Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond has been keeping a secret for the past eight months and it will do little to enhance the reputation of local politicians.
Diamond began pushing police consolidation with the county in recent months, and late last week said he wanted to get several downtown buildings sold before his term expired.
While most of us were under the impression that term expired at the end of 2017, Diamond knew differently.
Even though it was reported repeatedly that his term was up in 2017, Diamond did nothing to set the record straight.
Diamond scheduled a Monday news conference late last week to discuss why he was abandoning his police consolidation efforts. Instead, Diamond announced he would be leaving office at the end of the year.
He said it was “pretty clear” the city charter mandated he could only serve eight consecutive years, and since Diamond finished out the final year of the late Mayor Roy Akins’ term, this is his eighth year.
The city charter reads:
“No elective city official, judges and supervisors excepted, shall serve in any one particular office for more than eight consecutive years.”
That’s clear to me.
And Diamond said Monday it was clear to him.
He asked the state’s Attorney General’s Office for an opinion eight months ago and when they declined to weigh in, he still remained silent.
Diamond said Monday that he only decided in the past couple of weeks not to challenge the city charter — which, again, is pretty darn clear — to serve another year in office.
Here’s where things get murky, and where people like me get cynical.
Mayor Diamond, with perhaps some members of the Common Council as accessories, failed to level with the people of Glens Falls about when the mayor’s term of office expired. Diamond said he wanted to spare the city a public controversy.
That seems absurd considering Diamond’s proposal to consolidate the police force is also pretty controversial.
Diamond said the question had been discussed among “small groups of people,” but who those small groups of people were remains unclear.
So why keep it a secret?
Was it because the mayor was trying to avoid the lame-duck status that often saps a politician’s power, or was he hoping to give an advantage to Councilman-at-Large Dan Hall, a fellow Democrat and someone who has been the mayor’s right-hand man in recent years, as he prepares for his own run for the mayor’s office?
Diamond conveniently included his endorsement of Hall on Monday.
Either way, it makes the mayor look bad and it lessens my opinion of him. The fact that various members of the Common Council saw nothing wrong with the mayor keeping this a secret is also cause for concern.
There are certainly questions that need to be answered here about who knew what, and when, and why no one felt compelled to make it public.
Mayor Diamond has accomplished a lot as mayor, and while his intentions may have been honorable — but maybe not — citizens of Glens Falls were entitled to know when he was leaving office long before now.
Next week is Sunshine Week, when newspapers all across the country celebrate the need for transparency in government.
This is a great example of how government officials should never act.