Trustee Ken Lauer sent The Batavian the following statement following an e-mail conversation about the guilty plea yesterday of Brandi Watts, the former court clerk in Corfu who falisfied court documents to help her steal more than $10,000 from the village. Lauer was reacting to statements by Special Prosecutor Donald O'Geen about the conviction marking a new day, a day to move forward, in Corfu.
I'm a pretty pessimistic guy and I don't really agree with this as a close of a period nor the moving on statement. We have already been moving on and as a community we stood up to the bullies and their abuse of public funds, property and personnel. Justice is always slower. The issue of Peterson is still not done. The wasting of close to $50K in public funds just by the village for legal services related to Alexander, Watts and Peterson is far from covered by the $10K she paid (Note: The Comptroller office did not audit her entire term as court clerk. They only did November 2009 through February 2011. I'm sure a larger audit and call to the public would uncover more but I doubt that the cost could be justified). The amount that this circus has cost the taxpayers of Genesee County and NYS in audits, law enforcement and legal costs I'm sure exceeds what the village paid. And that doesn't account for the lost time that could have been spent on other matters NOR the level of distrust that this case has put on the NYS Judicial office and our 'little speed trap' here in Corfu.
For 22 plus years Alexander ruled Pembroke like a judge Roy Bean. He certainly tried to be on the 2012 ballot for the Corfu Justice post despite the investigation. It was only the unified efforts of citizens in Corfu that kept him off the ballot as he tried for both the Dem. and Rep. endorsement. Not Albany or the NYS Judicial system. However, to put all the blame on the former judge is not entirely fair. Corfu is not an isolated incident of abuse. Instead it is a perfect example of a problem that often occurs in NYS with courts and fines because there are gaps and "special keys" in the system that can tempt even the most honest of civic officials. We as individuals need to pressure Albany to fix this. We need to trust that our money is being properly appropriated by government officials.
As a community, we still have work to do cleaning up the issues Alexander, Watts and Peterson have created for the village and it is not going to happen overnight. Restoring a trust lost is a very hard thing to do and it will take time. Two of the three are now out of power positions. The third is still an issue that has not been forgotten. Thankfully citizens of Corfu and Pembroke have been coming to meetings now and are more involved than ever in the operation of the local government. Involvement is the only way to understand what is going on and it promotes official integrity.
Personally I'm thankful that certain individuals in the NYS Troopers and State Comptrollers office took this matter seriously and investigated. I also appreciate the efforts of Donald O'Geen and Mark Boylan. The efforts of The Batavian and YNN to report the story with integrity have also helped the community deal with a difficult situation and get some restitution…thank you! I'd also express a deep appreciation to the village clerks (Sandy, Denise and Pam) for all they did and put up with during the last couple of years. Their professionalism outlasted all the plots, traps, public/private humiliations and schemes intended to remove them from positions they excel at.