OSWEGO, NY â€“ As Tuesday nightâ€™s school board meeting wound down, Fran Hoefer wound up and made several accusations that prompted some members of the board asking that the district once again begin legal proceedings to have the maverick removed from the board.
One member of the board asked, â€œWhat would that cost?â€ to which the superintendent solemnly responded, â€œOnly lawyersâ€™ fees.â€
Hoefer told his colleagues, â€œBring it on,â€ as he plans to use this as a springboard to do battle with the State Commissioner of Education over things such as tenure.
At the Sept. 14 special board meeting the school board never publicly discussed tax rate option three or tax rate option two, Hoefer said.
â€œThese options were withheld from the news media. For the public record, option three would have reduced the school property tax rate by 11.65 percent. Option two would have reduced the school tax rate by 6.43 percent. At the Sept. 14 board meeting, Dave White said that he pays taxes too. The fact is that Dave White, Tom DeCastro and Jim Tschudy do not pay New York State income tax on their pensions,â€ according to Hoefer.
According to Bill Foley, district clerk, the figures were being discussed by the board for the first time the night and they were available to the media following the boardâ€™s review and discussion.
Hoefer went on to claim the trio pay â€œminimal school property taxâ€ and â€œthe taxpayer funded STAR pays their taxes for them.â€
â€œThese three men have substantial lifetime New York State income tax free income guaranteed by the New York State taxpayer for a minimal property tax burden,â€ Hoefer said.
What it all boils down to is that â€œthree of the people who refused to give tax relief to this community are only minimally subject to the taxes they refuse to reduce,â€ Hoefer said. â€œItâ€™s really easy to inflict taxes that you yourself do not have to pay.â€
None of the three men pay anywhere near their fair share of taxes, Hoefer alleged.
â€œMr. (Peter) Colucci! Would you do me a favor?â€ Board President White interjected, calling on the districtâ€™s business manager. â€œMy assessed value of my home when I lived in the town of Oswego was $120,000. Take the STAR program off of that, which brings me down to, what, 90 (thousand dollars)? Now, figure out what that $22 last year cost me. How much was it? On this minimal tax that I donâ€™t pay.â€
It was about $1,900 the business manager replied.
â€œYou know, Franny, let me give you a little friendly advice. Before you run your mouth like a whippoorwillâ€™s behind, you might wanna go and look at what people are paying,â€ White said. â€œI donâ€™t mind you taking a cheap shot but you ought to at least get the price right. Iâ€™d like to pay what youâ€™re talking about, minimal. But I donâ€™t think $1,900 is minimal.â€
â€œI do. Compared to everybody else,â€ Hoefer retorted. â€œYou donâ€™t pay your fair share.â€
â€I pay my fair share, Franny. And if you donâ€™t like it, too bad!â€ White said.
â€œI donâ€™t like it,â€ Hoefer responded.
â€œThen tough luck,â€ White answered. â€œYou run your mouth and you havenâ€™t got a clue as to what youâ€™re talking about.â€
Then, DeCastro, a retired teacher, entered the verbal fray.
â€œFirst of all, I am sorry you werenâ€™t smart enough to get into the same line of work as I did. As far as my school taxes, city taxes, county taxes what have you, I gave several years of my life, as did (board member) Sam (Tripp),Â in the service of my country,â€ DeCastro said.
â€Good for you,â€ Hoefer replied.
â€œAnd, I have also lived to age 72. There are some privileges that go with that and I am not ashamed of that. And, if you donâ€™t like it â€“ tough,â€ DeCastro continued.
DeCastro said the board should entertain the notion of removing Hoefer based on his voting record on tenure.
â€œHis argument with tenure is not with us. Itâ€™s not with our teachers. He doesnâ€™t belong here. He is using this so he can run a circus and itâ€™s about time we put it to an end,â€ DeCastro told the board.
Hoefer indicated heâ€™d welcome confrontation.
â€œI think that if the ultimate goal for Franny is to take on the commissionerâ€¦,â€ White started.
â€œMy name is Francis Hoefer, Mr. White,â€ Hoefer corrected him. â€œI want some respect out of you for a change.â€
â€Well Franny, let me tell you something. Why donâ€™t you show everybody else some respect, including myself?â€ the board president shot back. â€œThen maybe youâ€™ll get some back.â€
â€œWhen you stop ripping off the taxpayers of this district Iâ€™ll give you all the respect you deserve, my friend,â€ Hoefer said.
â€œTime out a minute!â€ White exclaimed. â€œNo, no, no â€“ I donâ€™t want anybody to leave here thinking weâ€™re cronnies.â€
Tschudy made the motion to begin the process of seeking Hoeferâ€™s removal from the board.
â€œWhether you agree with it our not, as we speak this (tenure) is the law,â€ he pointed out. â€œAnd when we are sworn in to the board, we take an oath to uphold the law.â€
â€œTenure is a disgrace, itâ€™s an abomination, itâ€™s damaging our children,â€ Hoefer said.
â€œTell that to the state education commissioner,â€ DeCastro said.
â€œSomebody has got to stand up and challenge it. Iâ€™m doing it. Thank you for moving it and bringing the issue to the table. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m here, to try to fix this mess,â€ Hoefer said.
White said he didnâ€™t understand Hoeferâ€™s motives, noting he had been removed from the board a few years ago and was now encouraging he same thing.
â€œIf thatâ€™s what youâ€™d like, Iâ€™d be happy to oblige you,â€ White said. â€œIs that what you want?â€
â€This has to be challenged in a court of law,â€ Hoefer said.
â€œWell, youâ€™re going to have to do it, Franny, not us,â€ White replied.
â€œI will not, under any circumstances, approve tenure,â€ Hoefer said. â€œItâ€™s interesting to me that the motion to remove me came up after I criticized three other board members for self service and misconduct.â€
â€œIâ€™m just asking is that what you want? Iâ€™d be happy to do it for you. But I just think itâ€™s stupid,â€ White said.
As the vote was under way, Kathy Allen asked to table the matter to get further information.
Allen, DeCastro, White, Hoefer and Tripp voted in favor of tabling. John Dunsmoor voted no.