On June 4th 2012 the Albany Times Union ran an article which was critical of County Clerks and particularly of Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner, issuing special license plates with her personal initials on them.
John Faso, Republican candidate for governor in 2006 and the holder of an "HT" plate, said he can't recall why he requested one. "I don't remember. Maybe I was changing cars at the time and just had to get a new plate," Faso said.
Prior to getting an "HT" plate, Faso said he had a "DT" plate, which carry the initials of former clerk Don Tkacy, the only other clerk known locally to have issued a series with his initials.
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"I've heard stories where someone got pulled over, had a low-number county-clerk plate and the police let them go," Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola said.Also from the article:
A few county clerks were baffled when they were told about the initialed plates by a reporter.
"I'm pretty shocked that she did that," Rensselaer County's (Clerk) Merola said. "I would never think of putting 'FM' on the plates for 'Frank Merola.' I can't conceive of calling up the state department and asking them to put in the plates 'JW,'" Woodward said.Columbia County Democrats Chair Cyndy Hall and 1st Vice-Chair Victor Mendolia were also quoted in the article.
"These plates straddle the line too closely," said Victor Mendolia, first vice chair of the Columbia County Democratic Committee. "Plates bearing the initials of elected officials are even more troubling."
"Even the slightest appearance of impropriety is concerning," county Democratic Committee Chair Cyndy Hall said of the "HT" plates. "This should not be the practice of any county clerk anywhere in the state, no matter what political party they belong to."
Then on June 10th 2012 the Times Union ran an editorial titled A Plate of Privilege which starts out with:
Our opinion: Special license plates can announce local pride, and local connections. However petty, it’s corruption, right under our noses.and ends with:
This is all, in a word, unseemly. It’s an affront to ideals of public service and honest government. The state should end all this not-so-subtle pre-emptive ticket fixing. Just as public officials shouldn’t be carving out unwarranted privileges for themselves, they shouldn’t be dishing them out to their friends and relatives, one plate at a time.
We completely agree!!!
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Read the full Times Union Editorial A Plate of Privilege
See the original post from 2010 when the Columbia County Democrats brought this issue to light the first time. Do Special Plates Equal Special Privileges?