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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February 19th, 2010

Thank you for challenging voter registrations

A big Thank you is owed to David Sager for having the guts and fortitude to organize a successful challenge to the voter registration drive of an eight week summer community in Bethel.

Although it would have been preferred if all objections were removed, it is still uplifting the Board of Elections agreed Voters for Election Integrity, and eliminated 151 of the 155 registrations challenged.

Board of Elections Commissioners Faith Kaplan and Rodney Gaebel along with their hardworking staff must be commended for doing an outstanding job throughout the investigation, as well as County Attorney Sam Yasgur and Sheriff Michael Schiff.

The Board of Elections correctly determined that a summer rental at a bungalow colony is far different from a second home residency.

The issue of whether a bungalow only capable of being occupied during summer months can qualify as a legal residence for purposes of voting has finally been decided. This type of residency has never been addressed before and the ruling will most certainly be far reaching.

The catalyst of the registration drive was due to a dispute between the United Talmudical Academy located on the site of the former Lapidus Bungalow Colony and the Town of Bethel over construction of a synagogue.

Residents of the Hassidic Bungalow Colony angry with town officials decided they wanted to use the influential power of the ballot box by voting as a block. There is nothing wrong with that if the group consists of legitimate residents eligible to vote; in this case it did not.

Sager was disturbed the challenge was manipulated into “a false discussion of anti-Semitism, when the discussion should clearly have been on the need for all members of a society to follow the same set of rules and laws.”

He said he was forced to take action because it became apparent to him the Bethel Town Board had “no intention of addressing the issue.”

Visibly incensed, Sager alleged some elected officials were playing into the hands of the Hassidim. “What became clear throughout this was that several political figures at both the town and county levels conspired to use these recent votes to gain favor and skew election results. I find their actions vile and disturbing and I hope residents come to understand the politics involved and express their own frustration at the polls in the future.”

The outspoken legislator also said he was “perplexed” four registrants were kept on the books. “Based upon the lengthy legal determination prepared by Mr. Yasgur, Mrs. Kaplan’s assertions are without merit and completely contradictory to the law.” But, Sager went on to call the Board of Elections ultimate determinations “a great day for the town of Bethel, Sullivan County and the State of New York.”

A big thank you must also go out to Jonathan Hyman for all his hard work with VEI and remaining steadfast throughout the challenge. Hyman, one of Sullivan County’s rising political stars, knew there would have been far reaching consequences if the registrations were not contested.
County Treasurer Ira Cohen another driving force behind Sager’s group said he got involved because of the residency issue. “The voter registration was done to pressure town officials so they would back off its strict enforcement of the law.  In and of itself as distasteful as that was, the law does not grant or deny people’s right to vote based upon motive.”

Cohen went on to note, “Their only contact with Bethel is that they are lessees of a seasonal structure for a few weeks in the summer. As a life-long resident of Sullivan County; as a public official and as a lawyer, I am offended by those that try to misinterpret, manipulate and misapply the law to their own advantage.”
Cohen blasted those who said the challenge was based on anti Semitism. “Nothing can be further from the truth!  They took cheap shots at us, because it was easy for them to do so, and, I suspect, because they had no rational, legal defense to our challenge.”

The never lost for words Treasurer and former County Attorney concluded, “In the end, truth and justice have won this round.  Hopefully, the decision will deter further disingenuous conduct from any person or group who seeks to use our sacred right to vote as a political threat.” Amen!

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