Friday, November 1, 2013

Chronicle Article

Here you will find The Chronicle Article.

Copyright 2013 The Chronicle, Glens Falls, New York • Published October 24, 2013
Lone Oak Publishing Co., Inc., P.O. Box 153, Glens Falls, NY 12801 • 518.792.1126 •
Thurman: Wood
vs. Haskell for
Supervisor in a
legal tangle
By Gordon Woodworth
Chronicle News Editor
There are only 799 active registered voters
in the Warren County Town of Thurman,
but its race for Supervisor is drawing
intense interest because of its unique
Former Supervisor John Haskell is
trying to win his job back despite having
been forced from office in 2008 after being
convicted of felony fraud and serving two
months in Warren County jail.
In the Republican primary he swamped
the one-term incumbent Evelyn Wood, 159-
78. But Ms. Wood is continuing her bid for
re-election, on the Democrat, Conservative
and Independence Party lines.
Mr. Haskell has the Republican and selfdesignated
Voice of the People lines.
Thurman is overwhelmingly Republican.
As of April 1, it had 449 registered
Republicans, 154 Democrats, 46 Independence
Party and 16 Conservative registrants.
There are also 130 independents
— “blanks” with no listed party affiliation.
Ms. Wood said “in past years, you needed
right around 220 votes to win. That’s
been the number in previous years, but I’m
not sure what will happen this year. I do
think it will be a very high voter turnout.”
Beyond Mr. Haskell’s criminal conviction,
two hot local issues — trash removal
and emergency medical services — figure
in the contest.
Ms. Wood, 36, was appointed supervisor
in 2010 after Red Pitkin resigned. She was
elected to a full two-year term in 2011.
Mr. Haskell, 59, was supervisor from
1997 to 2008. His criminal case involved
some landlocked property that Mr. Haskell
purchased behind the Thurman Town
The criminal case
New York State’s Appellate Division has
upheld Mr. Haskell’s criminal conviction.
It said that Mr. Haskell first met privately
with Town Board members asking “that he
be granted a right-of-way” on the property,
but then at the subsequent public meeting,
“instead requested only a utility easement
[related] to a right-of-way which he repeatedly
indicated he already owned.”
The Appellate Division continued, “Following
the Town Board’s approval of the
conveyance of a utility easement, [Mr.
Haskell] successfully sought to have the
December Town Board meeting minutes
amended to reflect that he had been granted
a right-of-way.
“[He] then obtained and filed a deed conveying
the right-of-way and subsequently
used the right-of-way to log the property.”
Mr. Haskell insists he did not commit a
crime. “No, definitely not,” he says. “If you
want to read the transcript, I bet you $100
that you would not find me guilty.”
Mr. Haskell says he could have accepted
a plea bargain with no jail time, but “I am
a man of principle. I flatly refused to do
So why was he found guilty?
“Somebody perjured themselves during
this,” Mr. Haskell contends.
He says, “I guess they said I abused my
power because I got a right-of-way through
town property, and as a supervisor, you
couldn’t do that.
“But when we got into court, we found
out that three people applied before me,
two that year, and we found out that all
three were actually illegal because it had to
go up as a permissive referendum.
“And that’s what nailed me — because
it wasn’t a permissive referendum, but
neither was theirs, and they still got their
rights-of-ways, and I went to jail. So how
do you figure it?”
Ms. Wood, Mr. Haskell’s opponent, was
asked by The Chronicle if she believes Mr.
Haskell committed a crime.
“I do believe he did, yes,” she said. “We
have documents on file here that show that
the Town Attorney had advised him multiple
times about the correct procedure. He
had to know what the correct procedure
was and that he wasn’t following it.”
If elected, can he serve?
An unresolved issue is whether Mr.
Haskell can actually serve in office if he
wins. He said state officials have told him
that he can serve, but he said he didn’t
have the names of those officials.
Ms. Wood said, “I have been told that
it’s unlikely that he would be able to serve.
That’s something that I imagine would
have to be tested, if he should win.”
Would she test it? Ms. Wood replied,
“I would definitely consider testing it, although
I have heard there are a number
of other people in town who are also prepared
to test it.”
The Thurman supervisor position pays
$27,257 — $10,800 from the town and
$16,457 for serving on the Warren County
Board of Supervisors.
Garbage pickup eliminated
As for the garbage pick-up issue, Ms.
Wood said the Town Board eliminated free
garbage pick-up so it could stay below the
2% tax cap after state retirement expenses
rose “astronomically.”
She added that “because we had free
garbage pickup, many other people were
bringing garbage into town to get rid of it.
We were seeing huge tipping fees, and that
was going on even before I took office. It was
an ongoing problem, and the board had to
cut something in order to stay under the tax
cap, and still be able to provide services like
elderly transport and Meals on Wheels.”
Mr. Haskell says, “I think it could have
been resolved differently, personally.” He
said Thurman had provided curbside garbage
pick-up for 30 years.
“If we had to stay within this 2% cap,
I believe if we sell the bags... for a dollar
to the individuals, it will cover the cost...
and the people will have the convenience of
curbside garbage pickup.”
But Ms. Wood said that if projected revenues
fell short, “then the taxpayers would
be paying for the difference” and it “could
have a significant impact on the budget
and/or the fund balance.”
The EMS switch
On EMS Mr. Haskell and his supporters
fault Ms. Wood for ending the town’s contract
with Thurman EMS and contracting
instead with Warrensburg EMS.
Mr. Haskell says that Ms. Wood signed a
contract in April 2011 with Thurman EMS
“for $25,000 a quarter, and she broke that
contract half the way through the year.”
“This is a very needed thing in our community,”
Mr. Haskell said. “They are volunteers.
They spend a lot of time....It just upsets
me, and it upsets a lot of townspeople.
“There were 118 people at February’s
meeting who were for Thurman EMS.
There were four people that wanted Warrensburg
EMS. And the board, three out of
five, voted for Warrensburg EMS. They are
not listening to the people.”
Ms. Wood said the town’s contract with
Thurman EMS was for 2012, and ended on
Dec. 31 of that year.
“The Town was then without a contract
with any squad until April of 2013 when the
Town Board voted to contract with Warrensburg
EMS. No contracts were broken.”
Ms. Wood said in 2011, “Thurman EMS
had entered a contract with the Town
which required them to meet a percentage
of calls...The Thurman EMS was unable to
meet the percentage of calls in the contract
and subsequently lost their contract with
the Town.”
Another part of the issue is that Thurman
EMS offers BLS -- Basic Life Services
— while Warrensburg’s offers ALS — Advanced
Life Services.
Ms. Wood says that “the Town Board
has been monitoring not only the frequency
of calls but also the types of calls...over
the last few years.
“For instance, from June of 2013 to August
of 2013, Warrensburg responded to
11 calls in the Town, and the only BLS call
was on June 26, the other 10 were all ALS
Mr. Haskell says, “The thing is to get
people started to the hospital, not to sit
around and wait for somebody to arrive.”
Asked why someone should vote for her,
Ms. Wood said, “We’ve kept our taxes underneath
the tax cap, despite having significant
challenges, like the floods in 2011,
which devastated the town like we’ve never
seen before…
“I have brought in more than a quartermillion
dollars in grant funding to help replace
roads and to expand services.
“I certainly have a mind to the future.
I’m looking at what our community is going
to need going forward, such as broadband
“I’m a full-time supervisor, and the people
here in town know they can call me
nights, days, weekends, whenever.”
Ms. Wood says, “We have worked very
hard over the last few years to bring the
community together and to unite us. We
were really making progress, and had a
good interaction as a community. This has
been very divisive and I think it’s very unfortunate.”
Mr. Haskell likewise cites recent divisiveness
in the town.
“I know I can mend that split,” he said.
“All you have to do is listen to people and
be friendly and available. I did it before, I’ll
do it again.”
Evelyn Wood John Haskell

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