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 14th, 2018

Uproar in Liberty as Town Board Eliminates Deputy Supervisor Position

People get involved in politics and community service because they are either passionate about an issue or because they want to help others. Headlines are often made about those select few who are self-serving.

In the short few weeks since Brian Rourke was voted in as Liberty’s Supervisor there has been a great deal of tension and uneasiness between him and the Town Board.

Rourke, the former Town of Liberty Justice stepped down and decided to run for the position left vacant by Charlie Barbuti who resigned from office.

Town Councilman Russell Reeves who was acting supervisor until the election and deputy supervisor under Barbuti decided to run for reelection to pave the way for Rourke to become Supervisor.

Councilman Brian McPhillips who also expressed interest in running for the vacant Supervisor position instead ran for reelection to pave the way for Rourke.

Former Town of Liberty Republican Party Chairman and Town Judge candidate John Lennon ran against Rourke who is also a Republican. Lennon lost to Rourke in a primary and general election.

Rourke is a popular and likeable person who invested heavily in several businesses in Liberty including the Downtown Barn, Oscar Browns, a Laundromat, and a hair salon among other establishments. He is also a well-established Sullivan County Attorney.

Rourke has his own vison and plan to restore Liberty – the problem is that – to be successful you need to have a team in place to implement those goals.

And, most importantly you need to have a Town Board that you can work with.

For any political position there is a honeymoon period and a learning curve. But, most importantly there must be teamwork to get things done and make positive productive change.

In what appeared to be a slap in the face to the Town Board, Rourke decided to look elsewhere for his nonpaid Deputy Supervisor position.

This type of appointment, although not required, is usually an appointment of a Town Board member.

Former Supervisor Barbuti went outside his political party and appointed Republican Councilman Russell Reeves to be his Deputy Supervisor.

But, former Supervisor John Schmidt appointed Clarence Barber who was not on the Town Board as his Deputy.

Rourke who was expected to appoint a Town Councilman instead decided to name businessman Bruce Davidson who is currently renovating the Liberty Movie Theatre as his Deputy Supervisor.

The Town Board – Russell Reeves, Brian McPhillips, Dean Ferrand, and Vincent McPhillips – objected Rourke’s appointment for many different reasons and decided to vote to eliminate the position.

It was the feeling of the Town Board that the position and its responsibilities should be held by an elected official who is voted in by the electorate.

I could not agree more with the Town Board – The position of a Deputy Supervisor should be that of a Town Board member if the position permits the Deputy Supervisor to sign Town Checks and sit in on Executive meetings.

Bruce Davidson is a respected smart businessman and if Rourke wants his voluntary service for the Town of Liberty he can also create an Outreach Committee for him to serve on as chair.

There is also room here for compromise with the Deputy Supervisor position once all the rhetoric ceases.

Surprisingly, of all issues, a group of people angered over the Town Board’s decision to abolish the Deputy Supervisor’s position is organizing and demanding that they reinstate the position, so Rourke can reappoint Davidson.

I never heard a public outcry before about who the Deputy Supervisor of a municipality should be.

Some are alleging the Board’s ethics and are even accusing them with nepotism because Reeves’s and Ferrand’s sons are on the voluntary Planning and Zoning Boards.

What an insult and way to defame people because they stepped up to the plate to volunteer their service to a municipality. I could see an outrage if others were deliberately overlooked to these hardworking respected boards – Such was not the case here.

Even more upsetting – One of the people leading the fight to reinstate Davidson and the Deputy Supervisor position is former Supervisor Charlie Barbuti.

In a letter sent out to his supporters, Barbuti wrote in part, “When I resigned as your Supervisor last year I said it was for “personal, professional and philosophical” reasons. I didn’t go in to any great detail because I did not want to seem petty or negative. The old saying is “if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything”.  Well I couldn’t say something nice about the board members. I truly felt that the board acted in a very unprofessional way in the handling of a number of matters, which left me at a loss to know a path forward with them…”

In an apparent threat to the Town Board members, Barbuti added, “The Town Board will be holding a public meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16th at 7pm. in the Senior Citizen’s center.  I would like to see us fill the room with people there to tell the members of the Town Board that, if they don’t reverse their decision regarding the Deputy Supervisor and start working with Supervisor Rourke for a better town, that we will make sure that every board member up for election in the future will be challenged by someone who will pledge work with our new Supervisor.”

If Barbuti really cared he would not be threatening Town Board members that people will be running against them, he would be trying to set up a meeting to bring all sides together.

Barbuti forgets that this a Democracy and anyone can run against anyone they want to during an election. Even Mr. Barbuti can seek political office again.

The fact is, The Liberty Town Board has been functioning very well since Barbuti left office. As Supervisor, Barbuti never brought Liberty one single innovate concrete project.

As a further insult – He sat on the IDA Board and did little to bring development to Liberty. The municipality couldn’t even get the red meat plant. When Barbuti left the IDA Board, he did nothing to make sure that his replacement was from Liberty, so the municipality could have representation.

This is what needs to happen.

All parties need to sit down and air out their differences. Everyone needs to play nice in the sandbox.

Brian Rourke, Russell Reeves, Brian McPhillips, Dean Farrand, and Vincent McPhillips are all good caring people who want what’s best for Liberty.

I believe a lot of positive things can happen under these people.

Sometimes things need to reach the bottom to get things going again, and such may be the case here.

Liberty needs a plan of action and I am glad that people like Davidson are willing to step up to the plate as are many others.

Liberty needs development and lower taxes while residents continue to receive proper municipal services.

There should be and must be a unified effort for Liberty to get the second casino license for Grossinger’s.

The solution is for everyone to work together and compromise can be achieved.

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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