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 21st, 2013

It Is Time for Samuelson to Begin to Lead

Over the years our legislature has hired numerous firms to provide economic development analysis and planning related to the creation of a comprehensive plan. Principals from the latest firm hired by the county, Wadley-Donovan, recently discussed their initial findings, and what they had to say should surprise no one – We are an economically depressed county that desperately needs change.

Initial findings, none of which were a surprise to me, include the need to create and train a defined county economic development leadership structure to diversify our economy to more closely match the rest of the nation. They also propose the creation of a business incubator, more commercial and industrial sites, and a marketing message.

They see a need to improve our infrastructure broadband and cell service in rural areas, and adequate water and sewer service to meet business needs.

As suggested in previous columns, there is a need to develop a farmers’ market and crafts center. Tourism must include agriculture, culture and arts, and downtown related economic development.

Wadley-Donovan envisions an agency to interface with the Hasidic. They realize Hasidim play a major role in the county but are largely isolated and broader communication is needed.

Although the core findings of Wadley-Donovan and their initial recommendations are commendable, we will go nowhere unless there is leadership coming from 100 North Street in Monticello.

As chairman of our legislature, it is time Scott Samuelson understands his role and steps up to the plate and gives direction. Initially, Samuelson must bring legislators to the table and heal wounds from the past several months.

As chairman, Samuelson must be open and honest with his peers and get them to put differences aside so they can work together towards finding solutions of our endless problems.

Samuelson’s elitist inner circle consisting of legislators Jonathan Rouis, Ira Steingart, and Kathleen LaBuda must cease. Gene Benson, Cora Edwards, Kitty Vetter, Cindy Gieger, and Alan Sorenson must be brought into the conversation and provided information as a team.

Our economy continues to plummet. Unemployment is at record highs, and we cannot continue to rely only on the Concord project or the Center for Discovery’s, Ideal Snacks, or the Monticello Motor Club’s (all under tax abatements) expansions to repair our economy.

All Legislators must be included and involved in the work of his Economic Development advisory committee. Advice, input, and direction are essential.

Samuelson must understand the need to think out of the box. It is time for him to start the ball rolling by placing into motion bold innovative measures. Atypical approaches must be explored as a means to reduce costs and maintain services. We have been negligent in that arena.

For example, former County Manager Jonathan Drapkin and his Patterns for Progress have explored ways to promote cooperation and regionalism amongst governments in the Hudson Valley. One brilliant suggestion several years ago was the collaboration of county jails to form a regionalized jail system. If such a plan were implemented it could have saved a lot of money, but it fell on deaf ears from our leadership.

In the months ahead Wadley-Donovan will be presenting us with countless suggestions to help guide our path for a successful future, but it will be useless if no one listens and does nothing.

The simple truth is that Samuelson need not wait for a report to step up to the plate and lead – It is his job to do so right now.

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