The county board’s Administration Committee set a poor precedent in deciding to interview candidates for state Sen.-elect Peter Oberacker’s District 6 seat in “executive session” – that is, in secret, out of the public view.
The county attorney, Ellen Coccoma, last week advised the Admin Committee when it interviewed the Republican candidate, Jennifer Mickle, that whether to do so in public or not was optional, up to the reps. To close the door instead of opening it was the wrong way to go.
It was bi-partisan poor judgment, too.
At this past Monday’s Admin meeting to interview the Democratic nominee, Diane Addesso, at least county Rep. Adrienne Martini, D-Oneonta, questioned if darkness should trump light.
Then she said, oh, never mind.
Admin Committee chair Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick/Milford/New Lisbon, made the motion, and Republicans Ed Frazier and Keith McCarty, and Democrat Andrew Marietta, as well as Martini, went along.
If Mickle, Addesso and Libertarian Andrew Hamill ran for the seat, they would have had to answer questions in public from the public. Why should they get a free ride into Oberacker’s seat without having to tell the public in this limited manner why they want the job and what they would do with it?
After all, when crowned by their fellow representatives, Mickle, Addesso or Hamill would be participating in votes that will have an impact on all of us living in Otsego County.
When this sorry process is over, soul-searching is warranted by all county reps.
The state Committee on Open Government is available to conduct a training session for the board, but it’s as much a question of attitude: Does county government belong to everyone, or to them alone?
COOPERSTOWN – Three decades of striving ended today as the Otsego County Board of Representatives, 11-2-1, created the position of county executive.
In a half-hour of give and take, it was clear that, despite and lopsided vote, starkly contrasting outlooks remain.
“You talk about planning,” said county Rep. Keith McCarty, R-East Springfield, and longest-serving board member. “You can’t plan when you’re going to get a flood. You can’t plan when a bridge is going to go out. You can’t plan when a road washes out – we’ve had two of them on the east side of Otsego Lake. You deal with it.”
Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, who is finishing his first term, took on the rebuttal: “Our talents are hamstrung by a lack of coordination, a lack of planning, a lack of overall coordination.
COOPERSTOWN – Otsego County’s 2017 budget was approved today, but not before three final wrinkles were ironed out:
County Rep. Kay Stuligross, D-Oneonta, objected to a $700 allocation to help the Otsego County Historical Society erect one historic marker next year. Lacking a policy on such requests, the veteran representative said, she was unable to approve the money. However, a vote of the full board overruled her.
On the motion of county Rep. Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, $1,500 was added to appropriations to allow the county board meetings to be audio-recorded. Marietta had hoped his colleagues would agree to video-recording their meetings, which would then be posted on www.otsegocounty.com, but that was set aside due to cost and technical challenges.
County Rep. Keith McCarty, R-East Springfield, objected to $4,000 to help the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce operate its tourist kiosk in Pioneer Park next summer, saying only chamber members are allowed to display their brochures there. The county board approved the money, on the condition the chamber pass a resolution allowing the kiosk to distribute promotional materials from all in-county tourism entities, whether they are chamber members or not.