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Irish resigns from Queensbury Town Board

QUEENSBURY — Town Councilman Doug Irish abruptly resigned Monday morning, four months after he moved out of state.

In an email sent at 7:30 a.m., Irish said the criticism over whether he should resign was affecting the supervisor’s race. He strongly supports Republican candidate Rachel Seeber for supervisor.

“It is unfortunate that my presence, or lack thereof at the Town Board meetings, have been made an issue in the supervisor’s race,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “I wish you good luck in the immediate future on the board and look forward to an honest, issues driven debate for the supervisor’s position going forward.”

He referenced criticism from The Post-Star editorial page of his scheme this summer to run a Town Board candidate who did not want the position. Candidate Hal Bain asked Irish, as well as the town attorney and other Republican officials, if he could drop out of the race. Irish came up with a different idea: run and then resign before taking office, allowing the Republicans to appoint someone else for a year.

The scheme was openly discussed via his official town email account, which is public. Democrats submitted a Freedom of Information Law request for his email and discovered the scheme recently.

Irish defended it as the way politics is done, but criticism mounted, with town Councilman Tony Metivier last week questioning what other schemes Irish had planned. He suggested not voting for anyone who supported Irish — including town Councilman Brian Clements and Seeber.

In Irish’s resignation letter, he said Editor Ken Tingley’s opinion piece criticizing the scheme proved the newspaper would not be unbiased in the race.

He also wrote that he no longer believes he can change his schedule enough to get to the twice-monthly Town Board meetings in person.

“My efforts to attend Town Board meetings have not been successful and, clearly Supervisor Strough prefers it to remain that way,” Irish wrote.

Supervisor John Strough has objected to Irish using video conferencing to attend, saying Irish should instead resign because he no longer lives in Queensbury.

Irish moved to an apartment in North Carolina to take a job at a community college, but his family still lives in Queensbury. He has argued that since his house in the town is still his legal address, he can keep his board seat. State law says his seat is vacant when he ceases to be an “inhabitant,” regardless of what property he owns.

Irish has said repeatedly that he wanted to keep his seat until the election. He wrote that he loved the job.

“I very much enjoyed my work on the Town Board and always told the truth. While this may be inconvenient and even hurtful to some members of the board, the facts are nonetheless the facts,” he said.

Contacted later Monday, Seeber said Irish “did the right thing” by resigning.

“Going door-to-door over the past two weeks in Ward 3, this is without a doubt an issue to our residents,” she said. “My hope is the press and people can now get back to the issues of this campaign: over-taxation in Queensbury, wasteful spending like the $10.5 million (airport) runway expansion and the lack of transparency, including the hiding of a scathing audit report by the current town supervisor.”

Strough is prepared to appoint Irish’s replacement, George Ferone, who is running unopposed for Ward 1. If Ferone is willing, he could be appointed as early as next month. (The board has no more meetings this month.)

“I think it’s good,” Strough said about the resignation. “I think it will help the town move forward.”


Joe Goetz file photo, Special to The Post-Star  

Americade attracts tens of thousands of motorcyclists to the region every spring, and promotional funding for the event was the subject of discussion in recent days in Warren County.

Occupancy tax spending leads to controversy

QUEENSBURY — The latest plan to change the way Warren County divvies up its occupancy tax promotional funding has ruffled some feathers among members of the county Board of Supervisors.

One supervisor sought Friday to stall a plan that would award $198,000 in funding to eight events before their applications had been received, while others questioned whether the new process was flawed.

Some also debated whether decisions to give $300,000 to a new Lake George Convention & Visitors Bureau to renew funding to the Adirondack Civic Center Coalition to help run Cool Insuring Arena received enough scrutiny as well. The convention and visitors bureau works in conjunction with the Lake George Chamber of Commerce, but may split off on its own.

Supervisors had a spirited debate about spending of promotional funds that stem from the county’s 4 percent room tax.

The new plan, discussed at the last Occupancy Tax Coordination Committee meeting, essentially gives the eight events the funding they received last year, except for Americade, which got a $5,000 increase to $50,000. Those events are Americade, Adirondack Balloon Festival, Adirondack Sports Complex softball tournaments, Adirondack Nationals car show, Hudson Valley firefighters convention, Adirondack Wine and Food Festival, Warrensburg’s World’s Largest Garage Sale and Warren County Safe & Quality Bicycling.

The event had historically gotten $50,000 until last year, when it was cut slightly. Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson, who chairs the Occupancy Tax Coordination Committee this year, was heavily critical of that cut in light of the economic impact the motorcycle rally has, and he said the town filled in the additional $5,000 from its occupancy tax funding.

The board typically analyzes funding requests in December, but Dickinson decided to push the plan forward nearly two months earlier this year.

Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Rachel Seeber was most vocal about the plan, unsuccessfully trying to table it.

“I don’t believe the process was followed here,” Seeber said, adding that she believed it was a case of “a few people making a lot of big decisions.”

Chester Supervisor Craig Leggett questioned whether the board “was putting the cart before the horse” by approving the funding without full discussion, and also asked whether the move to give money to a convention and visitors bureau had been fully vetted. Glens Falls 3rd Ward Supervisor Claudia Braymer also said the process seemed “completely backwards.”

An upset Dickinson, though, called some of the questions “nonsense,” and said that promoters of major events need decisions on what promotional funding they will get earlier in the year.

“These people want to know if they are getting the money or not. They are working on it (their events) now,” he said.

Dickinson said there can be further discussion about the awards if need be.

Dickinson and other county supervisors are under pressure from business owners to change occupancy tax promotional spending, as some critics don’t believe the county gets enough out of the funding.

SUNY Adirondack culinary program plans downtown move

The SUNY Adirondack board of trustees is poised to approve a $1.42 million plan to relocate the college’s culinary arts program from Queensbury to the new multi-use building at 14 Hudson Ave. in Glens Falls.

If approved, bids for the project would be due Nov. 8, with construction planned to start later that month, according to the agenda for the college board’s regular meeting on Thursday. The board will vote on the proposal at that meeting.

The college is aiming to have the program at the new location by mid-March.

“This is significant economic development for the downtown area. It will bring a significant portion of a new population — students from SUNY Adirondack — downtown,” said Edward Bartholomew, president of Warren County EDC.

The proposed Culinary Arts Center relocation is part of a plan to revitalize downtown Glens Falls and bring more traffic to the city’s fledgling Arts, Wellness and Entertainment District.

“This was one of the priority projects of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative,” Bartholomew said of the $10 million, multi-focus plan. “It was supported by the state, and we are extremely pleased it is coming downtown as part of a collaboration among the state, the city and the college.

“I am ecstatic to have a strong SUNY Adirondack presence in downtown Glens Falls. The college brings a lot to the table by having their culinary program headquartered on Hudson Street,” said Amy Collins, director of tourism and business development for the city. “This will connect the students with a vibrant and diverse culinary landscape that presents options that will help refine their experience and future.”

Post-Star attempts to reach college officials for comment were unsuccessful.

The project consists of outfitting 8,107 square feet of space, purchasing new equipment for the facility, and signing a 10-year lease for the space, with two five-year renewal options.

The total anticipated cost of relocating the facility to the new location is $1,425,700. The project is being funded by capital chargebacks, grants, donations and a matching state appropriation.

The building, called 14 Hudson, was completed earlier this year by Bonacio Construction next to Glens Falls Hospital, and it is a combination of residential, commercial and retail space.

Public defender steps away from double murder case


QUEENSBURY — The Glens Falls man who faces murder charges for the killings of a mother and young daughter over the summer has a new lawyer.

The Warren County Public Defender’s Office will no longer represent Bryan M. Redden, after the agency found it had a conflict of interest. It was unclear where the conflict arose, as Warren County Public Defender Marcy Flores said Monday that she could not discuss the rationale behind her office stepping away from the case.

Redden will now be represented by Martin McGuinness, a former Washington County assistant public defender, going forward after his assignment by the county’s assigned counsel office.

The change will be a financial hit for Warren County, as McGuinness will bill at an hourly rate, while the Public Defender’s Office staff is paid salaries to handle their caseload. Past bills for murder cases if they go to trial have topped $20,000.

McGuinness, who runs a private law practice in Queensbury, did not return a phone call for comment Monday.

The Public Defender’s Office’s conflicts of interest typically stem from prior representation of victims or witnesses in a case.

Redden, 21, faces charges for allegedly killing 33-year-old Crystal Riley and her 4-year-old daughter, Lilly Frasier, in Riley’s South Street, Glens Falls, apartment on Aug. 11. He is accused of killing both with a knife, and was said to have been involved in some sort of romantic relationship with Riley.

He was arrested hours after the killings, driving Riley’s sport-utility vehicle in Glens Falls. Police said he confessed to killing the victims.

Redden has pleaded not guilty to an eight-count indictment that includes counts of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and lesser charges for possessing a weapon, theft of the vehicle and hiding the knife. He was directed in August to undergo an examination to determine whether he was fit to stand trial, and earlier this month was deemed fit.

He is being held in Warren County Jail without bail. He faces up to life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder, and up to 50 years to life if convicted of second-degree murder.

No further court dates have been set in Redden’s case.