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 31st, 2015

Please – No Encore Performance

Sullivan County enters 2016 in one of the most trying and exciting times in recent memory.

As we open up the champagne bottles and celebrate in anticipation that the new resort destination will play a major role in landing us on our feet – it unfortunately may not be quick enough for many residents.

With foreclosures and taxes at record highs we have many serious problems facing us and we need the right leadership to confront those issues.

This past November, voters expressed the need for change in the way our government operates, and a slew of new people were elected to the legislature.

On Monday, January 4, 2016 the Swearing in Ceremony of the new Sullivan County Legislature will take place at 10:00 AM in the Legislative Hearing Room (second floor) of the Government Center which will be conducted by the Honorable Mark M. Meddaugh.

The Sullivan County Legislature will then organize at 10:15 AM when our legislators decide who will lead us for the next two years.

There is an intense “behind the scenes” lobbying effort underway right now to keep Scott Samuelson as Chairman of the Legislature.

Samuelson is doing everything feasible to convince our new legislators to keep him as chairman – If this happens it would be disastrous.

During the past four years Samuelson has been regarded as one of the most ineffective leaders – not just in our County – but also in the Mid Hudson Region and when representing Sullivan County in Albany.

Samuelson has been silent when it comes to advancing the best interests of the Sullivan County taxpayers – who are his actual employers – and not the small elite clique of the “powers that be.”

His style of governing has been deplorable. Government should not be run like a “members only” private club holding meetings with potential contractors in fancy restaurants.

Samuelson abruptly adjourned meetings and cut other Legislators off if they proposed resolutions that interfered with his quest for power and control or opened up the democratic process.

He became obsessed with getting rid of those who did not agree with him.

Samuelson cynically co-opted those he thought he could control, such as enticing Republican Kitty Vetter to become Vice Chair of the Legislature with empty promises to keep the same committees intact. After she agreed, he promptly set about changing legislative committees so that much needed reforms would get stuck in committee.

Samuelson must also be held accountable for all the harassment outgoing legislator Cindy Gieger was put through that ultimately forced her not to seek reelection.

If Samuelson were a real leader he would have brought all parties together to work out their differences and prevented unwarranted ethic complaints from being filed against Gieger.

Not only did Samuelson not intervene like a true leader would have but he even allowed County Manager Josh Potosek to go as far as to reprimand and embarrass Gieger.

We need to return transparency to Sullivan County government.

There is currently a shadow government in Monticello that uses its power to benefit a select few. If Samuelson isn’t part of it, he certainly has been complicit in allowing it to flourish. We need a strong leader of and for the people, someone who will step up and take the initiative to bring that to an end and restore a transparent government that represents all the people.

One of the strongest arguments against keeping the current leadership in place is pure economic. Sullivan County is listed by the NYS Comptroller as “susceptible to fiscal stress” with a 46.3% rating under our current leadership.

When his fellow legislators expressed an opinion counter to his wishes, he turned to the media to call people names, rather than focusing on the issues at hand.

There are those that argue that he should remain Chairman because he is “presentable” and he can be “a front-man who is controlled from behind the scenes.”

What Sullivan County needs is leadership and someone who will speak out for us.

Over the last four years, Samuelson’s idea of economic development begins and ends with casinos.

As a leader, Samuelson should have demanded and been outspoken about Sullivan County’s need for two casino licenses, but instead he stood silent as Tioga Downs was awarded the additional one.

He boasts all the jobs, development, and revenue the new casino will bring.

But, in reality our surrounding counties can come out the biggest winners if employees travel to work. He has done very little to encourage or train our future workforce or to prepare for new housing and other development needed to attract new year-round and seasonal residents to Sullivan County.

Like most of his meetings, the public has been shutout of Samuelson’s Casino Planning Committee meetings.

While casino gaming is purported to be the “sacred cash cow” that saves Sullivan County, he has gone out of his way to ignore the economic engines of agriculture and development of the Delaware River corridor.

Look at the 2016 budget and you will see $55,000 appropriated for agricultural initiatives out of a $200 million dollar budget!!! That is reason enough not to have him chairman of the legislature.

If anyone wants to make predictions for 2016, then it can safely be said that – should the majority legislators vote for Scott Samuelson as Chairman, the Sullivan County will face the same troubles that currently plague Sullivan County – Even after voters sent a clear message for change.

Indeed, Samuelson is hopelessly clinging on to the notion that his supposed charm will lure unsuspecting new legislators into his lair by calling meeting after meeting with the newly-electeds in the desperate hopes of clinging to power as the Chairman of the Legislature.

Will the new legislators heed the warning?

Will someone whisper a word in Samuelson’s ear and allow him to quietly exit stage left with some dignity intact?

Samuelson might have resuscitated his career as a great cabaret singer while playing the role of Chairman of the Legislature, but he did not perform even a semblance of what a Chairman – a leader – should perform.

Please – No Encore Performance!

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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