OneLyons Leader Jack Bailey has invited the media to become educated and involved in the dissolution process in Lyons, and spoke with newspapers yesterday.
OneLyons Major Points of Concern – Lyons Village & Town Residents:
- The Dissolution Law has some flaws that leave OneLyons concerned about the process and results: In an ELECTOR initiated dissolution, it’s the voters who want the change, not usually the village governments who tend to be hostile to the concept. For some unknown reason, the legislature gives the responsibility of a dissolution plan to the potentially hostile village government, and not to the Town who will have to deal with the aftermath. In the instant case of Lyons NY, the village government was and is unified in opposition to dissolution. Thus, electors have every right to be concerned that a real effort in savings and performance optimization would not be a priority of the village government tasked with following through on the dissolution plan.
- In Lyons, the Anti-Dissolution mayor and board created a dissolution committee (thats directly subjugated to the village board) to come up with a dissolution plan and assist with selecting an engineering consultant to perform a comprehensive study of the village and town and make reccomendations. OneLyons believes that the committee makeup does matter to the final plan because they will be the ones reviewing all possible scenarios and deciding on best practice reccomendations. If one is starkly against dissolution and wants to see this process fail, then how can we expect a good faith effort? In Lyons, the mayor designated herself and her current chief of police to sit on the committee. OneLyons concern with this is because of the inherent conflicts of interest present- The police chief answers in a direct supervisory role to the mayor and would not be motivated to go against her wishes, even if it benefitted the dissolution process. Both the mayor and the police chief could be brought in as advisory non-voting roles, since they are both valuable assets with extensive knowledge, but OneLyons believes they should NOT be voting members of the committee.
- The selection of the “consultant/engineer” does matter to the integrity of the process: The firm that the village has used for years was MRB Group. As previously noted, MRB Group sent consultants to the village to speak against dissolution without revealing the major financial conflicts of interests of the speakers. MRB was later granted further projects by the village, including a contract to assist the village with dissemination of pro-village literature and messaging that was anti-dissolution in nature. OneLyons continues other options exist for consultants and engineers that don’t have known conflicts of interest in this village. The Center for Governmental Research (CGR), was utilized by the village and town to perform a very comprehensive shared services/consolidation study that was published in 2010. They worked at length with the village and the town to understand how each operated, and also have extensive experience with the dissolution process of other villages in NYS. The firm Barton & Legoudice of Seneca Falls assisted with the Seneca Falls dissolution and is still retained by the Town of Seneca Falls, making their knowledge and experience relevant for consideration as well.
- OneLyons is further concerned about the pace of the progress of the village of Lyons. In the fall at a public meeting on the Lyons Dissolution, NYCOMM Attorney Wade Beltrano advised the Mayor and the crowd that strict adherance to the law was not necessary and the state would overlook delays. He noted that getting it right the first time was more important. OneLyons agrees that doing it right is important, but also notes the pattern of behavior of the village suggests that ‘dragging it’s feet’ would also be inappropriate to the spirit of the law. OneLyons reminds the media and the public about the two NYS Committee on Open Government Advisory Opinions regarding the behavior of the village in honoring the Open Meetings Laws and Freedom of Information Laws. These repeating behavior patterns coupled with the public advisement of NYCOMM suggest that our village officials believe it is acceptable to ignore state law if they are a government doing so. OneLyons requests that the public and the media assist us in monitoring the process and educating the public about all aspects of it. Neither citizen nor government can be above the law, or our representative republic process fails us all.
OneLyons invites media and public involvement, questions, and continued education about the processes of government. We look forward to working with all parties to maintain integrity and accountability in this process.