Rhett King sounded like a candidate Tuesday night. The election isn’t until June, but the political campaign is already in full swing in Brockport.
On Monday evening in Sweden Town Court, Brockport Mayor Connie Castaneda was charged with 14 Counts of Official Misconduct, 2 counts of violating the New York State Property Maintenance Code, and 8 counts of violating the Village of Brockport Zoning Code.
On Tuesday night at the Village Board Meeting at the Middle School, Rhett King stepped up to the microphone and blamed the Village Trustees for Connie’s problems.
Believe it or not; Rhett actually had the chutzpah to say that the Trustees are at fault and not the Mayor.
That doesn’t make a lot of sense, but then again Rhett seldom does.
It was a sight to see: Rhett in a suit and tie, with his bald head polished and shiny as he played to the TV cameras and the newspaper reporters who had gathered in the Middle School auditorium.
Rhett wanted the press to see him as a respectable businessman, but Brockport residents knew it was the same old Rhett, the guy people used to see, not that long ago, joining in the beer parties with his college student tenants on Adams Street.
Rhett stood there for a full five minutes, reading a prepared statement that was chock full of misinformation and distortions of the truth. And he had obviously rehearsed his performance and timed it for effect.
His speech lasted almost exactly the allotted five minutes, and during his delivery, he even turned toward the cameras as he emphasized certain words and phrases such as distractions, taxes, and fire district.
But when Connie finally told him his time was up, Rhett didn’t even have the common courtesy to leave a copy of his prepared statement with Village Clerk Leslie Morelli. Instead he ran out to the lobby so he could be interviewed by the press, who were desperate for a catchy sound bite and a juicy quote.
You see there were only a fewer than seventy people at that meeting and only seven of those people spoke during the Public Comment segment. Three people – Linda Ketchum, John Cohen, and Pam Ketchum said the Mayor should step down. Only two people, Rhett King and Gail Martin spoke in the Mayor’s support, and Martin doesn’t even live in the Village.
The media was looking for sound bites and headlines, and Rhett gave it to them.
Rhett used scare tactics about moving code enforcement to the Brockport Police Department. He said that the Trustees are just trying undermine the mayor, and he talked even talked about a police state.
He said that no other municipality in New York State has code enforcement under the police department, although that is not true. The police departments in Endicott, Gates, Huntington, New Rochelle, Saratoga Springs are just some of the municipalities in New York State that are active in code enforcement. But don’t confuse Rhett with the truth. He gets confused easily enough as it is.
He also said that the supporters of the move are not telling the truth about the Gates Police Department handling code enforcement. But that’s not true either.
An article in the July 24, 2010 Democrat & Chronicle clearly proves that Rhett is wrong. about that.
According to the article, Eyesores in Gates: Police are on to you, “Officials say they have seen a noticeable increase in resident compliance since the Gates Police Department began taking over code enforcement duties in January.”
Last April, Gates Police Chief David DiCaro told the Democrat and Chronicle why having code enforcement function within the police department is more efficient, “When an officer realizes there’s a problem, we move to deal with it, then that officer is back in the neighborhood later on, checking on if it was resolved.”
DiCaro also said that under the old system, “Problems in neighborhoods would build up and eventually snowball through the rest of the area.”
That sounds like the situation in Brockport.
But Rhett King seems to like the dysfunctional situation. Just keep in mind this is the same Rhett King who told the City Newspaper during the dissolution campaign that “I have the utmost confidence in the Town of Sweden.”
And he said this with a straight face despite the fact that Brockport collected a whopping $250 in 2010 for property code violation fines levied by the Sweden Town Court.
Rhett King will complain about taxes but he won’t complain about the lack of revenue from fines levied by the Sweden Town Court. Something is not right there, but he doesn’t care.
At the Board Meeting on Tuesday night, one resident talked about the Broken Window Theory, and how one dilapidated house in a neighborhood leads to the deterioration of the whole neighborhood.
The Broken Window Theory was first voiced in an Atlantic Monthly article in1982, but it’s obvious that Rhett King doesn’t care about how one rundown property reduces property values (and thus property taxes) for the whole neighborhood.
One unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares.
The police and neighborhood safety
George L. Kelling nd James Q. Wilson
Atlantic Monthly, March 1982
As a landlord, Rhett likes the fact that as long as the mayor supervises the Code Enforcement Officer there will be no efficient code enforcement in Brockport.
So now Brockport residents know what tactics the landlords are going to use to defeat the referendum. They are going to lie about code enforcement. They are going to rant about a police state, and they are going to blame the Trustees for everything.
The question is; who is coordinating the effort to get the referendum passed?
Now that Rhett King has kicked off the campaign to defeat the referendum, it’s time for the people who want the change to happen to pick up the ball and run with it.