New Monticello clerk a familiar face
By Dan Hust
MMONTICELLO Monticello’s got a new village clerk, and his name is a familiar one.
Current Lumberland Supervisor and former Sullivan County Republican Committee Chairman John LiGreci started his first day as Monticello Village Clerk yesterday.
“I introduced him to everyone at the village,” Mayor Gordon Jenkins remarked yesterday.
Last night, Jenkins was scheduled to introduce LiGreci to the board in a special meeting (a report on that meeting will be featured in Friday’s edition).
LiGreci replaces longtime Clerk Edith Schop, who resigned last month amidst felony charges of double-dipping at her state job as law librarian in the county courthouse.
Jenkins said he plans to pay LiGreci Schop’s $51,000 annual salary, but whether the board will agree to that or not is questionable.
Jenkins’ ability to appoint LiGreci may also be contested, as the village code indicates the board has appointment power, as well.
Jenkins yesterday likened that to the village attorney position. Earlier this year, the board did not approve of Jenkins’ reappointment of Village Attorney Jacob Billig, but Billig remained as a “holdover.”
Jenkins also stated that this was one of the reasons he recently sued the board to clarify his powers in the village.
LiGreci said on Friday that the mayor has the authority to appoint a clerk to finish out Schop’s term, which lasts until April.
Nevertheless, he said he understands the boiling controversy he’s stepping into.
“I’m used to challenges,” he said. “... I’m going to stay right down the middle.”
LiGreci did not seek re-election for another term as Lumberland’s supervisor, and even though he had offers to work in Albany, he wanted to stay in the area.
Months ago, he applied to be the village manager, but Ray Nargizian was ultimately named to that post. Jenkins, said LiGreci, approached him when the clerk’s position was vacated.
LiGreci will work as the village clerk full-time and as Lumberland’s supervisor part-time until the end of his term in December, he said. In the meantime, he’s already rented a home in Monticello.
“I figured this would keep me busy,” he explained, touting his knowledge and experience with budgets, agendas, planning, zoning and politics.
“I think LiGreci is more than qualified to do a good job,” said Jenkins, adding that Deputy Village Clerk Stacey Walker, who has been acting in Schop’s stead, “doesn’t know the job and doesn’t want the job.”
An announcement last week that Ferndale attorney Michael McGuire would be named village attorney was premature, said Jenkins.
“We’re still negotiating,” the mayor remarked yesterday.
Deputy Village Attorney Robert Gaiman has been serving in Billig’s stead since he left the village’s employ in October.
AG asked to investigate
Jenkins said last night’s meeting would also feature a resolution asking the NYS Attorney General’s Office to investigate any wrongdoing in the village.
Though the AG’s Office is already rumored to be conducting such an investigation, Jenkins said the resolution is necessary to counter what he feels is a flawed investigation currently being overseen by Nargizian.
In the wake of Schop’s indictment, trustees Vic Marinello, Scott Schoonmaker and Carmen Rue agreed to have Nargizian seek an independent individual or firm to investigate village government from top to bottom.
Nargizian has been garnering resumes and talking with law enforcement agencies that conduct such investigations. The current status of that effort could not be learned yesterday, as Nargizian did not return a call for comment.
Jenkins accused Nargizian of using the investigation to further a personal agenda.
“He’s trying to do an investigation to oust me and TC [Hutchins] because he’s aligning himself for elections,” Jenkins claimed, arguing that Nargizian is aiding candidates who hope to unseat the mayor and other board members in March.
Jenkins said this new resolution calls for an investigation that would not involve guidance from any village government official or employee.
“I’m asking the attorney general to do an investigation from the mayor on down,” he explained.