New Lebanon Supervisor Michael Benson appears to be having a bit of trouble adjusting to the world of public governance—perhaps being more used to running his own private show as a construction magnate.
Last week, Benson was exposed for trying to close down the County’s newly-formed airport committee before it gets a headwind behind it. In a widely-circulated email, Benson not only sought to end the committee’s fact-finding mission, but do do so in a secret executive session. (According to New Lebanon sources, Benson routinely takes his Town Board into Executive Session, regardless of whether the topic qualifies for such secrecy under State Law.) Committee chair has sent concerned residents email assurances that its work will continue.
Following that counterproductive episode, Benson tried a new tactic to distract from the substantive work of the committee. Showing little interest in anything pertaining to actual airport operations, Benson trained his sites on a much more important meta-question: the airport committee’s email list. Who was on the cc: list, he demanded to know over the weekend—and why?
Benson chose to lead off his tirade about this vital matter with an example that blew up in his face.
“I see Cindy Hall’s name, but I don’t see Greg Fingar’s name,” Benson thundered, referring respectively to the County Democratic and Republican chairs—in an apparent effort to imply that Bassin had some partisan agenda in forming the email list.
“This just doesn’t look good,” Benson concluded, wringing his hands: “In fact, I am deeply concerned.”
Unfortunately, Bassin had a ready answer for Benson. “The names on the list at this point,” Bassin patiently explained, “are all people who have voluntarily expressed an interest in being on the list.”
Then came the kicker: “I actually asked Greg Finger if he wanted to be on the list last week, and he said no.”
In other words: Benson was whining about Fingar being left out—but Bassin had gone out of his way to try to include Fingar, but he refused to be included in the discussion.
Oops. Sometimes what is allowed in private business just doesn’t translate to public debate.