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 10th, 2013

Rouis’ Awakening Cannot Be A Diversion

Legislator Jonathan Rouis has had an epiphany he wants Sullivan County to change its form of government and elect a County Executive.

When Rouis was chairman of the Legislature he fought long and hard with every excuse imaginable to prevent a referendum from being placed on the ballot to allow voters to decide on the issue.

It is no secret that I have been a vocal advocate for a County Executive for years. Back in 2009, the independent committee that looked into it was my brainchild. Sean Rieber and members of the bipartisan committee did an outstanding job in researching it to its fullest, and concluded a referendum was the way to go.

Rouis knows very well there is no need for a special Charter Review Commission because the legislature will ultimately decide if it is placed on the ballot. Why waste our time?

All Rouis, or any other legislator for that matter, need do is present a simple resolution that states, “The voters of Sullivan County shall vote by special amendment Election Day November 5, 2013 the following: “Sullivan County shall amend its charter to create the full time position of an elected County Executive taking office January 2015. The term of office will be for four years. The appointed position of County Manager will be eliminated once the County Executive takes charge.” Then the public debate can begin.

What concerns me is that Rouis’ move is actually a ploy and diversion to circumvent the real issues concerning the current breakdown of Sullivan County’s government, along with some serious questions being asked by a majority of our legislators.
Rouis claims legislators “have become bogged down with managing staff and personal agendas, and are unable to focus the best of their efforts of policies that will move our county forward economically.” Who is he kidding?

Legislators have every right to ask questions and obtain answers. They want accountability and full disclosure. As former chairman, Rouis refused to allow the preliminary budget be released earlier. As head of the Finance Committee, Rouis should have seen that questions concerning line items were answered.

Some political observers believe Rouis’ move is actually a smokescreen effort to head off the majority legislators who want to oust County Manager David Fanslau.

We need a full explanation pertaining to a clause in Fanslau’s expired agreement that gives him 75 percent of his annual salary until December 31, 2014 whether or not he remains manager or has an agreement.

How could County Attorney Sam Yasgur and Rouis as former chairman allow such a clause to even exist? Are they going to blame it all on previous chairman Christopher Cunningham who was later appointed Social Services Commissioner?

A majority of our current legislators want to hire outside council to protect our interests because Yasgur claims he represents both the legislature and county manager.

Legislators are also questioning the outside audit RFP and Rouis’ supposed ties and campaign contributions from the firm listed on a resolution at December’s legislative meeting that was not the choice of the RFP committee. That resolution was tabled for further discussion after these issues were raised.

Furthermore, it appears that Rouis’ County Executive awakening is giving us the sense that current chairman Scott Samuelson is not capable of leading as well as he thinks he did.

Nonetheless, Rouis’ call for an elected County Executive is a welcomed move.

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