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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October 13th, 2016

Ethics Changes Are Dangerous – Will Do More Harm Than Good

A public hearing is scheduled on Thursday October 20, 2016 at 2 PM prior to the monthly meeting of the Sullivan County Legislature to make amendments to Sullivan County’s Ethics Code.

If approved these changes could pose a severe threat to the running of Sullivan County government and in essence will potentially have a reverse and negative outcome than the original intent of these new amendments.

In fact, there is no need for this Ethics Commission to even exist. All our legislators need do is follow the guidelines developed by New York State as it has done in the past.

If an alleged impropriety is believed to have taken place – then the legislature after review should put together a panel to investigate the allegations. This was successfully done in the past (prior to this Ethics Commission) consisting of a former District Attorney and distinguished former members of the Judiciary. The same can happen if an issue rises to the level in the future.

Make no mistake, everyone wants Ethics Reform and the running of our governmental affairs to be above board, but these new rules will make it easy for those with a political agenda or vendetta to “Setup” and “Target” someone with baloney ethics allegations that will turn out to be nothing but hogwash.

We are a very small County and a lot of people are connected because of that and not because of some unethical motivation.

Legislators must be very careful because these new proposed rules if approved can and will come back to bite them.

One just has to look back at the old Legislature when bogus and unwarranted ethics complaints were filed against former legislator Cindy Kurpil Gieger.

Charges were even filed against me claiming that as a voluntary member of the Charter Review Commission I was considered a “County Official” and I was in violation of the County Ethics Code for releasing information that Gieger had given me pertaining to herself.

Gieger and myself were vindicated of all the trumped-up and phony allegations. But, the goal of some to have Mrs. Gieger not seek reelection and walk away from politics was successful.

As a result of this escapade, community volunteers were forced to sign a document pertaining to the Sullivan County Ethics Law and their role as a “County Official” in order to continue their community service.

These new rules appear to be an attempt to close any loopholes ‎based on Gieger’s case so as to have complete control over who, how, and why someone is accused.

Problematic under the new plan is the recommendation that the Ethics Board will have as much time as they like to render a decision on complaints filed.

Sixty days to bring to a hearing or dismiss should be enough of a timeframe. Why would any Ethics Board need more than 60 days to determine if a complaint is legitimate?

In Gieger’s case, they held it up for six months, dragging it out while effectively “gagging the accused” from making any statement and frightening the former legislator from doing Sullivan County business.

Another part of the new rules brazenly and shamelessly tells community volunteers that they will be responsible for the Ethics Law even if they are not unaware of it. This is simply wrong.  Volunteers must need to know about the Ethics Rules and Regulations and have the opportunity to read and sign it.

They are attempting to expand confidentiality. It must be clear that the ACCUSED has the legal right to speak out about charges against them.

And lastly, along with the 20 some changes of the three-year-old Ethics Law is a rule prohibiting elected officials from accepting a County job for two years from their elective public service. This is wrong in a County that is lacking a skilled workforce.

Our legislature just voted to permit our workforce to reside outside our county. But under the holy banner of “Ethics” someone who is qualified to serve our County will be overlooked because they are or were an elected official.

Former Legislator Cindy Gieger received legal advice from three different attorneys in 2015 and all DISAGEED with the then County Attorney that the Legislature can’t disband the board. They all recommended repealing the Law which in effect disbands that board and go with New York State Ethics Rules and Regulations that other municipalities adopt. They were clear – the Legislature passed the Law – the Legislature can repeal the Law. I could not agree more.

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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