Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ability to serve as town of Thurman Supervisor -New York State Ruling on Certificate of Good Conduct

It's been a while since we've posted any new blogs. A recent news story has caused us to update the blog with the latest news.
The following is an Editorial published by the Post Star on June 24, 2014. We have refrained from editorializing on these recent findings which confirms everything we have presented regarding this matter.


Additionally, please find a copied and pasted version for those who are not subscribers to the Post Star.

EDITORIAL: John Haskell has been full of deceit

John Haskell’s actions still have the ability to surprise and appall.
The first surprise came when Haskell, as supervisor of Thurman, used the powers of his office to falsify town records about a land purchase he made, with the goal of enriching himself.
Our anger grew when, after serving a jail term for a felony, Haskell ran for office against the incumbent supervisor, Evelyn Wood, who had done an outstanding job in office cleaning up various messes Haskell made.
But our anger turned to disgust last week when we learned the results of a Freedom of Information request filed in the fall by a Post-Star reporter and finally answered by the state.
That request concerned Haskell’s application for a Certificate of Good Conduct, a certificate that, if granted, might have restored his right to serve in public office.
Haskell had already been granted relief from civil liabilities, which he sought in 2010, the same year he served a 2-month jail term and paid a $2,500 fine for defrauding the government.
The relief from civil liabilities restored some of the rights taken away from Haskell by his conviction, such as the right to vote, but did not restore his right to hold office.
It wasn’t clear whether a Certificate of Good Conduct would have allowed Haskell to serve as Thurman supervisor, but it turned out not to matter, because he lost the election.
On Nov. 5, 2013, Wood beat Haskell by a handful of votes, a result that held up through the counting of absentees.
What voters didn’t know then, but which The Post-Star recently learned through its Freedom of Information request, is Haskell was told the week before — on Oct. 31, 2013 — his application for the Certificate of Good Conduct was denied.
Five days before the election, John Haskell knew the vote was meaningless. Even if more voters had chosen him than Wood, he would not have been allowed to take office. He kept this information to himself.
While wondering what he was playing at, we assume this was an exercise in ego. Haskell wanted so badly to beat Wood, he was willing to continue with a sham election.
Haskell could have spared the town more divisiveness — the vote split the population almost in half — by revealing the state’s ruling.
It was too late to take his name off the ballot, but voters deserved to know one of the candidates was banned from taking office.
Haskell could have been honest with voters, but chose instead to follow the pattern of behavior he first revealed when he committed a felony. He learned nothing from his time in jail.
Had Haskell come clean before the election, we would feel differently about him. Had he been honest and repentant, we would advocate for the Certificate of Good Conduct to be granted next time.
But John Haskell has proven he cannot be trusted. His dishonesty runs deep.
New York state, unfortunately, refused to reveal the important public information about Haskell’s status until seven months after the election.
Many people sought to know, before the election, if Haskell was eligible to serve. The state could have clarified the situation by informing the local board of elections that he was not.
The state’s tendency to hide public information from the public made a difficult situation in Thurman much worse.
State officials decided in their ruling that giving Haskell a Certificate of Good Conduct was “inconsistent with the public interest,” but he can reapply in two years.
We believe granting the certificate will never be consistent with the public interest. A man who betrays the public trust by committing a crime in office and a couple of years later hides from voters his ineligibility does not deserve a third chance.
This latest revelation of Mr. Haskell’s character should convince everyone in Thurman that when it comes to holding public office, he is permanently unfit.
Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star’s editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representative Ralph Wilson.