Supervisor: Not double-dipping

Alex Jamieson says Walter Popailo, former parks head, is now running for town board

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  • Supervisor Alex Jamieson, second from left, at Frozen Ropes in Chester last September, as the town considered buying the facility for its parks and recreation department, directed at the time by Walter Popailo, far right foreground. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

By Frances Ruth Harris

— The relationship between Alex Jamieson, Chester town supervisor, and Walter Popailo, former parks director, has gone sour.

Jamieson says his former colleague has been spreading untruths about him, including that he’s “double dipping” by working full time at Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Chester. Jamieson said he does work at Lowe’s but only part-time, on weekends and some nights, for a total of about 20 to 25 hours a week.

He said elected officials aren’t required to keep definite hours and that he works beyond what is required anyway.

Jamieson said Popailo has been spreading the rumor as he circulates a petition to run for town board among Republicans in Chester.

Popailo did not return several requests for comment. On Thursday, June 13, as this paper goes to press, the Board of Elections was planning to announce which candidates have successfully garnered enough signatures to run in local races this November.

Jamieson and the town board appointed Popailo director of parks and recreation in June 2014, as part of a controversial decision to abolish the volunteer recreation commission. Popailo was paid $41,000 for part-time work, then promoted to full-time director in January 2016, with a raise to $55,000, even though he had not yet taken his civil service test. Popailo took the test in late October 2016. Jamieson said he passed.

Then in April, the town board dismissed Popailo. Members would not give a reason except to say that Popailo was still on probation and that the board decided not to make him permanent.

Popailo was terminated after video reportedly taken of him at the NYS Association of Towns Convention, held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square in February, was posted on Facebook. Vincent Finizia, chair of the town’s zoning board of appeals, of which Popailo is a member, told the town board at its April 12 meeting that he’d received “numerous phone calls” and was “stopped in the middle of the street” about a video posted for a time on the town’s Facebook page. The matter is under investigation by the town attorney.

Jamieson said if Popailo thinks he can get elected by saying bad things about him, he’ll learn that he has to have a platform to succeed. 

“He has to talk about more than negative talk about me,” Jamieson said.

Mollie Jamieson, one of Alex Jamieson’s daughters, posted the following comment under a recent Chronicle story about the new senior citizen center:

“Guest — Yes, you’re right. My dad does work at Lowes. I am going to college this upcoming September and my sister is also in college so he has taken it upon himself to work extra hard for us and take on a second job so that we don’t have outstanding student loans. My dad works ENDLESS hours at the town hall and is there EVERY single day. Before hours and after hours. Even on weekends. My mom also works two jobs. That’s what kind family we are. We are hard workers and stick together, we’ve learned that from my dad. He gives 100 percent for everything and everyone he loves, including this town. Thank you for giving me the chance to respond. It’s important people know the truth!”

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