Sullivan County, briefly
Snippets from last Friday’s special meeting
By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ
MONTICELLO, NY — Attendance was slim for the Sullivan County …
MONTICELLO, NY — Attendance was slim for the Sullivan County Legislature meeting that had been rescheduled from Thursday at 9:30 a.m. to Friday, at 4 p.m. Legislators Luis Alvarez, Joe Perrello and Ira Steingart were unable to attend and Nadia Rajsz showed up by phone after struggling with a bad Zoom connection. Alan Sorensen and George Conklin were able to attend on video but with the standard delays.
It was ascertained, with a legal opinion by assistant county attorney Tom Casland, that Rajsz could not vote because the rules of the legislature demand that voting members must attend via video. As a non-voting attendee, her motion for the enactment of Rule 36, that the business of the legislature be halted due to legislators unable to accommodate the change of meeting time, was not considered.
After that, which was a bit of a hullabaloo, the legislature briskly ticked through a list of groups applying for county funding through the discretionary fund. The legislators considered additional information, specifically that the Sullivan County Public Library Alliance uses its county funding to pay for summer reading programs and asked other groups to provide more information.
Rajsz reiterated her support for the groups applying, saying that, overall, “They do a lot of good for Sullivan.” The agencies help children, feed the hungry and boost tourism. They needed their money, she said.
The ambulance corps that needed new communications equipment will likely get its money, but other corps should be considered on a case-by-case basis, Mike Brooks said.
“I have a soft spot in my heart for this,” George Conklin said. “It’s money well spent in my eyes, because these small ambulance corps are disappearing.”
Not everyone got what they wanted. And one group will need to explain more about what they do.
The final vote will be held once legislators have the information they need.
Before last Friday’s meeting, groups had raised concerns about a resolution that would regulate the censuring of a legislator.
Under the proposed resolution, which was to have been introduced at the meeting, support of a majority of legislators would be needed for the censure to actually happen. It would be public, and a “course of remediation” could be prescribed to keep the misconduct from happening again.
No vote on the resolution was held; it will be addressed by the executive committee next month.
“We’ll go step by step,” said Brooks. What, he asked, are more successful counties doing that we’re not?
The county’s health ranking may have only slipped one point, but legislators were paying attention.
“It’s the main topic in executive [committee] until we fix this problem,” Doherty said.
“Let’s see what the difference [between Sullivan and more-successful counties] is, just to start,” Brooks said. “Let’s see what they may be doing... I’m glad that we’re tackling this,” Brooks said.
Health and Family Services commissioner John Liddle will introduce plans in May and June, and they will be connected to legislative committees “so every committee can discuss the health index moving forward.”
“I think he’s the perfect guy for this,” Doherty said, “He’ll take a very methodical approach... and we really need to understand the subcategories and the major categories so that we can address this issue on a bigger scale.”
For more on the health rankings...
“Let’s be clear, the former legislature had this two years ago,” Doherty said.
That’s the newly passed code of conduct, which states that it “serves as a fair notice of the expected professional and ethical obligations for all employees, volunteers, interns, independent contractors and members of the legislature.”
Introduced by Alan Sorensen (chair of the human resources committee and the longest-serving member of the legislature) the code provides standards of behavior, it reads, and is supposed to guide the above as they go about county business. It’s not supposed to supplant any existing policies or procedures.
No conduct that is “dishonest, unethical, illegal or otherwise inappropriate will be tolerated.”
Examples include theft, altering records without permission, poor performance, insubordination and “abusive, inappropriate or threatening language.”
Ethics are covered; so is records management, conduct regarding kickbacks or gifts, clarity of agreements with vendors, misuse of funds and more. Those who knowingly fail to report a violation of the code of conduct or county policy are subject to disciplinary action.
Commenter Dave Colavito said later, “Finally, the code of conduct adopted today should be seen for what it is—something Mr. Doherty is already on record for having violated on several grounds.” He cited abusive, inappropriate or threatening language, unauthorized/careless use of county property and use of county funds and resources.