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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April 15th, 2019

Shame on Legislators For Voting Against Staggered Terms

Members of the Sullivan County Legislature duped the residents of Sullivan County into believing that they would vote to support staggered terms as a measure to better run our County Government.

Even though legislators repeatedly said would support staggered terms – they unanimously voted against it last week – A direct slap in the face to Sullivan County residents and the Charter Review Commission.

The Sullivan County Legislature should be ashamed of themselves – and they will have a lot to answer for to the public when they campaign for re-election in November.

The Charter Review Commission (of which I was a member) met for over two and a half years looking into our form of Sullivan County Government.

Among the recommendations of the Charter Review Commission was the need to stagger the terms of our legislators and to change our government to include the position of an elected County Executive.

While everyone knew the legislature would shelve the County Executive proposal – it was the complete opposite when it came to staggered tours.

Sullivan County Legislators welcomed with open arms the concept to stagger legislative terms for the past three years. They even put together a plan that would have started after this year’s election cycle.

Five legislators would have been up for four year terms, and four would have been up for two year terms, to begin the four year staggered cycle.

They even held two public hearings where just two speakers spoke against staggered terms.

The bipartisan proposal to stagger terms received wide support coming from both Democratic and Republican leadership.

Even Sullivan County Republican Chairman Richard Coombe (whose party controls the legislature) making a plea at one of the public hearings urged legislators to support staggered terms.

The legislature vote, not only slapped Sullivan County residents in the face – But it leads one to wonder who is really running our County Government and controlling them? What are they so afraid of?

How could they turn 360 degrees on the staggered term issue so quickly?

The need to stagger terms of legislators is simple. The past election cycles have seen voters dramatically change the legislative body forcing a dramatic learning curve on legislators and a slow-down of the operations and leadership of Sullivan County Government.

There needs to be consistency in running our county government and kicking out all our elected officials in one single swoop does not always work.

Certain people who are nonelected and in positions of power such the County Manager and County Attorney need to take direction form the legislature.

We need elected officials who are knowledgeable with the inner workings of our government, County Charter and Codes.

A group of Sullivan County leaders are now talking about organizing and bringing the staggered term and County Executive issues directly to the voters for us to decide in a public referendum.

The entire legislature is up for re-election this November and many people are looking throw out this bunch of legislators for many diverse reasons.

A major issue that has rightfully made a lot of people angry is the fact that there is still no contract for our correction officers, and our remaining county workforce is still overworked and underpaid. Suddenly, legislators are quickly trying to remedy this.

Our law enforcement officials are in an uproar over the legislature’s refusal to give back the 911 call center to the Sheriff’s Department.

On top of all that comes the anger of our Town Supervisors and Village Mayors regarding Sullivan County’s refusal to share revenues from our underperforming casino.

Now there is even word that sales tax projections are way down despite telling us otherwise.

It is time for the people of Sullivan County to speak out and contact their legislator and tell them how you feel.

Contact your Legislator:

District 1  Scott B. Samuelson (D) | Phone: 845-807-0443 | Scott.samuelson@co.sullivan.ny.us

District 2  Nadia Rajsz (D) | Vice Chairman | Phone: 845-807-0442 | Nadia.Rajsz@co.sullivan.ny.us

District 3  Mark McCarthy (D) | Phone: 845-807-0441 | Mark.McCarthy@co.sullivan.ny.us

District 4  Catherine Owens (R) | Phone: 845- 807-0445 | Catherine.Owens@co.sullivan.ny.us

District 5  Terri Ward (R) | Phone: 845-807-0438 | Terri.Ward@co.sullivan.ny.us

District Luis Alvarez (R) | Chairman | Phone: 845-807-0177 | Luis.Alvarez@co.sullivan.ny.us    

District 7 Joseph Perrello (R) | Phone: 845-807-0439 | Joseph.Perrello@co.sullivan.ny.us

District 8  Ira M. Steingart (D) | Minority Leader  | Phone: 845-807-0440 |Ira.steingart@co.sullivan.ny.us

District 9 Alan Sorensen (R) | Majority Leader | Phone: 845-807-0444 | Alan.sorensen@co.sullivan.ny.us

In their bull crap statement to the public after the vote not to stagger terms, the legislature issued the following statement:

“After many months of consultation among ourselves, with the County Attorney’s Office and with the Charter Review Commission who initially recommended this change, we feel the citizens of Sullivan County will continue to be best served by the system the founders of this Legislature put in place nearly 25 years ago. They established that all nine legislative positions would come with the same four-year term, and they determined that a more frequent turnover of elected legislators would not result in better governance. We agree.

We understand that our decision may not sit well with the majority of the membership of the Charter Review Commission. However, this choice was made after thoroughly and conscientiously reviewing all the facts, and it was not in any way meant to insult, disrespect or minimize the members or work of the Commission. The citizens who participated on that Commission gave enormous effort and time with no compensation or guarantee of action, and this Legislature remains deeply grateful to them.

 

Our concerns regarding staggering terms were and are legitimate, including that the current three-year window where legislators aren’t preoccupied with their or their colleagues’ election campaigns would be reduced to just one year. We are not convinced that a turnover of the majority of the Legislature would damage County government or the continuity thereof. Indeed, this current group of legislators – the majority of whom are in their first terms of office – is proof that positive forward momentum not only can be preserved under new leadership, but accelerated. It should also be noted that we are guided by a professional, capable and stable staff under the leadership of our County Manager, ensuring an “institutional memory” no matter the new faces on the Legislature.

Change for change’s sake is never the ideal and should not be the goal. But that does not mean that any discussion is over. We as a Legislature govern most effectively when those we represent, our constituents, proactively share their thoughts and concerns with us on a regular basis. Such a relationship also allows us to explain the reasons we as legislators feel and vote as we do – a far better alternative than rumor-mongering, mud-slinging or assuming nefarious motives.

This Legislature is confident that at this time, the switch to staggered terms is not in the best interest of Sullivan County.”

Below is the Resolution Passed by the Charter Review Commission to Stagger the terms of the Sullivan County Legislature.

Resolution Introduced by the Sullivan County Charter Review Commission to Change the Terms of Office of Elected County Legislators.

Whereas, the duly appointed members of the Sullivan County Charter Review Commission have met regularly since January 2015 for the purpose of, among other reasons, evaluating the efficiency and functionality of county government, and

Whereas, the commission members have heard testimony from numerous county officials and outside advisors, and

Whereas, during these hearings, it has been suggested that the possibility of having a large number of newly elected legislators taking office at the same time has the potential of disrupting the smooth functioning and continuity of county government, and

Whereas, the commission members have duly deliberated on this matter of staggered terms, and

Whereas, the commission members have come to the conclusion that having the duly elected legislators’ terms of office not run concurrently is in the best interests of county government, now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that the commission members do hereby recommend that elected county legislator’s terms beginning with the next general election for said positions be staggered in such a way that four randomly selected legislators run for 2 year terms and then for four year terms at the end of those terms.  The other five legislators terms would remain the same.

Moved by Mr. Burckard, seconded by Mr. Walter, put to a vote and carried 10-0 with Mr. Harding and Mr. Sutherland absent.              

STATE OF NEW YORK)

  • :

COUNTY OF SULLIVAN)                  

I, MICHELLE HUCK, Secretary to the Sullivan County Charter Review Commission, do hereby certify that I have compared the foregoing copy of a resolution with the original thereof now on file in my office and that the same is a correct transcript therefrom and of the whole of said original.

WITNESS my hand and seal this 16th day of March 2016. 

                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                                            /s/                                                     

                                                                                                                                                 SECRETARY TO THE S.C. Charter Revision Commission

Shame on the Sullivan County Legislature! We need Staggered Terms!

 

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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