Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
January 22, 2010 Issue
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Frank Rizzo | Democrat

GEORGE COOKE TALKS to the Town of Thompson Board last Tuesday.

George Cooke returns

By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO — Longtime former County Clerk George Cooke is back in the county, hoping to lend his talents and contacts to benefit the Town of Thompson.
Last Tuesday, the Town of Thompson board agreed to hire Cooke as a special consultant to the township.
His duties will include records retention, grants writing and economic development.
“We’ve been discussing this for quite some time,” said Supervisor Tony Cellini. “George is real versatile, a real professional, and will be a benefit to the town.”
Cellini noted that a salary line for a grant writer – $55,000 – was in the town budget, and by hiring Cooke as a consultant the town can avoid paying him benefits and retirement.
Cooke touted his grant writing while county clerk, mentioning success with getting vans, computers and other items.
Cooke recently quit his job at the Office of Court Administration in Albany, where he had worked since April 2007. He had resigned as county clerk earlier that year and spent two months as a volunteer in the Town of Thompson, familiarizing himself with its workings.
“Cellini, in his infinite wisdom, didn’t pay me a nickel,” Cooke joshed.
The two men shared an easy camaraderie at last week’s meeting, with Cellini joking that “getting my morning coffee” will be part of Cooke’s duties. Cooke rejoined that “you’ll be hearing from my lawyer,” who happens to be his brother Edward (“The price is right,” George added.)
Cooke said that governments have been making new demands on agencies’ electronic record keeping, and records retention is another area of expertise.
“There is a tremendous responsibility on the part of governments to produce not just paper record, but electronic ones,” he noted. “The Freedom of Information Act applies to electronic records as well, and eventually, all records will be electronic.”
He resigned as part of a settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by his former deputy, Nora Manzolillo. Since then Cooke had been splitting time between an apartment in the capital during the week and his home in Sullivan.
“He missed his family, and that was helpful to getting him back here,” Cellini said.

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