To the Editor:
I want to take a moment to thank all of the community members who have offered their support during my recent consternation with the Massena Village Board and their criteria – or lack thereof – for hiring employees for village positions; specifically, the position of Paid Firefighter/Fire Truck Driver that was recently advertised in the Village of Massena, which was recently awarded to a resident of Brushton, New York.
To reiterate: my issue with the village board is not one of entitlement; on the contrary, I believe in a ‘meritocracy,' where the skills and knowledge a person brings to the position have bearing. Instead, I believe that I was singled out and denied the courtesy of even an interview for one of three reasons: the fact that I am a military veteran, the fact that I am a registered Republican, or the fact that my father is Charles Romigh. When questioned on the criteria used to select prospective candidates for an interview, the Village Board and the Mayor’s office were non-responsive. Perhaps they were shamed by their decision to select a village employee from outside the county, instead of taking their employee from within the village limits.
With determination, I submitted a FOIL request to the Village Clerk, asking for the application packets for not only the selected interviewed candidate, but also the other four candidates who were granted interviews. You can imagine my further frustration when I found that the application packets were redacted prior to release to such an extent that they are, in almost every case, unusable.
At this point, I have no choice but to believe my treatment (and, I’m sure, other qualified candidates who were not selected for an interview) to be the end-result of a lackadaisical “Old Boy’s Network” that defines a person based on their last name, or what kind of standing their family has in Massena. This, quite simply, is something I can not – WILL not – abide.
I have been proud to call Massena my home for more than half my life. I willingly relocated back here in 2010 when taking a job in the area; I believe that there is more to Massena than the “ghost town” mentality that is all too prevalent with the current mayoral administration. I believe the village board members have a duty to act in the interests of all village residents – not just the residents whose family members have been outspoken politically over the years. I believe a veteran, returning to his hometown, qualified for a job, should have at least been afforded an interview.
Let me make it abundantly clear: I wanted no part of a political life. However, I believe that to sit by and do nothing, to not speak up, does a grave disservice to the residents of the village of Massena. Wouldn’t it be great if people’s considerations were taken into account, instead of just what party affiliation they have? Of what qualifications they have, instead of who they know?
Massena, quite simply, deserves better than the elected officials currently serving the village.
Vote for Dewitt Forbes for Village Trustee, and write-in “D. Romigh” for Village Trustee on November 6th. Doesn’t Massena deserve people who will fight for - who will serve - the people of Massena?
David Romigh, Massena