When will Monticello gets its new manager?
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO The deadline for applications is more than two months past, but the Village of Monticello still has yet to hire a permanent, full-time manager.
In the interim, Mayor Gordon Jenkins is manning the post, and while he is enjoying the insights gained from the new role, he’s already got three other jobs: mayor, Broadway business owner, and state corrections officer.
He gets about two hours of sleep a day, he said, and has left much of his G-Men store’s daily operations to partner Rochelle Massey. He spends most of the daytime hours at village hall, then evenings at village-related meetings, then on to the 11 p.m.-8 a.m. shift at Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg.
The 49-year-old could retire from his 28-year career in corrections, but he’s not ready.
“I’ve been working since I was 15,” he said.
And he’s also not ready to hire his replacement as village manager.
“If it was the right choice, I’d say right now,” he remarked this week, saying he’s eager to just focus on his mayoral duties with the village.
But Jenkins feels the current crop of manager applicants “aren’t strong candidates.”
“I’d like to readvertise,” he said.
Two of the three leading candidates David Rosenberg and Gary Sommers are ex-village board members, and Jenkins admits he is keen not to have Sommers (also a former mayor) return.
“I don’t want them [the rest of the board] to put Gary in there,” he said, worried that it would be a step backwards into “old politics.”
But Trustee Carmen Rue thinks that’s simply a cover for Jenkins’ real motivation: to hire Lumberland Town Supervisor John LiGreci.
“This is political,” she remarked with disgust. “... I want to be fair. I don’t want to be political. I just want to move the village forward.”
She pointed out that the deadline for manager applications was March 16, and she’s been pushing to pick someone since that time.
“I’m ready to hire a manager,” she said. “... It’s time for us to choose.”
Sommers, when told about Jenkins’ concerns, lamented that the mayor evidently didn’t read his resume, where he stated that he would follow the ethics code of the International County Managers Association which forbids political involvement.
In fact, Sommers promised to drop out of the Republican Party if he’s hired.
“Politics would need to stay out of the job, and I told him that,” he said.
Sommers accused the board of “politicizing this way too much” and said he’s seeking the post because, as a village resident and businessman, he’s upset with the direction in which Monticello has gone.
“What’s gone on in the last year has been absolutely horrible,” he observed.
Ironically, both Rue and Jenkins speak favorably about the third leading candidate, Jill Weyer, daughter of the late Mayor Jim Kenny and employee of the county’s planning division.
“I think she has a good heart,” remarked Rue. “I think she’s a good candidate.… She’s never been political really, and she has a lot of experience and education.”
Jenkins agrees, but he’s still interested in readvertising. He insists it’s not to push LiGreci on the board.
“I don’t have a set guy,” Jenkins explained.
Though the mayor says LiGreci approached him, LiGreci says he was solicited for the $60,000-$75,000/year job and is considering it. He doesn’t plan to run for supervisor again this fall and is assessing his options.
LiGreci is currently also the chair of the county Republican Committee.
“I told him he might be too political,” recalled Jenkins, “but he told me he would get away from all that.”
The mayor was impressed by LiGreci’s credentials and ideas for the village’s finances, and LiGreci’s resume is sitting on his desk.
Still, Jenkins said he isn’t interested in advocating for LiGreci just readvertising.
“I want everyone to have their input on it,” he said of the board.
What about former Village Manager John Barbarite?
“John doesn’t want it now,” Jenkins said. “And he could never get in with that board.”
Trustees Victor Marinello and TC Hutchins could not be reached for comment, but Scott Schoonmaker said he, like Rue, wants a manager right away.
“I am more than eager to have a new village manager in place,” he remarked.
Though he didn’t want to blame anyone in particular, he said the village “is in a shambles.”
“For every one thing that turns out nice, ten things come back wrong,” he frustratedly explained.
Though he is “96 percent certain” of who he wants as manager, he would only say that it doesn’t include LiGreci.
He lamented, however, that board unanimity on this issue will likely be unrealized.
“It doesn’t look like it because of the animosity and personal conflicts of this board,” he said.
The board was scheduled to meet last night for a third interview with Weyer, but when a decision will be made remains uncertain.
In the meantime, Jenkins continues to serve as mayor/manager, though the latter is without pay.
“It’s not about money,” he said, noting he cut short a trip to his Georgia vacation home to assume the manager’s duties when Zach Kelson was fired a month ago. “... If I had to, I’d go to sleep in here to get the job done.”
Still, he maintains that he only wants the job temporarily, especially since he’s considering a run against Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini in the fall.
“I will work with any good manager,” Jenkins promised.