‘Problems we have today we had four or five years ago’

By Michael Turton

Barney Molloy and Bob Ferris are running as the VOTE Party in the Cold Spring election on March 18. Molloy, who briefly entered the village election campaign in 2013, is seeking the mayor’s office, while Ferris, a first-time candidate, is vying for one of two available trustee seats. The Paper recently spoke with the two candidates at the Philipstown.info Main Street office.

Asked why he is running, Molloy pointed to his involvement in village affairs in recent years, including his current role as chair of the Planning Board. “You get to realize where the gaps are — where we need to do better,” he said. “It’s no secret here that the problems we have today we had four or five years ago.”

Ferris echoed that sentiment. “Over the last six to eight months I came to recognize what’s not being done,” he said. “I want to make a difference … I want to work with Barney and the village board — as a strong team. I want to help resolve issues that haven’t been resolved in many years.”

Both feel their experience makes them strong candidates for public office.

Citing solid experience

Molloy serves as a senior aide for the Westchester County Board of Legislators. “I coordinate the work of several staffers, dealing with the review of the county budget, IMAs [Intermunicipal Agreements] for shared services and water-district issues with local municipalities,” he said. “Dealing with the financial and technical aspects of projects, as well as the need for collaboration, are skills I think I can bring to village government.”

Barney Molloy
Barney Molloy

He also cited a combined 20 years of experience in business and financial planning, adding that he has served extensively in both paid and volunteer positions. He highlighted his role as waterfront director for Historic Hudson River Towns, where he handled responsibilities that included grant funding, lobbying senior levels of government and coordinating annual forums and conferences on such topics as “smart growth.”

Molloy’s involvement in Cold Spring’s issues began three years ago when former Mayor Seth Gallagher appointed him to the Zoning Board of Appeals. After the last election, Mayor Ralph Falloon appointed him chair of the Planning Board, a significant post as that body was tasked with moving the often-controversial Butterfield redevelopment project forward.

Commenting on that role Molloy said: “The review of the [Butterfield] project has been comprehensive, fact-based and transparent … I think it’s fair to say that my background and experience contributed in defining that process.” He added that leading the Planning Board has given him a “front-row seat” in monitoring what happens in the village.

Ferris emphasized his experience in law enforcement as solid background for the position of trustee. After serving four years in the U.S. Army Military Police, he joined the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, where he has been a criminal investigator for 34 years.

“In my profession when I’ve had a job to do, I’ve had to work on it and complete the job to the letter of the law,” he said. Ferris said he has to “do his homework” as an investigator and that time management and research are important aspects of that work. “I have to complete [investigations] based on the facts. The job has to get done, and it can’t take years,” he said.

He has served on the Haldane Safety Committee for eight years, currently as co-chair and in the past as its chair. Ferris was instrumental in having security cameras installed both in the school and on buses. He has also served as dog control officer for the Town of Philipstown for the past 15 years.

Process lacking, issues unresolved

The two candidates were asked what they consider to be the key issues that the new Village Board will face over the next term. “It’s not an issue per se. It’s more [about] process,” Molloy said. “The Village Board does not have a way of processing information to make decisions. Whether it’s the dams, the boat club, the firehouse, the riverfront or the sidewalks, we need a process in place.”

Bob Ferris
Bob Ferris

He said the board needs to seek opinions, develop a consensus and determine best practices that can be applied in Cold Spring. “And we need a plan to carry [them] out. The devil’s in the details. That’s the heart of the matter here.”

Molloy referred to the signage ordinance in the Village Code as an example of the current administration’s inability to get things done. “We have not been able to enforce the sign ordinance since it was struck down in 2005. Signs are sprouting up everywhere,” he said. “How hard is that [to fix]? “he asked.

Ferris added that, of the projects his running mate listed, “there isn’t one where there’s light at the end of the tunnel.” He singled out “quality of life” issues as an area that needs to be addressed. “People call a [village] department [for information] and are told not to call again,” Ferris said. “I see it driving through the village. Where are our leaders? Do they not see the garbage cans overflowing on Sunday afternoons?”

Like Groundhog Day

Part of the problem, according to Molloy, has been the number of times issues have been dealt with — without resolution. “There has to be some degree of transparency and accountability,” he said, commenting that at times “it feels like Groundhog Day. Didn’t we discuss this six months ago? A year ago? Where’s the results?” He said he has taken photos of code violations, including blocked sidewalks, blocked fire exits and illegal parking scenarios and presented them at the Village Hall. “And the one question from village staff seemed to be ‘Who took these pictures?’”

The two VOTE candidates both see strengths in the other. “Bob is a professional,” Molloy said of Ferris. “He has a methodical, common-sense approach — and he’s results-oriented.” Ferris in turn said of Molloy, “His resume is outstanding … I’ve never seen him at a loss for words regarding the facts. He always has the facts.”

Addressing questions head on

A question prompting discussion on village streets and in local coffee shops is whether Molloy’s relationship with Cold Spring Trustee Cathryn Fadde is an issue that will have to be addressed if he is elected mayor. The two share a house on Stone Street, which would mean, if Molloy is elected, two of the board’s five votes living under one roof. Molloy was very clear in his response. “I don’t really see it as an issue … There’s no problem in state law or in general municipal law — because it’s not an issue.”

Molloy was also asked if his arrest for DWI (driving while intoxicated) a number of years ago is an issue. “My arrest was … about four years ago. I don’t see why it would be an issue. It never came up with the present mayor” — a reference to Falloon having appointed him as chair of the Planning Board.

Photos by M. Turton

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Turton, who has been a reporter for The Current since its founding in 2010, moved to Philipstown from his native Ontario in 1998. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Cold Spring government, features

23 replies on “Molloy, Ferris Campaign as a Team”

  1. The upcoming election on March 18 is one of the most important elections this village has faced in the 34 years I have lived here. On the mayoral front, Planning Board Chair Barney Molloy is facing Town Board member Dave Merandy. And three candidates, including Molloy’s running mate, Bob Ferris, are running for the two seats being vacated by Trustees Bruce Campbell and Stephanie Hawkins.

    First, the mayoral race. At a gathering that we hosted at our house for Barney Molloy and Bob Ferris, we brought them together with a group of Lower Main Street (aka “Low-Main”) residents. It was a spirited two-hour meeting. Barney and Bob presented their visions and experience and then spent more than an hour addressing residents’ specific concerns and questions.

    Questioned about his “apparent” short-term residence here in Cold Spring – he has lived here for three years – Molloy overcame any doubts folks might have had about his readiness for the job. Most importantly, he pointed to his extensive experience with local and county government and impressed attendees with his grasp of the details of village management. He also spent time talking about the county and state context that the village has to work in.

    In response to a question about infrastructure projects the village faces, he said “We have to stop kicking the can down the road”, alluding to the way in which the village board seems to constantly defer uncomfortable decisions. He wants to bring a managerial approach to village government and is clearly ready to do that if he is elected, beginning with an audit by the NY State Comptroller’s Office of the village’s finances and management practices. “We need to know exactly where we are”, he said.

    Ferris, an Investigator with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, will bring 30+ years of experience to the Board’s job of overseeing the village Police Department. “It’s a good police department” he said, “but things could be better managed.” Drug control was on the minds of several residents and he responded by pointing out that the drug problem is extensive and requires everyone’s participation, not least of all parents. He also emphasized that “Quality of life issues and more community interaction need to be priorities too.”

    At the end of the session, several residents said that Molloy and Ferris have their votes. I hope that enough village residents feel the same way. We need the kind of change that Molloy and Ferris will bring to village governance.

  2. From the article:

    Molloy was also asked if his arrest for DWI (driving while intoxicated) a number of years ago is an issue. “My arrest was … about four years ago. I don’t see why it would be an issue. It never came up with the present mayor” — a reference to Falloon having appointed him as chair of the Planning Board.

    The issue is much more serious than the quote above suggests. Bernard Molloy has had two drunk driving arrests (2010 & 2011) and convictions, the second resulting in a 2012 felony conviction for which Mr. Molloy was sentenced to probation until 2017.

    A Mayor and a citizen volunteer on the Planning Board are two very different things. As a community leader, the Mayor needs to be a responsible, exemplary person and role model. In my view, these offenses demonstrate this is not the case. They are not youthful indiscretions that can be easily dismissed. Reckless and dangerous behavior like this in a 50+ yr. old man is more than troubling.

    Personally, I think having a convicted felon on probation as the Mayor of Cold Spring is unacceptable.

  3. I commend Mr. Molloy for being open and transparent about his past. He openly answers any questions about it and it has been covered in The Paper. The fact that this was even brought up tells me that Mr. Molloy must be a threat of some sort. Instead of mudslinging, maybe we should all just watch the video of last Monday’s candidate forum and make up our minds based on the candidates themselves. Or attend this Monday’s forum at the firehouse. We should not base our votes on the “mud” that continually divides our Village year after year.

    “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F. Kennedy

  4. I have to say, up until now this has been one of the more peaceful campaigns in Cold Spring’s recent history. It seemed the comments had stuck to campaign issues instead of resorting to the personal attacks we had gotten so used to. Until now. I do not know Mr. Molloy personally however he has not done anything to conceal or hide his arrests and has been open about it. Yes, he made a mistake. Who hasn’t? I would imagine his probation officer is aware of him running for office and doesn’t object. Since he is out on the street and not in jail, it would seem he has not been in violation of his probation terms not to mention he is running alongside a 34-year PSCO investigator.

    Please see Mr. Laifer’s previous comment on Philipstown.info:

    These negative characterizations attempt to instruct the reader “don’t even think about whether this statement makes sense and is truthful because this person is bad.” This is an intellectually lazy and false way to mount an argument against someone’s factual (or not) statement, and reflects badly on the commentator.

    We are adults. We should be able to do better than a discourse worthy of a middle-school playground. Not being able to do so will impact all of us – and not in a good way.

    Get off the playground and attack the campaign, not the person.

    1. Thank you for reminding me of my well written comment ;) however it is misapplied here. That comment regards efforts to cast doubt on the accuracy of a person’s statements by attacking their character in online forums. My comment about Candidate Molloy does not do that.

      Instead, I am saying Mr. Molloy is unfit for office because he is a convicted felon (unreported in The Paper) and will be serving his probation sentence during his term if elected mayor (also unreported in The Paper). Contrary to claims of transparency, there were no local news reports that I know of regarding Mr. Molloy’s two DWI arrests and convictions other than the mention made at the end of this article, and no statements from the campaign.

      This is not about me, and is surely not about mudslinging or smearing, which are defined as spreading lies or false information. It’s about Candidate Molloy’s fitness for office, and making sure the people of Cold Spring know all the facts before making their choice. As voters, we have a right and obligation to be fully informed and know all the facts about this mayoral job applicant.

  5. I suspect that all of us have things in our past that, looking back, we would regret. So far as I know, having been convicted of the DWIs, Barney Molloy has trod the straight and narrow since then.

    Something that is in very short supply in our society these days is forgiveness and forbearance.

    As Jesus once said, “let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.”

    1. Yes, so far as is known, during his probation Mr. Molloy has not been in any more trouble, but I imagine the penalties would be severe if he did.

      Many of us make errors in judgement, some over and over, and some very big ones that our society designates as felonies. Usually those people don’t hold themselves up as community leaders.

      Our decisions reflect our character and judgment. Actions speak louder than words.

      1. Those people don’t hold themselves up as community leaders because of the public backlash that comes from adults who can’t seem to attack the campaign platform. Many people are not brave or courageous enough to subject themselves to the personal ridicule that comes with running for office. I commend Mr. Molloy for standing up to it all and still offering himself for public services.

        1. While I most certainly agree that personal attacks and ridicule is a problem in our elections, particularly from the PCNR, which has elevated character assassination to an art form, those with criminal backgrounds who decide to apply for a job are required to disclose that fact to all prospective employers. That should certainly include our village in the hiring of a new mayor.

          To say “attack the campaign platform” is silly. That is the same as saying “ignore who the candidate is and what they have done, and limit your comments to disputing what they have said.”

          I also agree that there is a deficit of courage, not only to step up for office, but also to speak the truth as I have. Now for my favorite liberal quote: “Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.”—John Lennon

    2. Amen, Mr. Dunn. A shame that after an informative, civil (candidates and audience!) debate last week, the “politics of personal destruction” rear their ugly head again. This is not Cold Spring. Regardless of who you support (or don’t support), I would hope the majority of residents would agree that we are better than resorting to this.

  6. As reported in this week’s International NY Times Sunday Review, recent neuroscience research explains that, rather than a lack of moral fiber, some of us are inherently disadvantaged by genetic variations that predispose us to drug abuse. A variant of the FAAH gene increases the so-called “bliss molecule” Anandamide, which provides a calming effect and reduces anxiety in stressful situations. It provides protection against addiction by targeting CBD receptors, among the most numerous receptor sites in our brain. The CBD circuit directly influences the dopamine reward pathway, the shared target of commonly abused drugs, like cocaine, heroin and alcohol. But only a lucky 21% of Americans of European descent carry this protective gene variant.

    We are facing an addiction crisis in our youth. So I am troubled by the subliminal message contained in the attack by a self-appointed “Keeper of Public Morality” who believes Mr. Malloy is unfit for office because he is a convicted felon, and says “The mayor needs to be a responsible, exemplary person and role model.”

    How many of us, when hearing these words, dip our heads in shame, and fear an accusing finger pointed with intent to humiliate?

    How many leaders would we have if past indiscretions were permanently held against them?

    As a nonresident, I cannot vote in village elections, and I have never met Mr. Malloy. But I did meet New York Times columnist David Carr at the Depot Docs several years ago, and I have long admired his writing. In his recent obituary, he was described as an exemplary person who overcame his addictions and served as a role model to many.

    I believe in the power of redemption through public service. And I believe that those troubled with addiction, young or old, deserve our compassion, not condemnation. I hope my Cold Spring neighbors believe this also.

    “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” –Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

  7. I think it also takes courage to bring to our attention Mr. Molloy’s history, as Steve did. I am sure he fully well knew there would be a backlash and an attempt by some to publicly humiliate him for daring to bring out some facts that many of us did not know. Voters can now simply decide if it is a deciding issue for them or not.

    1. Since he has such an unflawed history and seems to know so much, perhaps he should consider running for public office.

  8. The fact that Molloy became a convicted felon following his second DWI should not be factor in considering not supporting him for Mayor. Rather, the idea that one household would control 40 percent of the Village Board is perplexing at best. Further, anyone who saw or heard the exchange between sitting Board Member Hawkins when she queried Molloy on the actions of the Planning Board could well have found his rudeness toward an elected village official lacking in both decorum and leadership.

  9. Irrespective of his supporters’ tortured logic, religious appeals for forgiveness, quoting liberal statesmen and journalists, and offering medical diagnosis without examination – none of this excuses Candidate Molloy’s crimes or the character it reflects, and I remain convinced that having this convicted felon on probation as Mayor is outrageous and unacceptable.

    1. That is your opinion and you are surely entitled to it. However, arguing that Mr. Molloy’s supporters suffer from “tortured logic” or that anyone who may disagree with you is not as enlightened as you is offensive. The mature and educated position to take would be to agree to disagree. You have made your opinion well known, other people on this forum chose to make their opinion known. Just because they don’t agree with your position does not make them wrong. This is strictly a matter of opinion – what bothers you may not bother someone else nearly as much. Putting other commenting residents down is not the right way to convince people you are correct and bullies others into feeling they can’t vocalize their opinion. This is local politics, we are not electing the next POTUS, let’s be respectful of our neighbors.

      1. You are putting words in my mouth, and twisting the meaning of what I wrote. I am commenting and characterizing on what people have written. Their statements, not their persons. Your interpretation is inaccurate and flawed.

  10. Thank you, Dr. Finger, for making the connection between how we judge those who have made mistakes and the crisis we face within our community with regard to addiction. We need role models. It isn’t by accident that those who have trodden a path and found a way back are most effective as peer support and role models to others. AA and the veteran’s program to end homelessness are good examples. It’s a double win.

    We were also struck by Bob Ferris’ emphasis on educating Cold Spring police on saving lives when they encounter drug victims. (He spoke on this at one or both of the debates.) Whether he’s elected or not, we think it’s a step in the right direction.

    Looking around at the state of our world, we don’t see judgments as the way forward. We envision the courage and curiosity to embrace what we’ve tended to judge and shy away from, so that we might better understand our ways and the ways of others to create a better future.

    Our experience with people who have learned from their mistakes and addictions is that, generally, they are more tolerant, understanding of complexity and they draw from a deep well of self-examination when offering their services.

    1. While I agree saving the lives of drug overdose victims is very important to the individual, their families and the community at large, I believe that it is reactive. We should be looking for a proactive approach to the drug problems that our Village is faced with. In the recent past we have all heard or read about the unfortunate death of an overdose victim, but how many drug busts or drug related arrests have you read about? In the Village that my wife and I moved from we had a similar police force with one full-time Police Chief and multiple patrolmen which could not handle the drug influx into our community. They elicited the help of the County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police, which formed a task force. In short order the drug problem decreased while arrests were made of the dealers.

      For and foremost I am sure we want the protect younger residents, but we need to stand up and ask for Help when we need it and we need it now. As is usually the case left unattended there will be more drug related deaths, burglaries, serious assaults or murders. In the end the community suffers when we are not proactive. It’s our home, let’s protect it and our most valuable assets, our children.

  11. Candidate Barney Molloy likes to term political debate, and an election, as a “job interview.” Let’s for the moment accept his interpretation.

    Those of us who have applied for jobs, and been hired, may recall such requirements, and activities, as completed and signed job applications, detailed chronological employment histories, business references, background checks, drug testing, felony conviction disclosures, and multiple interviews with questions conducted by a hiring authority, and not so much by third parties, unless perhaps a major reorganization or ownership change at the employer is in the works.

    Frankly we have seen none of this. What questions were asked, at least publicly, were prepared by newspapers, not by residents, taxpayers, village employees, trustees, or other type of stakeholders. In other words the questions are posed by third parties, not by the employer, the hiring authority.

    Whatever sort of a job interview this is, it’s not at all of the type I am familiar.

    And I am not trying to slight the newspapers. Of course they are performing what they believe to be their function, and they are neither explicitly nor implicitly responsible to conduct job interviews, background checks, etc.

    Now to the question of the candidate’s DUI convictions. In and of itself these as far as I know would not and should not be an impediment to elective office. However, according to Mr. Malloy’s logic, at least if this were a real “job interview”, they should be formally disclosed and the subject of questioning, background checks, and so on. That has not happened. Therefore, technically, we as village decision makers, cannot make a hiring decision. We don’t have enough information. And we know that relevant information has willfully not been disclosed, or at least that the hiring process we are told to use has failed to cause relevant information to be disclosed.

    With concern and a sense of responsibility I have read the court documents. Briefly, it’s regrettable. It’s difficult for me to say, but some of the penalties in the law appear to me to be overly draconian, and, speaking for myself, no one’s attorney, I don’t necessarily see them as appropriate. The fact that there was a second offense is perplexing, odd.

    I do not believe Barney Molloy should be mayor of Cold Spring. Not at this time. There is not enough information to lead me to believe he could properly and judiciously discharge the responsibilities of the office. He certainly ought to be employable, according to the court documents, with proper supervision, in an appropriate position, in the village government. I do have a concern as to the stability and the level of professionalism of the village government, however, to provide an adequate level of supervision.

  12. Very well said, Mr. Haggerty, and I agree with you. Mr. Molloy is responsible for all transgressions in his past, just as Village Official(s) current & past remain responsible for their transgressions similar in nature. The difference is Mr. Molloy has taken responsibility for his actions while others remain in the shadows pointing fingers, whispering and not being held to the same standard.

    While I do not approve of his past actions (years ago), I do see this election as a pivotal turning point for our village. Further, I share Mr. Molloy’s interpretation that an election is a job interview. For way too long our village has elected individuals based on their birthplace instead of their professionalism, business skills & ability to professionally represent our Village.

    After attending the Mayoral debates hosted by this organization and others, I find it hard to believe that any voter free of preconceived notions and not contaminated by prior finger-pointing could question the professionalism and abilities of Mr. Molloy in comparison to his opponent.

    Personally, I don’t know of anyone within the Village or the hills surrounding our community who maintains the talent, skills, knowledge and communication abilities of this candidate. Mr. Molloy openly addressed each and every issue while actually educating all of the attendees on the issues confronting our small village inclusive of pending state mandates threatening our community. Nobody walked away that evening without gaining an education, inclusive of his opponent (I am sure you will agree once you have had the opportunity to view the full debate).

    My suggestion to fellow residents is to watch the posted debate. Not doing so is a injustice to yourself and the community. Should questions remain reach out directly to our candidates.

    Becoming self-appointed Internet sleuths for facts on your own can be very misleading and unfair to yourself and the candidate. Reach out. Then ask yourself who is qualified to be hired and lead our Village forward. Further, stagnation is no longer an option. Hopefully all will consider the candidates who actually showed up to all the interviews and answered the tough questions.

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