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To Hire Or
Not to Hire?

By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO — January 24, 2003 – It came to a vote, and the vote was . . . to table the vote.
The Sullivan County Legislature chose yesterday to indefinitely delay a decision on whether or not to hire a lobbying firm to represent the county’s gambling interests.
A special meeting of the Sullivan County Legislature’s Executive Committee was held Tuesday to see a presentation by the group they are considering.
By day’s end, two separate firms gave presentations, but no group was hired – yet.
The meeting started with County Attorney Ira Cohen introducing Connie Cahill from the firm of Girvin and Ferlazzo, P.C. of Albany. Cahill was there to answer any questions the legislators had.
“We have extensive experience, and we can be very helpful,” Cahill commented. “They need to hear your voice in Albany. The governor has said he does have your best interests in mind. We will make sure you have representation on a continual basis. We want to see gaming here sooner rather than later.”
District 5 Legislator Rodney Gaebel asked if their firm could represent the county on other issues, such as Medicaid. Both Cahill and Cohen said that is something that could be discussed in the future. However, they wanted to keep the focus on gambling.
One of the major issues that led to the firing of the last lobbying group, Bolton-St. Johns, was who they would report to. That question was posed to Cahill by District 2 Legislator Kathleen LaBuda.
“It is the county who hires us. We will answer to whomever you tell us,” Cahill responded. “Clarify it and spell it out for us. We will give it to you in writing.”
“We can set up a conversation on speakerphone with myself, [Majority Leader] Rodney [Gaebel], [County Manager] Danny [Briggs], Ira [Cohen], and any other legislator that is around,” remarked Legislature Chair Leni Binder. “Then we will bring it to the group. We will not do this haphazardly.”
Cahill stated that they would talk to key people in Albany but would not state publicly who those people may be. She went on to say that they may request the county take action when the time calls for it. Also, Cahill publicly stated that her firm does not represent any other group when it comes to gambling issues.
Since it was a contract negotiation, an executive session was called. District 4 Legislator Don Trotta objected to the executive session but stayed to listen to the discussion.
Afterwards, the meeting was recessed to later that day so group number two could make their presentation. Michael Avella, representing Buley Public Affairs, came down from Albany to pitch his company to the Legislature. The presentation was set up by District 3 Legislator and Sullivan County Republican Party Chair Greg Goldstein. Avella has been a key figure in the state Republican Party, thus his connection with Goldstein.
“We represent a wide array of clients,” Avella said. “We service any client. There is not much we don’t do. We have extensive experience in municipal affairs.
“We are close to the governor’s office,” Avella continued. “Things are moving rapidly. We will stay on top of it and keep you in the loop.”
Then legislators, once again, went into executive session. Once they came out, it was announced the meeting was recessed until Thursday at noon. Although no vote resulted, the resolution for Girvin spells out a six-month contract for $5,000 per month. No resolution has yet been prepared for Buley.

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