Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fibs ... Fairy Tales ... and Fables ...

... One Example of the Lies the Greece BOE Wants You To Believe ...

From the BOE Special Meeting Minutes of 6/23/09 -
"Engagement of Attorney
Motion: That the Board of Education appoints David Rothenberg as Special Council to the District effective April 28, 2009.
Adopted 9-0"

On June 10, 2009 GCSD Accounts Payable Dept. stamped "Received" at the top of a bill for $7234.51 for legal services from Geiger & Rothenberg LLP related to the Steven Walts litigation case.

The bill shows the file with GCSD was opened on 4/17/09 when .5 hrs. was spent on correspondence and a telephone conference call resulting in a charge of $175.00 that day for services from "DR" ~~ presumably David Rothenberg.

The bill shows the final charges to GCSD occurred on 5/20/09 where charges of $315 accrued for more correspondence and calls.

The issue ~~ David Rothenberg's legal services to GCSD began on 4/17/09 as reflected by the bill to the district, BUT the BOE did NOT LEGALLY HIRE HIM UNTIL 6/23/09 when the BOE agreed to "engage him" for services beginning April 28, 2009!

There was NO PUBLIC DISCUSSION related to hiring this law firm during the June 23rd meeting. Obviously, the decision to do so was made BEHIND CLOSED DOORS ON APRIL 17th OR EARLIER!


As BOE President at the time this happened, Julia VanOrman has some 'splainin' to do!


Anonymous said...

I did not realise Walts and Phelan were back.
At least there definition of what belongs in ex. session is back.

SCATS said...


1 ~~ NO ONE "Moved" or "Seconded" the motion to engage this law firm

2 ~~ The IMPROPER meeting minutes were approved right after Patrick Tydings became BOE Prez on the evening of July 14th making him responsible, too.


4 ~~ If we can't trust them with the small stuff ($7234 is a fraction of what they must manage), how can we trust them with the bigger stuff?

Anonymous said...

You are right. A public body cannot vote to expend funds or hire/retain someone or make a motion to take a legal action retroactively. There is no oooops exclusion. If they did pay him for work that was done before he was contracted then those funds were spent illegally. Of course there is no accountability or punishment for these actions for the board members. The only recourse is to make a petition to have them removed by the commissioner of Education. And he will not ever do that unless it is a persistent recurring action. They know that. Scoundrels.
But thanks for pointing it out. So we know what we are dealing with. Tydings probably caught it and remedied their mistake. Or am I giving him too much credit? Maybe it was someone in the financial office that wouldn't expend the funds until they had the proper paperwork. More likely.

Anonymous said...

Please point to the law or statute that was broken in this case.

Anonymous said...

The whole thing stinks. This was one more attempt by the powers that be to get Walts off the hook. Tydings is probably more guilty in this rotten fiasco because as a lawyer, he should know better.

This was an attempt by the majority on the board to get the answer they wanted from a personal friend of certain board members. The controlling members of the board do NOT want Walts called to task for his thefts and frauds and will do ANYTHING (legal or otherwise) to stop it.

They just blew almost $8,000 of our money to get the answer they wanted to the burning legal question of Walts' guilt.

They tried to sneak it through hoping no one would catch it. This is the way they do business and unless there is someone watching they will continue.

We now have a new Commissioner of Education, it might be worth a try to see if taxpayers can get some satisfaction for the crooked dealings of the BOE.

Anonymous said...

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is no amount of money they won't expend to keep Walts safe.

If and when the Walts deal ever becomes public, a lot of big name heads will roll, starting with his. They stopped a Greece Police investigation, they stopped a Sheriff's department investigation, they silenced the DA's office and the State Police. The facts are black and white and yet Walts continues to receive $20+ thousand a year of our money. Go figure!

This illegal BOE move is small potatoes in the whole scheme of things.

Anonymous said...

11:19 What did you mean when you said "personal friend" did you mean a friend of the lawyer mentioned i.e David Rothenburg. Who is that friend?

SCATS said...

To 9:21AM ~~ I'm confused by your comments. Please clarify. Are you suggesting that as long as the BOE took action to approve the use of the attorney BEFORE GCSD cut his law firm a check that the BOE's action was legal?

By the folks, this sort of thing happens fairly often in GCSD. Our BOE seems to have a very tough time abiding by their own policies, let alone the laws of NY State.

SCATS said...

To 9:25AM ~~ I'm not a lawyer and I'm not an expert at wading my way through the statutes. However, I do know that it is illegal for a governing body to expend even one penney of our tax dollars without voting to approve the expenditure before accumulating charges! For Tydings, VanOrman and the Hockey Mom to take their oathes of office, swearing to uphold the laws, the Constitution, etc. and then for all nine BOE members to sign a "Code of Ethics" on the same night ... JUST BEFORE TAKING THIS ILLEGAL ACTION ... it's simply mind-blowing.

Anonymous said...

When will the board let us in on their closely guarded secret regarding the fate of our Superintendent. According to State Law they must make his yearly evaluation public.

Just as with the illegal hiring of the attorney re Walts, they think the public is stupid and will just forget. It's obvious that he was not granted a raise last June. If there was a raise it had to be made public prior to July 1st. For all we know they could have given him a 10% raise and "forgot" to make it public.

In 2006 when Boily first ran, he promised openness and transparence. What a joke! I am willing to bet the farm that he alone is responsible for the secret backroom dealings concerning his golfing pal, fellow Rotarian and Chamber sidekick.

I think that Stevie II is toast unless Boily can twist just one more arm to support him. The same arm he twisted to control the board officers election to his liking. I'm afraid our newest member and hockey mom is now in his back pocket. Only Pat Tydings has yet to fully succumb to the Boily political arm twisting. If Boily succeeds, look for another four years of Achramovitch and a dismal educational outcome for your kids. But who cares, no one, and Boily knows that. Most of us including parents are suckers.

Anonymous said...

Legal firms are considered professional and can be brought on by the board without a bids process. But they have to vote to accept them usually at the re-organizational meeting. That would have to have taken place in July of 2008 or during that fiscal year if need be. The vote to accept that firm should have taken place before the district used the firm for legal services. After that any money paid to that firm would be handled by the accounts department. As long as one bill didn't exceed $10,000 or some other amount. (don't know the present thresholds, sorry)
There is no way legally for a board to retroactively approve the action of contracting the lawyers and therefore the money was spent illegally. It must have been the financial department that noticed the error and would not (in light of the comptroller's warnings???) want to chance fiscal impropriety without the board approving it. Smart move on the new assistant super 's part. Maybe that's why he got that great raise. He saved their a###es and feathered his own nest at the same time. He could have just turned them in.

Anonymous said...

Nevertheless the amount paid to the law firm for services rendered before they were approved by the board was illegally spent. No matter that they tried to cover it up.

Anonymous said...

Scats is correct. If we can't trust the boe with the small stuff God help us with the bigger more important stuff!!

As I recall, Scats previously pointed out that the boe didn't tell us about the Super's evaluation either. And they sure aren't talking about the fact he's got his two letters all set and is looking for the next suckers, I mean district to take him on.

Julia claimed she was all about transparency. Look what she did! It's one secret session after another and they expect us to accept it's all above board - Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!!

An Administrator, Elsewhere said...

$7234.51 is less than the amount needed to force the district to bid out the work.

The Board of Education may (at it's discretion) announce a "sole source" of it's own choice (there are guidelines for doing so), allowing them to purchase items and services from a particular source without having to bid. Recently, it did just that by "standardizing" on Cisco network equipment.

So, the amount is under the total that would force it to "bid out" legal services. It has now "standardized" on a particular firm.

There is no foul. Stop making up things to fit your agenda (a general statement to all who believe differently). One's credibility is damaged by doing so.

Anonymous said...

This had nothing to do with "bidding" out as you say. This was not the district buying equipment or services. This was the BOARD OF EDUCATION spending taxpayer money without a public vote or discussion.

All they had to do was make a motion to retain counsel for whatever, vote on it and then do it, instead of in the reverse order which was illegal and against State Law and their own policies.

This board has a habit of not obeying the law, not following their own policies and conducting all their business behind closed doors. Of course, they all promised transparency and openness, signed an Ethics Code after being sworn to uphold the law of the State of New York and then broke every rule in the book.

Hiring this outside lawyer, when they have a large firm working for them, was just an attempt to stifle any action against the Walts health care fiasco. You tell the lawyer the outcome you want, he does his research and comes up with the answer to your problems. That's how it's done everyday in the legal system. I don't see why Harris, Beach couldn't have provided the same non-information. They are very good at that.

You can get six lawyers to research the same case and they will come up with six different answers. That's what keeps them in business,that's what creates lawsuits and what makes them rich.

SCATS said...

To 7:26PM ~~ Thank you! You stated that VERY well, better than I may have been able to do.

To 6:50PM ~~ Bidding out the "job" is nowhere to be found in the verbiage I used. I didn't even hint that such an action should have transpired. I know that people in high places such as you claim are absolute masters at making up a way to switch the focus from where it belongs to putting it onto an imaginary issue no one mentioned prior. I'm sure your district pays you the 6 figure salary commensurate with your ability to do so. In Greece, I'm onto your kind of game ;)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's time that we begin to keep a running list of documented illegal actions taken by the Greece School Board. When the Comptroller returns to follow-up on our previous plethora of problems, we can just hand them a list and save them much effort before they dole out another smack on the hand to the politicians who are running and ruining our once fair district. This looks like as good a place to start as any.

Anonymous said...

Most, if not all, of the problems in Greece have been caused by so-called Administrators, beginning with Walts, Keller-Cogan, Achramovitch, Schroeder, Palas, and the list goes on.

Need I say more?

Anonymous said...

Stop trying to shift the focus. We already stated at 3pm that for a law firm there was no need for the firm to bid just to be available with maybe an RFP from the district.
BUT the board has to vote to accept a law firm to do service for the district. And the board vote has to be before the firm starts to give the board/district legal advice or counsel. This is what did not happen. That firm did legal work for the district before the board voted on accepting them. Probably the firm sent a bill/invoice (as they should since there was service rendered)and accounts payable got the bill and couldn't send them a check because they were not approved as a firm that does work for the district. (This goes for other services in accounts payable not just law firms).
The finance department could not cut them a check until everything was in order and the board thought they could retroactively go back to the future to settle the problem. No can do. But they tried and that's where we are now.
So whether it was $300.00 or $9,000.00 the check cannot be sent to a contractor unless the board has approved that contractor with a vote at a public meeting.
Methinks you might be an "administrator elsewhere" that we got rid of but haunts us still. Bye bye.

SCATS said...

To 9:54PM ~~ Methinks you give too much credit to our Accounts Payable personnel! Do they really police the BOE/district office for this sort of trouble?

SCATS said...

To 8:35PM ~~ I'm appointing you as the official SCATS secretary for tracking GCSD's fibbing, flubs and fraud :)

Anonymous said...

If anyone has the documents cited on the front of this thread
( bills, invoices, minutes)they could be copied off to the comptroller with a cover letter.
Also the commissioner could be sent this information directly to their financial office. Whoever has these documents could alert the proper state authorities. It is too late to do an appeal (30 days after the act) to the commissioner of education since it appears the vote to retroactively approve the firm happened in June but he would be hard pressed to ignore such obvious arrogant disregard for proper financial procedures.
There is no issue of timeliness if someone wants to have the board or administration removed from office by the commissioner. That is a separate action from an appeal.

SCATS said...

To 11:20PM ~~ The meeting minutes are available online under the July 14th meeting which is when the BOE approved them. The other document from the law firm can be FOIL'd.

Anonymous said...

There are dates and amounts on the front of this thread which means that either scats has these documents or a board member has them or someone else that wrote in to scats has them. This is perfectly ok but one of those people could turn the evidence in to the proper state authorities. There is no need to FOIL since the documents are public. If one of these people doesn't act the matter will be put to rest.
It doesn't really matter except they could get their wrists slapped. They are thumbing their noses at the law but they always get away with it.

Anonymous said...

12:48: Many "public documents" must be obtained under FOI laws. The bill for services is one such case. The meeting minutes while shown online would also need to be obtained in a paper copy form.

I really wanna know said...

"BUT the board has to vote to accept a law firm to do service for the district. And the board vote has to be before the firm starts to give the board/district legal advice or counsel."

Says who? An anonymous poster on a blog? Point to the law or statute. Are YOU fibbing for just telling a fairy tale or fable?

Charlie Hubbard said...

If 'you really wanna know' go to the school law book 31st edition - page 47 - section 2:70

That is assuming you 'really want to know' or more importantly if 'you really care'.

Anonymous said...

Look up the nys General municipal law section 6 and others.
And the policies and procedures of the greece central school district as they pertain to paying bills.
And state ed law section 1700 the whole chapter.
Not to mention various decisions of the ny state commissioner of education. of course you wouldn't know where to find those and if you did you couldn't understand them.
And I "wanna know" whom you are protecting and why it is so important to you that this slipshod fiscal procedure continues. If you are reading this blog you must be following these issues and you feel the need to protect the dysfunctional.
You can whine all you want but the retroactive vote did not make checks paid for services before that vote legal.

SCATS said...

To 8:45AM ~~ I say so. If I were to take the time to look up and quote the specific law or statute to an anonymous poster on a BLOG (like you), I'd only be wasting MY time ;)

Try tuning into a BOE meeting sometime. You might learn about such things. Sometimes, they even pay GCSD's lawyers to sit in front of the mics and teach the BOE about the laws governing their closed door meetings, approving tenure and all kinds of little details.

SCATS said...

To Charlie ~~ Thank you for looking that up!

To 11:58AM ~~ Well written!

COINCIDENCE or not ...?
Yesterday, while pondering how to write this BLOG and whether to cite some specific laws, I was looking up various things about New York State Law on the internet using a link found on the NY State Assembly website and a few other places. I think one of those links was printed in a D&C article, too. Guess what? ALL OF THOSE LINKS ARE DISABLED AS OF LOOKING RIGHT NOW. Interesting ... LOL

Anonymous said...

They don't want people to look up their "weak campaign finance" laws!

Anonymous said...

8:45- You sound like your name might be Tydings.

It isn't just the order in which business was done. It was done in secret! Again!! Thats against the law too.

Anonymous said...

What everyone is forgetting in all this is that they illegally hired a law firm to tell them what they wanted to hear. The lie that Walts' health care could not be rescinded.

I don't know why Harris, Beach couldn't tell them that, or wait, maybe it's because that firm represents Walts.

This board of education is so enamored of lawyers it's beyond belief. They could have stopped Walts health care a year ago, saved all the lawyers fees and we would be free of the $20+ thousand we spend every year.

They, the board, are so afraid that Walts will sue them. I say so what? First of all, he doesn't have a leg to stand on, he is guilty of theft of property and services of the Greece Central School District. That is black and white. Do they really believe he will come back here, sue us and open up a huge can of worms? He's smarter than that.

With all the money they have spent so far just to avoid this issue,it has cost more than a law suit by him would have. Ridiculous!

If Walts sued the district for his health care, he would have to say why he was awarded this phony bonus in the first place, and we all know that was to take care of other quid pro quo favors by former board members. This is just what the present board is doing its best to hide and shame on the others for going along with that!