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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November 13th, 2009

The time has come to elect a county executive

The elections are over and all eyes will now be on Sullivan County’s massive budget deficit. In all probability taxes will go up, services will be cut, and municipal employees will be fired. How Sullivan County taxpayers will be able to pay for this round of budget woes is beyond me.

We are a county that is becoming more and more populated with people in need of social services in order to survive. Our poverty level is increasingly on the rise, and employment opportunities are few and far in between. College graduates have no reason to return here.

We can no longer blame our closed resort hotels for our economic anguish, or use County Manager David Fanslau as the scapegoat.

Fanslau is not the problem; the problem is the way government in Sullivan County is run. We are filled with layers upon layers of government with little or no real leadership.

Sadly, Fanslau reports to a part time legislature filled with its own political agenda. Even County Treasurer Ira Cohen’s talents are not utilized the way it should be.

Personally, I am very impressed Chairman Jonathan Rouis, and other members of the legislature. The simple truth is they have other jobs and it makes it very difficult for them to govern.

Sullivan County elects a full-time District Attorney, Sheriff, Treasurer, and County Clerk. When it comes for voters to elect an official who is in charge of our entire legislative body there is no position available.

The time has come for us to create such a position and elect a person in charge of our government. We need a fulltime County Executive who reports to the people.

The opportunity was there two years ago for the Charter Review Commission to recommend an amendment to our charter to let us decide if we want to create the position, but the former legislature stopped that from happening. The legislature still has the power to do this at anytime, but they refuse.

Therefore, there must be a grassroots campaign for us to get such an amendment on the ballot changing our charter to include the elected position of County Executive.

A County Executive position would not cost taxpayers additional revenue, because in essence the position of County Manager would be eliminated, and the Deputy County Manager and all the upper level staff would now report to him or her.

I discussed this issue with all four leaders of our political parties, Democrat Steve Wilkinson, Republican Dick Coombe, Conservative Bob Hoose, and Independence Tammi Chaboty, and they all seemed to agree with me that the electorate should decide if a County Executive position should be created. I am urging them to sit down and meet to discuss such an effort, and perhaps they could be the catalyst for such a voter drive.

I am well aware critics will argue that a County Executive would be elected through a popularity contest, and not based on qualifications or ability to get things done. To that argument, I say bunk.

Sullivan County voters are very smart and they have proven time and time again they will vote for a person based on experience and qualifications.

Creating the position of County Executive would not be a vote of no confidence for Fanslau either, because he could run for the position, and present us with a valid argument why we should elect him.

Government officials can blame the recession all they want on our budget turmoil. We all know in reality our problems began long before the recent decline in the economy.

We lack direction. We are missing the one person who could get County, Town and Village governments to actually work together, and perhaps consolidate services while coming up with a master plan to stimulate our economy.

If anything, the debate for a County Executive must begin once and for all.

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