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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Wellsville: Former village official reacts to Dorsette story

I would have a difficult time supporting James Dorsette for Mayor.  Let’s leave the Burrows building out of it (although how could you be so blind to enter that acquisition without resources to rehabilitate it).  But I have an equal concern for an individual who chooses to run for public office who co-owns (according to Allegany County Real Property web site) the former Knights of Columbus residence at 205 Maple Ave.  This property has been in disrepair longer than the two years Mr. Dorsette and company has owned it yet no significant attempts have been made to improve this property.
 

His issues:  Taxes too high:  With no vision of how to correct the situation.  He needs a plan.
 
Police:  Understaffed:  His words – “no cuts”, “understaffed”  “he would always look for cuts and would even ask staffers to consider a pay cut”
What does an NYC Auxiliary Police do?  What training  or what authority did he have.  And for dash cams and body cams while looking for cuts???
     But it’s good to know he feels safe in Wellsville.
 
Good Luck, Mr. Dorsette, but not likely my candidate for the Village’s top office.
 
Tim Colligan
Former Village Trustee
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Dear Mr. Colligan,

First, thank you for your former service as Village Trustee.

In response to your comments, while I welcome and appreciate you weighing in with personal opinion and your ‘Non-Endorsement’, of which that is your right — I think it’s fair to say — it’s fairly easy to make presumptions, generalizations or arrive at pre-mature conclusions, without knowing or taking into consideration the whole picture, regarding difficulties many people face in their lives, the aspects and reasons for my candidacy, or factors concerning a piece by piece restoration of my future residence, you earnestly invested your time to investigate. That said …

After speaking with almost 200 people on an in-person basis, as part of my campaign, I have gained an increased understanding that it is a customary practice within ‘small town politics’, to anticipate bias, undue or undeserved scrutiny, when someone who is not part of the ‘political elite’, seeks public office. However, this does not bother me, as unwelcoming or unsettling as that may be. We are human beings after all, with varied ideas, goals and hopes for aspiring towards achieving a better community, mindful of a simple and shared notion that there is always room for improvements, given in good faith, to work together wherever possible.

Looking ahead, the prospect of having the honor to serve as mayor, is certainly not a responsibility taken lightly, or to govern with any method or template that represents being arbitrary or authoritarian. I believe our community has sustained enough of that, in what seems a very controversial, flawed administration, which has occurred over the last four years. There are numerous unresolved serious issues here, which have adversely impacted our community. I will endeavor to clearly point these out and substantiate why such criticism is long overdue and warranted, during this election.

In my understanding, any person running for public office (see campaign pamphlet — (wellsvillecitizenscouncil.org), must have empathy and moral compass, with recognition and acknowledgment to better relate to the community he/ she wishes to represent. As well, the ability to grasp complex issues, triage priorities, and apply fairness and benevolence across the board, to the residents and citizens who live and work in our community. One must serve as mayor/ public official (as in good neighbor to all), in the interest of our community’s well-being, without preferential treatment, bias, or unfair judgment, or excluding people based upon economic class, social status or exhibiting indifference / lack of concern towards anyone … especially if / when seeking votes of confidence, asked for during an election season. Such conduct would be hypocritical.

Acknowledging a sense of mutual respect between local government and the citizens of our community, encourages a working confidence. Such respect requires valuing people as more than votes, or as just a tax revenue base of local government income. This cannot be achieved by the current situation of disconnect, between local public officials and the majority of people in our community, which has been ongoing for years.

A responsible mayor, is also a dedicated liaison, negotiator, coordinator and diplomat, who strives to find reasonable solutions as possible (and keep at it), working through  budget limitations, productive policy direction and reform, and occasional disagreement within the community and from fellow public officials. The goal is to serve and preserve the Public Trust; not at all to betray it.

My home is in a state of restoration — “disrepair”, as you call it. I could not afford a $250,000 home; as such, I certainly would not frown upon, or attempt to belittle anyone who seeks the traditional American dream of owning a home, or even a business — and then make untoward, impulsive critical judgments because some people have greater financial struggles than others. What does that accomplish? Being in that situation enhances my ability for empathy and a deeper sense of understanding for those people like myself, who have limited means, a smaller budget and less resources to make costly repairs instantaneously. It seems a bit insensitive that your judgment is unduly harsh, when as a former official, we both know that there are relevant circumstances which economically define our community as the highest taxed in NYS and the Country; disproportionately mismatched with among the lowest average earned family income, respective to the sixty-two counties in NYS. Surely, it’s burdensome, often excessively.

If you’re fortunate enough not having to endure that specific kind of economic disadvantage and hardship, consider yourself additionally blessed. The Burrous Building is another issue, involving certain complexities and circumstances beyond my control — which legally points towards a faulty, arbitrary, controversial administration, compounded by defective, outdated, inaccurate public records. In February 2015, I authored a 4000 word length editorial in the Daily Reporter, which discussed a great deal of the story. I also authored a follow-up article in May 2015. There was no administrative rebuttal or challenge to either article.

I proudly served my community in the Auxiliary Police, NYC for many years. Helping people. Listening to people. Being a visible deterrent in the interest of crime prevention. Bridging gaps of mistrust and misunderstanding. That is what public service is about, in or out of uniform. As for dash cams in patrol cars and body cams worn by officers, those are invaluable resources and tools that work well, to support our dedicated officers as well as provide a record for any necessary analysis of conduct between the officers and our community they protect. The same sound reasoning mutually applies to the majority of banks across the country that have them for obvious reasons. ‘Evidential reference’.

You commented on my lack of vision / approach to taxes. I’ll clarify, with a reasonable approach of tax reform. It means making an earnest, sincere attempt to maintain a balanced budget, reallocation in certain areas that are fair for everyone. There may be certain internal records I do not have present access or am privy to. If elected, I will be part of a team, to re-examine this information for practical solutions. It may mean small percentage cuts in village expenses, but not to a degree where municipal jobs are lost.

People have families to support, homes to take care of. I believe in a community effort for resolving problems, as much as humanly possible. We don’t have millions of people here to factor in. I’m confident people are reasonable and understanding, with good intentions to work together, towards helping one another.  Any first steps would be transitional, to avoid unfairness or dissatisfaction. No one person or small group can accomplish change —without a unified community and worthwhile effort. We can all do our part, if we try.

I do have ‘vision’ for improvements that result in beneficial, more favorable conditions for citizens like myself, who live and work here. I will not make arbitrary decisions or encourage policy which unfairly infringes upon the majority of people who face daily economic struggles. There will always be a segment of criticism from those who wish to remain in public office; however — I would encourage you in whatever spare time you can put aside, to speak to people you do not know around the community as I have, and ask them how they are doing, ask about their concerns for their families and our community … and while you’re at it, ask them when was the last time they read a ‘Public Opinion Poll’ / Approval Rating, for our current administration and/ or our Mayor, for a measurement of performance, or anything that actually helped our community growth and/ or improve our quality of life … which makes people proud to call Wellsville their home. Ask them. The results may surprise you.

Animosity and discontent have never been key components of improving communities, if those are the only focus to deal with change or progress. I believe a motivated person who simply recognizes the importance of civic duty, even if it is to call into question the performance of local government. I have also found that the Wellsville Daily Reporter, as our local newspaper, is and has been an unequivocal witness to the state of affairs concerning our community. I also mention the online news-blog, RNN (regionalnewsnetwork.com).  Despite the absence of a Public Opinion Poll in recent years, one story after another, references the awful tax situation, lost jobs, the economic pendulum leaning more decisively towards decline instead of growth, and an undeniable consensus majority of good people in our community, who have expressed their dissent and dissatisfaction, accumulative over the last several years.

In closing, there are many specific community issues I intend to address, during the remainder of my campaign. What necessary or essential measures were you, Mr. Colligan, able to accomplish to improve people’s situations, our quality of life and our community, during your term of public office? I’d be very interested to know. We have a current Mayor, who didn’t even bother to lend her support or encouragement to our wonderful high school students in their greatest achievement; she was a ‘No-Show’ at their Graduation 2016. I have not heard she ever attended any, during her entire term.

I have written letters to the editor of the Daily Reporter, addressed to both John Anderson and Brian Quinn. Among the issues I addressed concern with, were paid stipends / subsidies on a per-call basis, for our dedicated EMS & Fire Department Volunteers, who perform such a vital service to our community, who equally supports and admires them, yet our current administration has disregarded this important, essential issue on the table for consideration; their recognition with some financial compensation they well deserve. They also have families and expenses.

The Village Annual Budget is approximately 6 million dollars. $250,000 represents around 3% of the total. Were comparative budget models from other nearby or regional jurisdictions ever reviewed? What are the possibilities of joint funding, with mutual contributions from the village, town and county? Shared resources? As you know, the Wellsville EMS & Fire Dept. are mutual assistance services, sometimes responding to neighboring areas outside their normal service area. Have our local officials made efforts to contact officials from these areas, to discuss available contributory funding?

It is the tip of the iceberg; I have a list of issues which are in question. Nothing less than a serious disconnection currently exists between the actual needs of this community, compounded by arbitrary, controversial administrative policy, questionable judgment, with a patterned aversion to accountability, transparency and separation from our community … who once voted to elect them into office. Now this same administration wishes to govern for another four years. At who’s expense? Our citizens pay their salaries, yet we question daily, whether they are fighting for us … or against us.

Misrepresentation Vs. Fair Representation. The argument basis of my campaign.
I understand this is my objective opinion … The voters will decide November 8.


Respectfully,
James Dorsette.