Observer Corps Committee

Observer Corps Committee

December 2022 Observer Corps | October Observer Corps | March Observer Corps | September Observer Corps | Metroplex Reporting to Schenectady County, City and Towns | Schenectady City Council Observer Corps | Observer Corps Report on Rotterdam Town Board

December 2022 Observer Corps

The Observer Corps has for several years attended the towns and city public meetings. With the advent of Covid the activity ended. It is important to have LWV eyes and ears at the public meeting to assure that all citizens are well represented. Members interested in participation at any one of the meetings are encouraged to call Connie Young. All meetings are now on Zoom as well in person allowing flexibility which makes the job easier. The information is then sent to the observer corps coordinator.

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October Observer Corps

Observer Corps Coordinator Cynthia Weissend presided at a meeting of Observer Corps volunteers to plan the upcoming year. The members present discussed participation at city and town board meetings both as citizens, and as corp members. As League members it is important to identify one's self as such and maintain non-partisanship when representing the League.

There are many positions that still need to be filled: the local School Board meetings for Niskayuna, Scotia-Glenville, and Rotterdam Mohonasen. The Schenectady School Board needs an alternate as does the Schenectady County Legislature (meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7pm, 6th fl. of the County Office Bldg.). The various school boards meet once or twice a month at various school locations so it is best to check their websites or to call the district offices for meeting information.

Observer Corps is a great way to monitor local politics for transparency and accountability, and gives you a chance to see the results of your efforts. The group plans to get together again after the holiday season to discuss their thoughts. Call Cynthia Weissend at 518-928-2383 for more details and to volunteer.

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March Observer Corp Reports

Schenectady County Legislature - Carol Jacobson

Two items were brought up during the Privilege of the Floor portion of the November 17, 2017 meeting of the Schenectady County legislature which seems to be an ongoing problem and which the legislature did not comment on.

1. Schenectady Landlords Influencing Change - A group of landlords protested laws dating back to the 1990's that legally holds landlords responsible for storage of tenant abandoned items after eviction for six months at their own cost. The land lords are often stuck with the storage and disposal costs. as these costs frequently are too high for the tenants to reclaim their items.

2. Baptist Nursing Home Staffing - An aide from the Baptist nursing Home urged the Legislature to help the residents of the home by doing something to improve wages for the staff. Wages are not sufficient to attract competent long term staff. Staff frequently changes and staffing often is below state requirements. The quality of care and conditions that the nursing home residents live in puts them in jeopardy.

Schenectady City Council- Flora Ramonowski

City Council Actions:

  • A new city bicycle infrastructure master plan has been adopted that will lead to expanded bike access around the city with directional signs that will help visiting cyclists find their way.
  • Council members voted not to become a "sanctuary city".
  • A resolution was passed condemning racism.
  • A resolution was passed honoring the union College Dutchman hockey Team.
  • It was voted to ban smoking in cars when children are passengers. An $85 million budget was passed despite Leesa Perazzo's concerns that more time was needed to examine all of the particulars.
  • Work is to begin on the Oak Street Bridge. The bridge has been closed for about five years due to instability.

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September Observer Corps Report

We would like to assign additional League Observer Corps volunteers to participate in observing the operations of our local government organizations. This is a hands-on opportunity to learn more about local issues and how our local government functions. This activity involves attendance at meetings held by various local public bodies.

The following organization meetings are observed:

  • The Schenectady County Legislature which meets the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 7pm., on the 6th floor of the County Office Bldg. at 620 State St.
  • The Glenville Town Board which meets at the Glenville Municipal Center, 18 Glenridge Rd. on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at 7;30 pm.
  • The Niskayuna Town Board which meets on various Tuesdays at 7 pm in the Niskayuna Town Hall.
  • The Rotterdam Town Board which meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays at 7 the Kirvin Govt. Center on Sunrise Blvd.
  • The Schenectady City Council which meets the 2nd and 4th Mondays, 7pm. City Hall.
  • The Schenectady Metroplex Authority which will meet at 6pm in the Metroplex Office at 433 State St.,4th floor. on September 13.
  • The Schenectady City School Board which will meet on September 20 at 7 pm at Mt Pleasant Middle School.
  • The Niskayuna School Board which will meet on September 12 and September 26 at 6 pm in the District Office Board Room.

Quarterly reports of our observations may appear in the League Bulletin and sometimes League action is recommended (as in the case last year regarding required Metroplex reporting to municipalities).

Information about municipal bodies is found in the League of Women Voters' Who's Who and in the case of the school boards on the school district websites. If you would like to officially be a League Observer, contact Betsy Chase (lwvschenectady [at]

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Metroplex Reporting to Schenectady County, City and Towns

New York Authorities law 2655-C requires Metroplex to provide reports of their five year capital plan to municipalities and New York Authorities Law 2655-D requires Metroplex to deliver reports of details of projects undertaken during the year. These laws require oral and written reports to be delivered in the February/March time frame each year.

Observer Corps members have contacted the Niskayuna Town Board, the Glenville Town Board, the Schenectady City Council, the Duanesburg Town Board, Rotterdam Town Board and Metroplex to assess compliance with the laws.

Schenectady City Council and County Legislature - Kay Ackerman reports that Leesa Perazzo (City Council President) said that Ray Gillen (Metroplex Chair) has been invited to the City Council City and County Development Committee meeting in late February or March after his report to the Legislature. Dates can be confirmed with the City Clerk and with the Clerk to the County.

Niskayuna Town Board - Johanna Petersen reports that Joe Landry (Town Supervisor) gets updates from Ray Gillen regularly. Paul Webster ( Niskayuna representative to Metroplex) gives regular reports to the board as well. Metroplex is presently funding 20% of a grant to reconfigure the parking lot and side walk in front of the Niskayuna Co-op.

Glenville Town Board - Betsy Chase reports that Chris Koetzle (Town Superviser) has spoken with Ray Gillen to schedule a presentation to the town board sometime in March or April. The presentation date will be announced on the Town web site. The Glenville representative to Metroplex is Bob Dietrick (CFO of First National Bank of Scotia). It does not appear that Glenville has been previously getting the required Metroplex presentations.

Duanesburg Town Board - Betsy Chase has spoken with Roger Tidball (DuanesburgTown Supervisor). He is going to ask Todd Edwards (Duanesburg and Princetown representative to Metroplex) to schedule a report from Metroplex. Metroplex just approved more than $150,000 for the Duanesburg sewer project. We are waiting for additional feedback. It does not appear that they have previously been receiving the required presentations.

Rotterdam Town Board - Ray Gillen told Betsy Chase that he is scheduled to give his report to the Rotterdam Town Board on March 22nd.

Metroplex - Johanna Petersen spoke with Sharon Jordan (Metroplex Board Member) who mentioned that Ray Gillen gives an annual report to the County Legislature, usually in late February or March. The public is invited. Metroplex feels this is sufficient since the report is on the website.

Submitted by Betsy Chase, Observer Corps Coordinator

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Schenectady City Council Observer Corps

Members of the Schenectady City Council - after much discussion - passed the 2017 Schenectady city budget, which included several new positions and tax deductions for home owners.

Mayor Gary McCarthy thanked the Capital Region Economic Development Council for selecting the city of Schenectady for funding to create jobs and continue the city's redevelopment.

The Schenectady Community "Needs Assessment Survey" was released.

Mayor Gary McCarthy joined Rivers Casino and Clancy Real Estate in announcing housing opportunities for Casino employees as part of the Walk-to-Work initiative.

Members of the city council announced the "Breathing Lights" project which illuminated numerous empty homes in the Capital Region. By raising awareness about the issue, and putting people back in these homes, it could help stabilize the communities plagued by blighted properties.

Richard Homenick, chair of the Civilian Police Review Board, presented the quarterly CPRB report before the city council committee. Dick Shave (member of LWV) was nominated to the CPRB committee to replace Flora Ramonowski, who stepped down from the position.

Submitted by Flora Ramonowski

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Observer Corps Report on Rotterdam Town Board

The New York State Department of Transportation is undertaking a large traffic improvement project along Route 146. Therefore, the Town of Rotterdam has a unique opportunity to install a sewer main under Route 146.

In February of 2016, the Rotterdam Town Board issued a resolution requesting permission to create the Hamburg Street Sewer District. A bond of $4,167,000 has been issued over a 30 year period for this project. The initial cost for each homeowner will be $1,738 with a yearly cost of $1,204 per homeowner.

Doug Cole, Director of Wastewater Systems for John M. McDonald Engineering, spoke at the March 23rd Rotterdam Town Board meeting about the needs of the wastewater treatment plant. The treatment plant is located on Campbell Avenue, near the Viaport Rotterdam Mall, and is in need of many urgent repairs. Too many repairs have been neglected over the years. Another bond will have to be submitted to address these issues. Supervisor Steven Tommasone stated, "We have to take care of what we have, if we want further development of our town".

Eunice Chouffi, LWV observer

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Schenectady County