Concerns about ‘missing mayor’ and stop work orders plague South Blooming Grove

South Blooming Grove residents say Mayor George Kalaj has been missing from his duties as an elected official for two months.

Blaise Gomez

Jan 27, 2023, 10:34 PM

Updated 482 days ago


South Blooming Grove residents say Mayor George Kalaj has been missing from his duties as an elected official for two months.
News 12 headed to Village Hall Friday to find out where Kalaj is, following multiple complaints. News 12's Blaise Gomez was met by Assistant Mayor Joel Stern, who was recording with his cellphone as News 12 entered the building. 
“Mayor Kalaj is actually out in the village, taking care of business and doesn’t have time for your nonsense and BS,” said Stern. “You’re not a professional. You’re not a news reporter. You may be some tabloid but not even that.” 
Despite Stern’s opinions about News 12, residents are asking for help after they say Kalaj has been a no-show during the last four online work sessions since November of last year. 
“The last time Mayor Kalaj was at a board meeting was Nov. 14 and now it’s the end of January. I’m concerned,” said Sue Anne Vogelsberg. 
News 12 emailed Kalaj on Tuesday, but he hasn’t replied. News 12 stopped by his home along Forth Worth Place that he previously told News 12 he's renting. 
Kalaj sold the property and 21 acres for $4.6 million before his reelection last March. 
News 12 didn’t see any sign of Kalaj but did find an active construction site with several trucks coming and going from the property with dozens of trailers on it. 
Back at Village Hall, News 12 asked Stern about the controversial Clovewood housing project on Clove Road that allegedly remains under construction despite six stop-work orders issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation from May to November 2002. 
Sen. James Skoufis held a news conference about the site on Thursday, calling on the state to enforce multiple violations.
“We are dealing with unscrupulous developers in this case,” said Skoufis. “Bad actors in this case who have decided to just flaunt those denials and move forward, nevertheless.”
Village officials seemed to deflect from questions by accusing News 12 of being antisemitic. 
“You’re nobody, you’re a fake,” said Stern. 
An unidentified man at Village Hall, who appeared to be an official, eventually said that the owners of the property are in compliance and following directives by the DEC. 
Stern followed News 12 in a marked village vehicle throughout the village and to the site, where workers immediately said to leave, closed the gates and blocked the view of construction from the road with trucks. 
News 12 has reached out to the DEC for additional information and is waiting to hear back. We still do not know where the mayor of the village is or when he’s expected to return. 
“At the next board meeting, he might or might not be in attendance depending on his availability in his busy schedule,” said Stern. 

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