At the Clarkstown Town Board meeting held on Wednesday, July 02, 2014, the Town Board of Clarkstown under Supervisor Gromack were forced under threat of a lawsuit from Legislator Frank Sparaco to accept Sparaco’s appointment by Wayne Ballard to the position of ‘Confidential Secretary’ at a salary of $103,600.
After an Executive Board meeting lasting nearly one hour the Town Board returned to the public meeting having determined that Ballard, as an elected official, had the legal right to appoint whomsoever he wished to be his “secretary” and that Ballard could pay his “secretary” whatsoever he wished from his Highway Department budget.
At the end of the evening a subdued and chastened Supervisor Gromack invited Highways Superintendent Ballard to explain to an astonished and dumbstruck public his reasons for paying Legislator Frank Sparaco $103,600 to be his “confidential secretary“.
Ballard gave the same speech as he did to explain three years ago when he had first hired Legislator Sparaco into a $75,000 five hour per day part time job. He said that Sparaco would now be doing the work of two positions which justified a salary increase of $28,600 but that this salary increase would result in a “savings” to the taxpayers of Clarkstown.
Here are Gromack’s comments and Ballard’s ‘explanation’.
Gromack: There are a number of questions about Nancy Willen (Ballard’s former Confidential Secretary) and the new position (for Legislator Sparaco). The Superintendent of Highways is the appointing authority – the current salary (for Legislator Sparaco) is $103,600.
(Audible and repeated gasps of disbelief from audience).
Hoehmann To Ballard: Do you want to answer questions? A lot of people are asking them.
Ballard: Thank you very much for allowing me to speak. Three years ago this Town Board approved a Constituent Services Assistant position based upon need. Two months ago my right hand person, my Confidential Secretary, Nancy Willen, resigned. Soon thereafter a search to fill the position was undertaken by me as it was when I searched for the Constituent Assistant Services position prior to that.
The process used in the search and interview for the candidates was found by the Clarkstown Ethics Board to be properly executed – that’s in writing. It should also be noted that there are very long hours involved in this job for emergency responses to storms as well as the uncertainty of the employment past 12/31/15 (the next election for Highways Superintendent). All of which was an eye-opener to many of the candidates this time and the last time. There is no overtime in this position – you work until the Town is fully recovered from the storm.
The role for the confidential secretary, Nancy Willen, involved a tremendous amount of work vital to our Town. Those duties had to be assumed by others with much success. The task and duties that had to be picked up as a result of the loss of Nancy Willen was primarily by the Constituent Assistant as well as the current senior clerk typist and me, the Highway Superintendent. This resulted in working harder and more hours to continue to provide the same level of service that our residents are accustomed to.
Three weeks ago the position of Constituent Services Assistant was abruptly eliminated without any discussion with me. On 07/01/14 a new Confidential Secretary was appointed being vetted amongst others which demonstrated the one with the greatest amount of experience and proven abilities and knowledge of the demands of the job.
This appointment was at the same pay scale which is consistent with similar past employment activities by Town officials. For example, when the Highway Superintendent was appointed in 1998 he had the right to appoint a new Confidential Secretary over the existing one without a reduction in pay as did the Supervisor of the Town in 2002 when he came into office with these appointments and twice thereafter again with no change in the pay scale.
The only difference is that this position now requires the combination of two positions entailing more duties which results in savings to the Town. This was also done when there was a reduction of positions in the Town Attorney’s office of which those attorneys received pay increases as a result of their promotion.
The only name that I mentioned here was my right-hand person, Nancy Willen, who is known by just about everybody in this Town for her professionalism, her great work ethic and the tremendous amount of work she has accomplished. Nancy Willen will surely be missed and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t say to myself “I forgot she used to do that and now I have to do that myself or teach someone else how to do that test”the Town trusted me on that pick.
Thank you very much.
That was Ballard’s explanation of how the taxpayers are going to “save money” with the hiring of Legislator Sparaco but Ballard did not explain how he was going to teach Sparaco to do Willen’s job given Sparaco’s own comments about the job that Willen was doing back in 2013. Here is Sparaco speaking in his own words in early 2013 about the possibility of giving up his part-time job and taking Nancy Willen’s position:
Sparaco: What is it? Nancy’s job? Is that it? Larry said I could keep my job which kind of appealed to me also. He told her that he was thinking of keeping her (Nancy Willen). I’m not doing all the fu****g’ work there … you think I am fu****g going to go in there and do .. we need to discuss that right now … This woman (Willen) works her ‘mother-fu****g’ ass off …. Keep Nancy …. f**k yea …. I’d give her a f**king raise and make HER run the whole place.”
Further, Ballard did not explain how he was going to teach Sparaco the rudiments of grammar and spelling as one attendee at the Board Meeting suggested was a basic requirement for a secretarial position.
Having referred on Tuesday evening to Ed Day’s proposal that elected officials should not hold other Town positions at taxpayers’ expense as “borderline stupidity“, and having filed several ‘Notices of Claim’ addressed to the Town of Clarkstown threatening lawsuits if either his job or his salary was changed by the Town Board of Clarkstown, Frank Sparaco was anointed by a castrated Town Board as a “Confidential Secretary” but truth be told he is now the de facto new Supervisor of the Town of Clarkstown.
A long time Board watcher and advocate for Sparaco summed up the situation perfectly when she addressed the town board saying:
Marge Hook, New City: None of you people sitting on the Board would be up there without the help of Frankie Sparaco. Most of the people in the Town would not be where they are without the help of Frank Sparaco. And there are many Democrats helping the Republicans. Frank Sparaco has been vilified – he isn’t guilty of larceny – stealing money from his employees – he is not guilty of trying to sodomize people.
Enough is enough already and it is time for this to stop. (Laughter from audience). Keep laughing, I’m a supporter of Frank Sparaco and proud of it. All of this crap has to stop …… get with ‘the program’ and thank Frank Sparaco for a lot of the stuff that is going on in this Town.
Whether YOU like it or not it is here and I hope it stays.
How true, Ms. Hook! Mr. Sparaco has made many politicians beholden to him through his activities on the minor party lines but I might take issue with you on one small point.
While Frank Sparaco may not have physically ‘sodomized’ anyone it might be argued that he has metaphorically sodomized Supervisor Gromack who has a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Clarkstown to ensure that THEY are not being ‘sodomized’ by paying a County Legislator $103,600 to perform duties which he himself said he would prefer be done by a woman who ……
“Works her ‘mother-fu****g’ ass off” and who should be kept in the job because Frank Sparaco, would “give her a f*****g raise and make HER run the whole place.”