Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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July 10th, 2009

LaBuda and Sager must learn how to play nice in the sandbox

Campaign seasons are known as a time for political rhetoric, but once elected, differences must be put aside and officials must work together for the betterment of their constituents.

We really need not to look at Albany when it comes to elected officials behaving badly.

Case in point is the Sullivan County legislature and the often hostile relationship between legislators Kathleen LaBuda and David Sager.

Sager is known for his outspokenness and often off the cuff remarks when dealing with Sullivan County business. He along with fellow legislator Alan Sorensen is a nonconformist looking to dramatically change the way our government is run. They want to open up the process.

On the other hand, LaBuda is notorious for not being inclusive to those who disagree with her point of view. She is regarded as someone who supports conducting county business in political caucuses prior to open board meetings.

It should not surprise anyone to see her butt heads with someone like Sager. Both have very strong personalities, and are outspoken individuals.

Those in attendance at a recent meeting of the legislature told me the tension between LaBuda and Sager was so visible one could cut their mutual resentment for one another with a knife. Putting issues aside, the hostility between them will only hurt us the taxpayers of Sullivan County.

This friction must stop. We are in difficult economic times, and everyone must learn how to work together and play nicely in the sandbox.

Sager and Sorensen have been demanding accountability, they want the legislature to be inclusive. But, to someone like LaBuda, who likes things done her way, her tolerance level is running thin seeing her freshmen colleagues continually nitpick the way Democrats conduct business.

Some people in the know say the animosity began when LaBuda asked Sager and Sorensen to leave an impromptu Executive Session of the legislature prior to them being sworn into office. Sager at the time felt it was the wrong thing to do because they were soon going to be seated on the legislature.

Sager may at times come across brass, he was recently lambasted for an email he sent stating that County Manager David Fanslau was “caught with his zipper down.”

Personally, I like his “In Your Face” no nonsense style, even though I often disagree with some of his positions. Unlike Sager, I happen to be impressed with County Manager David Fanslau, Chairman Jonathan Rouis, and legislative aide Alexis Eggleton.

Sager reminds me of a fired up Bella Abzug who used to shake up Congress with her bold off the cuff remarks.

He sees himself as someone who was elected to do a job. He wants political caucuses removed from the legislature, and I tend to agree with him.

These types of political gatherings are useless and can only lead to the outlandish events occurring right now in Albany. I know for a fact Democratic County Chairman Steve Wilkinson and Republican County Chairman John LiGreci along with partisan Town Supervisors are not consulted or asked for input on the business the legislature conducts. These closed door political meetings are unnecessary.

Members of the legislature will not be up for reelection until two years from now. In the meantime there are some serious issues the legislature must decide on. This type of uncalled for behavior diverts from such important issues as our financial crises, the construction of a new jail, the landfill, and so many other important governmental affairs.

Perhaps LaBuda and Sager should turn to Leni Binder for some help and advice, time and time again she does what she feels is right for Sullivan County residents and will rarely allow party politics or personalities to play a role in her decision making.

As a senior member of the legislature, LaBuda should warmly open her arms and embrace Sager and Sorensen to the governmental process even though they are members of a different political party.

When it comes to local political and governmental affairs, we should strive to all be on the same page. Elected officials are there for one reason and that is to do what is best for the constituents they serve.

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