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 25th, 2015

Ethics Complaint Answered

By now everyone knows that the Sullivan County Board of Ethics filed an ethics complaint against me alleging that I released “Confidential Information” pertaining to information disclosed in the “Mouth That Roars” Column of June 5, 2015 where County Manager Josh Potosek reprimanded Legislator Cindy Kurpil Gieger for asking questions of Department Heads.

Mouth That Roars June 5, 2015

It was also revealed that Ethics Charges were brought against Gieger by the two Department Heads and they were eventually dismissed.

Potosek/Gieger Letters

Meanwhile, Legislator Kathleen LaBuda, who is often blamed for much of the mayhem in our County government filed her own set of Ethics Charges against Gieger as possibly a diversion for her own potentially unethical actions.

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.


How can they file ethics charges against me when I do not work for Sullivan County – And everything that was disclosed was the truth?

Ethics Complaint

Well it seems that as a non paid volunteer of the Charter Review Commission – I am considered a “County Official” even though what was disclosed relating to Potosek and Gieger has nothing to do with the Charter Review +*-Commission.

What is equally interesting is that none of the members of the Charter Review Commission were notified until my inquiries that they were considered “County Officials”

In order to continue as a member of the Charter Review Commission we had to sign and provide written acknowledgement of receipt of the Ethics Law at the June meeting.

What should be disturbing to all Sullivan County residents was an email sent by County Attorney Cheryl McCausland that stated, “Please ask the Chairs of the Ethics and Charter groups to have their members consider signing the Acknowledgements with retroactive effect to the first day they took ‘office’. Although we cannot mandate that anyone do so, it is important to ask anyway.

Annie, please forward this email to the Chairs of both Ethics and Charter for distribution.

If asked, for specific language, I offer the following:
“Signed June __, 2015, acknowledged retroactive to ___________, the date on which I first took this position.”

Thank you”

When questioned, only three members of the Charter Review Commission said they knew they were considered a “County Official” by serving on the voluntary board.

It is obvious some people do not want me on the Charter Review Commission because they are looking into possibly changing our form of government to that of a County Executive and recommending staggered terms and term limits for legislators.

It is well established that Kathleen LaBuda is against term limits, she has been there 16 years, and now wants to be there 20 years.

The accusations levied against me are false and baseless and show the depths to which those in power will stoop to in order to silence those who question the running of Sullivan County Government.

Here is the response to the Complaint filed against me by the Sullivan County Board of Ethics by my attorney Kirk Orseck.

Re: Complaint against Bill Liblick dated June 5, 2015

Members of the Board:

On behalf of Bill Liblick, we offer the following Response to the Sullivan County Board of Ethic Complaint filed against him on June 5, 2015. We request that the Board dismiss the complaint against Mr. Liblick, because he did not disclose any confidential documents. In the alternative, we request that Board redraft and resubmit the Complaint, because it does not currently provide notice as to what acts or omissions of Mr. Liblick may constitute an Ethical violation.

The Ethics Complaint does not state which Ethical Rules Mr. Liblick may have violated, and does not state what acts may have constituted an Ethical violation.

The Board of Ethics Complaint has provided no indication of which documents or information were purportedly disclosed by Mr. Liblick, or why their disclosure might constitute a violation of the County’s confidentiality rules. The Board’s Complain simply states:

As a County Official, serving as a member of the Charter Review Commission, The Sullivan County Board of Ethics alleges that the accused violated Ethics law Section A8A-2(c)(1) “No County official or Country employee subject to the provisions of this article shall disclose confidential information or use such information to further a personal interest.”

These “charges” do not notify the accused of anything. It is impossible to defend against a complaint that only states the broad theory under which the accused is to be prosecuted, and which does not state the alleged acts or omissions of the accused for which he is to be punished.

Due process rights, such as the right to be properly noticed of charges, arise when rights to life, liberty, or property are put at risk (See, United State Constitution: Fifth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment). It is understood that Mr. Liblick holds no property right in his position as a member of the Charter Review Commission (See, Lanza v. Wagner, 11 NY2d 317 (1962)). However, Section A8A-5 of the County’s Code of Ethics, “Penalties for Offenses,” states that “a person who knowingly and intentionally violates the provisions of this article may be fined up to $10,000 per occurrence . . .” A $10,000 fine would certainly constitute a deprivation of property rights; accordingly, Mr. Liblick should be afforded his Constitutional due process rights in this proceeding, and he should therefore be provided with full and actual notice of the charges that the Board of Ethics has levied against him.

New York courts have long recognized that the due process right of notice of charges applies, not only to judicial proceedings, but also to administrative proceedings, such as this Board of Ethics proceeding. (See, Murray v. Murphy, 24 NY2d 150 (1969)). And while we recognize that due process rights and notice requirements are somewhat more relaxed in administrative proceedings, they are not so relaxed as to allow an administrative tribunal to deprive someone of property without at least notifying them of what they may have done wrong.

It should also be mentioned that a complaint regarding the Sullivan County Code of Ethics must inform the accused of “rules regarding the conduct of adjudicatory proceedings, appeals, and the due process procedural mechanisms available . . .” (A8A-4(2)). However, the complaint merely makes reference to “sections” 102, 103 and 107. These “sections” do not reference any part of the Sullivan County Code or Code of Ethics, as presented on the Sullivan County website.

We respectfully request that the Board of Ethics redraft and resubmit its complaint, so that Mr. Liblick might have some notice of what charges are being levied against him.

The Potosek Letter was not confidential, and its disclosure did not violate the County’s Code of Ethics

As stated above, the County Ethics Board, in its accusation against Mr. Liblick, has only baldly stated that Liblick has violated the confidentiality provisions of the County Ethics Code. It is therefore difficult to determine exactly what element of the Ethics Code have been allegedly violated, or exactly which documents or other disclosures constitute the alleged violation. However, for the purposes of providing some manner of answer to this vague complaint, we will assume that the Board is referring to a letter from County Manager Potosek to County Legislator Gieger dated March 26, 2015 (henceforth the “Potosek Letter”), which Mr. Liblick had made reference to on his news blog “The Mouth That Roars” on June 5, 2015 – the day these ethics charges were brought against Mr. Liblick.1

1.In his artcle, Mr. Liblick had also mentioned that an Ethics Complaint had been brought against Legislator Geiger in accordance with the Potosek Letter. However, it is axiomatic that a person accused of violation may publicly disclose the complaint made against them, and Legislator Geiger has chosen to do just that. Accordingly, we can only imply that the Ethics charges being brought against Mr. Liblick arise from his disclosure of the Potosek Letter.

The Potosek Letter simply states facts and a determination by the County Manager. It states that the County Manager has received written complaints from two employees alleging that Legislator Geiger treated them in a hostile manner. The County Manager then instructs Geiger to make future inquiries to the complaints’ office through the County Manager’s office. The letter does not contain any opinions, deliberation, or an invitation to discussion.

Section A8A-2(c) of the Sullivan County Code contains the confidentiality provisions of the County’s Code of Ethics. As demonstrated below, the Potosek Letter cannot be categorized as “confidential” under those provisions.

Section A8A-2 (c)(3)(b) of the Code states the categories of information which the County would deem confidential. Such information includes communications that would interfere with investigations, adjudications, or negotiations. The Potosek Letter does not contain any such information. It simply notes that Potosek received two complaints, and that he enacted a non-negotiable resolution.

Indeed, section A8A-2(c)(3)(a) of the Code (entitled “Never Confidential”) demonstrates that the Potosek Letter is not confidential because it is an instruction to staff that affects the public ((c)(3)(a)(c)), and it is also a final determination made by the County ((c)(3)(a)(d)).

Section A8A-2(c)(2) states that the confidentiality provisions of the County Code are intended to be consistant with New York FOIA law, as codified in NY Public Officers Law 87, and the language of the County statute is substantially similar to the New York FOIA law. New York Courts have repeatedly held that, in regard to FOIa, government documents are presumptively open to the public, and therefore non-confidential, unless they fall within a few narrowly tailored exceptions. (See, Matter of Gould v. New York City Police Dept., 89 NY2d 267 (1996)) NY POL 87(2)(g) allows the non-confidential disclosure of governmental communications as long as they are not “deliberative materials.” Deliberative materials are defined as “communications exchanged for discussion purposes not constituting final policy decisions.” ((Matter of Xerox Corp. v. Town of Webster, 65 NY2d 131(1985)) There is no element of deliberation in the Potosek Letter; it simply states facts and a determination. Under NY FOIA law, the Potosek Letter would be disclosable, and non-confidential.

In accordance with the above, Bill Liblick respectfully requests that the complaint against him be dismissed, or, in the alternative, that the complaint be re-drafted and re-submitted so as to comply with Mr. Liblick’s due process rights.

Very truly yours,


Response to Ethics Complaint

Now I await the decision by the Sullivan County Board of Ethics – The Prosecutor, Jury, and Judge.

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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