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 1st, 2015

Sullivan County Enters 2015

As we enter 2105 the future for Sullivan County looks brighter than it has in years thanks to the approval of Empire Resorts’ “Adelaar” a $1.1 billion compound that will include an 18-story hotel, gaming and entertainment complex called the “Montreign Resort Casino,” and a water park.

This is truly a monumental time in our history and will definitely be a game changer for all of us. The trickle-down effect will be enormous.

Let’s not kid ourselves – it will be several years until we feel the real positive impact resort destinations will have on our county. In the meantime, we still have many problems to deal with.

Foreclosures are still at record highs while economic development and employment prospects remain scarce.

Hopefully the excitement of resort destinations will attract new primary and secondary property owners to Sullivan County that will increase our tax base.

Sadly, we are still amongst the unhealthiest and poorest counties in New York State. During 2014 Public Health Director Nancy McGraw who heads Sullivan County’s Public Health Services embarked on a mission to change that with a well attended Health Summit.

Catskill Regional Medical Center (CRMC) emerged as one of our major success stories of 2014. Gone are the days of bad health care and poor management.

Under the leadership of CEO Dr. Gerard Galarneau along with the hospital’s affiliation with Crystal Run, Orange Regional Medical Center (ORMC), and the Greater Hudson Valley Health System, CRMC has proven that things can get better.

Unfortunately, things are not getting better between members of the Sullivan County Legislature.
Last January, the Sullivan County Legislature held their reorganizational meeting as Democrat Scott Samuelson remained its chairman and Republican Kitty Vetter was selected as the vice chair.

One would think that moving Vetter into the non effective vice chair position was an act of bipartisanship between Democrats and Republicans, but in reality it was furthest from the truth.

As Republican Vetter was appointed Vice Chair, Democrat Ira Steingart was appointed Vice Chairman of the Legislature’s Executive Committee. Never before has a different person been appointed Vice Chair of the Legislature while another Vice Chair of the Executive Committee.

The majority of our legislators ran on a platform of open, honest, and transparent government, but sadly the reverse has been happening at 100 North Street.

Although Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson must be commended for his advocacy of Resort Destinations for Sullivan County, his leadership skills is still much to be desired.

As the Chairman of the Legislature it is his obligation to bring all his colleagues together. All the infighting must cease.

What Samuelson needs to do is bring all nine legislators into a room in a non official meeting, close the doors, and have them scream and shout and air out all their differences and then have them work towards a solution where they can all finally work together for the betterment of Sullivan County.

Our 2015 fiscal year budget that calls for a Property Tax Levy Increase of 2.23% and stays within the New York State Budget Cap, but between County taxes, Town taxes, Village Taxes, and School taxes, one wonders how much blood can be gotten from a stone.

The Department of Health and Family Services continued to make the headlines in 2014, with fraud arrests and internal investigations.
Legislator Cindy Kurpil Gieger who heads the Legislature’s Health and Family Services Committee remained steadfast in her goal to deliver services to those in need and end a revolving door fraud system.

Hopefully, the internal whistleblower investigations between employees at the Department of Health and Family Services are finally over, and Commissioner Randy Parker will be able to do the job he was hired to do.

The findings of outside Counsel investigating Parker was just what I said all along – Nothing but a smoke screen.

Tears flooded Sullivan County in October as we all learned of the untimely passing of our beloved Treasurer Ira Cohen.
In this political and backstabbing County one could always rely on Ira Cohen for being honest and trustworthy. He truly cared about Sullivan County and always believed in doing the right thing for all the people.

The legislature did the right thing in appointing Deputy Treasurer Nancy Buck as our new Treasurer.

One woman who has set her life’s mission to create a facility in Sullivan County to house animals involved in seizure, cruelty, or abandonment along with a program to spray or neuter our strays saw her dream get closer to reality in 2014.

Joanne Gerow who serves as a Constable/Animal Control Officer for many of our municipalities has formed Catskill Animal Rescue, Inc. to address the critical lack of resources and services available in Sullivan County.

Gerow says the ultimate goal is to “combine resources within the municipalities of Sullivan County, local Law Enforcement agencies and County Government (mandated under NYS law to maintain specific services) to Law Enforcement agencies and County Government (mandated under NYS law to maintain specific services) to provide a self- sustaining and all inclusive Animal Care and Control resource for our community.”

Village politics in Monticello and Liberty continued to make headlines in 2104.
In Monticello, former Police Chief Douglas Solomon and County Planner Jill Weyer were elected to the Village Board, as Carmen Rue and Larissa Bennett continued to be outspoken advocated for the residents of Monticello.

And yes – Gordon Jenkins is still the Mayor. It still remains to be seen if his days are numbered and if he will be forced to step down, of if he will serve out his turn until the 2106 elections.

On the bright side, David Sager was hired as Village Manger in Monticello and he has been praised for his job performance.

In a time when members of the Village of Liberty board should be concentrating on such things as delivering municipal services, public safety, economic development, and maintaining taxes at an affordable level, they have found themselves sidelined in what has become a huge chicken controversy.

Front and center is the issue as to whether property owners can be allowed to have chickens on land they own in the Village of Liberty.

In March voters will decide if they want to give incumbent Mayor Dan Ratner another shot or instead elect Trustee Ron Stabak.

The terms of office in the Village of Liberty is now four years and not two, something that was decided on the board and public hearing level and not by a referendum.

Shalom Lamm is still one of the most hated people in Mamakating and the Village of Bloomingburg. People are fearful that he and his partners want to turn the small Sullivan County municipality into another Kiryas Joel. Even though there were charges of election fraud, voters ultimately voted not to dissolve the Village of Bloomingburg.

Illegal drug use and abuse is continuing to plague Sullivan County. Each and every day we read the headlines about drug related crimes and arrests.

The headlines are shocking and often come back to the use of heroin or painkillers. These drugs are being used in epidemic proportions in Sullivan County.

Drug abuse is crossing every socioeconomic barrier and age group. As a society we must all get serious about prevention and treatment. This is not just a mission for our law enforcement agencies to arrest and convict. The problems are far bigger than that.

In 2014 the Fallsburg School District made headlines with revelations that heroin and other drug paraphernalia was found at the Benjamin Cosor Elementary School, and then two parents were arrested for a drug transaction involving painkillers. A teacher’s aide was also arrested for criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Fallsburg Schools Superintendent Ivan Katz took a lot of heat for his handling of the heroin incident. But, Katz put together a successful Community Drug Awareness and Prevention Forum.

The Recovery Center also saw Catholic Charities take control of the organization.

Village of Monticello Judge Josephine Finn who was appointed to the New York State Board of Regents continued her crusade to raise money both public and private for her highly successful DREAM TANK project.

DREAM TANK teaches a core group of high-risk adolescence how to take responsibility while learning and having fun all at the same time. Those who finish the course successfully then become mentors to the next group, and so on and so forth.

The Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) once again took take center stage with news on a Food Hub, awarding tax abatements to casino developers, and appointing three new members to its board.

The Forestburg Playhouse changed hands, and Bethel Woods, The Monticello Motor Club, and the Villa Roma continue to be our shinning spots.

The Liberty Diner will be celebrating their 25th Anniversary in January with a lot of planned celebrations marking the milestone.

Hopefully, 2015 will see construction at the Apollo Mall and the new Health Spa at the former Kutsher’s property.

The Center for Discovery is proceeding with their conversion of the hamlet of Hurleyville. They are constructing a Regional Children’s Assessment Center creating new jobs.

The Town of Fallsburg also took action and changed their zoning to stop the building of tax exempt bungalows. Other Townships must take note.

Public Safety will continue to play an important role in our future. We are very fortunate to have Jamie Kaminski heading the New York State Police, Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff, Monticello Police Chief Robert Mir, Liberty Police Chief Scott Kinne, and Fallsburg Police Chief Simmie Williams protecting us.

Sullivan County legislator Cora Edwards who heads the Public Safety Committee has been committed to ensuring our public safety. Edwards in her mission to combat crime has also been a strong advocate of Neighborhood Watch Programs. She is convinced that the eyes and ears of law abiding citizens goes a long way in helping law enforcement solve, report, and prevent crimes.

Hopefully in 2015 a new jail will finally be built.

We are very fortunate to have Jim Farrell as our District Attorney and all of our hard working members of the Judiciary.

Our firefighters, ambulance workers, members of civic and religious organizations continually go above and beyond their call of duty for us.

My friend advocate Sandra Oxford was elected President of the Sullivan County Chapter of the NAACP, and I am certain she will do a great job uniting everyone.

2015 will see the beginning of the Charter Review Commission that could eventually lead to a dramatic change and overall in our government with the creation the position of County Executive. I am honored to be one of those selected to look into our County Charter – Thank you legislator Gene Benson for the appointment.

On the political front 2015 will be exciting in Sullivan County with the entire Legislature, County Clerk, County Treasurer, all Town Supervisors (except Lumberland), and many Town Council and other positions up for grabs.
Hopefully instead of political rhetoric and partisan politics, there will be an honest discussion of the issues in the upcoming elections.

I pray Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther’s legislation “Paula’s Law,” named after my sister Paula, requiring surveillance cameras be placed outside of state run group homes and day programs to protect our most vulnerable is finally passed in 2015. I will not give up the fight to protect and ensure the safety of the developmentally disabled.

My New Year’s resolution to you is that I will continue roaring about issues because I really do care about Sullivan County. I do not expect you to agree with everything I say or write, but hopefully it creates honest discussion on the issues facing all of us.

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

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.

1 comment to Sullivan County Enters 2015

  • Rose Ann Bush

    Hi Billy,
    Happy New Year. While reading another great, informative article, I could’nt help but notice the following dates (As we enter 2105? continued to make headlines in 2104? serve out his turn until the 2106 elections)? You did mean 2015,2014, and 2016, right? Or is this a test? LOVE YOUR COLUMN…..
    Rose Ann