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Berne board spent over $15,000 investigating Democrats with little results

Aug 04, 2020 4:00 pm
The Altamont Enterprise reports that the Berne Town Board has spent at least $15,537.85 recently investigating Democratic town board members. One of those investigations led to a censure of a Democrat by a partisan vote; while the others have led to no results. Joel Willsey, the lone Democrat on the board, has been the subject of two investigations. Two other recent Democrats on the town board, Dawn Jordan and Karen Schimmer, who did not seek re-election last November, were also the subject of investigations by the same law firm hired by the town, Roemer Wallens & Mineaux. Town Clerk Anita Clayton refused the newspaper's Freedom of Information Law request about all money paid to Roemer Wallens & Mineaux, saying it was identical to a previous FOIL request that revealed the $15,537.85 figure. But those documents were largely redacted, not revealing who was paid and for what. The Democrats say they were being investigated for political reasons. Jordan said she was investigated for not granting highway superintendent and Berne’s Republican committee chair Randy Bashwinger the 18-percent raise he had requested or the 10-percent alternative that Supervisor Sean Lyons proposed. Schimmer said that she was investigated for insisting that adults supervising teenagers’ camping out at Thompsons Lake get background checks, after Jordan and Schimmer voted against appointing Bashwinger to the town’s youth council. Willsey was investigated for several issues, including a sexual harassment allegation because he wrote the word "erected" in an email discussing the installation of signs along the town’s roadways. Lyons would not comment on the story. Read more about all this in the The Altamont Enterprise.