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Rouis bumps LaBuda off Public Works Committee

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — January 22, 2010 — County Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis announced the 2010 committee chairmanships on Tuesday, and the changes reflect a new political reality in the Government Center.
Notably, Legislator Kathy LaBuda is no longer chair of anything but the Planning/Environmental Management/Real Property Committee and the Labor Subcommittee.
LaBuda, who was one of the key players in the failed attempt to oust Rouis as chairman earlier this month, is off the Public Works and Capital Planning & Budgeting committees entirely. She had often proudly pointed to her service on the Public Works Committee, especially as chair.
Rouis, who has sole authority to appoint committee members, said the changes were not political or personal.
“I just tried to match everybody up,” he explained, adding that many changes were based on legislators’ requests to be on or off specific committees. “I tried to honor those requests where I could.”
However, he confirmed that LaBuda had not requested to be removed from the Public Works Committee.
“I think people will see it for what it is,” LaBuda said yesterday. “I think this goes back to my voting against the budget because of the Division of Public Works (DPW) cuts.”
LaBuda feels Rouis is making it personal, arguing that he doesn’t like her outspokenness.
“I actually think he’s trying to quiet me down,” she remarked. “Jonathan wants to govern, and I want to serve. That’s the difference between us.”
LaBuda promised she won’t be silent, especially on DPW issues.
“It’s a great department,” she said, “and I want it to stay that way.”
Committee chairs help determine agendas and lead the committees while in session, though Rouis pointed out that any legislator can bring up any resolution for consideration at the full Legislature meetings the third Thursday of every month.
“I do remain committed to working with everybody,” he stated.
The chairmanships are now as follows:
• Rouis – Executive (same as ’09)
• Elwin Wood – Community & Economic Development (same as ’09), Personnel (replacing David Sager)
• Ron Hiatt – Health & Family Services (same as ’09), Sustainability Policy (same as ’09)
• Jodi Goodman – Management & Budget (replacing Frank Armstrong), Capital Planning & Budgeting (replacing LaBuda)
• Alan Sorensen – Government Services (same as ’09)
• Leni Binder – Public Safety (same as ’09)
• David Sager – Public Works (replacing LaBuda)
• LaBuda – Planning/Environmental Management/Real Property (replacing Goodman), Labor Subcommittee (same as ’09)
• Frank Armstrong – Veterans (same as ’09)
Additionally, Rouis has resurrected the Steering Committee initially created under former County Manager Jonathan Drapkin.
Consisting of Rouis, Vice Chair Elwin Wood and the majority and minority leaders of the Legislature, the committee will meet every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. with senior county management to get briefed on issues and determine upcoming caucus discussions.
Since there’s no quorum and no formal votes are being taken, the meeting can legally remain non-public, said Rouis.
“It’s to get a sense of what’s coming so we can craft discussion items to be placed on the agenda,” he explained.
He admitted, however, that he felt it was “redundant” but was persuaded by fellow legislators to reinstate the Steering Committee.

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