Tasked with revisiting the Ulster County Constitution, the contributors of the newly shaped revision fee met for the second one time on October 6, rolled up their sleeves, and start the meticulous paintings of sifting and deciding on, weighing and discarding instructed adjustments to the county’s guiding record.
Led via chair Kathleen Mihm, the fee, with abundant illustration of skilled politicos, can also be regarded as a suppose tank granted the ability to come to a decision what amendments or revisions to the constitution are on or off the desk. The suggestions of the fee will probably be filtered during the county legislature. Then the electorate can have their say right through the 2023 basic election cycle.
The method objectives to permit for exchange whilst conserving proposals inside the guardrails of sober deliberation.
The Ulster County Constitution is resurrected each seven years to permit
for exchange. It’s theorized that cicadas, which percentage a identical time-line, keep underground so long as they do to steer clear of the predations of herbal enemies. There is also identical common sense to spacing out any premature alternative to meddle with the constitution.
There’s little glory for the appointed fee contributors. Held within the dialect of bureaucratese, the discussions can glaze the eyes and dim the spirit. And but the fee helps to keep up a contented banter all through.
All the way down to paintings
Deputy county comptroller Alicia DeMarco got here armed with an inventory of initial suggestions arranged via the comptroller’s place of work for the committee’s evaluation. The listing addressed the entirety from the period of time between committee conferences to tips increasing the jurisdiction of the comptroller’s place of work.
The comptroller feels that the location of Commissioner of Finance must be banned from out of doors employment of any type. The one different place of work with limited out of doors employment within the provide constitution, famous DeMarco, was once the county govt. “We felt like there have been sure positions, clearly, that are meant to be limited from out of doors employment because of precise or perceived conflicts of passion,” stated DeMarco.
DeMarco additionally instructed the similar exchange to the comptroller’s place.
“So in different phrases,” riffed committee member David Donaldson, “the comptroller can’t pass out and bartend.”
Fee member T.J. Briggs stated it was once nice to have rules “but when there’s no enforcement it doesn’t imply the rest.”
It was once made up our minds that enforcement of the modification, is followed, must come from the Ulster County Ethics Board.
Briggs remained skeptical. “I do know there’s a whistleblower regulation and all that different nonsense,” he stated, “however that fifty cents may just purchase you a cup of espresso in a crummy diner as a result of I feel no one’s going to blow the whistle.”
This proposal was once no longer but in a position for a vote.
DeMarco famous that the comptroller’s place of work idea it could be a good suggestion to strike that language of the constitution which pressured the chief or the legislature to weigh in on their very own pay raises.
“I don’t know in case you guys are all acquainted with the [compensation review] committee, however they lately got here out with suggestions to extend the elected officers’ salaries. And March [comptroller Gallagher] was once like ‘I’m no longer touching that. I’m no longer going to invite to extend my very own wage.’ So I went to Pat Ryan, and Pat was once like, just right good fortune with that. My spouse is of the same opinion with you, however I’m by no means gonna say to extend my very own wage.”
DeMarco famous that balloting for a wage hike places elected officers who must run for place of work in a decent spot.
“[In an election] your opponent will maximum without a doubt say ‘Oh, they simply voted to offer themselves a lift’ regardless of how minimum it’s.”
“That’s why we wait,” deadpanned ex-legislator Hector Gonzales, “till after an election.”
Possibly essentially the most outstanding bone caught within the throat of the comptroller’s place of work was once its personal incapability to audit the funds of public government. (For an entire working out of the powers of those businesses learn Robert Caro’s The Energy Dealer, a guide detailing the lifestyles and instances in their writer, Robert Moses.)
Secure from the oversight of comptrollers and resistant to the votes of the voters apart from via key elected representatives, public-benefit companies such because the Ulster County Useful resource Restoration Company (UCRRA) have lengthy annoyed comptroller Gallagher for his or her skill to run their books in whole obscurity, accounting for his or her funds with out the oversight of her place of work.
“Including public advantage companies to our audit authority,” defined DeMarco, “that mainly comes right down to the truth that we needed to combat in court docket over our authority to audit the UCCRA. “We did win. And we had a good opinion that we did have audit authority. However once more, if we pass out to audit any other public-benefit company, and so they combat us once more, we don’t wish to must dissipate extra money to combat that. That is truly simply to avoid wasting taxpayer bucks on prison charges.”
Must the fee provide this advice to the legislature, there is not any doubt in any way public government will combat teeth and nail on the poll field to defeat it.
“The whole lot must be open and clear,” stated Alicia DeMarco. “That’s our want.”
Whilst maximum suggestions have been tabled pending long run dialogue, the fee did in an instant include probably the most comptroller’s suggestions: shortening the window of time between which the constitution might be revised from seven years down to 5. Cicadas, bear in mind.
Fee member Shannon Harris, ex-supervisor Shannon Harris of the The town of Esopus made a movement on it, Dave Donaldson seconded the movement, and the advice handed unanimously.
“Turns out,” stated Harris, “like a no brainer.”
Suggestions to the Constitution Revision Committee don’t need to be made via govt workplaces on my own. Chair of the fee Mihm has invited unusual electorate to offer their critiques at the strengths and weaknesses of the constitution, in addition to the proposed enhancements being mentioned.
Feedback are to be forwarded to the Ulster County govt confidential secretary Jerry Sheehan who will move them alongside to the fee. She can also be reached via e mail at jesh@co,ulster.big apple.us