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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June 5th, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: Potosek Reprimands Gieger – She Comes Back Swinging – Ethics Charges Filed

Sullivan County legislators are elected by the people of Sullivan County and they are accountable to all of us. The County Manager is hired by the legislature to run our County government.

Lately there has been debate if legislators have a right to discuss the business of our County and obtain information relating to our government with heads of departments, or if everything must go through the County Manager.

All legislators chair different committees and department heads are supposed to come before those committees to discuss issues relating to our government – so no matter what – legislators must be involved in our government. But – to what extent?

The Charter Review Commission has been researching this matter as it investigates and recommends changes to our charter that includes if we want to change our form of government to an elected County Executive instead of a County Manager.

Also at issue is if the Charter over the years has lost its original intent and has given too much control to the County Manager.

Let’s just say it is human nature, but no matter whom the County Manager is – that person knows that if they want to keep their job – they better please the majority. Thus some legislators are treated differently than others and have more access.

Several weeks ago I obtained information and documentation that was not – either marked personal or confidential – where County Manager Josh Potosek without even asking to meet and discuss the matter with a Sullivan County Legislator decided instead to write a letter to and reprimand and scold.

I decided under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to obtain “all written correspondence (including emails, documents, letters) between County Manager Josh Potosek and any elected Sullivan County legislator or Sullivan County employee dated/sent/emailed/received March 25, 2015, March 26, 2015, and March 27, 2015,” and “any written correspondence (including emails, documents, letters) between any Sullivan County legislator or Sullivan County Employee and County Manager Josh Potosek dated/sent/emailed/received April 2, 2015, April 3, 2015, and April 6, 2015.”
I purposely wrote my FOIL to include a broad spectrum to see if any documents would be released by the County.

As expected, last week I received an email from Michelle Huck, the Sullivan County Manager’s Executive Assistant stating, “Please be advised that the records that you request are intra-agency materials and therefore your request is hereby denied pursuant to Public Officers Law § 87 (2)(g).”

On Thursday County Attorney Samuel Yasgur denied my appeal for the documents.

None the less, I have the documents I was seeking, and I am releasing them here for everyone to see and read, and to allow you to draw your own conclusions. Please keep in mind that these documents were not marked Personal or Confidential or Confidential Personnel Matter.

The documents relate to an exchange between County Manager Josh Potosek and Sullivan County Legislator Cindy Kurpil Gieger who heads the Legislature’s Health and Family Services Committee stating that Gieger had two separate interactions with two County employees, Deputy Public Health Director Nancy McGraw, and Director of Purchasing Kathy Jones, and that the interaction was “hostile and threatening”

County Manager Josh Potosek Letter:

In the letter dated, March 26, 2015, Potosek claimed that he received communication from McGraw, dated February 19, 2015, and the letter details “two separate conversations” that took place on February 19, 2015.

Potosek wrote, “Nancy stated that she “felt very uncomfortable being approached by the Chair of the Health and Family Services Committee like this in an accusatory and hostile matter, and quite frankly feel as if I have been threatened”

Potosek tells Gieger in the letter, “Nancy does not want to be subject to a similar conversation in the future. She has requested that future inquiries of her and her department be communicated through my office.”

He further writes to Gieger, “The second letter I received is from Kathy Jones dated March 24, 2015. The letter details a conversation that took place on March 19, 2015. Kathy felt that you acted inappropriately, in that you were “intimidating, arrogant, condescending, and threatening.” She has requested that future inquiries of her and her department be communicated through my office.”

Instead of requesting to meet with Gieger to discuss the matter and obtain her side of the story, Potosek writes, “The County is responsible to ensure that employees are afforded a safe and non-threatening work environment. Further behavior above will not be tolerated. I am constrained to ask that you avoid future interaction with Nancy and Kathy, and that from this point forward all future informational requests of staff be routed through my office.”

Legislator Cindy Gieger Responds:

Legislator Cindy Gieger in a response to Potosek dated April 3, 2015 wrote, “I am in receipt of a letter from you dated March 26, 2015 in which you state you are in receipt of letters from two county employees making accusations against me of hostile and threatening behavior which are unsubstantiated and false.”

Gieger tells Potosek, “In order to carry out my duties, as a county Legislator and as Chair of the Health and Family Services Committee, I have had numerous conversations with both employees throughout my tenure as Legislator which were always to obtain necessary information in regard to county business.”

“On or around the dates referenced in your letter, my conversation with these two employees was in response to recent events of county business. One conversation occurred in response to information provided by the employee herself to my colleagues referring to social media and recent events. I mentioned that I, as a Legislator, had received inquiries from a constituent regarding social media postings that the employee had previously referenced. The brief conversation ended with the employee inviting me to “sit down and talk.”

Gieger claimed, “The other conversation was with the employee responsible for handling county contracts. I asked to review the process of competitive bidding prior to the next meeting where numerous costly contracts were to be approved. I inquired about a recent state report received by some department heads regarding Third Party Contractual Services from another county in which the state recommended necessary policies be set by that county Legislature. I inquired as to whether the Legislature needed to review county policy here in Sullivan County in regard to contracts and if so that I wanted to be sure that I carried forth my duties as a Legislator. I also asked which of the many contracts the Legislature was being asked to approve that day, had been put out for competitive bidding. On both occasions the exchanges were in my capacity as County Legislator and were neither hostile nor threatening.

“ Below is an email I sent to one of these employees within days of our conversation:

“Subject: Question
K—-, In review of the agenda list from this past Thursday I see the contract cover memo for some contracts under ‘Efforts to find less costly alternative” where it says …Requested RFP 2013,2 014, and 2015. Could you please clarify what that means? I assume it means you requested of the department to request for bid for the last three years but it was not followed through? How often would it be recommended to put these contracts ex. contract for Occupations out for RFP? Thank you.
Legislator Cindy Kurpil Gieger”

When, after a few days, I did not receive a reply, I resent the email with the message”

“Hi K—-, Please see below request. Thank you.”

Gieger added, “I think you will have to agree that the tone of these emails is appropriate. It is not hostile, threatening, or accusatory. My personal interactions were of a similar nature. Perhaps it was the subject matter and not the tone of the conversation that, as you state in your letter, made these two individuals uncomfortable.”

“As a Legislator with powers and duties granted by the County Charter section A2-3 to make appropriations of tax dollars and authorize contracts it is important I have the ability to inquire and gain knowledge necessary to come to a full understanding of processes and policies. Also the County Charter specific to section A3-3 states the County Manager shall not curtail, diminish, or transfer the power and authority of any elected County official. In your letter you state that I, as Legislator, am to “avoid future interaction” with the department head within the Division of which I am the Chairperson and also to the county employee who is responsible for procuring contracts. I am concerned that as County Manager you would state in writing “further behavior as described above will not be tolerated” without getting all the facts and without hearing both sides of a story. You accepted at face value accusations made against me without even a conversation to hear what I might have to say. I feel comments made in your letter appear to be an attempt to diminish my ability to carry out my due diligence as an elected official and representative of the people of Sullivan County.”

Gieger concluded, “As you are aware, this is an election year. The unparalleled reforms including addressing fraud, waste, and abuse of Medicaid dollars has challenged the status quo with resulted in resistance to change. However, I have a responsibility as an elected official to continue to fact find, ask questions, and work to the best of my ability to represent the taxpayers and residents of Sullivan County. I ask that you join me in conversation to assist in accomplishing that goal.”

Ethics Charges Filed

But, it all did not end there, in what appears to be an act of collusion at the very least, both McGraw and Jones filed ethics charges against Gieger on the same date, forcing the legislator Gieger to hire personal counsel to represent herself in these ethics charges.

While several insiders and elected officials were laughing behind the scenes about Gieger’s reaction to these charges, Gieger took the allegations seriously because of her pristine reputation.

Gieger answered the allegations in a professional detailed legal brief.

Whether people agree with Cindy Gieger’s politics, diplomacy, or stand on an issue – her intent has always been to do what she believes is in the best interests for the residents and taxpayers of Sullivan County.

The Ethics Committee met several times and even retained outside counsel costing taxpayers to discuss the allegations.

On May 22, 2015 both ethics charges were thrown out by the Ethics Commission against Gieger without questioning her or holding a hearing. The Commission said the accusations did not rise to an Ethics Law Violation.

Legislator Kathleen LaBuda apparently was not happy that the ethics charges filed against Gieger were dropped. On Thursday June 4, 2015, LaBuda decided to file her own set of ethics charges alleging that Gieger bullied employees to gain confidential information.

What confidential information you might ask?

It seems that LaBuda is alarmed that Gieger inquired about vendor information. Apparently LaBuda wants this information kept from elected officials and Sullivan County residents and taxpayers.

Last year then Commissioner of Health and Family Services Randy Parker by all accounts brought forward an ethical complaint regarding Legislator Kathleen LaBuda questioning her directing a County employee to assist in giving benefits to one of her tenants.

Informed sources told me the complaint was supposedly blocked by County Officials before reaching the Ethics Committee as it did not rise to the level of an ethical complaint.

However LaBuda did circulate a letter to legislators stating that she helped a tenant facing eviction and if they had any questions to contact her.

Coincidence or not – That same tenant was also reportedly hired as a Sullivan County employee.

Questions Asked at Charter Review Meetings

Questions have come up in the Charter Review Commission meetings, which I am a member of, relating to the power of a County Manager and Sullivan County Legislators.

Sullivan County Attorney Samuel Yasgur addressed the subject and gave his thoughts during the April meeting.

At the May meeting of the Charter Review Commission former Chairs of the Legislature Leni Binder and Chris Cunningham, as well as current Legislators Gene Benson and Cora Edwards offered their opinion on the role of Legislators, County Manager, and Department Heads.

County Managers telling Department heads not to speak directly to legislators is nothing new.

Cunningham who has served on the Legislature and as Commissioner of Health and Family Services claimed there is always a relationship between Department Heads and Legislators because people see each other all the time and always discuss issues relating to County Government. I could not agree more.

County Manager Josh Potosek will be addressing the Charter Review on June 17, 2015.

Are Legislators Treated Equal?

Are all legislators being treated the same by the County Manager and Department Heads? Why is it ok for some legislators to give directives to Department Heads but not others?

Why is it not ok for Cindy Gieger to ask legitimate questions?


Who is really running Sullivan County?


Who is directing County Manager Josh Potosek in this latest round of targeting – first David Sager, then Randy Parker, then Gerry Dietz in fraud, now Cindy Gieger – who is NEXT and WHY?

Our County Manager and his inner circle pretend as if legislators are not allowed to ask questions. If that is the case – Why do legislators chair committees and all the department heads attend them?

We hear terms like micromanaging and that our legislators should not micromanage. That is pure bunk. Legislators have a mandate from the electorate, and they are accountable to us. Perhaps some of them really care and that is why they are poking their nose around our government!

Legislators have a right to know and they have a right to ask questions and to be given accurate answers.

We have no accountability or transparency in our government. We have a closed door Minyan of people covering up for one another and playing Two Card Monte with our lives – With the results being high taxes, record foreclosures, a population decline, and being one of the poorest and unhealthiest counties in New York State.


Perhaps all this leads to a solid argument as to why we need a County Executive and NOT a County Manager.
Potosek/Gieger Documents

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.

4 comments to BREAKING NEWS: Potosek Reprimands Gieger – She Comes Back Swinging – Ethics Charges Filed

  • gespin3549

    “While several insiders and elected officials were laughing behind the scenes about Gieger’s reaction to these charges, Gieger took the allegations seriously because of her pristine reputation.”

    So our elected officials feel it’s a laughing matter when someone’s good reputation is being smeared on our dollar(s)? Wondering who the laughing cretins were?

  • james contrys

    they need to keep digging time to clean house.

  • mdrazen

    It is a laughing matter…… a corrupt one. Time to have this all investigated. Can it be that Sager, Parker, Dietz & now Gieger are all wrong? There is one common thread here in all of this and you mentioned it in your article, “Legislator Kathleen LaBuda apparently was not happy that the ethics charges filed against Gieger were dropped. On Thursday June 4, 2015, LaBuda decided to file her own set of ethics charges alleging that Gieger bullied employees to gain confidential information”. I see one bully here and it’s not Gieger.
    Thank you “Mouth that Roars” for your honest reporting.

  • E.M.Salvatico Jr.

    The Prosecutor’s office is where the cleanse should begin. There is a major land fraud sale case, that has been covered up and still unsolved, involving a county judge for 6 years now. These hidden powerful insiders are in control in Sullivan county. The FBI should look deeply in the on going corruption in the prosecutor’s office. Bring in the FBI to clean up Sullivan county, today. It took me 6 years to have reporter do this fraud story. Thank you Bill, you have giving me an opportunity to say what is needed to be said.