Politicians Acting Badly: Matt Veitch, Peter Martin, Joanne Yepsen

Dennis Yusko, reporter for the Times Union, recently reported on Michael Prezioso,  the recently hired Director of Mental Health for Saratoga County.  His article documents that Prezioso was hired for the position in spite of the fact that an investigation by the New York State Department of Mental Health  found that he had sexually harassed a female employee for over a year.  In a later  story  he also reports on the exodus of the three psychiatrists that had worked at the department along with other professional staff as a result of Prezioso’s managment.  This is a link to the story: http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Saratoga-County-mental-health-director-under-fire-6300510.php

What has been most disturbing has been the effort by Saratoga Springs Supervisors Matt Veitch (who currently is the chairman of the Board of Supervisors) and Peter Martin to suppress a public discussion of what is going on.  At the City Council meeting that followed the article linked to above, neither man mentioned the issue.  When pressed by the Saratogian, Veitch offered some vague statement about how the county was looking into the matter.  Members of the Saratoga Springs City Council had planned to put the issue of the Mental Health Department as an item on the Council agenda but were successfully lobbied by both men not to.  When members of the City Council then decided to have a press conference on the issue, both supervisors again campaigned against it.  They were almost successful.

Joanne Yepsen’s office was supposed to take care of publicizing the press conference.  By 4PM on the eve of the press conference, nothing had gone out to the press.  Bear in mind that a variety of people, representatives of several area organizations, and Commissioners Mathiesen and Madigan had arranged their schedules to be at the event the next day.  Dennis Yesko had referenced the upcoming event on his blog.  Jane Weihe called the mayor’s office and was told that the staff knew nothing about it and she wasn’t there.

At 4:28PM  Ms. Weihe texted the mayor asking “Has the press call gone out yet?”

At 4:46PM  Mayor Yepsen texted back “Hi Jane.  We can’t use the City Council Room and Michelle [Madigan} has backed out.  I am at an event.  Can I call you soon?”

Ms. Weihe then called Madigan who said she had not backed out and would be at the event as planned.

The mayor then called Ms. Weihe and told her that her legal council had advised that it would be improper to use the council chambers for the event and that it would be improper for her to lead such an event.  As such, while she would attend the press conference, she would not provide it with space, send out the press releases, or play a leading role.  It is not clear exactly when Yepsen planned to share this change of plans  with the Commissioners and others who planned to attend the press conference the next day

After Eileen Finneran had taken over the task of doing the press call and it had been decided to have the event on the steps of city hall and it became clear that the event was going to go ahead, Yepsen offered to help find another location for it.  Ms. Weihe declined the offer.

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