It appears that Hannon has received his pound of flesh from the Village of Johnson City Fire Department.  The Press & Sun Bulletin is reporting that the layoff of 6 fire fighters that occurred over two years ago will stand.  The two and one half year ordeal went to the state's highest court and it ruled that the layoffs were legal.  It appears that Hannon has won...and the Village has lost.

Hannon made it his goal form the outset to attack Village employees in general and the fire department in particular.  Hannon's "bully" style has led to multiple legal law suits, arbitrations and disciplines and in the end, nearly one million dollars in legal bills for a little over two years.  Yes, he reduced the size of the fire department.  But he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it while rejecting nearly $600,000 in union givebacks that would have funded those positions in perpetuity.  But Hannon's ego and desire to be the "king" outweighed all reason.

Further evidence of Hannon's vendetta can be found in the Village's refusal of the federal SAFER grant.  this grant would have maintained all six fire fighter positions at little or no cost to the village for two years.  If at the end of two years, the village was unable to fund the positions, they had no further obligation under the grant.  Contrary to Hannon's misinformation, there were no "strings attached".

The Village now has large legal bills and fewer first responders.  The south side fire station is closed as often as not.  Effective response times have grown due to short staffing.  What were once minor fires have become major incidents costing life and property.  Village residents paid for the service but are not receiving what they paid for. 

Yes, Hannon won this battle.  But at a significant cost to taxpayers both in dollars and service.  Hannon won...but Village residents have lost.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Is It Morning In JC?

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. - Marcus Aurelius

The Fire Starter stepped outside this morning to find a bright and clear day with an electric blue sky.  It is the kind of morning that makes one happy to be alive.  The world is clean and bright and full of endless possibilities.  It is on mornings like today that one can believe that no matter how bad our economy or personal situation is, things can get better.  We have a second chance.

It is with this bright optimism that we view yesterday's election results.  Yesterday, Johnson City residents rejected the negative and hateful politics of the Hannon years.  John Sullivan and his divisive beliefs were soundly defeated.  Even Monica Silas was again turned back by voters.  Johnson City has had enough and is looking to leaders to solve the problems and provide services without the petty power plays and ceaseless legal battles.  Residents are clearly looking for leaders, not bloviating bullies.

The Village faces many challenges in the coming months.  Hannon, Davis and Balles have dug an incredibly deep hole for the Village. Their misfeasance and malfeasance brought the village to the brink of ruin.  Slota, King, and Deemie will need to resolve outstanding labor contracts, the million dollar arbitration award, the illegal layoff of fire fighters, and the sewage treatment plant.  But all three are men of goodwill with a commitment to the continued existence of the village.  We believe that these three will work with their willing partners in the unions to move the village forward.

The days of division are over.  Johnson City voters have given themselves a fresh start.  We must  now seize this opportunity.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hrustich's Payoff

Corruption is like a ball of snow, once it's set a rolling it must increase. - Charles Caleb Colton

The Fire Starter has repeatedly detailed the misuse of tax dollars in both Endicott and Johnson City.  Consistently,  Bertoni and Hannon have used public funds to pay off friends and family.  Public funds have been used to purchase favorable press and loyalty from useful tools.  Certainly, Johnson City's deal to "share" a fire administrator with Endicott has been a crooked deal.

The deal made no fiscal sense from the beginning.  Johnson City paid $40,000 more for Joint Fire Administrator Hrustich than if they had promoted through the ranks.  And they only have Hrustich's services half the time they would have had they promoted a Johnson City fire fighter to chief.  In the end, it became clear that Hrustich was bought and paid for.  He would rationalize any risk to the public or the fire fighters because he was being well paid to do so.  Hrustich could be bought and Hannon was a willing buyer.

It is with this in mind that the Fire Starter took interest in a little noticed item at a recent Village of Endicott board meeting.  The Village of Endicott recently approved a new municipal agreement for the sharing of Hrustich with Johnson City.  It is certainly notable that this was done without public notice.  The Village board rammed this through it's meeting without so much as a moment's discussion.  Village resident's were caught off guard and were unaware of the details of the proposed agreement.  However, this agreement has not been approved by the Village of Johnson City.  The Fire Starter believes that once the details come to light, Village residents will be up in arms.

  • Hrustich will continue to collect nearly $120,000 in pay and extras making him the highest paid chief in Broome County - Significantly higher paid than the Binghamton Fire Chief who commands twice as many men.

  • Hrustich will continue with other benefits such as a municipal vehicle and municipal gas with NO accountability for the use of either.

  • The Village of Johnson City will now indemnify Hrustich for his own potential wrongdoing and negligence and JC will also be responsible for at least 1/2 of any workman's compensation or any other disability claim.

  • Probably most disturbing, If the Village terminates the contract for any reason, it must give 90 days prior written notice and must still pay Hrustich his full salary for the rest of the calendar year.  In other words, Hrustich will receive his lucrative salary for up to one year after he is terminated...even if the termination is for misconduct!
This appears to us to be one last payoff to the Hannon toady, Hrustich.  Any casual observer would see that Hrustich is out of his depth as "Joint Fire Administrator".  His incompetence has become legendary.  He is already responsible for at least one citizen's death and numerous fire fighters have had near misses and injuries as a result of his incompetence.  Only among the corrupt ruling class would this merit the kind of job security this agreement seeks to bestow.

It will be up to Johnson City residents to speak their minds at upcoming board meetings.  Otherwise, Johnson City will attempt to pass this under cover of darkness and saddle taxpayers with at least another year of this overpaid and under worked incompetent.

If Hannon wants to give Hrustich a going away present, let him do it with his own money!