If you want the type of finger-pointing and sabre-rattling that often comes with state and federal government, then look no further than the small Essex County town of Elizabethtown.
Over the past year-and-a-half, a constant battle between the current administration and members of the ousted old guard have exchanged a firestorm of accusations and inuendo at board meetings, through letters to the editor and other avenues.
In the most recent exchange, former town board member Ken Fenimore requested, through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIL), the end-of-year financial records of the town from current supervisor Margaret Bartley. Bartley and the town complied with the request and sent Fenimore the documents.
One critical mistake was made, however. The financial information was handed over with account numbers to the town’s reserves listed for all to see.
The bank statements were then posted at the Elizabethtown Post Office along with remarks criticizing the town board. Fenimore later admitted to posting the information. A post office employee removed the documents, only to find them re-posted the next day.
This is the most recent example of a battle between the old regime and the new blood that has been taking place since the 2011 election, when Bartley edged Merrihew, 254-238, for the position of supervisor. Merrihew was gracious in defeat, but some supporters were not, including a handful of party faithful who went so far as to blame this newspaper for the loss.
Since that time, banter has gone back and forth over several topics with each side having a cadrer of supporters. Topics have included the legality of town meetings under the Open Meetings Law; the handling of the Otis Bridge removal; a land deal between the county and Bartley along with her husband, Harry Gough; the management of the town’s sewer project; the budget process and the handling of the town’s finances.