Dear Mayor Gallo and Common Council:
I am writing as a City of Kingston resident about an upcoming agenda item for June 5thin regards to the City of Kingston submitting a state Consolidated Funding Application(CFA) - along with the Town of Ulster - for the waterfront promenade at AVR-ownedHudson Landing. I attended the May 15 meeting of Laws and Rules Committee whenthe matter of the City's submission of the CFA proposal was raised and voted on to besubmitted to the Common Council. I found the Committee's handling of the CFA matterto be shocking and disappointing both procedurally and substantively. As such, and forthe reasons outlined below, I strongly urge the Common Council to not support theCFA.
: The subject matter of the meeting - to wit the CFA proposal -was not appropriately publicized. There can be no argument. Residents of the City ofKingston had little if any notice that such an important matter was to be discussed bythe Laws and Rules Committee. The manner in which the matter was sent to a voteperpetuates the perception of back-room politics that we as citizens and you as publicofficials should strive to avoid. Where was the transparency? And when a citizenquestioned the notice, he was rebuked, castigated and dismissed by the committeechair Mr. Senor. Such behavior by a city official serves to only further the perception ofa back room deal; especially as AVR property is located in Mr. Senor's Ward.2)
The role of Steve Finkle
: Mr Finkle's role as a lobbyist and advisor to AVR onthis project while concurrently being a consultant to the City of Kingston is troublesome.First, his dual roles had not been made public at the time of the Committee vote(it apparently had been revealed a week later in a Freeman article). Such a situationonly furthers the issues of perception and transparency raised above. Moreover, howcan someone, no matter how ethical, receive payment from and serve two differentorganizations which do not have the same mission and objective? And let's be clear -Kingston and AVR have different objectives. AVR's is to make a profit for its owners;Kingston's is to best serve it's residents. The conflict is blatant. And my understandingis that government should not merely avoid impropriety, but the appearance of it. Atminimum the current situation fails the second prong of the ethical test; in reality it failsboth.
3) The CFA put before the Committee was deficient on it's face and it remainsdeficient:
Circular arguments were put forth by those officials present - including theMayor and Mr. Senor - and Mr. Perna and Mr. Finkle, with regard to such criticalquestions as who is maintaining the promenade and how it would be paid for. For the