New process for tourism dollars; critics call it a political payoff
SCVA members were particularly upset to discover that a new non-profit organization, called Sullivan County Tourism & Promotion, registered with the state in December 2011 and with the county on January 25. The three signatories on the related paperwork all have strong connections to the county Democratic party: Bill Liblick is the chairman of the Liberty Democratic Committee, Neil Gilberg is a former county clerk and is now an Advocate for Business in the administration of Governor Cuomo in Albany, and Donna Schick is the secretary of the Sullivan County Democratic Committee.
Asked if the organization was going to submit an RFP, Liblick said, “I don’t know.”
There was also a discussion about whether an RFP was a legal requirement. County Attorney Sam Yasgur twice responded to questions from the lawmakers about that and said an RFP was one way to proceed, but there were other methods that could also be used.
Legislator Cindy Geiger said that she felt it was her obligation to open up the process to bidding to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used in the best way possible.
Roberta Byron-Lockwood, president and CEO of SCVA said the organization is funded by room-tax dollars, which come from visitors who come to the county, not by taxpayers who live in the county.
In the end, Democrats Jonathan Rouis and Ira Steingart joined Republicans Vetter and Sorensen in voting against the measure, while Democrats Geiger, Scott Samuelson, Cora Edwards, Kathy LaBuda and Gene Benson voted in favor.