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Sweden Town Council Violates New York State’s Open Meetings Law

Town of Sweden
Town of Sweden
Sweden Town Hall

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported Thursday on its website that the Sweden Town Council violated New York State’s Open Meetings laws on Tuesday night when it went into closed session to discuss the tax proposal for the Clinton Street development project.

To make matters worse, when a reporter from the D&C objected to the decision to go into closed session, Town Supervisor Rob Carges was totally unresponsive to the reporter and, said "I don't know the answer to that. We were consulting with our lawyer."

Then, Rob Carges said he had to go to a meeting and walked away.

What is going on in Sweden? Town residents have to ask; when and why did corruption take control of the Sweden Town Board?

Town Board members Donald Roberts, Danielle Windus-Cook, Rebecca Donohue, Robert Musebeck and Supervisor Robert Carges are good people, but they all seem to be totally clueless about their obligation to follow the law in all circumstances.

They are nice people, but they are lousy politicians. No wonder they had to cook the books and add a third (unnecessary town justice) to make it look as if the Town Court loses money, when the dollars and cents figures provide under a Freedom of Information Act request say just the opposite.

According to information released to by Sweden Town Clerk Leisa Strabel, here are the figures for the 2009 the Sweden Town Court:

  • $442,330 total fines collected
  • $248,779 remitted to New York State
  • $18,800 remitted to the Village of Brockport
  • $174,751 retained by the Town of Sweden

That’s right!. In 2009 the Sweden Town Clerk had revenues of $174,751, which is more than enough to cover the cost of operating the court. In short, the Sweden Town Court showed a nice profit in 2009, but the Sweden Town Council tried to deny it.

Keep in mind that this is the same town council that does not allow its citizens to send an email directly to the board members.

Supervisor Rob Carges has his own email account, But to send an email to any of the SwedenTown Council members, you have to send your email to the town clerk Leisa Strabel, and then hope that she shares the email with the elected member of the town council.

Lots of luck with that.

It is either blatant incompetence or a blatant attempt by those who run the website to isolate the Town Board from the public.

It’s 2014, the second decade of the 21st century, but the Town of Sweden still filters all communication to the Town Board members through the Town Clerk. That move is straight out of the 19th Century, and you have to ask yourself why the town board would do that.

Maybe they’re just too lazy to change it and join the rest of us in the 21st Century, but it looks like they’re trying to hide something.

Obedience of the law is demanded; not asked as a favor.
Theodore Roosevelt

The Village of Brockport and the Brockport Central School District already have signed off on the RPTL 421m exemption for the Clinton Street redevelopment project. The last remaining hurdle is approval is the Sweden Town Council and they don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about it.

When a historic property is rotting and falling down, everybody loses. The neighborhood around the historic property deteriorates, the property falls off the tax rolls, and the downward spiral begins. It’s the classic story of urban decay.

The village loses the tax revenue; the town loses the tax revenue, and the school district loses the tax revenue. As a result everybody’s taxes have to go up to make up for the shortfall.

The only way to reverse the downward spiral is to repair and revitalize the run-down building and the surrounding neighborhood.

So the fate of the attempt to revitalize Brockport’s Erie Canal waterfront rests in the hands of the five people on the Sweden Town Council: Town Supervisor Robert A. Carges, Deputy Supervisor Robert Muesebeck, and Councilpersons Rebecca Donohue, Donald Roberts, and Danielle Windus-Cook.

Sweden residents were encouraged to attend the Sweden Town Council’s meeting at 7 PM on January 28, 2014 at the Town Hall, 18 State Street in Brockport to voice their support for the rehabilitation project

Unfortunately, Supervisor Robert A. Carges, and the Town Council members weren’t the slightest bit interested in what Sweden Town residents had to say.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The members of the Sweden Town Council can run but they can’t hide. Sooner or later they will have to decide whether they support cleaning up Clinton Street or whether they are against it.

Rob Carges, Don Roberts, Danielle Windus-Cook, Rebecca Donohue, and Robert Musebeck can be good guys or they can be bad guys, it’s up to them.

Let’s hope they have the cojones to do what’s right and to stand up to the college landlords in Brockport.

Right now it looks like the answer is that they don't.

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