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 18th, 2013

Fanslau Needs an Amicable Exit

It must be very difficult being County Manager David Fanslau knowing that a majority of his bosses do not want him there, yet he must report to work every day to do job he was hired to do. Whether we like Fanslau or not, I do not think anyone of us would like to be in his shoes.

With all legislators coming to the realization that Fanslau’s days are numbered, they must sit down and work out an amicable strategy for him to exit.

At the same time, we need some very serious questions answered, including the clause in Fanslau’s expired agreement that supposedly gives him 75 percent of his $144,000 salary until December 2014 whether he has an agreement or not. County Attorney Sam Yasgur must publically explain how this was written into Fanslau’s expired agreement. Several lawyers I spoke with told me they had grave concerns if such a clause was legal let alone ethical.

Former legislator Leni Binder told me there was never any discussion on the clause when they hired Fanslau. She said legislators believed there was no need to read the agreement line by line because they trusted county interests were being protected by those who wrote it.

Legislator Cora Edwards read Fanslau’s contract line by line months ago. When she raised questions about several clauses in it she maintains she was told “it would be taken care of.” Chairman Scott Samuelson instead swept Fanslau’s expiring agreement under the rug despite the fact he knew there was growing opposition to renewing it.

Binder disagrees with legislators who insist Fanslau cannot be let go because our charter states a supermajority of six is needed to remove him with or without a contract. She contended the supermajority clause expired when Fanslau’s contract ran out.

The former “Legislady” said the supermajority was added to the charter because of the way former County Manager Dan Briggs was fired and the costs associated with his agreement. “Either way it seems to me whoever applies for the Sullivan County manager job will do so with the same stigma as someone who applies for a job in the Village of Monticello.”

Last week the five who want to oust Fanslau decided to vote on a resolution and set a public hearing to remove the supermajority language from the charter. There is nothing wrong with voting on such a resolution if it were done in an ethical manner. The resolution was voted on at a Sustainability Policy Committee meeting chaired by Cindy Gieger. What does removing the supermajority language from the charter have to do with sustainability? Nothing that’s what!

Gieger told me “Each committee has a scope of subject matter however the chair of each committee can determine what goes through their committee.” This reasoning is pure hogwash! Governments are set up with certain protocols and procedures.

Sources claim the resolution was done this way because it was feared Samuelson would not give it traction. Even if that were true, it was negligent and an outright abuse of the system to bring it up at a sustainability meeting.

Furthermore, there is no need to change the County Charter. Binder has it right, Fanslau no longer has an agreement therefore the supermajority clause is moot. What is needed is a respectable and amenable exit strategy for David Fanslau. There is no way he can continue to manage under this environment.

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