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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Friday, March 9

Eric Weller's seat on Housing Authority Board

According to some accounts, he isn't there more often than he is.
Local rabble-rouser John Kaufmann's numbers indicate Weller missed seven of 12 Housing Authority Board meetings in 2010. Of course, I don't know if that includes attendance via Skype or not.
Meanwhile, Weller was also just appointed to his third term, something Kaufmann also says is illegal because of the bylaws of the Housing Authority.
He called me to tell me he would be faxing this letter to Mayor Scott Johnson this morning after we talked about the issue yesterday:

Mayor Scott Johnson
Saratoga Springs City Hall
474 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
March 8, 2012
Dear Mayor:
Following our meeting I reviewed the appointments to the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority. Please be advised that it appears that your appointment of Eric Weller to their Board of Commissioners violates their bylaws. Here is the relevant section of the bylaws:

Under Article II, Section : Five (5) members shall be appointed by the Mayor of the city of Saratoga Springs to staggered five (5) year terms in accordance with Section 30 of Public Housing Law. The terms shall not exceed two (2) terms in succession.
The following is a record of Mr. Weller’s appointments:
Eric Weller
- Original appointment 3/6/01 by Mayor Klotz
- Re-appointed 5/16/06 by Mayor Keehn
- Re-appointed 3/15/11 by Mayor Johnson

The next meeting of the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority will be on March 22, 2012. This will also be the last meeting they will have to stop the automatic extension of the executive director’s contract for the coming year.

I hope you will move expeditiously to fill the vacancy this creates.


John Kaufmann

Now, full disclosure, I haven't had time to look into the claims he makes or independently confirm them (that's why this is a blog-post and not a story).

Furthermore, Mayor Johnson left me a message yesterday refuting some of that.

First, he said he does not believe Weller served consecutive terms (this was before he received Kaufmann's letter, which again I haven't confirmed the numbers in).

"I think he was on the board years ago, went off, and then went back on," Johnson said.

Moreover, he said that wouldn't matter anymore anyway.

"The old bylaws had a limit on how many terms you could serve," he said. "That was changed years ago, before I even took office."

He said current bylaws have no such restriction.

Update here: The bylaws with those restrictions were adopted in April 2009, so unless there is a newer copy I don't know about that seems to indicate that there is that restriction. I'll need to take that up with the mayor.

Anyway, we'll see. And if no one noticed in the story yesterday, Chairman Dennis Brunelle is probably not coming back to the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, according to Johnson. I'd love to say "According to Brunelle," but unfortunately I haven't talked to him in more than a week.

He wouldn't give me his phone number. (Perhaps he doesn't want to be frequently berated with questions.) Instead, he said when I want to talk to him I should call Housing Authority Director Ed Spychalski, who can call Brunelle, who can call me.

I have made that call — several times this week. Spychalski said he has been calling, texting and e-mailing the chairman, but to no avail.

When I hear from him, I'll let everyone know what he has to say.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The By-laws seem to have been last amended in April 2009. So the question would be have they been changed since then or are they still in effect?

Those By-laws were adopted by the Authority during the mayor's first term. They very specifically prohibit a member from serving more than two consecutive terms.

If these are in fact the most recent By-laws then John Kaufman's observation seems correct. And if they are the most recent why would the mayor's office be unaware.

So why not simply ask the Authority for a copy of its most recent By-laws and the mayor's office for the appointment dates of the current Authority members and when and by whom they were first appointed. Inn fact, it is beyond comprehension that this far into this fiasco the Saratogian has not clarified all this.

This entire affair gets more bizarre at each turn.r

March 9, 2012 at 12:37 PM 
Blogger Lucian said...

Someone just commented criticizing Kaufmann's numbers, saying the new bylaws have no term-restrictions, however since they used pretty uncouth language and resorted to name-calling, and since I have to approve every comment before it posts, I did not post it. I just wanted to include this post saying there was criticism of Kaufmann's numbers out there, but in nicer language.

March 9, 2012 at 5:42 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot follow all the information on the Housing Authority topic and it looks like
no one has a clue as to how it is supposed to be run.

Totally a disgrace to keep hearing someone who is in charge guessing at how everything is supposed to be administered.

Would love to hear someone speak with conviction and actual knowledge.

March 9, 2012 at 6:06 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Spykalski's Contract is not up for review. It is iron clad. The only option would be a rightful termination and a buyout. The only loose end right now is his performace evaluation for 2011. If not completed he would automatically get a %5 raise. It could be completed with a recommendation of no raise. The members of the Compensation Committee are SisterCharla Cummings, Eric Weller and Dennis Brunelle. The most recent changes in bylaws should be reviewed as well as the change in job decription and requirements. Current requirements are much lower than HUD requirements. Those changes were made by members of the Democratic Party who just criticized the Mayor for taking no action. Maybe they should clean up the mess they started in the first place to win an election. Thanks Val.

March 9, 2012 at 7:29 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The public has lost track of one simple fact here. The SSHA is under the umbrella of a Federal Agency - HUD. If they change by-laws they would notify HUD and not the City who has no authority over the issue. Unless that Authority can be confirmed every one is chasing their tail. There is more than one agenda in play here.

March 10, 2012 at 5:58 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bylaws were changed 7/10/11. Any previous commentary is incorrect. No agency was made aware of chnage as Board feels they answer to no one as Eric Weller seem to feel. I'm afraid he learns to understand what the word accountability means. He sure is accountatble for his absence during the winter months. The Board does not need absentee commissioners.

March 14, 2012 at 5:52 PM 

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