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Berne residents express 'pain, humility and seething anger' over town board's actions

Feb 19, 2020 1:15 am
The Altamont Enterprise is reporting dozens of residents turned out for the February 12, Berne Town Board meeting to demand answers for the numerous administrative changes made by the board that range from illegal to deeply immoral, according to some. “You made a mistake,” planning board member Lawrence Zimmerman said. “Let’s face it.” Along with the other planning board members, Zimmerman last week signed a letter calling the decision to demote Emily Vincent as a full member to an alternate, "illegal, arbitrary, and capricious." Vincent has taken legal action against the town because her demotion violated New York State Town Law. Zimmerman was one of at least 22 speakers who packed into the meeting — which was advertised as an open forum where the town council would address residents’ concerns directly. About a third of the crowd supported the board. Until the meeting, the town board had largely resisted questions about the removal of Cheryl Baitsholts as the town’s dog control officer, and Vincent as a full member of the planning board. As the meeting came to its end, Councilman Mathew Harris stood and delivered a speech about his dedication to the town amid the controversies, hardships, and illegalities. “I believe in the town of Berne and its people, or I wouldn’t be sitting here,” Harris continued. “I believe in the future of the town and I believe our success depends on the community involvement, participation in our town, the boards and committees and that those people are going to supply us — me — with the necessary input and direction and the services that will benefit all of us," he said. When the meeting concluded, the board had established a public hearing on one issue and said it may reconsider Baitsholts' dismissal. Read the full story in The Altamont Enterprise.