Will County Board Chair Clark Sit In?
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Two unopened boxes of personnel records from the county Sheriff’s Department have been turned over to the county board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee and will be opened and catalogued tomorrow afternoon, according to the committee’s chairman, Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla.
Frazier said today he has invited his committee members, plus county Rep. Andrew Stammel, D-Town of Oneonta – who, as an attorney, has “a unique skill set” – to review the latest material, along with County Attorney Ellen Coccoma and perhaps the county’s labor lawyer, Matt Ryan.
If, after three subpoenas from the committee, the records are complete, the inquiry into alleged incidents at the county jail will go forward. Frazier said there are five specific issues: two involve the sheriff’s son, Sgt. Ros Devlin, one is “a policy matter,” and two involve situations where inmates may have been placed in jeopardy.
The policy matter, Frazier said, is “why do we allow people to supervise members of their own families?” There are several instances of this county-government-wide, he said, and that issue will be explored, regardless of the rest, by the county board’s Administration Committee.
On the other four specifics, if the records are complete, the investigation will move forward. If not, Frazier has said in the past the next step would be to ask a state Supreme Court judge to order Devlin to be responsive. If complete, the inquiry will go forward, he said.
On a related issue, Frazier said he doesn’t know if the county board chair, Kathy Clark, R-Otego, intends to sit in tomorrow on the review of the records or recuse herself.
It was reported two weeks ago that two people had sounded out the Democratic County Committee on whether it would cross-endorse Clark’s husband, retired trooper Bob Fernandez, if he were to challenge Devlin next year.
Frazier said Clark told him after the report appeared in Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal in the March 16-17 editions that Fernandez doesn’t intend to run for sheriff. Since, however, she told him that, since the report, people have urged her husband to do so.
Clark and Fernandez have not responded to queries about his intentions.
Devlin responded to the report by calling the investigation into his office “political,” and asking for an outside entity, such at the state Commission of Correction, to take it over.
Frazier said he will follow Coccoma’s advice on whether tomorrow’s Public Safety Committee meeting must be a formal one, and thus regulated under the state’s Open Meetings Law.