Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hannon to Stay...For Now

"Time will inevitably uncover dishonesty and lies; history has no place for them." - Norodom Sihanouk

As we suspected all all along, Mayor Dennis Hannon's talk of resignation was merely the cover of a coward.  Fearful that he would have to face an embarrassing loss in the appeals court, he gave himself an "out" which seemingly had nothing to do with the matter.  Now that the village is victorious, the "family and health" problems had been flushed down the memory hole.

So what is the first thing Hannon does?  File more lawsuits.  This time he is seeking lawyer fees.  If we are following this correctly, Hannon has filed multiple lawsuits against the fire fighter's union and is now seeking repayment of the fees for his crooked schysters.  And apparently this is also the fire fighter's fault.

Fire Starter believes that this continues to be so much subterfuge.  Hannon would prefer not to have the public notice that he has spent an inordinate amount of money to fight an unnecessary fight which left village services and coffers depleted.

The ranks of the fire department could have been maintained with the Federal grant no cost to the village.  But that was rejected in favor of this unnecessary fight.  The department could have been maintained through the pay concessions offered by the union.  But that was rejected in favor of this unnecessary fight.  As far as Fire Starter can see, everyone lost except the lawyers.  And this is what Hannon is so proud of??

With new board that is on to Hannon's tricks, the new year should be interesting.  The real question is- How many embarrassing defeats at the hands of the board will Hannon endure before his "health and family issues" take a "turn for the worse"?


The Fire Starter would like to take this opportunity to thank the brave men and women who keep us safe every day of the year.  Our police and fire personnel work tirelessly and around the clock so that we may enjoy our holiday season and the entire year.  On Christmas eve, as we all enjoy the peace and security they provide, we should all say a prayer of thanks for these dedicated professionals.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government." -Milton Friedman

The Johnson City Village Board on Tuesday took separate actions which, with a fair and objective media, would serve to highlight the dysfunction of the Hannon years on the village board and as mayor.  As we all know, there is no objective media in the Southern Tier.  If there was, there would be no need for the Fire Starter to consistently correct the record and tell the stories the media will not.

First, the village board approved the police contract which brings them up to date.  The Fire Starter is happy that the village and police union were able to reach an agreement.  It is patently unfair for the police to sit without raises for the past five years.  Inflation alone has worked against these fine men and women who have risked their lives daily to protect us.  It certainly was about time the village lived up to its obligations.

In reporting on the deal., the Press & Sun Bulletin made reference to the fact that the deal was worth about $1.3 million and that the village only has a fraction of that amount on hand to pay the raises.  The village will now have to borrow the lion share to pay for this agreement.  This fact is clear evidence of Hannon's mismanagement of the village over the last two years as mayor and before that as trustee.  The village should not have to borrow to pay salaries.  This should have been built into each and every budget for the last few years.  Instead, Hannon falsely claimed to be "holding the line" and limiting tax increases.  In reality, he has played a shell game that is now coming home to roost.  the taxpayers will now be saddled with this new debt and interest just to pay current obligations.  This is the equivalent of taking a second mortgage to pay for groceries.  It may be necessary but is indicative of poor planning and mismanagement.

The second issue addressed buy the board was to revise the "shared services agreement" with the City of Binghamton.  We have repeatedly outlined how this was always a good deal for Binghamton and a bad deal for the Village of Johnson City.  The village pays more money for part time chiefs than it would have for full time command in the village.  Binghamton has been able to reduce its expenses for these chief positions by about 30% at the expense of village taxpayers.  this never was and remains a bad deal for village residents.

But even more disturbing is the sweetheart deal contained in the revised agreement.  The Binghamton chiefs, like JFA Hrustich, now have a guarantee of their bloated salaries for at least one year regardless of their performance or misconduct.  These "three wisemen" could engage in the most egregious conduct meriting discharge yet they would be guaranteed their bloated salaries at Johnson City's expense.  This is the sort of back room cronyism that has been the hallmark of the Hannon years.

Hannon has been flirting with staying on with Hannon.  In one meeting, Hannon has provided all of the proof taxpayers need as to why he must go.  The village has been so severely mismanaged since Hannon has been mayor that it may not be salvageable.  Only with his departure can the village be saved.

The Fire Starter wonders who (if anyone) is encouraging Hannon to stay.  But we are quit confident that if Hannon stays, the village will go.  And maybe that answers our question about Hannon's support.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hannon Staying On?

"Stupidity combined with arrogance and a huge ego will get you a long way." -Chris Lowe

Johnson City Mayor Hannon recently announced that he is reconsidering his decision to resign.  He sites "the political winds changing" in the village as a reason for reconsidering resignation.  When asked point blank if he is opening the door to reversing his decision, he said "maybe a crack".  However, reviewing all of the circumstances in the village and the recent elections, one must consider the "crack" to be in Hannon's head.

It is entirely unclear what has changed in the political environment.  Hannon's only dissolution ally, John Sullivan, was soundly defeated in Novembers election.  Hannon is losing a dim witted supporter in Trustee Ron Davis as of the first of the year.  He still has equally dimwitted supporter Rick Balles to rubber stamp his destructive policies.  However, the rest of the new board is comprised of anti-dissolution members.  Greg Deemie will return for the second year of his two year term. Former Trustee Bruce King is returning to the Board and will likely renew his battles with Hannon.  And first time board member, Luke Slota has vowed to preserve the village and work through the villages problems without the acrimony.  This certainly sounds like a shift in the political winds...but not in Hannon's favor.

Now let's look at what Hannon has created and will now have to face.  He has negotiated a new contract with the police union.  After looking down the barrel of a million dollar plus arbitration award, Hannon finally negotiated.  But this agreement will cost the Village considerably more than the arbitration award. Hannon conveniently pushes the lion share of the liability into the next fiscal year forcing the new board into a vote to violate the 2% tax cap imposed by state law.  Does Hannon really want to be there for that vote?

The Sewage Treatment plant remains as a symbol of Hannon's incompetence and neglect.  Does he want to be there for further votes to exceed the tax cap to pay those bills?

And his one "achievement has been the successful laying off of fire fighters.  However, as we pointed out in previous posts, this was ultimately a loss to village residents as the positions could have been funded by grant money and union concessions in perpetuity.  And now he is spending more money on lawyers on a fools errand seeking to force the union to pay his over priced lawyers.  This is a classic case of throwing good money after bad.

Hannon points to his "inter-municipal agreements" on shared services as his crowning achievement that must be preserved.   However, we have repeatedly outlined how these agreements are not favorable to the village and line the pockets of Hannon toadies at the expense of taxpayers.  The taxpayers are stuck paying more money for less service.

So what is Hannon's talk of staying really about?  It is about Hannon's ego.  It is an attempt to put the best face on his departure.  He is running like a coward but wants to make the case that he has done a wonderful job.  In reality, he has made a terrible mess that will take years to fix.  He is not willing to do the heavy lifting.  For this reason, the Fire Starter believes Hannon is still leaving.  And his departure will be his greatest achievement for the village.