Our police department had to call a locksmith in to open a police department safe. What’s wrong with this picture?
I appreciate that the city comptroller witnessed this debacle caused in part by a lack of basic security protocols and common sense. I find myself wondering why he wasn’t overseeing pay records of any city employee who receives multiple paychecks from the city and/or the school district and/or the county and/or the state. Double dipping has historically been one of the means greedy, corrupt and criminal government employees steal from the taxpayers. Why are there no checks and balances in place to catch this centuries-old corrupt practice when it rears its ugly head?
Matthews is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. He has as much right as any citizen to have his day in court. Costing the taxpayers he was sworn to protect and serve more of our hard-earned money. While this process of justice worms its way through our legal system, and his rights are respected and upheld, I, for one, want every money trail followed, every penny accounted for. I want every questionable transaction brought to light and every individual possibly involved investigated. A thorough and transparent investigation is the only way to prove the innocence of the members of the Kingston Police Gold Shield Society and the Police Department.
When Matthews refused to hand over the only key to the safe, he killed the dim hope I had that this was some unbelievable misunderstanding. He also ripped the taxpayers off again, forcing the city to pay for a locksmith. How is it that Chief Keller didn’t have access to a duplicate key? Obviously, there was no oversight or accountability in regards to Matthews’ sole access to the safe and its contents. Seems the chief is a proponent of the “Honor System.” Whatever his management philosophy, he failed in his duties miserably. Mayor Sottile still has confidence in Keller. I can’t see why.
Lack of oversight and accountability within the Police Department is glaringly obvious. In my opinion, it indicates professional negligence on the part of Chief Keller. There were no systems of checks and balances, leaving the department vulnerable to corruption and scandal. Mayor Sottile said so. “I’m going to rely on the chief to work on safeguards.” Wasn’t that what he was being paid for the last decade and more? Chief Keller failed. If proper security procedures and protocols were in place, this could have been stopped before it became a far-reaching scandal. Mayor Sottile goes on to say: “We want to make sure that there are some checks and balances so that nobody gets placed in a compromising position.”
Too late, Mayor. The entire Police Department has been placed in a compromising position. Criminal convictions may be compromised. The public trust has been shaken. There is evidence of double dipping, there is money missing from the police department safe. Too bad you didn’t make sure the checks and balances were in place during your terms as mayor/CEO of Kingston. Isn’t that part of what we paid you for?
The Kingston Police Gold Shield Society, a not-for-profit charitable organization has contracts to provide security using off-duty police officers. How could senior police officials allow this blatant conflict of interest, conflict of purpose?
Was anyone in city government aware of any of this mess? Anyone other than Matthews?
Carnival a huge success
On Saturday, Jan. 28, Zena Elementary School hosted its Seventh Annual Winter Carnival. Over 400 people attended the event, raising over $3,600 for the Zena Booster Club. (The Zena Booster Club funds field trips for all students in grades K-5.) Zena School would like to thank everyone who attended the event, as well as our generous community sponsors: Boice’s Ice Cream, Christina’s Restaurant, Hannaford, Herzog’s, Hurley Ridge Market, Kelder’s Farm, Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, Reis Insurance, Rondout Savings Bank, ShopRite, Skytop Steakhouse, Steve’s Pizza, and Ulster Savings Bank. Thanks to all who helped to make the Zena Winter Carnival a huge success again this year!
Zena Elementary School
RRA needs probing
The recent controversy surrounding the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (RRA) is unrelated to the botched Ulster County Law Enforcement Center project, yet the citizens of this county see again a lack of accountability by the county legislature. Worse yet, we see inaction by the district attorney on a matter of public integrity. In the jail debacle, the legislature ultimately conducted a thorough probe and directed the DA to present the case to the grand jury. In the RRA controversy, the DA’s Office is purposefully avoiding the public integrity matter and instead investigating only issues of alleged weapons possession and/or sexual harassment and misconduct.
The citizens of Ulster County deserve better and should demand more. Public integrity should be a priority for our district attorney, even if it means stepping on some political toes. While we await action from the DA, our legislature should conduct an open and thorough probe. Moreover, I agree with the proposal to place administrative responsibility for the RRA in the hands of the county executive.