Clean ’em out
District Superintendent Gretzinger’s compensation is an insult to our intelligence and the actions of the board of education demand that all of them be replaced in May.
His budgeted salary is $187,000, his real salary is $193,000. How can this be? The BOE determines what they want to pay the person and they conveniently decide that a month or two after the budget vote. So much for the dodge “the contract made me do it.” Since Gretzinger now has $6,000 of unapproved taxpayer money I suggest he use it to enroll in a memory refresher course. He seems to have a real problem recalling unpleasant events that occur on his watch.
How about a $50,000-plus benefit package? Not every district employee gets that amount. In the world of the education establishment, the superintendent writes his own benefit package and the BOE bobbleheads simply agree. I recall my employers benefit package was the same amount from CEO to newest hire with the idea that every employee had equal access to the benefit provisions.
A $10,000 package of perks? I can’t find detail on what that includes. Bottom line, we are paying an individual $250,000-plus for less than stellar results. In the business world that individual would be told to improve performance and results or leave. Our vote in May can be step one in the process of replacing the superintendent and members of the BOE.
Ronald E. Dietl
Shame on city
I find it despicable that in this country a city government can force its most heavily taxed business district to comply with a perpetual agreement written almost half a century ago.
The violent opposition in itself should make our elected officials take note. The fact that the documentation, expert opinion and well-thought-out plans for the betterment of our business district were pushed aside and ridiculed leaves a bad taste in my mouth for small-town politics and politicians.
The fact that other businesses in this town are financially benefiting from the destruction of our area even infuriates me even more. This has always been a town that has pitted one section against the other for financial gain. It saddens me that this city as a whole did not deliberate this project with more input instead of making a decision based on a few well-oiled and connected opinions. Opinions of people who are not involved in any way with the struggle to survive in this closeted area.
Shame on all of you for allowing the city with one of the richest histories in the country to be covered up again by this cave that was ill-advised from day one. This decision is one of the biggest debacles made in our city’s history, and, unfortunately, will be the legacy left by Mayor Sottile and this Common Council.
I strongly protest the city attaching itself to my property against my will and better judgment.
Are we not paying enough attention
With headlines like “Lawmakers bring in AG,” “State takeover of trash agency probe,” “Federal grand jury subpoenas Kingston School District,” “FBI probes URGENT task force,” “Myriad of agencies investigate Matthews case,” “$1 million food stamp fraud at Midtown gas station,” simultaneously both our mayor and police chief have decided to throw in the towel and call it quits. Coincidence or ? — in retrospect, both retire with sizeable pensions.
Meanwhile our Common Council debates the pros and cons of putting yet another unenforceable law on our books requiring a permit to have a yard sale and limiting you to four a year. Maybe they should go back to debating kitty cats — is this what we elect and pay them to do?
With our roads filled with massive potholes, storm drains clogged to overflowing, flooding, crumbling infrastructures, garbage strewn streets, foreclosures, unemployment, and crime, don’t they have higher priorities?
With fingers being pointed (and the public watching for the outcome) at Superintendent Gretzinger by former Assistant Superintendent Pritchard, Ulster County legislators questioning whether close-cozy relationships and friendly connections have benefited political leaders, Mayor Sottile deals with a sexual harassment lawsuit against the City and the Matthews fallout, as well as Police Chief Keller seeming to have been in a blue funk for the past three years with no clue as to what was going on in his own department or with his own right hand man but finds it all disturbing.
My question is Kingston isn’t a huge city — we are not talking Newark, N.J. here, neither is Ulster County — so why has corruption run so rampant and until recently undetected here?
Years ago when I first moved here the front page headlines were all over the new jail fiasco — now it’s spread ten-fold, so is it our, the taxpayers, fault? Have we elected the wrong people into office from our senators, county legislators and mayors to our Common Council members? Or are there just not enough checks and balances in place to counterbalance the mass corruption we are now experiencing or are we not paying enough attention to what our elected officials are really doing?
Maybe the most popular or the most familiar family name or the one with the most money to spend on their campaign isn’t the one with the most pristine scruples or does not have the best interests of the taxpayers on their minds but what they can get out of it for themselves.
City needs leaders to man up
Kingston’s top leaders are predictable. Gretzinger finally had his press conference about the Matthews mess a month after the allegations surfaced. From the way he tells it, all his time was spent personally gathering up the records requested by all the agencies investigating this debacle. He just didn’t have time to make a statement until now. Really?
He admitted the buck stopped at the top. Then he went on to say he trusted his staff to oversee, that he trusted Matthews and he didn’t have access to police payroll records. He made it very clear it wasn’t his fault. So who’s at the top where the buck stopped? Not Gretzinger. Really?
He stands by his original statement that he had no knowledge of double dipping within the school system, didn’t know until the state comptroller found it. He has no recollection of a meeting with Mr. Pritchard and Matthews regarding double dipping. Really?
“Koster said she was not in the closed-door meeting with Gretzinger, Pritchard and Detective Lt. Timothy Matthews … but that she recalls Pritchard telling her about it immediately afterward.” (Freeman, 3/4/11)
Of course, he has made changes to now oversee school security payroll, prevent double dipping and has asked for a complete internal audit. He never really answered why Matthews had complete, unsupervised control of scheduling, never said anything about the insanity of a full-time police officer working an additional 50 plus hours for the school system. Gretzinger would not answer when asked if he was Matthews’ high school teacher. He said it wasn’t relevant to the matter at hand. Really? Mr. Gretzinger seems to believe he knows what is and is not relevant to this case. His lack of oversight and his lack of accepted business practices call his ability to judge anything into doubt.
Police Chief Keller announced his retirement. He too was too busy gathering information for the multitude of investigations into the Matthews case to comment earlier. He said the Matthews case was disturbing and cast a shadow over the police department. Really?
He didn’t give a reason as to why there was only one key to the safe. He didn’t explain why Matthews could ever authorize his own overtime. He didn’t mention why he allowed the KPD’s own regulations on outside work to be so drastically violated. Obviously, in his mind, he’s not responsible either.
Mayor Sottile, the self-proclaimed CEO of Kingston, sent police out to find the author of a bogus letter. I’m hearing that four detectives spent six hours each looking for the culprit. Really?
Sottile said, “The fact that they would stoop this low, that they would impersonate me speaks volumes as to the character of people involved in this.” (Freeman, 2/24/11)
This coming from the man who cautioned citizens not to jump to conclusions about the entire police department just because the FBI and all the others are investigating. Really.
Mr. Gretzinger’s relationship with Matthews is relevant to this matter. If he is the person in charge, it is his responsibility. If his press conference is an example of his leadership qualities, his grade is an F.
Police Chief Keller decided to retire before the Matthews scandal. Really. That does not exempt him from his failed responsibility to safeguard KPD and its members from this fiasco. Not to mention the residents of Kingston. What ever happened to “Protect and Serve?”
I wish I could get one car to respond to calls on possible domestic violence, to groups of young men fighting in the streets, to drug dealers peddling their trade. The police don’t jump when I call from Midtown. Often times they don’t come at all. Mayor Sottile and the chief have said on many occasions that the police department resources are stretched to the max. Is the mayor’s ego so fragile that it warrants such a costly use of police resources over a letter? Wouldn’t using the press to inform the public that some culprit pretended to be the mayor be enough?
How dare he impugn the character of the numerous property owners and residents, who have the constitutional right to oppose the renovation of the Pike Plan, for the work of what is most reasonably one writer. The chief sent out his men at the request of the mayor without knowing if a crime had been committed. (Kingston Times, 3/3/11)
None of these men have yet to man up. Not one has take responsibility for the Matthews debacle. Their combined lack of leadership, common sense and basic oversight casts a shadow over this city government, school district and police department. Really! This is far more disturbing to me than one corrupt cop.
Before URGENT, the drug dealers and prostitutes owned many streets in Midtown, plying their wares day and night. Before URGENT, Police Chief Keller said there were a bunch of “wannabe gang members and a couple of real ones.” Now the KPD website boasts of hundreds of gang arrests, neatly identified as Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings.
Before URGENT, the children, the senior citizens, the hard-working residents who call Midtown home and who lack the power, influence or money to buy either, had little protection and less police response. I know that the majority of the officers of the KPD are good people who want to do their jobs. I know that URGENT made their jobs doable. Now because of inept leaders, who, in my opinion, are all members of the “Good Old Boys Club of Kingston,” URGENT is in jeopardy.
The spring and summer of 2011 may be like the spring and summer of 2007. Multiple shootings, stabbings and beatings, most of them here in Midtown, but not all. I hope my fears are unfounded. The KPD is seriously undermanned as Keller made clear. (Kingston Times, 3/3/11.) It also lacks a competent police chief who knows his first responsibility is to Kingston’s residents, not to the mayor who takes offense and calls for blood over words — not threats, not crimes. If Kingston pulls out of URGENT and a “terrible tragedy” happens on our streets, because these three leaders did what no reputable business person I know would do, trust without verifying, I for one will hold them responsible. Even if they never man up. Really!