Gallatin Supervisor John Reilly seems to want to head the Kafka Economic Development Committee. For Reilly, the chair of the County committee charged with overseeing economic planning, is now bizarrely denying what occurred in front of several dozen witnesses. Let’s review:
More than a week ago, at a meeting chaired by Reilly, it was reported by the Register-Star that:
“[C]ommittee members also voted to request a special Economic Development Committee meeting 4 p.m. June 10 to hear from Crawford, Sherwood and Better regarding the Ginsberg’s deal.”
The paper was referring to Crawford Engineering principal David Crawford, Kinderhook Bank president Bob Sherwood and attorney Bill Better—the three members of the Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) who were cited in a State investigation for failures to disclose conflicts of interest related to the controversial Ginsberg Foods deal.
This site observed and reported the same vote:
“Current Ancram Supervisor Art Bassin noted that the three ‘members of CEDC who are cited in the report have never come before us.’ Bassin later motioned to table Baer’s call for the three Board members’ resignations, in favor of inviting them instead to explain themselves at a future special meeting of Reilly’s committee—tentatively scheduled for June 10th.”
In the week after this site’s report appeared, neither Reilly nor any other committee member asked for a correction. Nor does it appear that any such correction was requested of the Register-Star, either. Why? Because everyone seemed to have seen the same thing.
Multiple attendees, including current and former elected officials and others present, had the same understanding of the vote. Patti Matheney of GhentCANN recalls:
“Art Bassin made a motion to ask Better, Crawford, and Sherwood to the special meeting to discuss the ABO report when Art Baer's motion for their resignations did not pass.”
In addition to the 5-0 vote in favor of Bassin’s compromise resolution, there was extensive conversation about the best date for a special meeting, given that time was of the essence. Committee members agreed to try for the 10th before the full Board of Supervisors meeting that day.
Following the vote, others in attendance spoke directly to Bassin’s motion, clearly referencing the invitation to the key CEDC members cited in the State report. As reported here:
“[Claverack resident] Ron Cardiss said that even if they were to take a ‘polygraph of Crawford and Better,’ that they’d just hear some variation on the old slogan that ‘what’s good for GM is good for America. They’re just going to say that what’s good for CEDC is good for the County.’”
In the wake of the meeting, attendees were buzzing about whether the trio would actually appear on the 10th. Would they snub the County committee? Or would they attend?
The next Tuesday morning, Hillsdale Supervisor Art Baer—who had called for the three’s resignations, leading to Bassin’s compromise motion to have them come before the Committee first—wrote to Reilly:
“I would recommend you notice the special the June 10 meeting at 4:00 that the Eco. Dev. committee voted to have as soon as possible. And that Crawford, Better and Sherwood are personally invited to explain their side of the ABO Report. Would not want them to say not enough notice.“
That did not happen—quite the opposite.
Instead, the Committee’s 5-0 vote now appears to have been unilaterally dismissed by chair Reilly—who now claims things did not occur at all the way any of the above remember.
At a meeting this Tuesday of the CEDC, Reilly unexpectedly appeared in the company of County Board of Supervisors chair Pat Grattan. After Grattan sung the recently-stung agency’s praises for several minutes, Reilly (to the astonishment of multiple witnesses) then proceeded to deny that any demand or request for the appearance of Crawford, Better and Sherwood was made by his committee.
Moreover, he indicated that there would be no special meeting on the 10th.
After the meeting, one attendee told Grattan: “Reilly lied to you in there.”
This site has reached out to Reilly for an explanation and his version of events, and has had an extensive back-and-forth about what he believes transpired when his committee voted unanimously the previous week. Reilly now claims that they merely
“discussed inviting the CEDC to respond to the public comment on the ABO Report. At no time, did I, or the Committee, plan to single out or invite just the three individuals Supervisor Bear raised. The discussion was to invite the full board, including the whole Executive Committee…”
The full CEDC board has 22 members, making such an invitation impractical at best. Had that bee the subject of the 5-0 vote, someone surely would have at least suggested a larger room for the special meeting.
In an email exchange between several Supervisors which has since occurred, Reilly again denied what others recall had occurred:
“We did not discuss inviting just three individuals to the special meeting, or any meeting.”
Baer speedily contradicted Reilly’s revisionist version of events:
“[I]t was decided that the individuals who were named should have a chance to explain their part in the ABO report.”
While admitting to be fuzzy in his recollection of whether the Executive Committee or whole 22-member CEDC would also be welcome—something he discussed with Reilly after the meeting and vote—Bassin chimed in that
“My recollection was that we wanted to review the ABO report with the three individuals named in the report before voting on Art Baer's resolution to ask for their resignations…”
One thing is absolutely clear: Reilly decided on his own to nix the June 10th meeting—because he wants CEDC to have the benefit of a “retreat” first. He writes in an email to this site:
“I think they are best prepared to come to our next monthly meeting, not a special meeting the day before their annual meeting.... The CEDC has taken path to implement a whole new structure in response and not just ignore the issue as a technical oversight. If I am going to be supportive of public input, then I also have to applaud the CEDC's earnest reaction to that input.”
As noted by attendees of a meeting immediately after the ABO report came to light—an investigation which CEDC did not alert Reilly’s committee about, even when asked pointed questions—members joked about and scoffed at the State’s findings.
Reilly indicated in an email to this site only one regret: that they did not write down the actual resolution. He still insists:
“I recall and I think the minutes will attest that we actually set up the meeting to invite all CEDC Board and the executive Committee.”
So what are the status of those minutes? According to a source who spoke with the minute-keeper, she did not record the proceedings on tape. A draft has, however, been prepared. Prior to circulation to the entire committee, her minutes are submitted for editing by… Supervisor Reilly.
To paraphrase comedian Richard Pryor: Who are you going to believe—Reilly, or your lying ears?