Wednesday, October 28, 2009


FOIL - it's not just for wrapping leftovers.  Why, everybody knows a foil hat is the best way to protect yourself from alien mind control. If you don't believe me, just ask Mr. Whiskers and his owner.

FOIL also allows people like us the Freedom to Obtain Information by Law. It's an important tool we can use to keep our governments and big corporations honest. When you utilize the Freedom Of Information Law you can educate yourself and get all your facts together before you start tilting at windmills.  Or talking out your ass.

Of course, just because you request info from your government doesn't mean they're going to hand it over - even if they know you're entitled to it. Say you ask to see the employment history of one of your village's workers. Whether a civil servant is a street sweeper or an office manager, their work record is open for review. Certain information such as social security numbers, home addresses and phone numbers may be redacted, but access to a civil service employee's educational background and employment history must be provided upon written request. And New York State's Committee on Open Government offers many opinions to that effect on their website. (See )

But for some reason, if you submit a FOIL request to the Village of Mineola to review the curriculum vitae and salary history of their Building Superintendent or Secretary to the Board of Zoning Appeals, you'll be denied. And when you go the extra step to file an appeal citing numerous opinions from the COG that back you up, your appeal will be ignored - which is the same as a denial. You see, certain members of Mineola's Board of Trustees are very arrogant and clearly believe they are above the law. We've already seen that in the cases of Jack Martins and Tom Kennedy who don't think the Building Code regulations apply to them. So why not deny a citizen access to information they're entitled to?  Especially when that information is going to make the mayor look bad?

It's all part of the same strategy (if that's what you want to call it) that lead them to take the public meetings off the air for six months.  It started with folks questioning the double standards with which the Village Code is applied.  Why DID Building Superintendent Whalen issue a permit for an illegal fence to a contractor when he routinely denies other fence applications for corner properties?  (This is even more questionable considering he fined that contractor for having placed a "For Sale" sign on the same property.  Fences are big and permanent.  "For Sale" signs are not.)  Why did Mr. Whalen allow an already non-conforming house on Wellington Road to be expanded without requiring a variance hearing?  Why did he permit another behemoth of a house to be erected on Horton Highway in violation of the height restriction without calling for a variance hearing?

Ask for an intelligent explanation from this village official and you won't get one.  Because there is none.  And instead of having Mr. Whalen stand up and explain his decisions for himself at a January 2009 Work Session, the Mayor tapped the Village Attorney to cover Whalen's derrierre - at taxpayer expense of course.  Why are we paying Dan Whalen $100,000 a year to sit like a potted plant at a work session while we simultaneously pay John Spellman hefty consultant fees to spin tall tales about the way the building regulations are interpreted and enforced?

Ask the mayor if he's ever received complaints about a relationship between a Village official and a secretary who reports to that official, and first the mayor denies he ever received ANY complaints, then two weeks later he says he never received any "formal" complaints.  Then the Board votes to stop broadcasting the public meetings using the rationale that these employees were being slandered (they weren't - in order for something to be slanderous it must be false).  Then they blame it on people talking too long about things that aren't village related.  Then they go back to the slander defense.  And while the mayor avers that the board "agonized" over their decision to pull the plug, his second-in-command Larry Werther states that they didn't need to think about it at all. (In other words, for Larry it was a "no-brainer!")

Wow!  Either the right hand is completely ignorant of what the left hand is doing, or these guys are trying to play some serious brain games with the taxpayers.  Maybe they're in cahoots with some alien space invaders to take control of our minds.  Or maybe, just maybe, they ARE the alien space invaders hoping to turn us all into obedient pod people.  Or perhaps the spirits of the spooky season are getting the better of me.  But in any case, it may just be time for us all to break out the Reynolds and put our tinfoil hats on.  After all, a mind is a terrible thing to waste: