Tonight, as the council discussed a draft resolution for charter reform that we helped to create, we listened in shock as Ward 5 Council member Don Tallerman accused KingstonCitizens.org of corroborating with Neil Bender’s Kingstonian lawsuits, saying that our volunteer advocacy group was “Holding a gun to our city”.
When charter reform was introduced last year, the concept was delayed in part because of Council member Hirsch’s concerns of KingstonCitizens.org’s support of a city manager form of government.
Resisting charter reform means a delay, in part, of the council being able to hire their own staff and having a voice in the decision making process for boards, committees and commissions. This is all due to the City of Kingston having a strong mayor form of government governed by a city manager charter from a 1993/1994 decision. It is well documented and it is why our current strong mayor system holds so much power over our legislative body.
A year later, and in support of our entire community, we created draft language to help our council, taking the time to do some research and looking at communities similar in size and scale locally (all of which is cited in the original google document for the entire city to review) for a resolution that would allow the council to hire its own staff, have a say in the appointments/removal of committee, boards and commission members and formalizing mandatory training for council members (the Board of Education has yearly trainings).
Disregarding the substance, Tallerman said that KingstonCitizens.org’s main supporter is engaged in a dozen lawsuits. “Why would we entertain a suggestion from an entity who is holding a gun to our city…if a constituent comes to me with a good idea, and at the same time they are holding a gun up to the head of my family, no I’m not going to listen to that constituent when they are holding a gun up at my family’s head.”
Is it appropriate for an elected official to use a gun reference to describe the advocacy work of constituents? What’s the message he is trying to deliver? He ought to be censured for what he said tonight.
“Holding a Gun to our City”
Let’s set the record straight.
- KingstonCitizens.org has been advocating for a transparent process from the start as it pertains to the Kingstonian project. As community members, we have that right;
- We do not condone a $25 million dollar/25 year PILOT for luxury housing;
- We haven’t any lawsuits against the City of Kingston;
- Our organization hasn’t a relationship with Neil Bender.
We are not alone with our concerns about the Kingstonian project.
- Tonight, independently of our work, an empowerment coordinator (* please see below) brought forward their disdain for the Kingstonian decision during an introduction to their resolution for a proclamation for Sojourner Truth.
- In a recent Board of Education vote, candidates who were placed on the ballot as retribution for the BOE Kingstonian vote lost the election.
- In another major upset, longtime legislator and Kingstonian supporter Dave Donaldson lost the democratic line during the primary to newcomer Phil Erner.
Why is Ward 5 Alderman Don Tallerman Angry at KingstonCitizens.org?
Over the years, we have called for Council member Tallerman to recuse himself from any Kingstonian project vote due to his conflicts. We’ve created a timeline of those items as well as to how it pertains to our recent charter reform request. REVIEW the timeline
CORRECTION: The speaker Jessica’s title is Empowerment Coordinator. Her comments regarding the Kingstonian are her personal opinions and do not reflect the opinions of the YMCA.