By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
An otherwise uneventful Cold Spring Village Board workshop meeting Tuesday night (April 19) ended in a shouting match as three irate firefighters confronted an indignant mayor over keys to the firehouse, a building owned by the village and leased by Cold Spring Fire Company No. 1. During the 20-minute fracas, Mayor Seth Gallagher also revealed that the local bagpipe band and fire company have parted ways, with the band renamed as the Hudson Highlands Pipe Band. Gallagher founded the group in 2005 as the Cold Spring Fire Company Pipes and Drums and for years the band practiced on Monday evenings at the firehouse. “The pipe band won’t be practicing there anymore,” he said.
Conflict over the keys began April 5, when the fire company changed the locks to the building. That evening, Fire Chief Chris Tobin challenged Gallagher’s claim that the village government needs more than the single new key given to the village clerk. Gallagher wants three keys — one for the clerk, one for himself as mayor, and one for the police department. Accompanied by Chief Tobin and Vice President John Landolfi, CSFC President Michael Bowman brought up the question of the keys as the Village Board neared the end of its April 19 session. “I want the key issue put to rest,” he said.
Gallagher replied that “either you give me two keys or I’m going to make two copies. That’s it.”
“Do you think you can just go and make copies of the keys to the firehouse?” Landolfi asked.
“The police should have a key,” the mayor answered.
“Why should the police have a key?” countered Landolfi, a New York City police officer.
Gallagher replied that the local police have keys to all village-owned buildings. “We have a right to get in there,” he said of the firehouse. “If we want to have more than one key, we can have more than one.”
“It makes no sense,” Landolfi said to his colleagues. “We lease the building. He doesn’t have the right to go make keys.”
“You don’t make the rules of the fire company,” Tobin told Gallagher.
Before long, the disagreement had escalated into a high-decibel, continuous exchange, with the three firefighters shouting at the mayor simultaneously, one questioning: “Do other trustees sit there and let him [Gallagher] carry on like this?”
“Maybe they don’t want to get into this argument with you!” the mayor responded.
At least three times, voice moderated from his earlier angry pitch, Gallagher tried to calm the furor. “I’m not going to get into it. I’m not going to repeat these conversations,” he said at one stage. “I’m not going to continue. I’m done. I don’t like going around in circles,” he said at another. A third time he urged, “Time out, time out!” It was all to little avail.
“You’re acting like you’re God-almighty of the village,” Bowman asserted. “Is the village run by a board of five or a board of one?”
“Seth you act like you’re Jesus Christ or God-almighty or the pope or something!” Trustee Charles Hustis concurred. Citing village tenets for conduct during meetings, Gallagher cautioned Hustis to “refrain from personal comments.” Trustee Bruce Campbell said he declined to weigh in until he had read the firehouse lease.
“Can we try to have a civil discussion?” wondered Trustee Airinhos Serradas, known for his own frequently heated clashes with Gallagher.
“They don’t want to have a civil discussion,” Gallagher said.
Bagpipe band and fire company paths diverge
The pipe band became part of the dispute when Landolfi asked why Gallagher had attempted to enter the firehouse Monday evening, the night the pipe band practices. “What reason did the village need to enter the firehouse last night?”
“The Hudson Highland Pipe Band is not a function of the village,” Tobin said. “The Hudson Highlands Pipe Band was told to go to the [fire company] room rental committee.”
“We’re in there every Monday night” for band practice, Gallagher responded. “We have a standing arrangement.” However, he said, the pipe band would find alternate quarters, given the fire company’s attitude.
The fire fighters compared the firehouse to the Cold Spring Boat Club, another village government property. Gallagher said the analogy only would fit “if I wanted a key to the Boat Club and the Boat Club said ‘no.'” The firefighters also declared that every time the village seeks to use the firehouse, it must write a letter to the fire company requesting the space.
“We have a complete right” to enter the facility without such conditions, Gallagher reiterated. “Why don’t you guys read your own lease? I’ve been the mayor for two years, and this hadn’t been a problem” before.
Eventually the mayor steered the board’s attention to bill-paying. A couple of minutes later, the workshop ended, though the acrimony did not. The mayor’s stance “is the perfect example of an abuse of power,” Landolfi announced as the small audience left the room.
“You’re the mayor,” Fire Chief Tobin told Gallagher. “Would you like me to kneel down as you walk by, throw down flowers in front of you?”
Writing to the Village Board on April 12 on behalf of the fire company, Bowman said that they “voted to change the exterior locks to our company headquarters” and had numbered the 50 new keys, distributed to the CSFC members, with one for the village clerk. Before the change, he said, the same locks had remained in place for about 15 years, despite a turn-over in fire company membership. “As of now we have started new and have an accurate accounting of everyone who has a key,” he explained. The letter termed Gallagher’s references to the firehouse as a public building “misguided. The point is that our headquarters is not an `open space’ available at will but is subject to the same laws and limitations as any leased or rented space,” he wrote. He also said that “if the village would like to request additional keys, please do so in writing and the matter can be addressed with our company membership.” As well as accommodating some village committee meetings, the firehouse has long served as an alternate site for public forums too large for the small village hall rooms.
Lease discusses rights and duties
Dating from December 2009, the current lease between the fire company and village requires the fire company to ensure village government access to the firehouse “at all times during usual business hours.” But it also directs the fire company to “execute and comply with all laws, rules, orders, ordinances, and regulations at any time issued or in force “¦ applicable to the demised premises or to the tenant’s occupation thereof, of the federal, state, and local governments and of each and every department, bureau and official thereof”¦ .”
During follow-up conversations on Tuesday night and Wednesday, Gallagher told Philipstown.info that the CSFC had not asked for permission or notified the village before switching the locks. “No, they just changed them,” he said. Asked if this is a normal conduct for a tenant, he replied: “Who knows what’s normal?” He also said the firehouse is not really comparable to the Boat Club since, unlike the fire company, the Boat Club does not constitute a village department and is not used or maintained by the village government in the same capacity. He said the split between the fire company and the bagpipe band occurred shortly before village elections in March. The pipers “were associate members of the fire company and now we aren’t,” he said. The break could be beneficial to both groups, he added. “It allows us to keep track of our own money. It’s easier for them and for us.”
In an e-mail on Wednesday, Hustis suggested that “this can all be settled if Mayor Gallagher simply writes a letter to the fire company explaining the need for additional keys beyond the one given to the village by the fire company.” He said that “the firefighters are volunteers and if this situation gets out of hand quickly, there is that possibility that the volunteers can say that they quit and walk out of the fire company. God forbid if that happens; the village would have to turn around and try to find a way to fund a paid fire company and the residents don’t need this type of situation at all.”
Photo by L.S. Armstrong
Surely all Cold Springers greatly appreciate the time, effort and risks that the men and women of our volunteer fire company undertake on our behalf.
However I do not understand the company’s leaders strident objections to the police having unfettered access to the firehouse during a Village emergency which may require the police having a key.
This all seems like an enormous tempest in a teapot.
I am not sure what meeting Ms. Armstrong was attending, but this article does not describe the one I attended.
From the discussion that I witnessed, I don’t believe that the Fire Company representatives ever stated that the Police Department could not have a key. I believe they asked the Mayor to request one in writing, which prompted the heated exchange. In my opinion the treatment of the Fire Department and the other Trustees by the Mayor was borderline childish – it was obvious that it was either going to be done his way, or no way and when the Firemen asked him to explain himself he threw a tantrum.
Honestly, I was completely shocked that this discussion occurred in the first place. I have worked for a property management company for the past eight years and most of what the Mayor said in regards to accessing his property “at any time he wanted to” is false. Tenants must be given 24 hours notice before entry, and they must be present during the visit. After the meeting I also overheard discussion about the lease cited in the article – and heard the Mayor read to the Fireman “that the premises will be made available during normal business hours for the purpose of inspection, or in the event of possible rental or sale.” To me that sounds like a pretty typical clause included in all standard leases and in no way grants a landlord free reign to enter a property at any time he chooses.
In defense of the Firemen I would also like to add that I feel their comments about the Mayor’s “abuse of power” and other tongue-in-cheek jests were made in response to the Mayor’s assertion that it was his property and he would do what he chooses. I believe what they were trying to clarify is that yes, the firehouse is Village owned but that the real owners are the taxpayers of Cold Spring not Seth Gallagher. The Mayor and Board of Trustees are the stewards of the Taxpayers, a job they share equally – though from the actions and attitude of the Mayor that evening I agree with those who questioned the far-reaching authority of the Mayor who referred to himself as “Village Manager.” When pressed about whether that made him more “in charge” than the other elected officials it seemed to me that he felt it did, maybe that’s why he admittedly feels the need to maintain his own personal set of keys to all village property.
The funny thing is the real reason why the firemen were in attendance, the reason I showed up at the meeting, was completely left out of this article. I had shown up to hear about the state of floor repairs to the firehouse meeting room – as I hoped to use it for a family function. I guess the “fracas” as Ms. Armstrong puts it, was more “news worthy.”
At the reading of this atypical dribble from Liz Armstrong I wonder what credentials does she possess.
It should be mandatory that all reporters (worker bees) post their resume. How many times has this reporter interjected her opinion? How many times has she compromised all the papers she has written for?
From Putnam Examiner to Putnam County News and Recorder to Philipstown.info.
Really – Really, why the moves?
Perhaps people have figured her out.
How does Mr. Gordon Stuart allow for this type of interpretation to be written and passed off as news worthy?
Mr. Stuart, your intentions may have been honorable, but writing such as this Village is being exposed to only continue to sully your reputation.
But I digress, let’s get back to t he question, “What is Liz Armstrong’s credentials?
We are all tired of the Kool Aid drinking trash. How stupid does she think the residents are? I’ll answer that. She thinks we are very stupid.
Next, we need to look to the local Pied Piper. Not unlike the “Pied Piper of Hamelin the subject of a legend concerning the departure or death of a great many children from the town of Hamelin (Hameln), Germany, in the Middle Ages.
The story may reflect a historical event in which Hamelin lost its children. Theories have been proposed suggesting that the Pied Piper is a symbol of the children’s death by plague or catastrophe.”
I am amused by the Village Pied Piper.
We should all be wondering why the Mayor feels that he is above the law?
Why is the fire company not allowed to function with its safety measures in place?
Why is the Mayor so against the Fire Company? He has been after them for over four years by promoting the Fire Siren matter that only hurt the community. Now his childish arrogance is pushing something to the fore front that is an absolute waste of Village time. One would think that the Village Trustees would other more important matters such as how to manage the Village affairs, how to reduce taxes, how to revitilize Main Street?
Mayor Gallagher “Why has thou forsaken” the Village.
We are a small Village and no one would question why the Police dept or Village would have a key, despite the fact that in the 400 acres there is always a fire company volunteer within ear shot?
What is bewildering is why Mayor Gallagher feels that he needs a key. He does not need a key! It is all an arrogant power game.
Does the Village have a key to the Boat Club? Does the Police department have a key; does the Village have three keys? Maybe the Pied Piper can come down and take one of the moored boats of his choosing to inspect how it rides on the Hudson River?
No where does this piece of fiction mention that the Fire Company is unwilling to cooperate. If that were the case, the Village would not have received a key.
It is amazing the spin doctors working like worker bees trying to protect the Mayor from making a bigger jerk of himself.
From what has been written, from what is being spoken on the dirty busted up streets, this is not about the bag pipe troupe. This is about an over inflated egotistical narcissistic “Jesus Christ or God-almighty or the Pope” wannabe. Not to worry there because he does not pray, nor does he believe in God, so any reference to God, Jesus Christ, of the Pope is a blasphemy on their good names and what they represent to many Christians across the world.
By the way Liz, Pope is capitalized, but no one expects you to know that.
It is about ego, it is about arrogance, as it was stated during the election by a fellow resident who has inside carnal knowledge of what ails Mayor Gallagher – “Narcissism”.
Please pray for the Mayor;
God Bless all of you.
Ps. I do expect that people will retaliate to my wisdom, to my words, to my insight. Whether you see it now or you see it down the road, do not let your enlightenment be a reason for feeling depressed. Just recognize that you were betrayed and move on.
Once upon a time, I too drank the Kool Aid – no longer!
Lastly, the reference to “Cold Springer’s” is offensive when it is used to disparage the long term residents as it is offensive when it is said that you are not a Cold Springer.
How many new faces that have moved into the area joined the Cold Spring Volunteer Fire Company, the Highlands Volunteer Fire Company, the Garrison Volunteer Fire Company, and Continental Volunteer Fire Company?
See you all around town.
Arthur, how have you been? It’s been some time since we have had a cup of coffee.
Thank you for your posting this. You are, in my honest opinion, right on target. When you actually attend meetings in Philipstown, and you read how they are ultimately covered by certain individuals in the local “media,” you realize just exactly how much of a disconnect, there indeed, IS!
I am absolutely NOT a fan of Roger and Beth Ailes’ PCN&R, but I’ve found lately, that Journalist,Annie Chestnut’s coverage of local meetings and events, has been, in large part…comprehensive, representative, thorough, and accurate.
Gallagher states “The pipers “were associate members of the fire company and now we aren’t,” he said.”
3 Questions –
1. Mayor Gallagher, do you or your bag pipe players have a cancelled check for your associate membership?
2. When did you or they take your physical?
3. Was anyone placed down on the Associate roster?
“The break could be beneficial to both groups, he added. “It allows us to keep track of our own money. It’s easier for them and for us.”
1. Why have you Mayor Gallagher refused to provide financial records to the Fire Company?
2. Was there any hanky spanky going on Mayor Gallagher? Did all of the money make it to the Fire Company?
3. Or is this just a smoke screen to draw attention away from your indescredtions?
Quick call the FIRE Dept.,
“Where there is smoke there is an arsonist”.
I agree with your assessment of the current state of journalism in our small village. I will give the PCNR one badge of merit, however, and that is the fact that they are a print media – which means what they print, stays in print. It’s preserved for “145 Years but New Every Wednesday”…meaning I will be able to go to the Putnam County Historical Society in 50 years and read what was published last week. The editor won’t be able to arbitrarily edit out an opinion piece or article, or bury a front page article somewhere deep in the archive.
A lot can be said for a print media I guess – because once it’s gone to presses it hard to hide.
A point of clarification:
Philipstown.info does not edit out opinion pieces arbitrarily or otherwise. Nor do we bury them in the archive. Pieces are archived chronologically as they are posted.
Philipstown.info also strives to print every opinion piece submitted to us by giving every author an opportunity to revise a piece consistent with our guidelines that prohibit personal attacks and threats of violence.
As the Vice President of the Hudson Highlands Pipe Band, I’d like to answer your questions regarding our our newly named band. Before I do, I will offer you some background. Seth is the band’s pipe major. His role in the band is to select the music we play, instruct us on how to play that music, and lead us during performances. The band’s elected officers run the band’s business. We have a president (not Seth), VP (not Seth), Treasurer (not Seth), Secretary (not Seth), and a band manager (not Seth).
As part of our relationship with the Cold Spring Fire Company, we were to be Associate Members in their organization. We did not have our own bank account. Instead, our funds were kept by the Fire Company. If we were paid for a performance, the check was made out to the Fire Company. If we needed to pay a bill, we would submit a voucher, and the Fire Company would pay the bill (based on our combined accounting of available funds).
There are a few other points that made up the agreement that held us together for 5 years. We truly appreciate the kindness that the Fire Company has shown to us over the years. We started thinking about separating from the Fire Company about a year ago. The main impetus behind the separation was to gain control over our earned money. The Fire Company always paid a bill on time and when requested. However, if we needed equipment or uniforms, the members of the band would have to spend their own money to buy the item, and then wait to be reimbursed. Additionally, some companies would hold the product until the check came in from the Fire Company. Neither situation was ideal.
So, to answer your questions.
1) No. we don’t. Although part of our organization’s by-laws, we have never paid the Fire Company a fee to be Associate Members. The CSFC enforced that rule this year, and we were willing to pay the fee out of our funds. They wanted each band member to pay the $25 fee.
2) 90% of the band had their physicals taken. Some had not and would not have been eligible to march in parades.
3)Our entire band had to fill out applications and submit them to the Fire Company for Board Approval – including Seth Gallagher. This aspect of the “Key” issue is what I find ironic. The Fire Company states that they want control over who has keys to protect the identities of its members who have personal information on file. Seth is one of those (Associate) Members whose personal information is on file – along with the rest of the band (perhaps that is no longer as we are no longer a part of their organization).
As for financial records:
1) They held our money at all times and had access to their own accounting as well as ours at all times. In fact, our treasurer and theirs worked well together.
2) They always paid our invoices. I have no idea if they have returned our left-over balance since the split.
3)There is no smoke here. You shouldn’t accuse people of something when you have none of the facts. That’s zero facts. Your accusations are a maj. n justis.
There is a lot of animosity between members of the Cold Spring Fire Company and Seth Gallagher. The rest of the band would like to simply learn about music, play music, and perform it anyway. We have no desire to be a part of the political aspects of the Village. Many of the band do not even reside in the Village of Cold Spring. The new band name and new practice location is our attempt to move away from the debate. It was time for us to move on. We still have a nice relationship with the Fire Company, and I hope we work with them in the future. It was an honor to march with them, and I hope to do so again.
I hope I have answered your questions. And if you’d like to learn how to play the drums or bagpipes, please join us every Monday night at 6:00pm at Our Lady of Loretto.
Very interesting that you should address your correspondence to “Mr.” Justice……ever occur to you that there are females in the military??????
Dear Publius or is it publius? It’s Maj. N. Justis, not Mr. – I earned my rank.
I have had the pleasure of reading “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus” by Ludwig Wittgenstein. Not one of the most enjoyable books that I have ever read.
Why would you write”Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darÃƒÂ¼ber muss man schweigen.”
For the many that enjoy these pages Publius’s Austrian translated is “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”
Is that another attempt to silence people, to sanitize the truth, to suppress ideas, to squash what many of us who no longer par take of the Jim Jones School of communal affairs drinking party have to endure.
A Google search brings this to the forefront.
Publius Home Page
Web publishing system that is highly resistant to censorship and provides publishers with a high degree of anonymity.
Or are you the “friend of the people”.
It has been very interesting to get to know you.
Machiavelli wrote “Tell them what they want to here, do not tell them the truth.”
Publius or publius that may be your school of thought, not mine.
If you only knew the truth, the real truth, you would both shrivel up and hide in a corner out of disgust or you would be beating down the doors to press for the truth. The unedited truth.
If some of you missed it. The audio does not lie!
Keys to the Firehouse: Who should have access?
April 27, 2011 — 7:01 am | 2 Comments
Live recording of the April 19, 2011 meeting
If it gets moved again, just type “keys”, if it does not show up, then well then you have to take it up with Publius or publius.
Maybe he has the pull to have it put back on the site.
The live audio recording of the April 19, 2011 Cold Spring Village Board meeting has not been moved or removed. It may be found in the chronological queue of published articles.
Dear Pipeband VP,
Why has Mayor Gallagher refused to present a thourough acounting of the monies received uneer the name Cold Spring Fire Company? What about the other shin dig, Robbie Burns night. Do the math. Number of tables, price perhead, deduct over head and the fire company gets a few thousand dollars?
Bad moves with the numbers. Unfortunately, you and the band is right in the middle of it. I wish the best of luck and pray for your enlightenment and that it does not come too late.
Thank you for your efforts in trying to explain or convey what was communicated to you.
I take no issue with the Pipe Band. I believe that the Pipe Band is being used as a political tool. That said, since you addressed it, who owns the instruments? The kilts etc.
Was the money that was raised done so for the Fire Company or was it distinctly for the Pipe Band? Why has Gallagher refused to show his accounts? Comingling funds, funny money where it should not be, is he keeping the cash donations, are all of the checks coming to the Fire Company or to the separate pipe band account.
If he has nothing to hide then he should produce the records. Too bad he can’t. The exposure will force him to run for the hills.
You are being put in the middle of a dangerous game. Ask those that came before you. Ask why so many have left? I did not have to ask. These people were upset enough to volunteer their experiences.
Recently you were at West Point and the Pipe Band had already moved away from the Cold Spring Fire Company and yet you were still using the Cold Spring Fire Company affiliation by name, yet your troupe chose to launch Cold Spring Fire Company T-Shirts into the audience. No I was not close enough to catch one.
Usually not done during formal settings.
Did you speak to the Fire Company about that? I can answer that for you.
Anything else you would like to discuss.
I have to say this collection of comments is one of the more interesting in a while.
My only question, when did the Pipe Band dissolve from the Fire Department and become the Highlands Band? According to their website they are still associated, no?
© 2005-2011 Cold Spring Fire Co. Pipes & Drums
From reading all of the back and forth below, couldn’t this all be resolved by both parties laying out all of the information requested? I am assuming that the Pipe Band is a non-profit entity? That should make their financial records a foil(able) matter of record.
It would be interesting to compare fund-raising accounts of the Pipe Band with those of Mayor Gallagher’s campaign fund-raising filings with the State, as last time I checked, any impropriety there would be a huge no-no. That is in no way an accusation of any impropriety.
“The Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scotts as a joke, but the Scotts haven’t seen the joke yet.” Oliver Herford
It is a shame that the Philipstown political machine is so dead set against leaving the fire companies alone. As Kathleen points out anyone worth there salt would be addressing the consolidation of the school districts. It is estimated that School taxes is about anywhere from 70% to 85% percent of the overall real estate /school tax bill. It is safe to assume that fire protection tax is lower than 5%.
So going after the low hanging fruit is easy picking. No unions to deal with, no outside governmental body to deal with from Albany. Easy picking!
It is a shame that Supervisor Shea has seen fit to push this mandate that appears to have come from the Gods. Following in the same footsteps is Mayor Gallagher, not known for his religious affiliations, under Supervisor Shea’s guidance has taken he reigns and is going to make this his poster child.
Mr. Shea and Mr. Gallagher are in their own great company. Honestly one cannot tell one apart from the other. Now the Mr. Gallagher has received his edict from Mr. Shea, we all wait to see what comes out of the report that was not meant to be, premature and full of venom.
Mr. Granor should have made a better effort to take his cookie cutter report and produce a more meaningful report opposed to try to build Supervisor Shea’s resume for the election campaign, (Google – Van Buren and Manlius – Granor fire report) you be the judge. You are not going to bring me to the table when you attack me and my fellow fire fighters in the way you do. If you wanted to have a civil discourse then you would have provided everyone with the proper time to get comfortable with the intentions of the report. When Supervisor Shea within a month of getting elected tells us at the Garrison Fire Company that we are going district no matter what, well Richard that just does not cut it.
We have all grown tired of your agenda. You have forgotten that you are elected to serve the majority of the residents not the minority political machine that has kept you in.
Why you ask, well a little known secret is that Mr. Shea had no intention of releasing the report in its entirety. It was to have been doled out like slices of a pine apple in small bites for all to get hooked on the crack candy.
Thankfully Mayor Gallagher, who has his own agenda, followed Mr. Shea’s instructions to the T. For that the entire Philipstown is eternally grateful for your arrogance. One can only imagine the fury going back and forth on that one between Supervisor Shea and Mayor Gallagher. It is widely suspected that Mr. Shea new exactly what he was doing when he gave Mayor Gallagher the report. It is amazing to see who gets sold out for their own political gain. Mr. Shea’s advisors said give it to Gallagher, let him be the patsy, if it works take the credit, if it fails distance yourself.
Back peddle with those big old flip flops.
Well Mr. Shea, Mayor Gallagher from Continental Village to Manitou, the Highlands down to the Village of Nelsonville to the Village of Cold Spring, the barn doors are completely open, no way to stop the exodus.
While this was not intended to be an attempt to bash anyone, but to promote Kathleen’s question – “Why not consolidate school systems”, it is too frustrating not to discuss the Philipstown political agenda and its attempt to filter into every branch of each governing body within Philipstown.
A second area if anyone was serious would be to dissolve the Nelsonville and Village of Cold Spring governments. Keep the name; just get rid of the government. Not duplication, but triplication of the same job being done by three people, three departments.
So you now have 2 areas that would reduce taxes.
1. Consolidation of School systems.
2. Abolishing Nelsonville and Cold Spring government.
You get that done then we can talk about this low hanging fruit that you have been pitching. Thank you Supervisor Shea and Mayor Gallagher for bringing this to the fore front. Your voters thank you. You make a lovely team.