LETTERS Supporting Thomas Bogan FROM:
Village Residents: Donald Berry and Wanda Warren Berry; Jim Bona; Joanne Geyer; Clara Lantz;
From Thomas Bogan, himself:
I am running as a candidate for Hamilton Village Justice. Since I am a relative newcomer to the community, my background and my interest in this position are not widely known. Allow me to introduce myself.
Until recently, I have lived my entire life 20 miles up the road in Clinton. In high school (Class of 1969), I played football and hockey against Hamilton High School, and am happy to say that my one-time sports rivals are now my friends and neighbors.
After an undergraduate career interrupted by two years of military service, I graduated from Hamilton College and Cornell Law School, and returned home to practice law and raise a family. After working as an attorney for 15 years, and after narrowly missing appointment as a Federal Magistrate, I accepted a full time job as an Arbitrator that I still hold. Five years ago, when the last of my four children left home, I sold my house in Clinton and moved to Hamilton.
I agreed to run for Village Justice initially believing that the incumbent wished to retire after a long and distinguished career. That not being the case, I have accepted the spot on the Democratic line, even though I am not affiliated with any political party. I have had some experience of life, including the inside of courtrooms, and I would not have agreed to run for this position if I didn't think I could perform it well.
I chose to live in Hamilton because of the friendly, small-town rhythm of life punctuated by the sports and cultural opportunities offered by Colgate University. I believe that the unique blend of town and gown here offers the best of both worlds. My platform, if one can call it that, is simple: I would seek to maintain the safety and harmony of our village while, at the same time, preserving the rights and dignity of all those who come before me.
I believe I am qualified for this position by education, experience, and temperament. My wife does too. Please consider voting for me on June 15.
We urge voters to take the rare opportunity of electing Tom Bogan, a trained and experienced attorney and arbitrator, to the position of Village of Hamilton Justice. Usually villages and towns do not have a chance to elect as justice someone who is a member of the New York State Bar. But Hamilton does! The modern world is complex and local justice courts benefit from education and experience with the law. Tom is ready to serve when elected, not needing the training New York requires of persons without legal credentials.
Tom Bogan lived almost all of his 58 years in Clinton, a nearby village that, like Colgate, is a college town, with all of the benefits as well as problems that involves. He practiced law and served various jurisdictions for 15 years in the Utica area. He also took his turn at various kinds of community service in the Clinton area: e.g., school board membership, leadership of athletic organizations for youth, planning boards.
Since 1994 Tom Bogan has served as an insurance arbitrator, a position which is like that of a judge, hearing cases in the region from Buffalo to Albany. He has had immense experience of the challenges of making judgments that are fair to all parties.
Tom Bogan's sense of humor, mature perspectives, as well as his experience of the joys and tribulations of youth and family life were shared during the nominating process. He is registered as an unaffiliated voter and had hoped he could be put before the Village in a nonpartisan election. When that did not work out, Tom accepted the Democratic endorsement as well as the independent "Community Party" line on the ballot.
The controversies of the spring have been settled for now. The Village Court cannot consolidate with the Town Court during the four-year term for which a justice is being elected. The claim that the Court makes a large amount of money for the Village was contradicted by the actual figures of what remains after accounts are settled with the state. That does not really matter, since the point is to administer justice.
The village benefits greatly when additional citizens choose to live here and, especially, when they are willing to serve the community. Vote for Tom Bogan for Hamilton village justice on June 15th.
Donald Berry and Wanda Warren Berry
Tom Bogan and the Future of the Village Court
Radio Free Hamilton was wise in not including the candidates for Village Justice in the questionnaire about issues facing the Village. As Tom Bogan said when asked about such issues at the Forum on May 27, such matters are the responsibility of the Village Board. Bogan said that, if elected, his responsibility would be simply to deal with cases that came before the court. Nevertheless, the issue of the future of the Village Court has been introduced into some campaigning for the position of Justice.
Voters should be clear about two matters: first, the Village Board knew when it deferred action on the future of the Court this Spring that New York law forbids dissolution of a court during the term of an elected justice. There will be a Village court until 2014. A particular justice cannot “Save the Court” unless he is re-elected in subsequent elections—and lives forever.
Second, Tom Bogan, the nominee of the Democratic and Community Parties, has taken NO position with regard to the future of the court. When the current justice had announced his preference for retirement, some of us tried hard to find a qualified person to run. Leaders of the major parties shared their worries about whether we would be able to find someone for this job.
It seemed serendipitous when one of us met a new neighbor, Tom Bogan. Learning about his legal credentials, she talked about the need for a candidate for Village Justice – and he showed some interest. The fact that he was interested in the position of Village Justice was made clear in an interesting way when he was interviewed by the Nominating Committee for the Village Democratic Committee. When it was explained that in an upcoming meeting the Village Board would be considering whether to abolish the court and have the justice function taken over by the Town of Hamilton., Tom said, “Then is this a ‘bait and switch’?” This shows that he was attracted to the “bait” of Village Justice that we had offered.
The current campaign for justice is not about the future of the village court. Tom Bogan has taken no position on this matter—nor have leaders of the Democratic party here asked him to do so.
Wanda Warren Berry, Chair
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Examining the Village Court
The ad published in your paper on June 10 and titled "Saving the Court" paid by the Committee to re-elect Arnold Fisher, Village Justice, contained important inaccuracies and misleading references.
When a question was asked at the Hamilton Forum on May 27 about whether the Village Court should be abolished, Thomas Bogan answered the question by stating that decisions concerning court abolition and consolidation were not made by the Justices, but rather by the Village Board. Justice Fisher then responded, “I agree with that”. Bogan went on to describe the advantages and disadvantages of the current arrangement and acknowledged that it was not clear that consolidation of the courts was the right answer for Hamilton.
The ad propagates misunderstanding, failing to understand that financial matters related to income and expenses of the Village Court, and indeed proceeds to the Village of Hamilton, bear no relation to the administration of justice in that court. The court system does not exist to make money; it exists to serve and protect the rights of all citizens. In earlier publications regional papers Judge Fisher claimed that the Village Court makes more than $100,000 for the village. Now he acknowledges that most years only something near one-tenth of that comes back to the village from the state.
The ad claimed that, “Village officials attempted to transfer the Court to the Town of Hamilton.” The names and titles of village officials are not mentioned. If one assumes that The Committee is referring to the Village Board of Trustees, voters must know that the Village Board took no action on this matter. Members of the Village Board stated during the April 13, 2010 meeting that “not enough information was known” about the pros and cons of court abolishment, in order to pass a resolution.
Lastly, the ad erroneously stated, “The Town Board turned down the idea (of court abolition).” The Hamilton Town Board does not have authority to take up the consideration of the future of the Village Court; that authority rests with the Village Board of Trustees.
While the village election was over on June 15th, the discussion of maximizing taxpayer dollars by streamlining government services is an important one. Let us move forward with the correct facts when engaging in such discussions.
Hamilton Town Councilwoman