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 1st, 2013

Tension Accelerating at Government Center

The ever growing tension and sarcasm amongst Sullivan County legislators was quite evident and visible last week as they met to deal with issues that have been rocking the government center.

To add to all the chaos, town supervisors are now weighing in with an attempt to grab headlines by calling for the abolishment of the legislature and a return to a Board of Supervisors form of government.

Although it sounds logical and cost effective to remove the extra layer of government, town supervisors know very well that it can’t be done and that such a move would be destructive in the long run.

The legislature was created because weighed voting did not give fair representation to all Sullivan County residents. A few town supervisors used to gang up and rule the roost. If ever there was an “ole boys club” it was during the tenure of the Board of Supervisors.

In reality, do supervisors really expect legislators to convene a special charter review panel for such purposes? Legislators didn’t even agree to the one proposed by Jonathan Rouis and his suspicious push to look into a County Executive form of government. Not only was it dead in its tracks, but legislators voted it down without any discussion.

The five who want to replace David Fanslau were successful in their press for a public hearing to change the supermajority rule and obtain outside legal counsel despite vocal objections from Jonathan Rouis, Kathleen LaBuda, and Ira Steingart. Insults and jabs were intense and often made this column seem tame.

Those who want Fanslau to remain county manager argued there was no necessity to change the charter because “they got what they wanted,” and Fanslau will soon be gone. Nonetheless, if the legislature listened to Gene Benson and Cora Edwards, and acted prior to December 31, 2012, there would be no need for a costly settlement.

Steingart shockingly threatened a lawsuit if charter revisions moved forward claiming rules under which he ran would be tainted. What nonsense! Did Steingart really read the charter line by line before deciding to run for office? Legislators make changes all the time.

Rouis insisted it was illegal to change the charter without a commission, but in reality, such committees are appointed by legislators and rarely would a legislator appoint someone who was not in agreement with their viewpoints. Besides these legislators are holding a public hearing.

To add salt to the wound, County Attorney Sam Yasgur said the portion of the local law that amended the charter required a permissive referendum and that did not happen. Yasgur claimed the statute of limitations had since expired and the clause was law. It will be interesting to see what a judge rules if Steingart files his lawsuit.

Surprisingly, no one mentioned why the supermajority clause was created in the first place. One would have thought LaBuda and Rouis would have revealed it was due to the way former County Manager Dan Briggs was fired. It would have been nice if they fessed up, but perhaps they did not want to because Briggs was sitting in the room.

The days ahead will indeed be compelling as the search begins for a new County Manager and the cost to pay Fanslau’s exit is reveled. Also, will Steingart make good on his threat and file a lawsuit?

1 comment to Tension Accelerating at Government Center


    This legislative body reminds me of the time i went to the zoo and saw the monkeys throwing their feces at each other….