At the Clarkstown Town Board meeting Tuesday evening Town Clerk, Justin Sweet, in a somewhat funereal tone read a letter from Clarkstown’s ‘Cinderella’ Secretary, Frank Sparaco, addressed to Highway Superintendent, Wayne Ballard which announced that Sparaco’s two year ‘relationship’ with Ballard would come to an end at the stroke of midnight December 31, 2014. Sweet intoned:
To: The Honorable Wayne Ballard
Superintendent of Highways Town of Clarkstown
You are hereby informed that effective midnight December 31, 2014 I will resign my position as Confidential Secretary at the Clarkstown Highway Department.
I have been pleased that I have been able to utilize my governmental experience in helping you and your staff operate and improve what is clearly one of the finest highway departments in the State of New York. I look forward to continuing our close working relationship for the betterment of our mutual constituents.
It has been a great privilege to work and learn from you and I look forward to applying the principles of good government that you bring to bear every day in my future work on behalf of the mutual taxpayers we serve.
I look forward to helping you with this transition and will be available to you and help facilitate a smooth changeover.
Thank you for this opportunity and your dedication to the public good.
Sparaco was hired in a controversial appointment as Ballard’s ‘Consituent Services Assistant’ in August 2012 described by the Journal News as “Clarkstown putting political clout before all else“. He later excelled himself as a campaign organizer for Ballard in successfully winning Republican Ballard the left-wing Working Families nomination as its candidate for Highway Superintendent by the collection of sufficient absentee ballots to overturn the apparent winner of the election from votes actually cast at the polls.
Sparaco later went on to surreptitiously record several individuals associated with the Town of Clarkstown claiming that he had provided evidence to the FBI of political corruption in the Town. The FBI took no action and sections of the surreptiously recorded tapes were later released to the public which showed that Sparaco was in active pursuit of the job of Confidential Secretary which was held by a highly esteemed Town employee, Nancy Willen. Willen abruptly resigned her position in May of this year and after Sparaco’s position as the part-time $76,500 assistant was eliminated by the Town Board, Ballard bestowed Nancy Willen’s position on Sparaco at a salary of $103,600.
Sparaco’s final fall from grace was when he attempted to primary practically every Republican Committee member in all of the election districts in the Town of Clarkstown. Ballard was one of the key people who collected petitions on Sparaco’s behalf and when Sparaco’s attempted coup failed miserably Ballard joined Sparaco in becoming twin pariahs in Republican circles.
Following the elimination of the Constituent Services position and Sparaco’s appointment as a ‘confidential secretary’ questions were raised by several members of the public asking if the Town Board had approved this appointment. A subsequent legal opinion issued by the Town Attorney indicated that Ballard, as an elected official, could basically hire whomsoever he pleased, with whatever experience he deemed to be acceptable, and at whatever salary he deemed he could get away with. It came as a surprise to many observers to learn that the Town Board had no control over the salary of a Town employee in the Highway Department.
With Sparaco’s “I Will Resign” notification it appears that Ballard has now agreed to pay Sparaco the equivalent of a three month’s severance payment. Recent FOIL requests for Sparaco’s timesheets show that no-one, including Ballard himself, has signed Sparaco’s July or August timesheets as his supervisor. Does the Town have documentation that the timesheets were formally approved by Ballard in a separate Town memo? Prior to Nancy Willen’s departure we understand that Sparaco’s timesheet was approved by her. Further, no explanation was given to the public as to why an employee would publish a letter of resignation three month’s in advance stating that he is leaving a job that he has held for less than three months.
Perhaps at its November meeting the Town Board will ask Superintendent Ballard if he has given Sparaco a three month window to find a new pair of ‘government shoes’ beyond Clarkstown’s borders?
After all Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change one’s life.