Investigation regarding the Town of Ulster Supervisor’s rant against a citizen

On behalf of the, I wish to briefly summarize 1) our understanding of the recent events, 2) citizen reaction to the publicity of the event and 3) recommendations to the Town Board.

  1. This is a difficult moment for our town because Mr. Quigley, our elected leader, exhibited behavior that demonstrably lacked self-awareness, self-regulation, and social understanding befitting a leader in the discharge of his duties. It was clear in the September 4 Daily Freeman front-page article that he was not engaged in a private dispute with a neighbor, but he was conducting the Town’s business, referring to the role of our Highway Department regarding a fallen tree on a public roadway. It was also clear both in the newspaper article as well as in Mr. Quigley’s own summary comments at the end of the September 2 board meeting that the exchange, involving a neighbor who happens to be an African American, had been more ugly than previous ugly exchanges over the past 12 years when he occasionally lost his patience and temper. For all of this, Mr. Quigley offered a public apology to the resident who was offended and to the people of the Town of Ulster who were misrepresented. Additionally, Mr. Quigley told both the press and every citizen in the town that he wants to be held accountable for his behavior by directing that this matter investigated by two specific Town board members, Rocco Secreto who is the chair of the personnel committee and Clayton VanKleeck.
  2. Citizens’ reaction to the event varied from discouragement about our town’s reputation to calls for his resignation due to conduct unbecoming a leader. Examples that represent this spectrum of opinions are:  “his behavior is not just about him because it makes all of us look bad with front-page embarrassment”;  “there he goes again”; “the bully really did it this time with a racial rant that crosses a serious line”; “the Town board should censure him and send him to anger management school for a couple of months”; “the Town Board won’t do anything because they are sheep, brow-beaten by Mr. Quigley’s intelligence and powers of persuasion resulting in  kowtowing to his control”; and “he’s gotta go.” The intensity varies, but no one is happy about this.
  1. Recommendations: (Each includes following the town’s own rules.)
  • Follow the Town of Ulster Employee Handbook
    • “We will not tolerate harassment or discrimination of any kind in the workplace.” (page 11)
    • “The Town of Ulster considers discriminatory harassment to be a form of employee misconduct and considers this kind of conduct to be a serious offense, which will not be tolerated.” (page 12)
    • Examples of “job related actions that may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal are: threatening, intimidating, coercing, interfering, etc.” (page 55)
    • “We need to emphasize the most important component [of the town], that is, the taxpayers and residents in the Town of Ulster. In order to retain the confidence of those we serve, we want to assure that our excellent reputation continues by always giving the best service.” (page 59)
  • Follow the Town of Ulster Code of Ethics
    • Article 1: It is “necessary that every effort be made to assure the highest caliber of public administration of this town…”
    • Article 2: “Each town employee shall endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he is likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of his trust.”
    • Article 3: “There is hereby established a Board of Ethics consisting of three (3) members, to be appointed by the Town Board, all of whom reside in the Town of Ulster…. A majority of such members shall be persons other than town employees but shall include one (1) member who is elected or an appointed employee of the Town of Ulster.”

To ensure fairness to Mr. Quigley, ensure the confidence of the Town’s residents, and ensure the credibility of the Town Board itself with this investigation, the strongly recommends that the Town Board obey the Town Code by turning over the investigation of Mr. Quigley’s recent behavior to a Board of Ethics as explained in the Town of Ulster Code; that is, a Board of Ethics composed of two town residents and one town employee. Since the Town Supervisor is the one being investigated, he forfeits the right to appoint his investigators. Appointments should be the obligation of the four Town Board members. The investigation itself should be conducted by the members of the Board of Ethics, and their recommendations should be made public and presented to the four members of the Town Board for disposition.

Regis Obijiski
Vice-Chair of