Due to a blog glitch, the original posting was lost. The Gazette letter from Mr. Powers is re-printed here.
To the Editor:
The most recent Village newsletter
contained yet another insertion of an advertisement from Sunrise Solar
Solutions touting that “Now is the time to go solar”.
was troubled by this and made inquiry to Village Manager Zambrano about
the advertisement. I asked (1) whether Solar Solutions paid the Village
to include this advertisement in the recent newsletters, (2) whether
anyone paid the Village to include this advertisement in the recent
newsletters, and (3) who physically inserted this advertisement in the
Village’s newsletter such as a Village employee, someone from Solar
Solutions, or anyone else.
Mr. Zambrano responded to my
first question as follows: “The added flyer from Solarize Cortlandt
Croton is a joint venture between the Town of Cortlandt and the Village
of Croton and the program is being funded by NYSERDA. The flyer is not
an advertisement for Sunrise Solar Solutions. As just stated, the
program is funded by NYSERDA for the benefit of the community.” As to
my second question, Mr. Zambrano responded that “Any expenses related to
the flyer are being paid directly to the printer by the consortium from
the proceeds of the grant. I do not know what those costs are since
the Village is not paying the bill.” And as to my last question, Mr.
Zambrano responded that “The flyer is being inserted by the printer. No
Village employee performed the work.”
hours after receiving Mr. Zambrano’s response, I received the following
response from Mayor Wiegman which stated: “I'll offer one slight point
of clarification. The Village incurs no extra expense for this flyer
about the Solarize Corltand (sic)-Croton program that is piggybacking
onto the VIllage's (sic) monthly newsletter. The work is being done by
the printer that prepares the Viilage's (sic) monthly newsletter. The
entity paying for 100% of the printing and related costs of the Solarize
flyer is Sunrise Solar Solutions Inc,. The Solarize Program that is
funded by the state grant is NOT paying for this flyer. The same is true
for the road banner on Croton Point Avenue. Sunrise Solar also paid
for 100% of the expense of preparing the banner to the village's
specification in terms of size and location of grommets.”
Mayor’s “clarification” concerning Sunrise Solar Solutions Inc.
advertisement makes it clear that such inclusion is wrong. Moreover, it
is clear that the Mayor's clarification contradicts the facts set forth
in the Village Manager's response.
The inclusion of this
private advertisement with the Village’s newsletter is improper. While a
village may provide by local law for the publication and distribution
of a newsletter for its residents, the New York State Comptroller has
opined that such newsletter “must be intended to inform or educate
residents as to the official affairs of village government, and not
relate to matters which promote primarily private, partisan or political
purposes or undertakings”, making reference to Article VIII, §1 of the
New York State Constitution. See 1992 N.Y. St. Comp. 78. Further,
that cited section of our State Constitution prohibits a municipality,
including a village, from giving or loaning money of the Village in aid
of any private corporation.
That this Village-aided
advertisement involves the “consortium” called “Solarize Westchester”,
which is touted on-line as a “partnership of the Energy Improvement
Corporation, Abundant Efficiency, Croton Energy Group, Pace University
Land Use Center, SmartPower and Sustainable Westchester” (go to http://www.sprlaw.com/new-initiative-launched-by-sustainable-westchester-and-others-to-promote-solar-power-installation-in-westchester-county/),
is all the more disconcerting since one of those mentioned entities,
Croton Energy Group, Inc., is the Mayor’s own company! To use the
Village’s newsletter as an avenue to advance these non-Village entities
is simply wrong and possibly illegal.
this is just the latest example of a Village matter not passing the
proverbial scratch and sniff test. I call upon our Village officials
stop including this and any other private advertising in all future