Letter: The Emperor’s New Clothes

Dear Editor,

I’m writing in response to the recent accusations and misleading comments made by the Owego Town Supervisor regarding my tenure as the Town’s Highway Superintendent.
During my term, unlike the recent unauthorized truck purchases, I never bought any highway equipment that wasn’t on state bid or without purchase resolution from the board and consultation with my committee members. 

For example, when ordering pickup trucks I would look at the New York State Office of General Services (NYSOGS) site to see what vehicles were available. I would then contact the dealer who participated in the program and order the truck on bid. I never ordered any extravagant add-ons, just the allowed truck.

Currently, the only highway committee member is Don Castellucci, whereas I had two committee members to consult. This was the problem with the last two trucks purchased. A committee, by definition, is made up of two or more people. If Don was not the only member of the highway committee, this may not have happened.

The next issue is the misinformation that the McLean Valley Road culvert pipe was installed improperly. In the summer of 2018 extreme flooding dislodged the outlet section of the two-piece culvert. I hired a local contractor to reinstall the outlet side of the pipe as our crews were scattered throughout the town, tackling similar situations that occurred during that same event.

As for the issue of me not attending the board meetings, this is true as I would routinely be in contact (via email, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings) with my committees on a biweekly basis, and then some. I would relay all projects, the location of crews, work being performed, costs, etc., which they would report at the board meetings.

During the last few weeks the Supervisor took to the media (print, TV, and social) to plead a case full of falsehoods and misleading narratives. I understand that he even has taken the desperate measure of speaking to local civic organizations (which is troubling in itself), only sharing his one-sided view. These clubs are a positive presence in our community and will continue to be, long after his inappropriate rant.

Another issue, that is truly a dark cloud over the Town, is the findings of the three and a half month state audit. Let’s be clear, they found nothing wrong with any department except for one, the Chief Financial Officer, Don Castellucci. The Town was supposed to respond to the state concerning the irregularities that exist and the plan the town would adopt to correct them. Has anybody seen a response?

In closing, I will not go tit for tat with a desperate man on a sinking ship. However, I will always refute his off-base accusations about my tenure, stand up for what is best for our Town, and support transparency for ALL Town departments.

Mark Clark
Former Town of Owego Highway Superintendent

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