Thursday, February 2, 2012

King John the Misogynist

“When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch.” ― Bette Davis

Apparently King John the Clueless is feeling left out.  While his philosophical twin in Johnson City is getting all of the attention, John Bertoni is drowning in anonymity in Endicott.  Surely he can be as petty as Dennins Hannon.  Surely there must be employees he can harass to prove to all he is as small as Dennis Hannon.  Surely the man who "owns the Village of Endicott" can put in a couple of hours at the village and find someone to lord his power over.

Surely he can. In December, King John the Diminutive found his target.  Kathy Utter, Director of the Endicott Visitor Center for nearly a decade, was summarily dismissed.  During her tenure, Ms Utter transformed the center from a dreary and under utilized facility into a first class museum of Endicott history.  at the same time, she made the Center a revenue source by tirelessly seeking bookings and events for the events room.

There was no reason given for the termination.  Bertoni may have had personal disagreements with the director.  Utter placed the Visitor Center first and was unwilling to dish out favors to Bertoni's cronies.  However some suspect that the decision arises out of Bertoni's inability to deal with a strong female in a leadership position.  Bertoni's misogynistic attitudes have long been known by those having even the most limited dealings with King John.  And with this move, there are no women department heads in Endicott.  (Watch out Cheryl, You are next!)

The Fire Starter has learned that Bertoni has designs on the position previously held Ms Utter.  As part of Bertoni's "friends and family" plan, don't be surprised if a relative or close friend ends up taking over the position. And don' be surprised if the Visitor Center falls into disrepair and disuse.  To Ms Utter, the Center was a labor of love.  To Bertoni, it is just another favor to dole out.

Since Ms. Utter's dismissal, many individuals who loaned items for display have demanded they be returned.  Many lifelong Endicott residents, knowing of Bertoni's incompetence and corruption, collected their historical items for fear of Bertoni's next move.  In the end, Bertoni has taken one of the better run departments in the Village and  wrecked it to satisfy his personal animus and corrupt designs.

At a recent Board meeting, Village resident and former trustee Alberta Fiori-Gazda stood to speak in Utter's defense. Her comment is printed below, unedited.

The termination of Kathy Utter, Director of the Endicott Visitor Center was a result of continued harassment by the Bertoni Administration. Mayor Bertoni micro-managed Mrs. Utter in her role as Director of the facility for years and despite urging by the Board of Trustees and the public, the Mayor never allowed Mrs. Utter to speak to the Board to answer the Mayor’s complaints. She was given no reason for her dismissal. This demonstrates a true lack of executive leadership ability.

During the last nine years, Kathy Utter has exemplified the unique qualities and dedication it takes to successfully operate the Visitor Center and Community Meeting Hall: coordinating and training volunteers, scheduling events, developing changing historical exhibits, cataloging donations, establishing a gift shop, maintaining the facility, interacting with community organizations, residents, businesses, developing programs for school students, working with NYS agencies and organizing fundraising events…to name a few of her responsibilities. We are proud of the Visitor Center and grateful to her for her hard work. Thanks to her efforts, the Visitor Center and Community Meeting Hall is the most notable “showplace” in Endicott.

We object to the decision by the Mayor to fire Mrs. Utter and deplore the way it was handled. One, who has served the Village with dedication and distinction for nine years, in a supervisory position, deserves better. Our question to the members of the Board of Trustees is, “why was there no vote taken by the Board?” We must conclude in the absence of such a vote, that the entire Board of Trustees agrees with the Mayor’s decision.

In 2002, Mrs. Utter’s appointment was approved by a vote of the Board of Trustees and Mayor Colella. Under Village law the Mayor has the responsibility “to appoint all department heads and non-elected officers and employees, subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees.” (Village Law Section 4-400 (1) (c)). Additionally, VIL. LAW § 4-412 : NY Code - Section 4-412: The Board of Trustees. The first line of the section reads: “a. In addition to any other powers conferred upon villages”… giving the Village Board of Trustees broad power and responsibility for managing the affairs of the Village. Where is the Village’s code of ethics?

Therefore, since the Board of Trustees hired Mrs. Utter in 2002, it is only proper and lawful that the Board of Trustees discuss this issue and publicly bring it to a vote.
Well said Alberta! 

King John should know that many will be watching his next moves.  The replacement director will come under significant scrutiny.  And we will be monitoring the decline in bookings and the overall decline of the center.  And we will hold you accountable.

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