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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January 8th, 2010

Budget vote can be the start of coalition building

The opportunity is there for legislature chairman Jonathan Rouis to finally put an end to the political caucus process that has been so damaging to Sullivan County. The coalition building he did to get the budget approved was pure evidence that there is no need for backroom partisan politics to exist.

The vote this past Tuesday attempting to oust Rouis as chairman by his fellow Democrats is clear cut evidence of the behind the scenes back stabbing dirty politics that goes on in Sullivan County government.

Rouis over the past several months has begun to show some major leadership qualities, he has come to understand the need to work with everyone, and to separate himself from backroom self centered politicians. Several of his fellow Democratic colleagues see things differently and are upset with him.

The breaking point for some of them was their fury that Rouis restored cuts slated for the District Attorney’s Office in this year’s budget.

Much more on the attempted coup next week, but for now, Rouis must immediately put an end to political caucuses. They prevent government from being open and honest. In our case these political caucus practices aren’t even inclusive of the political parties they represent.

Legislators Leni Binder, Jodi Goodman, Elwin Wood, and Ron Hiatt, must be applauded for joining with Rouis to get the budget approved, and restoring some of the initial cutbacks.

Thank you for understanding it would have been detrimental to every resident in Sullivan County if the Assistant DA’s position and investigator were not restored to the District Attorney’s Office.

Thank you to those legislators who voted for the budget and kept those jobs and services slated for elimination from being eliminated.

On the Democratic side Kathleen LaBuda and Frank Armstrong voted no, while on the Republican side it was Alan Sorensen and David Sager.

It was truly sad reading some of the excuses for voting no.

Armstrong said he wanted to look more into government waste and required more discussion on the budget and the future expenditures. I could not agree more with him. But, do we have to remind Armstrong that he is chairman of the Finance Committee and it was his obligation to do just that? Perhaps, Armstrong has not adequately done his job as Finance Chairman, and needs to be head another committee.

Sager said felt he was offered limited input on the budget, and although he may have been just in that statement, the opportunity is finally there for the doors of government to be opened.

Based on the leadership vote Tuesday, I am certain we can expect to see the maverick Sager work more closely with Rouis for the benefit of Sullivan County.

Sorensen said he voted no because of the user fees, but he should have been glad that at the very least the new waste fees were changed thanks to his and Sager’s protest. Sorensen needs to become more of a politician.

The best excuse came from LaBuda who said that she wanted all departments to share the pain. She said she was upset the Division of Public Works suffered cutbacks while other departments did not, and was concerned about road safety.

Perhaps the time has come for someone else to chair DPW and she be moved elsewhere, so we can get a different feel of the needs of the department, while LaBuda gets more of an understanding of Sullivan County’s needs.

Although LaBuda is right our roads must be safe, she should equally acknowledge the need for the right staffing at the District Attorney’s and Sheriff’s Office to protect us from criminals.

The bottom line is simple. Our legislators have the ultimate responsibility in running our government and making decisions that affect our lives. Our County Manager is there solely to implement their programs and priorities.

We have too many problems in Sullivan County for self centered politicians. It is the obligation of our legislators to come up with a plan to stop further tax increases, and if they do not start now, it will be the same story next year.

Democrats and Republicans must be included in all dimensions of our governmental process. Those elected officials with differing viewpoints must no longer be shielded from getting information, or be excluded from the inner workings of Sullivan County government.

As we begin the New Year the legislature will have the opportunity to start with a clean slate. But, that can only happen if there is strength, conviction, and compassion to make a difference and work together for Sullivan County.

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