FARENTHOLD'S LATEST SCEHEMES: one thing after another...


Sissy Farenthold's brief and controversial tenure as President of Wells College (1976-80) resulted in an unexpected legacy when her son George returned to Aurora more than twenty years later. Nominated by a democratic party caucus consisting of three people, he got elected to the Village Board in March 2004. At that time, many in Aurora were unaware of his relationship with current Wells President Lisa Ryerson, whom he married 4 months later. Because his wife serves on the board of Pleasant Rowland's Aurora Foundation LLC and as President of Wells College (Rowland's partner in Aurora development), Trustee Farenthold has had a conflict of interest in the many of the LLC proposals brought before the Village Board during his tenure as Trustee.

Farenthold On-Line, Tagged.com
The secret life of Me-Too Georgie: scroll down and a look at the October 17-18 2008 love-exchange bewteen our notorious Village Trustee and "Kelly," and feel free to share it with the voters of Aurora.

Aurora Village Board Minutes, Citizen - October 15, 2008
The Post Office roof got fixed for a fraction of Farenthold's wildly exaggerated alarmist estimate!  Instead of apologizing to the community, he comes up with a new crack-pot scheme: housing Aurora's historic archives in the home of a new resident in no way connected to village government.  Then, in a blatant attempted abuse of power, he throws a tantrum to advocate passing a law for the sole purpose of silencing the legal free speech of a political opponent.  Read these minutes!

Why I resigned from the Aurora Village Board
, Citizen - September 20, 2008
Former Trustee Ken Zabriskie explains how the ongoing "unchecked corruption" promoted by Farenthold and Wells College in village politics prompted his resignation.

Aurora Board Member Quits
, Citizen - September 19, 2008
Farenthold's secretive, underhanded dealings with Wells College intentionally kept village officials in the dark, cut out of decisions impacting the future of our village.   Read this  account of the 9/17/08 meeting of the Village Board of Trustees, in which Ken Zabriskie asks, "The village board should have had the opportunity to determine if it [a sheriff substation] was needed, necessary, or welcome. ...Why even have a village board?"

Aurora Deputy Mayor Quits in Protest, Post-Standard - September 19, 2008

"Ken Zabriskie, Aurora's three-term deputy mayor and village trustee, abruptly resigned Wednesday night in a flap over the opening of a Cayuga County Sheriff's Office substation in the village.  The resignation was not over the substation, Zabriskie said, but the way the matter was handled.  Representatives of Wells College and the Aurora Inn offered the Sheriff's Office free space in Aurora Place, which is owned by the college and is next to the post office.... The seeds of the dispute were sowed six months ago. Sheriff David S. Gould said the college and the inn contacted him complaining about vandalism and offering to provide office space, a computer, phone service and all utilities for a substation...  Zabriskie said he did not like the village board being cut out of the planning. To protest, he resigned.  "I just thought that if private entities can pull these sort of deals and bring these other governmental agencies in without the local government having any knowledge, then why do you need a local government?"

Letter from County Sheriff Gould, Citizen - dated August 22, 2008
Farenthold deceived the village in his bogus "survey" of its residents, and this letter proves it. His September 2008 survey asked Aurorans if they wanted a sheriff substation in the village, when he knew full well that a secret deal had already been reached -- without the review and approval of the full Village Board.

Aurora PO: Fix big or fix little?, Post-Standard - June 1, 2008
Still more posturing for the press, as though anyone on the Village Board listens to him! What alternate reality does Farenthold inhabit, that he thinks a Village Center -- with offices for our Clerk, Treasurer, and Historian, plus a Cayuga County Sheriff substation -- can fit into the existing 1,400 square foot Post Office?

Governor: Trucks to stay on highways, Citizen - May 13, 2008
Watch this astonishing video of Farenthold slithering into action during press conference by NYS officials. He sneaks in behind the Governor after the speeches begin, positions himself uninvited in speakers line-up, grabs at Senator Schummer and Governor Paterson repeatedly, shouts chat-back to draw attention to himself, then wangles the microphone after the "last" speaker finished. Farenthold, with a year or two on this project, desperatly scrambled to snatch the spotlight away from those grass-roots organizers who gave 15-20 years in this effort and deserve all the credit.

Contested races get good turnouts, Citizen - March 19, 2008
But not quite good enough! Farenthold won another term on the Village Board by just four votes, after spending three days standing in front of the Aurora Post Office harassing everyone who walked by, pleading for votes.

Candidates Readying for Elections, Citizen - March 3, 2008
Village Board Candidate George Farenthold proposes a complete make-over of Aurora's Village center, with no input whatsoever from the community stake holders. Sound familiar? His seat is being challenged - get out and vote!

Another Attempt to Force Adoption of the Pleasant P.O. Plan Citizen - June / July, 2007
In May 2007, Wells College and Pleasant Rowland pulled out of their project to move our Post Office, before entering the USPS design negotiation process or the required reviews for handicapped access and historic preservation. Farenthold staged a scene at the June Village Board meeting, apparently trying to blame the USPS and thwart any resonable resolution to the problem. Fortunately, he was absent from the July Village Board meeting, so sensible steps were taken. Readers' comments on Farenthold's behavior from the Citizen website include:
janedoe wrote on Jun 21, 2007 11:46 AM: "more empty hot air from the self-serving Farenthold. The recent Citizen online poll showed a 3 to 1 preference for keeping the Aurora PO as is. Rowland imposed an ego-driven, asinine deadline on this deal,not the USPS. Rowland also was loath to accommodate USPS requirements. George and his community-wrecking wife want THEIR way only. They don't care one bit about the wishes of anyone else. Many in Aurora eagerly look forward to the day they depart. "
Congressman enters P.O. Controversy, - March 16, 2007
Writing to USPS Real Estate Manager Paul Senk, our new Congressman Michael Arcuri demonstrates a total misunderstanding of the situation and puts his foot far into his mouth -- all, it seems, thanks to wildly inaccurate information provided to him by George Farenthold. Read his letter and see for yourself. (And be sure to scroll down to see Arcrui's change of heart once he gets information from other Aurora residents!)

Fearon returns as chairman, Citizen - January 3, 2007
Among the many comments on this article the is the one copied below, responding to George Farenthold attempt (defeated 11-2) to get himself appointed as Chair of the Cayuga County Legislature:
Not Surprised by a Snake wrote on January 03, 2007 3:38 PM: "Mr Fearon may have issues of his own to answer for, but look who tried to slither into his seat in a blatant back-door manuver. Given the smarmy Mr. Farenthold's naked ambition and thirst for political influence, it should come as no surprise. Still, I am bemused by this need in someone so unqualifed to be dealt into the game. But Mr Farnenthold lacks both the appeal and the smarts to get himself elected to such a postion (he does, howeve, suffer from no shortage of chutzpah) so he tried to seize the seat in whatever underhanded manner that he could. Deplorable."
Advocates of the Year, The Citizen - December 5, 2006
The previous spring, residents contacted the Auburn service agency "Options for Independence" pleading for help in confronting the handicapped unfriendly plans for the proposed new parking lot and post office. Well, the folks from "Options" called the Village Office offering their help, and Trustee Farenthold stepped in and turned their offer of assistance away from community concerns about the Post Office, and to his own personal p.r. advantage. Comments from our Guest Book include:
"Diverted the attention of Options for Independence quite handily, didnt he?Tickled to see people (need to) use handicap spots: sicko. Marking spaces more clearly doesnt shorten distance they have to go once out of their vehicles. Sleight-of-hands magicians (tricksters) call that redirection."

"George is a consummate politician. He has turned our allies into his and against us with his slick presentation of skewed half-truths and bs. If we complain, we now will look bad. God, he makes me sick."
Resolution Proposal, Village Board Meeting - October 18, 2006
Posted to our guestbook: "Farenthold tried to get a Resolution of Thanks from the People of Aurora passed at the Village Board meeting to be given to Rowland at Zabriskies party next night. Some VB members objected! So Mayor Tom proposed one just from VB, not *entire* village. More objections; the resolution was not signed." Additional details on this failed resolution will be posted as they become available...

Aurora Paves the Way to Wireless, Citizen - September 7, 2006
In an editorial essay, Village Trustee George Farenthold sets forth his priorities for Aurora. First, we must have wireless high-speed internet access throughout the village at whatever cost. Then, and only then, he will consider "classic government chores" such as taking care of sidewalks, trash, community safety, public facilities, etc. Bizarre! See the comments after the article.

Aurora May Go Wireless, Citizen - August 17, 2006
Farenthold pursues his vision for a high-tech binge in spite of resistance from the rest of the Aurora Village Board. Will he find a way to spend taxpayer money for services they don't want provided (or administered) by the village government? Be sure to read the comments below the article.

Aurora Considers Villagewide Internet, Citizen - June 20, 2006
In his latest public relations gambit, George Farenthold apparently called in the press for his announcement that the village government should provide community wireless internet access; some comments excerpted from the newspaper's website:
"...Do not get wireless is my vote. but then LETS SPENT $$$$ in Aurora and screw over the taxpayer. The village does not need to get in to this now. I would never trust it. Sad to say. - Rowland/village and the internet forget it. You 2 George. Or will this push you harder? "

"...even if it were partially funded by the Feds (which is still taxpayer money), I don't like the idea of the people behind this move pulling the strings of such a critically important communications channel -- I would not feel comfortable with Village-run wireless and will stick with my dial-up."

"What if, by chance, this 'idea' actually went through? Would those of us who don't want this 'utility' still have to pay for it? If it's as reliabile a service as the other village services, forget it."

"... it would be nothing for an unethical sys admin to get into people's mail. I know I have had to talk to the sys admin at my Internet Service Provider and that they know my password without my telling it to them -- we've worked together to solve problems that way a few times. But I TRUST them not to look at my mail -- in that case, the volume is so much I am sure they don't have time -- or interest -- to be reading everyone's mail. But, in Aurora, with its limited user base and with certain parties I most definitely would NOT trust not to read the mail, particularly of certain individuals..."

"If wireless was put in Aurora. And I say if. Would they whoever ran it (the village/or even PR). Could they not look at every email, internet site anyone that uses it has been to? But it would be the reading of emails on the server that would not sit right with me. (sounds like BUSH)..."

"Careful what you wish for (when you say "Let Rowland buy the internet service, George, just like she has bought you.") -- you might just get it. Then Pleasant would control one of people's more critical communication channels in addition to nearly all the businesses in town. Bad enough she is getting to control the Post Office space and the Village Offices. (But, heck, why not -- she already controls most of the Village OfficeRs!)"

"Let Rowland buy the internet service, George, just like she has bought you. "

"...Really, this has all the earmarks of election-year pie-in-the-sky naivite -- a boondoggle just waiting to inflict itself on this small village. If you had anyone who REALLY knew about technology advising you, you'd be putting on the brakes and taking a step back to consider all the ramifications..."

"Municipal internet access as a 'an added incentive for people to visit Aurora and its businesses' and enjoy free wireless service? Should residents pay for this service through their taxes in order to enhance Rowland's floundering tourist traps? I think not. "

The New "Official" Aurora Web Site, Spring 2006
Without prior Board approval, George Farenthold hired Pleasant acolyte and employee Jacci Farlow for an $885 start-up fee to design an official municipal website for the village, expcept -- surprise! -- it turned out to be one big advertisement for Rowland's commercial development. The site was up and running, and even announced in the press before the other Trustees, Mayor, or Village Clerk even saw it! A few comments from our Guest Book and Feedback Forum:
In response to the taxpayers complaint regarding jackie's commercialism on the towns official website I have one question. Is anyone surprised? This town has more collusion than the teamsters unions of the 50s.

There is so much wrong with this whole deal that one hardly knows where to start. The outrage that the link from our municipal site directs email not to the Clerk's Office, but to Farlow! The absurdity that our very limited tax dollars are used here primarily to promote private businesses, many of them not even in the village. (E.g., a whole page of photos is devoted to Pleasant's MacKenzie Childs, Ltd, and venues in Ithaca are listed as "local" entertainment.) The injustice of forcing the "digital divide" upon Aurora, creating a Village site that can be viewed only with pricey high-speed internet access. The fact that this is a municipal web site, but it reads like very bad Chamber of Commerce hype or illiterate Tourist Board prose. The stupidity of employing a non-resident non-professional to create this mess, when we have qualified professionals in the village...A simple set-up could have been created to be maintained routinely by the Village Office; instead, everything that goes up on this site will be filtered through Farlow and Farenthold.

Aurora Village Trustee Outlines His Post Office Project Support
August 11, 2005, Syracuse Post-Standard, Cayuga Neighbors, p. 26

By George Farenthold

[Commentary in italics. As a result of this article by Farenthold, the Mayor had a letter sent by the village attorney to all elected and appointed Aurora officials, telling them not to express public opinions about issues coming before their boards.]

I, for one, still believe in the maxim that the first real business of leadership is to be positive. As we say in my native Texas, �any old jackass can kick down a barn, but it will always take a master, a journeyman carpenter to build a great one.�

I have been a supporter of the new post office project since it was introduced more than a year ago and I�m also on the public record (the only trustee to date) as for the multifaceted project. Here is why I�m still for the new post office project. [He is announcing his position before the completion of governmental reviews required to serve the public best interest.]

Firstly, our existing post office (our retrofitted 1950s two bay firehouse) is a liability in several major respects. [The building and the land on which it stands are valuable assets owned by the people of Aurora.]

1. Aurora, as you probably know, is a village of some considerable historic value.

The whole village is on the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately, except for its location (smack in the middle of our commercial district), our present post office and old garage and fire house has literally no historical value -- absolutely none. In my opinion, calling it an eyesore is being kind. Especially because it blocks the view to both our village park and our view of Cayuga Lake at its widest point.

Its cinderblock construction, flat roof and a brick facade remind me of only how underfunded and unappreciated the volunteer fire service once was. Yet it sits strategically central, right in the middle of our beautifully restored and reconstructed downtown commercial area. [Nothing has been restored. Restoration means to put things back to a previous historic condition. The historic center of Aurora has been destroyed and replaced by a fantasy.]

2. The flat roof has already failed several times in several places, and it has been conservatively estimated will likely cost more than $30,000 to repair. This would be a waste of village funds when other priorities go underfunded. [No bids have been submitted to the Village; this figure is not verified.]

3. The existing rental contract (original 30 year, expiring in �07) with our federal government / United States Postal Service at $7,600 per year [it's higher] won�t even cover the expense of re-roofing this very tired old garage if and when it fails. Actually, the only real questions left are when will it fail and then what will we do about it. [He is the Trustee charged with building maintenance; he has refused pursue repairs to protect public proerty because he personally wants to see the building come down.]

In addition, because the facility is so woefully outdated -- no loading dock, not Americans With Disabilities Act compliance [sic], antiquated heating/cooling, a pedestrian and traffic hazard -- if this weren�t reason enough there is no guarantee that the USPS will even renew a lease given this two-door garage�s obvious inadequacy. [This is total nonsense. See the facts here.]

It makes simply makes no financial sense to me or I believe the majority of its users, to try to update or somehow modernize and retrofit this �old firehouse garage� for anything.

4. More serious than any of the above is that without adequate, or let alone a superior facility, the USPS could easily decide to dump Aurora as a site for a post office, a huge potential loss for all the residents of our area. The Base Closing and Realignment Commissions decision regarding Griffiss Air Force Base is a reminder to all of us that dumping problem facilities is a very real possibility and without some good reasons to stay the USPS could very well do the same to Aurora. [This, too, is nonsense; see 8/15/05 letter from the USPS here.]

5. I believe the much better use of the property will be a trade with Wells College (perhaps for even more park space or lake front or both) for additional village green space, more direct access to our village park as planned and opening up the socalled viewshed from Cherry Avenue and Main Street with the added benefit of increased parking for all our downtown patrons and visitors. [More nonsense; see the factshere.]

Including the market, postal, library, Fargo, Aurora Inn and Opera House and other retail customers, this purpose serves all of our residents and visitors.

6. The part that is really important to me, especially because of the renewal and post office survival issues, is that the people who work at the Aurora Post Office, the Aurora postal employees are all supportive of the new plan and move to the renovated historic space next door.

I cite this fact because while I am obviously concerned with my own residents and my own constituents needs, those postal customers generally spend less than three minutes a day in our post office and so while like all politicians I�d like to be re-elected , I�m at the same time not oblivious to needs of the people who work eight hours a day in that �tired old garage.�

They work for all of us and deserve a clean, modern, comfortable place to work. They too deserve more consideration in this project. They too are public servants and their five- to six- day-a-week work needs should be weighed against the residents and postal patrons daily or regular visits. [Even more nonsense. Rowland's proposed replacement post office does not meet USPS reuirement; see the facts here.]

7. Finally, more private (non-Wells, or Aurora Foundation) retail space will be coming available soon. Doug Wood�s renovation of the Warren House (commercial) on the corner of Main Street and Cherry Avenue is almost complete.

In addition, at least three private homes and several college properties still are available for rent or purchase.

There also will be (regardless of what the USPS decides to do) more retail rental space available in the newly renovated Heary (new post office) building as well. Medical professionals are already leasing there, others too likely will be able to soon once the final decision by the USPS has been made.

As many know, there is a fairly well orchestrated, and (in my opinion) mean spirited, disinformation campaign regarding the Aurora Foundation and the good work done here in the village on behalf of Wells College.

At the core of this group is the old Aurora Coalition that tried to block the rehabilitation of the Aurora Inn and lost.

Some of the newest mudslingers who have joined the above are simply people who counted themselves as friends of the former leasee and because they disagreed with the non-renewal of his seven-year lease have now taken the position of anti-anything if it belongs to Wells College and/or is being managed for the college by the Aurora Foundation. [He is becoming incoherent now.]

Unfortunately, some of these people have resorted to acts of obstruction of storefronts, vandalism, sign defacing and other illegal acts to register their displeasure. That won�t intimidate me as a public official any more than the disinformation campaign about �a corporate takeover of Aurora.� That is simply ridiculous on its face. [Now he's delusional: no point in commenting.]

Here are some facts: None of these �local citizens� stepped forward to save 240 jobs when MacKenzie-Childs was in bankruptcy and was about to be closed, sold, or moved overseas, but Pleasant Rowland did. [And she's been firing emploees ever since.] None of these �locals� has contributed much to either support financially, much less helped save Wells College over the last 30 years. Frankly, none of these �locals� have grown or met a payroll, contributed to an employees health-insurance plan or done much of anything but throw slush and mud at the three largest property taxpayers in our village -- Pleasant Rowland, the Aurora Foundation and Wells College. [This is arrogant beyond belief. Many residents angry about Rowland's LLC have given their professional lives and personal fortunes to the support of Wells College.]

It is my personal and public view, that the Aurora Foundation and Wells College have done exactly what Pleasant Rowland and Lisa Ryerson said they would do in March 2001: Renovate several Wells College properties.

In doing so they have attempted to make Wells College more financially fit, with all building and operational liabilities being Pleasant Rowland�s and all possible future profits going to Wells College. [Sounds like a money-laundering operation, doesn't it? ]

People can make up their own minds about whether they like how Aurora looks or feels, but I know one thing for certain and for me it trumps all the noise, hidden agendas, and disinformation.

For me it is very simple. It is about jobs.

Aurora is now a net importer of jobs and workers. [Not true: many employees were fired this fall and winter.]We now have good jobs at living wages, with real benefits including workers compensation, health insurance and regardless of what has been written and read, we have real local employment for real local people and even many of our neighbors. Something very rare these days in Cayuga County, as George Fearon, our Cayuga County legislator will certainly attest.

The upshot of it all for me is that both the residents of Aurora and Cayuga County now have modern attractive facilities drawing boaters, tourists, patrons of all kinds, and their economic resources to Aurora and we now seem to have Wells College poised for long-term success.

We have even become a destination wedding location. [Is that what Aurora aspires to become?]

Some folks may not appreciate it, but the single biggest reason for all of this success is the unique partnership between Wells College and the Aurora Foundation. Boil that down to the relationship between two busy, smart and industrious Wells women. Lisa Marsh Ryerson, Class of �81, and Pleasant Thiel Rowland, Class of �62. [He's talking about his wife! Why doesn't he identify himself as the husband of Rowland's business partner?]

Their partnership is reminiscent of two really important, (literally legendary) historical friends from Central New York in the 19th century, Henry Wells and Col. Edwin Morgan.


READ PUBLISHED RESPONSES by Christopher MacCormick and others.

Rowland Should Ease Up in Aurora, Citizen Editorial - April 26, 2005
Farenthold was the only Village Board member to support Rowland's take-over of the Fargo Bar and Grill in the face of strong village-wide opposition.
The Fargo bar and restaurant has been run the past seven years by a man named Jim Orman, who moved back to Aurora so he could own and operate the business full-time. He thought his future retirement was secured after signing a seven-year lease with Wells College, the owner of the building.

The Aurora Foundation is an investors group that has spent millions of dollars renovating and helping Wells College purchase many properties in the village. With Orman's approval, they invested in the renovation of the Fargo, as well. Orman was happy with the changes that the foundation made in his business. Some of his suggestions were also used to improve the Fargo.

So when Orman heard the news that his lease would not be renewed, he must of felt side-swiped. After he built the business, the college plans to run the Fargo with all the same employees, while Orman is muscled out. Makes you wonder how long these employees will really be kept? Probably until the new business owners learn how to keep the business profitable.

Then off the workers go to the unemployment office.

There have been petitions, as well as village board members, who have protested to Wells College - and rightfully so. Some of these board members chose to see past their own self interest and decided to do what was right. They stuck their necks out for a citizen that they felt was wronged.

There was only one, George Farenthold, who wouldn't sign the letter addressing the foundation. It asked that the decision against Orman be reassessed. I wonder why George wouldn't sign it?

Well, the foundation's leader stated that the decision was not made by them but by Well's College.

Stay with me! Remember the guy who wouldn't sign the letter ... George Farenthold? He's an Aurora village board member and is married to the president of Wells College, Lisa Marsh Ryerson. George said he wouldn't sign the letter because he doesn't think it's the village's place to tell the college how to run it's properties.

I'm going to take a chance here. Do you think his wife, Lisa, would listen to him anyway? Looks like it's the other way around.

Do you mean to tell me that academia has entered the hated and despised world of business? Has the liberal champion of the little people, the downtrodden and the disadvantaged, sold out its so-called high road principles because there's a buck or two to be made? You bet!

This was a private business that leased a building from the college. The same building has been leased for the past 45 years but because this business was profitable, it's been sniffed out, targeted and taken over. You don't have to be an academic scholar to figure this out.

All is not Wells in Aurora.

Page last updated October 27, 2008

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