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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December 12th, 2013

Turmoil Plagues Villages

Two Sullivan County Village governments are increasingly becoming embroiled in turmoil and controversy – For the sake of all the residents in these municipalities there needs to be some swift resolution.

In the Village of Bloomingburg a motion was filed this week in State Supreme Court alleging that Mayor Mark Berentsen violated municipal law in approving a Hassidic housing development.

In the Village of Monticello there is an ongoing effort to remove Mayor Gordon Jenkins as Village Manager and its chief elected official.

Bloomingburg residents are scared a new development consisting of 396 homes will overtake the municipality’s population and turn it into a religious sect community such as Kiryas Joel.

Lawsuit documents allege that a week after the Mayor and his parents bought land from the developer, he and fellow board members voted to accept the environmental review of the project.

According to published reports in The Times Herald Record, The lawsuit alleges that Berentsen violated “conflicts-of-interest sections” of municipal law by approving the development agreement which gave the land he bought right of entry to the water/sewer system that was being constructed by the developer for use in the new housing development.

Municipal law cited in the legal document claims that: “No municipal officer shall solicit any gift or accept or receive any gift having a value of $75 or more … under which it could reasonably be inferred that the gift was intended to influence him in the performance of his official duties or was intended as a reward for any official action.”

According to The Times Herald Record, “The papers charge Berentsen with “Improper Acquisition of Property Located in the Village” since he and his wife, Susan, the village clerk, bought property in Bloomingburg at a tax sale in 2011. The petition cites a court decision stating “there is a conflict of interest when a town board member acquired property in his town at a county tax sale.”

Village Trustee Joe Gotthardt submitted his resignation from the board last month, and now comes word that trustee Charles Griswold has also resigned. The meeting scheduled for Thursday night was canceled.

In other developments, the Bloomingburg Planning Board voted down a proposed all girls private Hassidic school on Thursday night. This school is also associated with the housing development.
In the Village of Monticello, Jenkins survived a vote last week by the village board to keep him as manager. But, despite his recent DWI arrest, the question still remains if Jenkins is capable of managing the Village of Monticello and meeting his fiduciary responsibilities as Mayor.

Monticello is economically unsound and is on the brink of bankruptcy. Besides Jenkins’ personal scandals, there is one controversy after another such as the demolition of the old village courthouse.

Word now comes that two bids to remove the debris left at the former courthouse are $186,000 and $96,000. Where will the village come up with funds to pay for this?

If political pundits are correct, Jenkins will be gone as manager after the March elections. Two board seats are up for election, and four major political parties are expected to back the same candidates – Former village police Chief Doug Solomon and acting county Planning Commissioner Jill Weyer. Jenkins is expected to run two candidates on his “G Man” line.

The proven means to change government is by using the power of the ballot box. Unfortunately, people pay little attention to Village elections and voter turnout is generally small. Perhaps that will now change.

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself on 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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