My name is Hans Hass. I’m a member of the Sufi Muslim community center in Sidney Center that has been in the news lately. Most likely some of you have seen some things in the news or on T.V. If you haven’t, you can click on the links below. Unfortunately, Sidney has gotten a lot of negative publicity nationally from this, and it seems to be going international. None of us wanted this to become such a big deal. I am writing to you as businesspeople in Sidney to ask for your help in laying this matter to rest.
I was at the last Sidney Town meeting three weeks ago asking Town Supervisor McCarthy and the other Supervisors why they were doing this. I was shocked to find out that not one of the Supervisors had any real knowledge of the basic facts of the cemetery, the legal steps that we had gone through or even of the Town’s own zoning law specifically permitting a cemetery on at least 15 acres (we have 50). No one had talked to Dale Downin, the Town Code Enforcement with whom we consulted when we first set up the cemetery in 2005 and who gave us written approval. I ran into Dale the other day and he told me the first he ever heard of their actions was when the Oneonta Daily Star article came out. I’ve also been told that Mr. McCarthy and the Town Clerk are not even on speaking terms. I was kept being told to speak to the Town Attorney Joseph Ermeti who won’t respond to anyone for the last few weeks, including our attorneys. One Supervisor at the meeting, Eric Wilson, took my phone number and assured me that he would contact the Town Attorney and get back to me as to what was really going on. He called the next day to say Ermeti was out of the office that day and then never called back. Obviously our town government is not working.
Mr. McCarthy, despite having been shown the documents and the law by myself and several reporters, continues to maintain that we are “illegally burying bodies” and seems intent on pursuing the matter legally. He has been sending out mass emails accusing us of all kinds of bogus things and spreading rumors about us. Several prominent attorneys and civil rights groups have contacted us offering their services for free and suggested we have an excellent civil rights case against the town.
All we want is for Mr. McCarthy and the Town Board to admit that they made a mistake and leave this behind us. If Mr. McCarthy cannot do this, he must resign or be forced to resign for the good of the town. I was hoping one of you could talk to him.