Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo has scolded Kingston city employee and Democratic mayoral opponent Steve Noble, accusing him via memo of going around the back of his immediate boss to recommend federal funds.
But in a response letter sent out Sunday, Noble, 32, says Gallo “fabricated information” in the memo and that it’s being used to discredit his reputation. The letter was sent via Noble’s
campaign email personal email to his immediate boss, Jim Noble his wife/fellow city employee Julie Noble and campaign treasurer and Brenna Robinson, director of the city Office of Community Development.
The letter sets up an interesting dynamic between the two. Noble defends himself against his own boss in the letter, who’s he’s trying to unseat.
The genesis of Gallo’s memo against his employee and competition comes over the allocation of about $690,000 in “Community Development Block Grants,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money dolled out to poorer communities every year. Non-profits in the city compete over the money to help run their organizations every year.
Kingston’s Common Council has last say on where the money goes. For many organizations, the money is a lifeline to keep running and providing a myriad of services. The Common Council is expected to vote on where the money will go on May 5.
In an undated letter that Gallo, 55, sent to Noble’s uncle and Alderman-at-large James Noble and to Kingston’s Common Council, the Democratic mayor who’s running for re-election this year makes several accusations against Noble. He accuses him of going above the head of his boss , Kevin Gilfeather, without his knowledge or consent to make recommendations the Community Development Advisory Board about where funding should go.
“Mr. Noble is only responsible for coordinating and scheduling activities under auspicious of Recreation Department, CDBG programs, at (the) Hodge Center,” Gallo writes.
But Noble says Gilfeather was fully aware and supported Noble going to the meeting to address the funding proposals.
“Not only did he (Gilfeather) know of that particular meeting, but he himself and Brenna Robinson were included in emails I had sent to all of our department’s Community Development grant partners,” Noble says.
Gallo then goes on to say Noble’s “actions polarized and alienated CDBG from (not-for-profits) such as Center for Creative Education, Ulster County Community Action Committee and the Boys/Girls Club from CDBG and Hidge Center employees from Rondout Center employees, CDBG staff and Rec Department employees,” Gallo says.
Noble denies that charge too.
Gallo says the bulk of Noble’s recommendations at the meeting were intended to shift funding from the Center of Creative Education, Ulster County Community Action Committee, the Rondout Center and other non-profits to Family of Woodstock “for tired old programs rather than proposals for new programs, job internships (and) BEAT initiative programs.”
Again, Noble denies that, saying the city’s Parks and Recreation department, where he works, never tried to shift funding to Family of Woodstock.
But Noble does say that calling the program “tired” is “disappointing.” He says the Kingston Cares/Family of Woodstock Program, which he says is the program Gallo is referring to, has “operated out of the Hodge Center for the past 10 years, serving hundreds of midtown families, receiving little or no city funding during that time,” Noble says.
The Everett Hodge Center, on Franklin Street, is owned by the City of Kingston and operated through a cooperative arrangement with the City of Kingston Parks and Recreation Department’s Environmental Education Program and Family of Woodstock’s Kingston Cares initiative. Funding is provided by the City of Kingston Office of Community Development.
Gallo has focused in on his “BEAT initiative” to prioritize business, education, art and technology initiatives in the city in general as well as for the CDBG funding this year. Family of Woodstock, a non-profit, provides everything from operating shelters and emergency food pantries to providing court advocates, counseling and case management services to the needy.
In the past Gallo has criticized the administration of the CDBG federal funds for waste and inefficiency. Ultimately, Gallo offers up in his letter different funding proposals, through his Community Development office, than those from the the Community Development Advisory Board, a separate body.
Gallo will go up against fellow Democrat Noble, an environmental educator who works for the city, this November f0r a second four-year term. The job pays $75,000 a year plus benefits, though there’s been suggestions from some Common Council members to give the position a raise next year.
I’ve attached links to both letters below.
CDBG Memo Response – 4-12-15
CORRECTION: Noble reached out to me and said that the email wasn’t from his campaign address but his personal one. I’ve corrected it in the story by striking “campaign email” and putting “personal email” in the sentence. Also, the email was to his uncle, Jim Noble, not his wife, Julie. They have similar addresses.