Murray delivers apology
By Patsy Nicosia
In July, Cobleskill Supervisor Tom Murray promised an apology.
Tuesday, he delivered it.
“[This] has been a lesson with a very high tuition. I have passed the class [and will be aware of all that I say in the future]…” Mr. Murray told an audience of about a dozen.
Mr. Murray said an apology had previously been made in an ad in My Shopper and on the town’s website.
“It’s an uncommon situation where you can be taped with a hidden recorder,” he continued. If I had 2,200 hours of tape I could put together any sound bite imaginable.”
The last was a reference to Highway Superintendent Tom Fissell, who is out on a disability leave until December 31, the date he said in January he’d retire on.
Mr. Murray called for Mr. Fissell to also apologize to the community and suggested it’s time to move on.
“We need to look at our problems square on and move together to solve them.”
In July, Mr. Fissell released first an email and then, after they denied his charges, audiotapes of Mr. Murray and Mayor Mark Nadeau using the “n-word”—retaliation, they said, for the fact that they were finally holding the Highway Department accountable.
Mr. Murray admitted…but said he wouldn’t apologize publicly until an independent investigation was completed.
That results of an independent investigation released last month concluded that both Mr. Murray and Mr. Nadeau did use the “n-word,” in “a single, isolated incident” as Mr. Fissell had charged, but found there wasn’t a “culture of racism at the highest levels of Cobleskill leadership, as Mr. Fissell had also charged.
As for the tapes—which by some accounts total 2,500 hours—Attorney Mike West told Mr. Murray and councilmen that still they still haven’t been turned over, despite the fact that he’s issued multiple “drop dead” dates to Mr. Fissell’s attorney.
“We’ve been poking at them,” he said, “but the attorney said there wasn’t ‘much to them anymore’” because Mr. Fissell had taped over them.
“I wonder if the tapes even exist at this point,” Mr. West said Thursday.
“And even if they do exist, what will they say?”
Throughout the controversy, supporters of Mr. Murray and Mr. Nadeau have claimed the tapes were altered and taped on town time using town resources and demanding that they all be made public.
There remains some question of whether they will be made public.
“First, we have to determine what we have,” Mr. West said. “If that’s subject to FOIL [Freedom of Information Law], they will be released. Right now, we just don’t know—anything.”
Joe Kerr, whose regular attendance at meetings was prompted by the year-old Highway Department merger, asked whether the town plans to take any action against Village Trustee Linda Holmes, the first to go public with her concerns over Mr. Fissell’s email.
“The town has been slandered,” Mr. Kerr said.
However, truth is an “absolute defense” when it comes to slander, said Councilman Ryan McAllister, who is also an attorney.
“I don’t see anything there,” Mr. West added. “There is a thing called freedom of speech.”
Gary Brady, who’s also become a meeting regular because of Highway Department concerns went after the three councilmen who signed a letter in July calling for Mr. Murray to resign: Ken Hotaling, Tim Purcell, and Sherwood Veith, calling for their resignation.
“You wasted time and money with this charade Mr. Fissell started…The three of you were quick to call Mr. Murray a racist without any proof. The report shows he’s not a racist.
“You changed the way the entire country views us. The only thing I can think is that Mr. Fissell has something on you.”