Gulliver in Clarkstown

Clarkstown's agendas for its public meetings are neither timely nor accurate.

Mr. Gromack has the unfortunate habit when asked an uncomfortable question of using the stratagem 'argumentum ad verecundiam' (also known as the appeal to authority). 

The argument goes as follows:

1) Most of what authority G has to say on subject matter S is correct.
2) G says P about S.
3) Therefore, P is correct.

Such was the case at the April 3, 2012 Special Town Board meeting when I informed Mr. Gromack (G) that items 4 through 6 on the Town Board's agenda had not been published on the Town's website and therefore the public had not been given proper notification of the intention of the Town Board to vote on these matters (S) and was in violation of the spirit of the Open Meetings Law.

Mr. Gromack (G) with a wave of his hand indicated that the items in question had indeed been placed on the website "that very afternoon" (P) despite the fact I had just informed him that the iPad I was holding was at the time of his statement connected to the Town's website and was displaying the Board's agenda that was absent these items (S).

Supporting Mr.Gromack's  'argumentum ad verecundiam', Town Attorney Mele muttered muddled mantras that things were time sensitive. However, she remained unable to explain how a hundred or so copies of the agenda that the Board was working from could be printed 'on time' from the Town's copier machines but yet time could not be found to post the same document on the Town's website for the public's information.

Faced with 'argumentum ad verecundiam' I sometimes lapse into a strategy of 'argumentum ad hominem' which is an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out the negative characteristics of the person supporting it. 

And so I stated to Mr. Gromack that when faced with a fact which causes him discomfort he attempts to dismiss it with a slick comment borne from either a mendacious or a malacostracan mind.

My strategy failed miserably against Mr. Gromack's superior stratagem. He slithered away from my reach and proceeded to have the Board vote on the items which had not appeared on the publicly posted agenda.  

But I did gain one small concession!

The agenda, with the missing items included, was posted the following day on the website proving as I had suspected that Mr Gromack has read 'Gulliver's Travels' and understands that a good architect can indeed construct a building from the roof down. 

In Clarkstown's Gulliverian world: Tomorrow's published agenda is yesterday's recorded vote.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

George C April 06, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Another fine example of "You get what you vote for". Rules, what rules, they don't exist for King Alex
Brenda M April 06, 2012 at 11:15 PM
George, I am not surprised that neither Lasker nor Hausner questioned Gromack on holding a vote that was not properly made known to the public.   But it seems that Borelli and Hoehmann should have asked what the facts were from Justin Sweet.  If the public was not properly notified then it would have been a simple matter to post the items on the agenda for the next Board meeting. Mr. Gromack's attitude in handling such questions should not be allowed to go unchecked by those who are elected to follow proper procedures.  I sometimes wonder if the Board members are independent decision makers or just yes-men (and women)?
Mike Hirsch April 07, 2012 at 02:30 PM
If you don't like the way the town is being run, then show up for the bored meetings and get involved. Or you could just stay at home and whine.
Brenda M April 07, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Mike, I presume since your comment was not in reply to mine then you were speaking to the public in general and not me in particular? But just for information I am a frequent attender at the 'bored' meetings - pun intended! ;-)
Phil Leiter April 08, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Nice column, Michael. It seems the Town Board and the Board of Education are slow to recognize that the Open Meetings Laws matter, or that public review is much more than just the elections.


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