BY MARIA MIRAKAJ BROWNSELL
The parking lot was full and cars were circling to find spots at the Town Board Meeting in Clarkstown on Tuesday, September 10. The front half of the room was full of eager kids and excited families of local sports team. But the back half of the room gave off an entirely different vibe, full of anger, frustration and a good deal of hostility.
The Nanuet Girls All-Star Softball team, comprised of 10 and 11-year-olds, made New York State Champions. Their coach explained how they had been practicing three days a week, three hours per day since June 15. They won game after game and were very happy to be receiving an award by the Clarkstown Town Board.
The New City Generals Boys Baseball team, comprised of eight-year-olds, also made New York State Champions. Their coach spoke highly of the boys, explaining how the boys had such a strong belief in one another and would never give up. They played over forty games, some of which were very difficult and had to put every bit of strength into. “They would cheer each other one, like brothers. They are a great group of boys, and I’m really proud,” he said.
Supervisor Alexander Gromack congratulated both teams for their hard work on behalf of himself, the rest of the board and the town of Clarkstown.
The public hearing on the application of Rockland Jewish Community Center Corporation for a special permit for outdoor recreation was continued during the meeting. Town Attorney Amy Mele explained that the permit is wanted for a soccer field on a piece of land that belongs in part to the JCC and part that is rented from the Clarkstown School District. She said they had referred the permit to the Planning Board, waited for their feedback, and now were in a position to approve the application if desired. The application was adopted after further explanation from Joe Simoes.
After all the resolutions were adopted, Councilman Frank Borelli proposed an additional resolution.
“Whereby it is incumbent by this town board that the actions of all elected officials, all town employees, conform to the Town’s Code of Ethics. The Town Board requests the board of ethics of the Town of Clarkstown to conduct a thorough investigation of the ethical behavior of the Superintendent of Highway Wayne Ballard, Constituent Service Representative Frank Sparaco, Fleet Manager Dennis Malone, and myself Frank Borelli as to all matters pertaining to the video tapes and recordings that were secretly taped by Frank Sparaco. In addition, the Town Board to request the Mr. Sparaco provide copy of all unedited video and audio tapes and recordings with an unbroken timeline to the town attorney to hold until such time as the video tapes are requested by the Board of Ethics of Clarkstown,” read Borelli.
Borelli’s resolution was met with applause and cheers from the audience. Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner seconded his resolution and the board adopted it.
Along the same lines, Tom Nimick of New City spoke about the town’s Code of Ethics during the public comments section of the meeting. He spoke about the situation with Sparaco, Borelli and Malone and asked if it met the standard of ethics.
“You have use of the mechanism of the Board of Ethics, established by the Town Code and appointed by you, but you hold primary responsibility for leadership of the town. It is your duty to address ethical failings in the town,” said Nimick.
He asked if any action was taken against the men in question. He also asked about deputy town attorney Jeffrey Millman who represented a “partisan position concerning ballot petitions. Nimick pointed out that all a full-time deputy town attorney, he is required to be in connection only with matters are in the public interest. Millman is also the attorney for the Board of Ethics.
“Mr. Millman is clearly not qualified and the entire office of the Town Attorney is tainted by the failure to act on ethical issues and conflicts of interest. Given that, have you taken the necessary steps to retain outside, and independent, counsel to advise the Board of Ethics so that it can properly perform its duties?” said Nimick.
Steven Levine of Congers thanked Borelli for proposing the resolution about the Code of Ethics. He also had questions about the Palisades Center or the “Mall in the Swamp” as he calls it and the tax settlement. He said that there were papers signed months before the recent public meeting and asked how that was so. Mele said she could speak to him privately about the matter.
The hot topic of the night was the candidates running for Superintendent of Highway Wayne Ballard and Dennis Malone. There have been anonymous mailings saying negative things about Malone, according to many members of the public.
“Letting air out of his daughter’s tires, dead birds in the mailbox? I suggest as town supervisor you stand up and find out what is going on so good people can run without this nonsense they have to put up with,” said Al Baroni, former superintendent of Parks. Baroni has known Malone for 30 years and says he is trying to save the town money. He asks what is Wayne Ballard doing to save them money?
Dennis Malone’s wife, Beth Ann, spoke about the campaign politics going on. She talked about her husband’s signs being slashed and graffiti being drawn on them. She also mentioned Dennis his daughter’s car tires allegedly being tampered with.
“Amy Durbin had the nerve to say Dennis did it himself. Would he really try to kill his own daughter?” asked Beth Ann.
Representing the opposing political side, Marge Hook said, “Dennis Malone was appointed not elected and I have every right to ask about his overtime. She pointed out how many Malone family members are employed throughout the town, while Ballard doesn’t have any.
Laurie Doherty countered that different members of Malone’s family earned their employment through hard work over many years and taking civic service tests. She mentioned how Dennis Malone himself started off as a town mechanics and took many tests to get to where he is now.
There was a lot of banter between supporters and opposition to Dennis Malone. Angry words were shouted out as both sides spoke from the other. Gromack urged everyone to be respectful of one another.
“The accusation of Marge Hook that people wrote curse words and slashed their own signs is ridiculous,” said Councilwoman Hausner. “We shouldn’t live in a community where this is going on and shouldn’t have to explain it to children. If we do find this is town employees doing this, we should investigate the code of ethics. We need the board of ethics to look into events that happened over the summers. There’s a certain level of civility we need to take. It is very disheartening. When I think about why I initially ran for the job, it was to serve the Town of Clarkstown. I think we should set an example for the children in our community,” she said.
“I agree. Many of my signs were destroyed four years ago,” said Councilman George Hoehmann. “I have full confidence that the Clarkstown Police will investigate.”