By DAVID HULSE
GLEN SPEY, NY — Appointees in political jobs are often replaced when administrations change, but a recent change has left bad feelings at the Lumberland Town Hall.
Christina Shablovsky was employed as assistant to former Supervisor Nadia Rajsz. Shablovsky was replaced by Heidi Spanos when Jenny Mellan became supervisor earlier this month.
Shablovsky said she was not surprised at the change, only that she had not been told of it before coming to work on January 4, and then being watched by a constable as she cleared her desk.
Mellan denied that the constable was there to keep an eye on Shablovsky. Mellan said she felt it was Rajsz’s place to give her assistant notice of the change. Mellan had provided a letter, which had been left on Shablovsky’s desk.
The incident prompted a sharp exchange during public comment at the town board’s January 13 meeting, between Mellan and resident Caroline Akt. Akt charged nepotism in Mellan’s appointment of Spanos, who is Councilman Leigh Sherman’s daughter. “It affects the integrity of the town,” Akt said.
Mellan responded that “I appointed the person I wanted,” and reminded Akt that her husband, Councilman James Akt, had repeatedly voted for his wife’s re-appointments to the zoning board of appeals (ZBA).
Akt argued that the ZBA is not a paid position and Mellan retorted that employees, paid or not, are all subject to town ethics rules.
As the exchange continued, Ann Steimle, president of the Lumberland Fire Department, broke in and called for an end to the talk of nepotism. “Without it, we wouldn’t have half the people we have involved in the community. We need our best people involved in these jobs. Let it rest,” she said.
That exchange was followed by another resident’s query as to why two uniformed constables attended the board’s workshop meeting.
“If you want to know,” Mellan began, “I didn’t feel safe. It’s a personnel matter and I’m not going to go into it.”
Patrick Cahill, the town’s chief administrative constable, sometimes wears a uniform to the board meetings. He later said that the second constable was also there on another personnel matter.
Mellan later said that there had been no physical or spoken threat made. “It was something I felt about the atmosphere at the office,” she said.
It was a rough inaugural meeting for the new supervisor, as Mellan’s voice was affected by strep throat, which forced her to delegate some of the reading of announcements.