KINGSTON – Longtime Ulster County Deputy Legislative Clerk Karen Spinozzi has retired, effective immediately, and Legislative Chair Terry Bernardo has chosen Greene County's former IDA Director Alexander "Sandy" Mathes to replace the 40-year county employee.
Bernardo said Spinozzi actually retired in 2007, but was helping out on an hourly basis.
"While I would love her to say, I fully understand her desire to spend more time living life outside the office," the legislative chair said.
She said she chose Mathes as replacement to fill Spinozzi's role as a means to "focus on providing economic development and finance advice, something he is highly qualified to give."
Former Minority Leader Jeanette Provenzano said she met Mathes for the first time on Monday night and noted that she has many questions to bring up at the next Ways and Means Committee regarding the resolutions passed last year budgeting specific line appropriations for a full time budget analyst and part-time paralegal, "of which we have neither," she said.
Bernardo said Mathes was successful in Greene County in helping the private sector create jobs. "He successfully created a major corporate park and blew the doors off Ulster and most other counties in innovation and job creation," she said.
The legislative chair cited vacant industrial properties from Imperial Schrade in Ellenville to American Candle in Saugerties.
"I'm turning to someone who has produced results elsewhere, to offer us help in budgeting and economic development, because we have too many vacant parcels in Ulster," she said.
Mathes ran into trouble with the county legislature he had served on for years, and been appointed by, when as executive director of Greene County's Industrial Development Agency, he received bonuses of $175,000 in 2009 on top of his $130,000 annual salary. He claimed the additional funds were approved by the county for arranging, through the IDA, to approve taxpayer-funded business loans and payment-in-lieu-of-tax incentives to stimulate business growth.
A May 2011 report by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, entitled "IDA Report: Jobs Data Still Needs Improvement," subsequently questioned whether such publicly-funded development organizations actually created jobs. A graph included in the comptroller's report highlighted Greene County's job loss in 2009, despite the fact that the agency dispensed large IDA tax breaks.
In June 2011, Mathes resigned his position as executive director of Greene County's IDA amid controversy over his bonus payouts.
Mathes first came into public view as Executive Assistant for the late State Senator Charles Cook, and has also owned a Greene County restaurant, served as a Greene County town board member, and operated several consultant businesses over the past 20 years.
The Legislature's current counsel, Langdon Chapman, is also a former Greene County town board member who has known and worked alongside Mathes for decades.
In other county business of late, Ulster County's Ways and Means Committee interviewed the final four applicants for the Golden Hill Local Development Corporation and made their recommendations to the Legislative Chair, Terry Bernardo, R-Accord, last Thursday, March 1. The four interviewees included Brian Drapkin, Les Kalmus, David Lent and Matthew Watkins. After five hours of interviewing applicants, the committee agreed unanimously on the choices put forward by Committee Chair Richard Gerentine.
The two board appointments were Michele Ianuzzi-Sucich, a medical doctor from Marlboro, licensed to practice medicine in NYS, who spent four years in clinical family practice and geriatric care; and Michael Bernholtz, president of Hudson Valley Appraisal Corporation.
Iannuzzi-Sucich currently serves as the assistant to the Vice President of Academic Affairs for SUNY Orange, and, has written extensively about topics ranging from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases to pneumonia in the elderly.
Bernholtz said he brings to the board more than 30 years experience as an appraiser of commercial real estate for clients that include, among others, the NYS Department of Transportation, NYS Office of General Services and Farmers Home Administration.
The Ways and Means Committee was also charged with selecting two independent candidates for the pool from which one seventh final member, or director, will be chosen. The seventh director will be chosen by the six appointed directors from a pool consisting of three independent choices submitted by the executive and three submitted by the Legislature — two from the Majority Party and one a Minority pick.
The two choices for the independent pool recommended by Gerentine included Gerald Brown, senior vice president for insurance operations for a subsidiary of Ulster Savings Bank, and Les Kalmus, President and COO of Cyberstaff America, LTD, a technology consulting and staffing firm.
Brown became familiar with Golden Hill when his Rotary Club efforts took him to the nursing facility for the monthly Bingo night, and Kalmus brings 35 years in management, business administration, finance, and information technology and consulting services.
Bernardo has said she'd make her two appointments to the board by March 10.