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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March 11th, 2011

Rouis gets his turn to speak out

Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis has always acted logically and realistically in his approach to Sullivan County government. He has been honest and sincere in discussing our many problems and our need to attract diverse forms of economic development to our region.


I asked Rouis to comment on criticism the legislature has been receiving over our budget crisis.


Rouis told me, “I admit to feeling discouraged by the realities we’re facing. Gas prices have surged ahead in recent weeks, and home heating prices have risen sharply. Properties in foreclosure for unpaid property taxes are at unprecedented levels. We in government have been put in the unenviable situation of trying to balance budgets with sharp drops in revenues and increased demands on services. Our residents have weighed in loudly that increasing property taxes is just unacceptable.”


He rightfully reminds us that it is very easy to criticize. “One thing that seems to have remained status quo is the ability for those who are not in policy making positions, including our County Treasurer, to “Monday morning quarterback” and grandstand for their own self interest. Contrary to the vicious and divisive attacks leveled by the Treasurer and others, this Legislature is acting in the best interest of the people of Sullivan County. While my colleagues and I would love to be able to be on the sidelines and critique the decisions made by Cohen and others after the fact, we’ve just been too busy lately with the business of leading our County forward through this recession.”


Every municipality is facing state mandates. Rouis correctly points out “they are not a myth or a scapegoat – they make up a significant portion of budgets, and consequently the tax levy. Cutting spending is great political rhetoric, but notice, very few are pointing to specific services and positions, preferring to leave that unenviable task to someone else. For example, is it better to reduce the number of men and women who patrol our streets and keep our families safe, do we cut our DPW and let our roads and bridges become impassable and unsafe, or perhaps we should cut non-mandated services to the homebound and shut-ins?”It’s a seemingly impossible paradigm, but it’s our new reality.”


Rouis adds, “I can only say our County Legislators, take this and the other tough questions very seriously, and any political grandstanding that says otherwise is inflammatory and just plain wrong.”


Although I know it is not his style, I wish Rouis would become more forceful and outspoken. It is time for him to shake things up and think “out of the mundane” and stop relying on the same “ole boys.”


Legislators David Sager and Ron Hiatt accurately pointed this out when they heard the names of the new revolving loan fund board. “At what point do we bring fresh names into the mix so it’s not the good ole’ boys club of Sullivan County,” Sager said. While Hiatt added, “It’s a lot of the same names we’ve seen before and before and before. When you get appointed to some of these committees, you’re kind of like a committeeman for life.”


Next week Rouis responds to Treasurer Ira Cohen’s specific attacks on the landfill, jail, and SCCC.


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