KINGSTON – Legislator Hector Rodriguez, D-New Paltz, is sponsoring a resolution that would change the laws of the legislature to enable lawmakers to remove the body's chair, if the need arises.
Rodriguez said the concept of amending the rules to allow such an action is not new and is not meant to target the current chair, but is something that has been debated by lawmakers for years. He introduced the measure, he said, because the legislature presently lacks any mechanism to do so.
Majority Leader Ken Ronk said he doesn't "inherently" have a problem with creating a procedure for removal, but believes there may be legal flaws in the way the resolution is written. He also argues that the threshold needs to be higher than a three-fifth vote, or 14 legislators, and suggested that two-thirds, or 16 legislative votes, be required to remove a chair.
Rodriguez said the legislation is likely to never be used and Ronk said he could only envision it "in extreme circumstances," such as, if a chair was convicted of a crime or ethics violation.
Several legislators have been grumbling publicly about some of the recent actions of Chair of the Legislature Terry Bernardo, R-Accord, and Ronk fears that some Dems would attempt to use the legislation to oust the new chairwoman.
At Monday night's Health and Personnel meeting, the committee went into executive session to discuss Bernardo's recent appointment of Saugerties resident, Frank Reggero, a 24-year Veteran of the U.S. Army, as the Independent Budget Analyst in the Office of the Ulster County Legislature. The job description for the $50,000-a-year Budget Analyst position is to review, track, distribute and analyze Ulster County's budget and spending information under the guidance of the Deputy Clerk of Finance and Chair of the Ways and Means Committee.
Last week, Legislator Jeanette Provenzano argued against Reggero's credentials.
"His background is not for this position," she said. "I would have thought if not a CPA (certified public accountant), certainly someone with a financial background."
Provenzano said that during the executive session, Bernardo, in a written statement, accused the committee of overreaching its jurisdiction, but complied with its requests for information because it is "part of the public record."
Bernardo has made several controversial appointments, including hiring Alexander "Sandy" Mathes, the former head of the Greene County Industrial Development Agency, as Ulster County Legislature's Deputy Clerk of Finance. A former member of the Greene County Legislature, Mathes became the head of the county's Industrial Development Agency in 2002 and left the agency in 2011 under significant criticism regarding his salary and bonus structure. Mathes' salary rose from $75,000 in 2002 to $130,000 in 2010, with additional bonuses of as much as $175,000. Under a "separation agreement" with Greene County, Mathes drew a $2,525.48 weekly salary through Feb. 28.
In his capacity as Ulster County Legislature's Deputy Clerk of Finance, a part-time, 20-hr a week position, Mathes's responsibilities will be to supervise the full time Budget Analyst position and coordinate distribution of financial/budget related information to the full Legislature.