Thursday, May 01, 2008


Only days ago, DPW Superintendent Steve Gorsline received an envelope with an abundance of paper folded in it. His first thoughts were, oh no, this cant be good.
But to his amazement, it was.

There has been trouble brewing within the City of Kingston members of CSEA, their leadership and the department heads. Because of incidents in the recent past, the animosity has escalated to a palpable point and very few think they see an easy way out.

Back to the envelope: The papers were a petition signed by almost 100 members of CSEA from the DPW and City Hall. There is little I can say to this, so I will just Post the actual petition…
To: Danny Donohue; Pres CSEA
143 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12210

Dear Mr Donohue;

As members, we write to you regarding the City of Kingston CSEA. Over the last several months, it has become increasingly obvious that out Union President, Bart Robbins and Vice President, Troy Ashdown are acting from a personal agenda which is harmful to the rank and file.

The Superintendent of Public Works, Steve Gorsline has held this position for more than 10 years. His entire career is rooted in the DPW where he rose from laborer status to his current position over a period of more than 34 years. He has been accessible to the public and the employees and until recently, neither his ability nor his sense of fairness been questioned. He was Vice President of CSEA for 9 years, representing the employees in good faith and did his job well. To sum it up, he knows his job, and is conscientious about his responsibilities.

The animosity Mr. Robbins and Mr. Ashdown initially showed toward the current administration has been prevalent for quite some time. When the candidate they chose (with very little input from our membership) lost the election in November 2007, that attitude shifted to the DPW Superintendent where their prejudice escalated. They have launched an ongoing criticism of him and his operationof the department through the local media without thorough research of their information and minimal consultation with us in the union.

Many of us feel their self-serving vindictive attitude and their over all approach is detrimental to us. While they are publicly airing their perceived complaints of Mr. Gorsline, they are demeaning the opinion that the public has of our members who are hard working and dedicated to their jobs. It seems that, if you agree with them, they will fight for you. If your problem does not fit their agenda, it often goes without adequate response and/or resolution.

We approach you for advice and possible assistance. We want our Union to live up to its reputation. As long as Mr. Robbins and Mr. Ashdown continue to head this Union, reputation suffers in the public eye and within our ranks. We know that new leadership can turn that around, but what can we do prior to the next scheduled union election?

We urgently await your reply and we thank you.


Well, there it is. I know for every witness to an incident there is a different recollection of the same event. Im sure Giz has buried himself in work, the Mayor is hiding from reporters and the employees have their own stories to tell, but where will this go?

Someone asked me to get in the mix on this harassment issue. Posting this petition is as far as I will go, and I don’t think opinions from us Bloggers will help any. Let the courts decide, until then…get back to work!


Anonymous said...


People signed that because they were intimidated and threatened. It's a disgrace.

Mike Madsen said...

I heard from several sources, that the crew at DWP were eager to sign it and they stood in line.

But these are just sources. You might know what theyre thinking personally.

I am just putting it out there.
Thanks for stopping in.

Anonymous said...

Many of Bart's and Troy's concerns are valid; i.e., safety training, harassment, etc. But their message gets lost when they continually run to Paul Kirby with every complaint. What happens in the DPW, should stay in the DPW. If Bart and Troy cared as much about their coworkers as they did seeing their names in the paper, then maybe their colleagues would understand and respect their position. Instead, it appears that everything else is secondary to publicity. BTW, the Freeman said that people outside the DPW signed the petition - those names ought to be struck off the petition. If Gorsline is not their boss, then they have no idea of the working conditions that DPW employees endure. Having someone sign who works in a nicy, cushy office in City Hall - air-conditioned in the summer, heated in the winter - is asinine. City Hall employees are not out freezing their asses off in the winter or risking their health or life when they go to work each day. As it is, Bart's and Troy's coworkers should be as outraged as they are about the lack of safety training - some day, it could be them who gets cancer from the chemicals, injured, or worse yet killed, on the job.

Anonymous said...


Be fair. If this had to do with allegations being put forth associated with other forms of discrimination, abuse or intimidation you "would" probably hop on board...

Why not NOW?

as a woman, I'll be the second (if not third or forth or fifth) person to ask you to do so...

I don't know the details, but all sides of the issue CERTAINLY DESERVE airtime and exposure!

and the courts... they work on behalf of the people...

Don't they?

Anonymous said...

The fish stinks from the head....
Words to live by
Mismanagement at its finest and all of Kingston should be proud of thier elected officals and the way the conduct themselves and they way they lead thier troops!
What a shame....

Mike Madsen said...

If you read the posting, you'll see I merely published what the Freeman was referring to today.

I do advocate for equal rights and denounce sexual or physical harassment in the workplace.

When an Alderman or civilian starts to take sides before the multiple parties have their say, and neither I or the rest of the public bore witness to the alleged acts, we only mess things up.

The public convicted that Lacross team long before they were found not guilty last year. Remember?

For anyone to suggest that we aldermen should make our decisions on the guilt of employees before the system gets started is foolish.

I will let other Bloggers and letter writers make those premature judgements. I wouldnt look at this differently if it were racial slurs or homophobia.

I want the system to have a chance to do what it's supposed to. Why dont you?

Anonymous said...

Mike, I applaud you for not injecting another opinion into this. Were you there? No. Should you speak about a legal issue you didnt witness? No. Should anyone? No.

Why would one Blog reader push for you to join the chorus of armchair lawyers? You and the other 8 should keep your mouths shut.

Anonymous said...


Asking you to look into something is not the same as asking you to make a legal judgment / determination on the matter...

And I think that my request is more in line with what one might request of a City Alderman than the request of the latter poster who suggested that you and the other eight keep your 'mouths [ahem] shut'".

Anonymous said...


i work for DPW and i was not forsed to sign it i was glad to sign it maybe some of those people should and com and ask the works instead of listeing to other certain bloggers i will not metion his name but our union leaders are pulling his strings may be he should talk to us the rank and file instead of talking to our union leaders and a very few others they work with

Anonymous said...

Mike (and/or other interested parties...)

Since you either "missed" my last post or chose not to post it, you will find it over on UCP's blog...

Don't buy the "promises," Mike.

They just might be a ticket to "Hel*" [or at least as empty and useless as the "indulgences" (for a fee) of the "good" (eh?) old days...]

"Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the shadow..."

[Lines from "The Hollow Men", T.S. Eliot; 1925]

"Taxation without representation is tyranny."

[In the "Dictionary of American Biography"; Volume 14; Camden.]

Anonymous said...

What is really amazing is that the Union Leadership has uncovered the betrayals of Management and that readers here, and perhaps even you Mike, are blinded by the petition.

If it weren't for unions issues like safety and discrimination would still be swept under a blind-eye-carpet.

I applaud union leadership for bringing these issues to the forefront.

Lastly, if the union members have a beef with their leadership [Robins and Ashdown in particular] they ought to vote them out at their next election, right???

Anonymous said...

First unions save working peoples asses. As people we all make mistakes. If you don't have a strong union you might as well kiss you ass good-by. What has happened in the DPW is from the leadership not the man that are on the trucks. The leaders don't belong to the CSEA. Troy's is doing the right thing by uncover it so we can have better working conditions. Why the man fight safty is beyond me. Do they think about there families if something happens to them. For the man to be so selfes not to think about the people that love them is unbelieveable. People think Strong Union, keeps people safty first.