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September 1, 2010 — 170 Washington Street, Dutchess County, NY
Secrets Lurk at the Dutchess County Records Management Center
This Resolution is on the Dutchess County Legislature Committee Day Agenda for the Public Works and Capital Projects Committee.
The Committee is Scheduled to meet at 4 PM on Tuesday Sept. 7, 2010 in the Legislative Chambers-22 Market Street-6th Fl., Poughkeepsie
It is my understanding that if this Resolution passes out of Committee on Sept. 7, it will then come up for a discussion and a vote at the Regular Meeting of the Full Legislature on Monday, Sept. 13, 2010 at 7 PM - same location.
Here is a short video clip on the subject: http://hudsonvalley.ynn.com/content/all_news/516147/examining-a-new-examiner-s-office/
Steinhaus Seeks New Home for Dutchess County Medical Examiner
For those of you who I may not have shared this with already, here is my Letter to the Editor on the subject which was submitted to several local newspapers. However, I am unaware it will be published prior to the meetings noticed above:
[As a prologue to this letter - it should be noted as you will see from the YNN video link above - The Press WAS allowed on the tour.]
Recently [Sept. 1, 2010] local historians were again denied access to the Dutchess County Records Management Facility at 170 Washington Street. These individuals were invited to a facility tour by a Legislator sitting on the Legislature's Public Works & Capital Projects Committee. A resolution being discussed in Committee involves purchasing the currently leased facility. The resolution would authorize $4.3 Million in bonding; total cost over $7 Million. A portion is for purchase; the balance for a Medical Examiners Office and Morgue addition.
With the County having no County Historian, no Archivist and no active Records Management Advisory Board, my historical records concerns and awareness of previous access denials prompted the tour invitation. Upon entering the facility on tour day, another historian and myself were immediately confronted by Betsy Brockway [A Co. Exec. Appointee in charge of Health and Human Services] and told the tour was for Legislators only. Rob Rolison, Legislature Chairman, soon joined in on the dismissal.
What evil lurks in the 170 Washington Street building must be great because this is not the first time access by representatives of the local historical community has been denied.
Legislature information provided by Roman Yasiejko [Dutchess Director Physical Facilities] stated the current building needs a roof “mid-term”. It is reaching the end of "useful life". Bonding amounts do not include a new roof.
This fact combined with the denial of access to this facility housing the county’s current and historical records demands the public and legislators shine high-beams on this resolution. Obtain facts. Utilize critical thinking. Ask tough questions. Demand answers. Taxpayers, elected officials’ constituents, our records and our history deserve nothing less.
Virginia A. Buechele
Local Historian & Historical Awards Recipient
Contact the Dutchess County Legislature firstname.lastname@example.org
the County Executive email@example.com :
Sept. 2, 2010 — Letter to My Dutchess County Legislator
To My Legislator:
Remember those water-stained boxes you saw yesterday - I think you said with Maps - Go to this link and pay special attention to Page 8 bottom of page - Page 11 of the PDF . http://www.ginnyflies.com/histrecs_needsassess2002.pdf Dutchess County Historical Needs Assessment - 2002
You and your colleagues are more than welcome to read this entire report/study. In fact I encourage you and all of them to do so but I do know how busy you all are and that your time is limited.
One has to wonder if the ALL the Maps stored in the Clerks Office were digitized then moved to the records center where the originals were water damaged. Or if some were never digitized and then ALL were just moved to 170 and then water damaged. I do know that they (meaning now the Current County Clerk and his predecessor before him) have digitized maps but I do not know if ALL of them were.
This study was done in 2002 - you will also note on the first page the preparer of the study saying that as part of the grant, she understood a Records Management Advisory Board had been formed and she looked forward to discussing the study/report with them. Well, as you know, the Records Management Program was established by Local Law No. 3 in 1986 - 16 years previously. http://www.ginnyflies.com/dclocallaw1986_3.html
Yes, sure when in 2006 Donald Miller admitted publicly at a legislature meeting that the Records Management Board had never met. You will note yesterday he did not argue this fact. His silences speaks volumes.
The grant for this study was obtained under false pretenses. This is why I said in my e-mail to the entire committee that the County obtains Grants under false pretenses. You should also note that on page 5 it notes the writer understood the Records Center would be moving to a new location in 2005. (Guess that never happened.) Page 5 of the report - Page 8 of the PDF file.
Quoting from the report/study - Page 14 Page 17 of the PDF:
The Value of Historic Records
"Dutchess County's historic records document the events that shaped the lives of its settlers and describe the development of it communities and businesses. History is important; it defines our existence, our rights and our obligations."
Recipient of the Dutchess County Historical Society Helen Wilkinson Reynolds Award - 2004 presented annually to a local historian who is a current example of the meticulous search for historical truth that embodied the life of its namesake.
Recipient National Society Daughters of the American Revolution
Historic Preservation Award and Medal - 2006 awarded to a man or woman with a distinguished record in historic preservation. Criteria for issuance includes outstanding efforts in establishing an historic district or preserving a local landmark; restoration or preservation of objects of historic cultural significance; establishing or long-term participation in oral history projects; or youth leadership or education on the elementary, high school or college level as it pertains to historic preservation.
August 31, 2010 — 170 Washington Street, Poughkeepsie, Dutchess Co., NY
[A letter to the Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature Public Works and Capital Projects Committee.]
Dear Committee Chairman Hutchings and others:
SCARY STUFF I heard yesterday - We need to comply with Local Law. No. 3 of 1986 more than just on paper - especially when we apply for grants for our records which currently are obtained under false pretenses by presenting in grant applications that Dutchess County has a Records Management Adisory Board when in reality such a board only exists on paper - We Need an Active Records Management Advisory Board with a County Historian and an accredited County Archivist and we need it NOW.
Let us not neglect our records and our history for the sake of a Medical Examiners Office and a MORGUE at 170 Washington Street.
In 2006 Donald Miller our current Records Management Officer and Director of Purchasing publicly stated at a legislature meeting that the Records Management Advisory Board had never met - and I doubt to date it has either. Do not purchase a "Pig in a Poke" when this building has needed a roof for years and over the years the taxpayers of Dutchess County have paid for one via lease payments to the landlord for this currently leased property - but in the meantime our records are in jeopardy and we'll be paying for a roof in addition to the building down the road.
The medical examiner presented a convincing case for why she needs more space. In the opinion of this writer such may very well be the case but now is not the time for the county to purchase this property, for this purpose - let alone continue to house our records in it under current conditions and without an active records management advisory board with an eye to future needs for our records - current and historical. I've done my homework and still am. My request is that you all do the same. Facts reveal the County Exec. currently renewed the lease for 170 Washington Street for five years through April 30, 2015 - It's about time the landlord replaced the roof and DPW stopped putting band-aids on it after having leased this property for 15+ years already. Think about just who the County will really be enriching here.
Shine your light on this one by obtaining FACTS & with critical informed thinking and questions - your constituents, our records and our history deserve nothing less. Nick Johnson's answers to Chairman Hutchings questions yesterday were far too vague.
What I heard! Partial Abstract of VAB recording from Dutchess County Legislature Public Works and Capital Projects Committe Meeting August 30, 2010 - 4:30 PM To discuss a resolution: Public Works and Capital Projects Committee - Discuss a Bond Resolution . . . .Authorizing the issuance of $4,328,458 Serial Bonds of the County of Dutchess,... New York to pay a portion of the cost of Acquisition of a Parcel of Land and the building there on located at 170 Washington Street and construction of an Addition thereto, in and for said County. [This is where the County Records Management Center is and the County's historical records are - The addition is for a Medical Examiners Office and Yes a MORGUE.]
The Question and Answer period as it pertains to records held at the Records Center
Legislator Hutchings [Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature Public Works and Capital Pojects] asks:
That building - the rest of the entire building is used for the records that are our records - - they take up that entire 18,000 sq. feet?
I believe this is Roman Yasiejko replying - speaker did not identify himself:
I don’t know if all the rolling files are occupied with boxes. I know we have about 40,000 boxes in there.. When we designed it we had room for expansion - yes the entire building is intended to house records.
Leg. Hutchings Asks:
Are they paper records? Microfiche? Michael?
Michael [Michael who is speaking from the background] replys:
[Ginny thinks who the person Leg. Hutchings addresses as Michael is actually Charles Traver, Commissioner of Public works - Gerry must have been thinking of Charlie Traver as Michael Murphy, past DPW Commissioner .]
Can they be reduced? Michael
[Ginny thinks who the person Leg. Hutchings addresses as Michael is actually Charles Traver, Dutchess County Commissioner of Public works and it is Charles Traver who replies - Gerry must have been thinking of Charlie Traver as Michael Murphy, past DPW Commissioner .]
The cost is prohibitive.
How long do we have to keep those records?
Nicholas Johnson [Assistant to Donald Miller, our Dutchess Co. Records Mgmnt Office] takes to the microphone:
Records have to be kept for seven years after a person dies. So records can be kept for a long time. These are records from Social Services, DA’ Office, from Probation and many other departments.
We have some 40,000 boxes - we have space for abt. 3 or 4,000 more - we throw away about a 1,000 to 1,500 boxes a year - end up with a plus of about a 1,000 boxes a year -we think we have space for about 3 more years - it depends on activity.
There is also records at that locations from various towns, old deeds and that stuff from the County Clerks that’s being digitized. The rules of engagement for paper records is mandated by the state court system since they will not allow us to digitize. [You might want to ask the County Clerk just what is being digitized and what is not and what records -especially historical ones have never been even microfilmed, let alone digitized or planned to be digitized.]
On top of that - the cost of digitizing the records would be absolutely prohibitive.
As Johnny Carson would say - Just how prohibitive is it? and just what is the STUFF you throw away each year NICK?
Dutchess County Local Law No. 3 of 1986 - currently ignored and to the best of my knowledge has been since its inception:
I'd rather being doing research in and with the records instead of spending hours trying to make sure they are properly maintained and preserved but this is what happens when you live in a "Preserve America" County - http://www.preserveamerica.gov/communities.html - that doesn't really know what Preserving America means if you don't preserve correctly in order that researchers of today, tomorrow and of the future, can write the stories. Then again the powers that be may know but they don't really CARE! Laura Bush should have looked much deeper before she bestowed this honor on Dutchess County.
1991 - 2010 — Dutchess County, NY
1990 - 2010 — Dutchess County, NY
September 7, 2010 — Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, NY
Just an Update - I attended the Legislature Committee Meeting this afternoon. There was some very interesting discussion.
The Meeting was about an hour long and the video is up on the County Website Now
Go to "Click Here to view Meetings of the Legislature"
Then under "Arcives" , "Committee Meetings", Sept. 7, 2010 Click on the blue "Click Here for Adobe Flash Video"
The presentation, questions and discussion on the the Medical Examiner, Morgue and Records Center at 170 Washington Street begins at 9:35 minutes into the video.
This resolution was NOT voted out of committee and will NOT be on the Reg. Legislature Agenda for a vote on Sept. 13th but I am sure it will be back for an up or down vote in the not too distant future. The video will explain.
Pay special attention to the discusssion about the letter from the Dutchess County Comptroller (not sure if this could be a smokescreen???). The County Comptroller highly questions the numbers presented by the County Exec's Budget Officer and Charles Traver, Head of the Department of Public works.
Also pay close attention to what is said by Donald Miller - Records Management Officer & Director of Purchasing (not an archivist). I notice it appears not even once does Donald Miller Mention Historical Records or Local Law #3 of 1986
I will be scanning to PDF the letter from the County Comptroller so if anyone wants it they can e-mail me privately and I will send it to them as an attachment to a private e-mail. Stay Tuned - this isn't by any means over. I will post further updates as needed. Thank you to those who have written already and to those who haven't, think about sending a written message via e-mail or U S Mail as soon as possible addressing your concerns about Historical Records?
Dutchess County Legislature firstname.lastname@example.org
Dutchess County Executive email@example.com
Mail to: 22 Market Street, 6th Floor Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Pass this on!