Friday, December 16, 2011
PPL: Mayor Shares His Perspective, Responds To Critics
PLATTSBURGH CITY -- Tues. 12/15/11
At this evening's Common Council meeting Mayor Donald Kasprzak spoke out regarding the controversy over the proposed staff cuts at the Plattsburgh Public Library.
"I have some comments," the mayor opened his remarks, "that I have been withholding for months and months on the library. And you want some answers and I'm going to give you answers and you're not going to like to hear the truth."
He said when he first arrived in City Hall five years ago the city was experiencing financial difficulties. He knew what had to be done but when speaking with management and unions it was obvious to him that not everyone was going to cooperate. In dealing with the city's budget problems, the mayor said he was being represented in various media as someone not willing to listen to people and that wasn't true.
The mayor told Councilor Tim Carpenter, library liaison, that he hoped that Carpenter's endeavor would save jobs. Carpenter had announced that while he couldn't give details to the public at this point, there was an effort going on to prevent the job cuts.
Kazprzak said that it was important to him to save those jobs.
He said he took exception to a statement that appeared in a Press-Republican article that he felt unfairly criticized Library Board member John Prim. Local AFSCME union President Denise Nephew who represents library staff was quoted:
"What does he (Prim) know about running a library? They need to listen to those who have worked there for 30 years and know how to run a library and to the people who care about the library."
(Article: "Library Board to study union offer" 12/15/11)
Kasprzak agreed with a councilor who said the statement "besmirched" John Prim's name and that it didn't recognize the hard work Prim had put in as a board member.
The mayor said that part of the problem with the library involved difficult dealings with the AFSCME president and vice-president. It was his opinion that those two individuals cared more for themselves than the people they represented. He cited the problem of sick time being misused that drove up overtime costs, adding to the budget shortfall.
Kasprzak touched upon the problem of funding sources from the state and grants being cut.
"If I was making decisions over there [at PPL]," he said, "I would forgo state aid right now. 2012 wouldn't have any... If you think, if anybody in the world thinks, New York State in its present fiscal state is going to give more money to the libraries across this state, you're fooling yourself, folks. It's not going to happen."
Even Plattsburgh City, he added, wasn't receiving fiscal aid at the same levels. He recommended dropping the library's hours of operation to forty a week.
Another decision he would make if he could would be not to lay off the four positions requested by the Library Board but instead the employees who have been abusing sick time.
I recorded the video that accompanies this post to document the mayor's comments about the library situation. Unedited, it contains all of his remarks except for his opening statement.