‘Transparency’ Issues Again
Surround Clark Appointment
Chair Resists Committees Vetting Nominees
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Yet again, an appointment to the Otsego Now board of directors stirred lively debate this morning at the monthly county Board of Representatives’ meeting.
Yet again, a county rep – this time, Andrew Stammel, D-Town of Oneonta – raised concerns about “lack of transparency” in the proposed appointment, this time that of Sarah Harvey, Otego, a project manager with LeChase Construction.
“If you’re not in the room, if you’re not in the small group of people, you aren’t going to get the information,” said Stammel, who abstained from voting on the appointment, which passed after 10 minutes of brisk discussion.
And yet again, despite unpleasantness over her appointments to fill the last two vacancies – with Rick Hulse, a former rep and business consultant, last February, and with Cheryl Robinson, a NYCM Insurance vice president, in December – the chair, Kathy Clark, R-Otego, defended her right to pick who she chooses.
This time, she pointed out, she at least had circulated Harvey’s resume, and some reps – Stammel, Len Carson, R-Oneonta, and Andrew Marietta, D-Cooperstown/Town of Otsego, among them – had made point of meeting with the nominee.
Stammel, county Rep. Kay Stuligross, D-Oneonta, and others suggested the Otsego Now appointments should be vetted by the board’s committee system – in this case, the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee – to ensure more consultation in the critical area of economic development.
However, County Attorney Ellen Coccoma, at Clark’s left hand, seemed to be suggesting that state law requires a county board chair to fill IDA appointments without consultation with a committee. When questioned, however, she said she would have to research the matter further.
Despite the two previous dustups, Clark continued to defend her perceived prerogative of coming up with Otsego Now candidates for the county board to pass on. (Today, the appointment was moved off the “consent agenda” at Stammel’s request.)
She asked Jim Powers, R-Butternuts, what he did when he was chair, (before the IDA adopted a more aggressive economic-development role, changing its name to Otsego Now) . “Many times it comes down to who’s willing to do it,” he said.
Toward the end of the back-and-forth between the chair and members, Marietta said he had hoped that Craig Gelbsman, R-Oneonta, the board’s liaison to Otsego Now, would play a fuller role in keeping his colleagues in the loop.
Gelbsman replied that he’s happy to answer questions if other county reps call him.
Throughout the discussion, county reps took pains to praise the candidate and stressed their objections were not personal, but related to the lack of inclusion.