It seems Town Supervisor Paul Feiner and Town Clerk Judith Beville, both of whom are running for reelection this fall, are touchy on the subject of who is to blame for the Town’s failing grade for its website.
Town Clerk Judith Beville said today that she is not responsible for the Town’s website, which received a failing grade last fall from Albany-based public interest organization Empire Group.
She said responsibility instead rests with Joe Lucasey, a deputy commissioner in the Town’s parks and recreation department who for years has volunteered his time at no additional compensation to serve as the Town’s “webmaster,” i.e., the go-to town employee responsible for posting most items on the site.
Blame him, not her, for the Town’s lousy website, Ms. Beville seemed to be saying.
Even though Ms. Beville claims to have never had any responsibility whatsoever for the town’s website, a press release from Mr. Feiner published (and long since buried) on the town’s website itself states otherwise.
On June 13, 2011, under the headline, “Town Website needs improvement – Task Force Being Formed,” Mr. Feiner said that in response to months of complaints from residents that the town website was difficult to navigate, “I have asked Town Clerk Judith Beville to head up a task force to improve the website.” He then asked if residents had any “comments or suggestions,” they should contact him and Ms. Beville.
Mr. Feiner has never created a line item in the Town’s budget for the Town’s website and if Ms. Beville, who as town clerk is the Town’s chief information officer and receives an additional stipend for maintaining town records, is not herself responsible for the Town website, it appears that no elected town official is, which may explain why no improvements to the Town’s website have been made in years, and why no elected officials in Town seem to think it is their responsibility to do anything about it.
Ironically, even though Ms. Beville insists today she is not responsible, and says she never has been responsible — even though town records on the town’s website show otherwise — she said no such thing when a resident wrote to her and Mr. Feiner as recently as October 30, 2014 noting that “the Town Board asked the Town Clerk to investigate possible remedies for improving the Town website” and asking whether she had “made any recommendations.”
Mr. Feiner responded to that email stating that he had spoken to Mr. Lucasey and asked for a meeting with the organization that gave the Town its F grade.
Significantly Ms. Beville, who was copied on the email to and from Mr. Feiner, did not volunteer that she had no responsibility for improving the Town’s website. Nor did she deny, as she does now, that the Town Board had in fact asked her to assume any such responsibility.
Flash forward to March 2015 — more than five months later, ironically during the state’s celebration of Sunshine Week, when the state recognizes the need for local governments to be open and transparent — the ECC published the results of the Empire Group’s study giving Greenburgh a failing grade, noting that no improvements had been made and no action steps taken.
However, Mr. Feiner took issue with the ECC’s report by saying he and Ms. Beville, along with Mr. Lucasey, had been looking at other websites and together would be attending a meeting on this subject with a “company” on April 17, 2015. No further information was provided.
Ms. Beville’s statement that responsibility for the website is not within her job description is similar to statements she’s been making for the past year disclaiming responsibility for a number of perennial communication problems plaguing the Town that appear to be her responsibility, including the Town’s poor sound system and the Town’s poor cable television signal, both of which are expressly her responsibility. In each case, she denied she was to blame and most of the problems still remain.
She also denied tampering with the streaming of the Town’s board meetings last year so as to delete comments critical of Mr. Feiner and herself.
More recently, Ms. Beville has been working with Town Attorney Tim Lewis to defeat the ECC’s proposed law that would have given law enforcement the tools needed to close down houses of prostitution fronting as massage parlors.
The proposed law requires that the town clerk issue a license to massage establishments after completing an application calling for, among other things, a police background check of the establishment’s owners and managers.
Ms. Beville objected to issuing any such licenses, even if all she is doing in issuing such license is following the recommendation of the police chief, and has been lobbying against the proposed legislation which, because of her efforts and those of town officials, now appears unlikely to pass — thereby allowing the prostitution trade in Greenburgh to continue to flourish.