TOWN OF KENT - April 18, 2002

Kent Town Board meetings are becoming one of the hottest tickets in town.
By Eric Gross

Frequent verbal attacks among board members as well as accusations being leveled by those in the audience against the town administration often slows the business at hand.

Two members of the town board find themselves in the midst of the brouhaha meeting after meeting. Supervisor Annmarie Baisley, serving her third term as Kent's chief elected official and Councilman Joe D'Ambrosio, who was elected to his first four-year term in 2000, have been sparring ever since the freshman lawmaker was elected.

"Supervisor Annmarie Baisley would make a "great mayor.
She makes a lousy supervisor because she's not a team player."

Joe D'Ambrosio
Town of Kent Councilman

The shadow boxing is rapidly turning into a heavyweight brawl. In an interview with the Putnam County Courier, Mr. D'Ambrosio, a Democrat, said Mrs. Baisley would make a "great mayor. She makes a lousy supervisor because she's not a team player. A mayor may run a community on his or her own but a supervisor is empowered to handle the day-to-day operations of a municipality for a board. She can't operate on her own. Annmarie just doesn't get it. She has the same one vote that we all do. Tensions would be alleviated tomorrow if she understood the role of a supervisor."

Mrs. Baisley, a Republican, was amazed by the accusations. "The title of mayor or supervisor depends on the rank of the municipality. Mayors are elected in cities and villages. Supervisors are the chief elected officials of a town. The positions are the same, as are the responsibilities," she said.

Mrs. Baisley said while the supervisor and town council may each have the same one vote on the board, the "supervisor is a full-time position and the council members are part-time. I sign the checks and the contracts and I'm here each day during normal business hours. The supervisor is the town's chief elected town official."

Mrs. Baisley said she has always gotten along with members of town boards in the past. "My family has lived in the community for 33 years. My husband and I have raised five children and have both volunteered thousands of hours to a variety of community activities. We love this community and we are here to help it," she said.

Mrs. Baisley charged that the so-called unrest on the town council has resulted from "certain individuals seeking power rather than working together. Information must be shared and reviewed prior to a meeting. For a board person to blindside another and play to a video recorder is wrong."

Mr. D'Ambrosio, who teaches policy and politics on the graduate college level, charged that Kent's finances were in shambles as a result of the supervisor's mismanagement. "A surplus has been identified but the funds are sitting in an unsecured, undesignated, unreserved account. The surplus must be identified and placed into an account for the new Kent Town Center," he said.

The town has advertised for a $5 million bond for the new center. Mr. D'Ambrosio said the surplus funds have to be separated and designated for a specific purpose-namely the new center.

Mr. D'Ambrosio believes he is a reasonable person. So does the supervisor.

What's the problem?

Mr. D'Ambrosio said politics has nothing to do with the disagreements. "Despite allegations to the contrary that the in-fighting has become a Republican versus Democratic battle, the problems are more deep seeded. Mrs. Baisley does her own thing whenever she desires. Good management is lacking because of her leadership. Annmarie fails to work with her board," he said.

Mr. D'Ambrosio has begun signing town vouchers under protest due to what he says is the fact that Mrs. Baisley has not provided the town board with a detailed statement of all money received and disbursed for each month.

Mr. D'Ambrosio said board members were unaware of the cash flow that existed in the town's varied municipal accounts. "We are required by law to have that information provided to us every month. She has not provided any of us with any financial data. That's why I'm signing in protest," he said.

Mr. D'Ambrosio alleged that the supervisor often fails to go through proper channels when dealing with town business. "She attempted to purchase a town-owned vehicle for her daily duties. The purchase was rescinded by a unanimous vote of the board because of her total disregard for the council members."

Mrs. Baisley said anything she has is shared with her colleagues. "Copies of all correspondence are placed in the councilperson's boxes. True, I don't write memos on every minute day-to-day activity but when matters affect the board, the council is properly notified," she said.

Mrs. Baisley said for the most part the town board in Kent works together. "Our recent decision to prevent members of the audience to speak out at pubic meetings at every whim will speed matters up. The public has the right to address the board at work sessions. It's gotten overwhelming. Five hour meetings are not productive at all," she said.

Mrs. Baisley called on her colleagues on the town council to "stop and look at what has been accomplished during the past four years. For decades, the town talked about building a new town hall. When the police station collapsed, we joined forces with State Sen. Vincent Leibell and received a state grant that is allowing the town to construct a new town center consisting of not only a town hall and a police station but a new library as well. The former Lake Carmel Jewish Center has become another municipal property and will now be used by our senior citizens, youth groups and other community organizations that need a place to recreate. Kent is on the move. There is no need for this circus-like atmosphere in our community."

Mr. D'Ambrosio agreed that change had taken place in greater Kent but he charged "Annmarie Baisley is Annmarie Baisley. She is so mired in control issues that I doubt whether she is capable of change which is a sad and unfortunate commentary."


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