But Changes Coming, Marietta Predicts
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
But, after a 20-minute executive session called by board Chair Kathy Clark, R-Otego, county reps at today’s special meeting voted unanimously to confirm Cheryl Robinson, the NYCM vice president, to the board of the economic-development agency.
She will succeed the Richfield Springs architect, Jim Jordan, who resigned.
Clark and county reps interviewed after the vote said the issue at hand was the process, not the individual, who as a senior executive in one of the county’s largest enterprises is clearly qualified to serve on the board. The process can be handled later and separately, they said.
“I didn’t make it happen – they made it happen,” said Clark, when asked what argument she used to derail what looked to be shaping up as a split vote. “Some people deserve to serve on the board. I think it was a quality nominee.”
County Rep. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, the board’s vice chair, put it this way: “You have a problem with the process; you don’t NOT vote for the candidate.”
“A worthy candidate should not be stigmatized by a problem with the process,” added county Rep. Meg Kennedy, R-Hartwick/New Lisbon.
Before Clark called the executive session, several reps, Republicans and Democrats, raised concerns about the lack of consultation over appointments to the Otsego Now board, prompted when county Rep. Len Carson, R-Oneonta, moved to have the resolution on this appointment removed from the “consent agenda,” where it would have been voted on routinely with several other resolutions.
“This has nothing to do with the candidate,” Carson said. “It has everything to do with the process.”
While saying he would vote for the nominee, county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Maryland, reported he had been approached by one his constituents, a businessman in Schenevus, about filling the vacancy, and would have liked that person to have a chance to be considered.
County Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Town of Oneonta, referred back to the last appointment, in February. “This one is slightly better,” he said. “We were made aware of it ahead of time … Going forward, I would like to see a more thorough, more transparent process.”
County Rep. Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, spoke in favor of a more formal process in selecting appointees. “To me, I feel the appointments are one huge opportunity to leverage our role in these organizations.”
After the executive session, Marietta voted for the Robinson appointment. But he predicted, “there are going to be changes. I think a majority of (representatives) want a changed process.”
Other appointments are in the offing. Joe Bernier, the former City of Oneonta community development director, has resigned as well. Jim Salisbury and Hugh Henderson, long-serving members, may also do so soon.
In her remarks, Clark said her predecessors appointed whomever they wished, county Rep. Jim Powers naming Jordan, and Sam Dubben, Bob Hanft. She went on to object to aspects of Otsego Now CEO Sandy Mathes’ tenure in Greene County, and criticized newspaper coverage of the current matter.
“I met with her,” she said, referring to the nominee, “I talked to her. I didn’t know her from Adam. I thought she was good.” She added, “She’s getting a little more scrutiny because she’s a woman.”
The executive session was called to discuss “a particular person,” as provided by the state Open Meetings Law. But it appeared from interviews after the meeting the discussion centered, not on the candidate, but on the selection process, which the state law appears to require be discussed in open session.
“The process is what was being debated,” said Kennedy. “I think we found a consensus.”
Said county Rep. Kay Stuligross, D-Oneonta, “We did both” – discussing both nominee and process.
Asked about it, Clark said if there were any objections, “file something.”