Dan Hust | Democrat
New Village Clerk John LiGreci, right, on Monday told the public, Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins, center, and Trustee TC Hutchins, left, that he will not take a paycheck or officially start work until he meets with the rest of the board this coming Monday.
Board members angered at choice for Village Clerk
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Monday’s public announcement of John LiGreci’s appointment as Monticello Village Clerk sharpened already severe tension on the village board.
Mayor Gordon Jenkins had called for Monday’s special meeting to introduce LiGreci and to make a motion to have the NYS Attorney General’s Office conduct an investigation into wrongdoing in village government.
Notice of that meeting was sent out the day before Thanksgiving, but trustees Carmen Rue, Scott Schoonmaker and Vic Marinello did not attend.
Left without the quorum needed to conduct an official meeting, Jenkins and Trustee TC Hutchins angrily lashed out at the three absent board members, accusing them of calling special meetings when it suited them but consistently refusing to attend ones called by the mayor.
“This is the sixth meeting without the three board members,” Jenkins remarked. “It is not believable these particular board members always had prior commitments for each and every one of the meetings that have been called over the past year.”
Jenkins reiterated his belief that the three trustees are conducting secret meetings, adding that past meetings called by Rue have been scheduled at times inconvenient to the general public, if not trustees.
“I think they just don’t take anyone seriously,” he concluded.
The three trustees indicated to the Democrat this week that it’s the mayor they don’t take seriously because, they claimed, he doesn’t take them seriously.
“He never gave me a call [about the meeting],” said Rue (though she did get the written notice).
Rue said she already had a prior personal, out-of-town commitment on a night she had long expected would not feature a meeting.
“And he never explains what he’s calling them for,” she added. “When I call a meeting, it’s for something very important in the village.… This was nothing important.”
She pointed out that the board (in a 3-2 vote) had already authorized Village Manager Ray Nargizian to hire an independent, outside entity to conduct the investigation Jenkins was calling for. She also felt LiGreci’s appointment was needlessly rushed.
“I don’t think he’s the right person for being clerk,” she said. “... The clerk should not be a political fixture.… For me, the clerk is the secretary for the board, the manager and the village, not just the mayor.”
Schoonmaker seconded Rue’s feelings about LiGreci, saying the mayor should have waited until after the March elections, as recently-resigned Village Clerk Edith Schop’s term ends in April.
“Stacey [Walker, the deputy village clerk and current acting clerk,] is more than qualified to handle the job,” he explained, with agreement from Rue.
Schoonmaker considered Walker’s pass-over as a “slap in the face” from the mayor. But Jenkins said and Walker herself confirmed that she doesn’t want the job.
Nevertheless, Schoonmaker didn’t like the process of LiGreci’s hiring.
“He’s the Town of Lumberland supervisor right now, and I believe it’s a conflict,” he said, contending that there were a range of village residents and employees to choose from. “It smells of politics.”
As for Schoonmaker’s absence on Monday, the trustee said he’s been away on a hunting vacation the only two weeks out of the year that he takes a break.
He said he was informed of the meeting last Friday, but not by Jenkins.
“The problem is, he does not communicate to this board,” Schoonmaker alleged of the mayor. “I was never asked if I was available… [That is] a lack of courtesy and respect on his part.”
Marinello could not be reached for comment.
LiGreci hopes to unify
Sensing the controversy he’s stepping into, LiGreci told those in attendance on Monday that he won’t take a paycheck and start the job as village clerk until he meets the full board at this Monday’s regular meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the village hall.
“I’m very pleased to be Gordon’s choice,” he said, announcing his intention to be a unifier. “... This is a job I’d like to do to make a difference in the village.”
As for his involvement in politics, LiGreci has touted his political experience as a qualification for the job, but he also pointed out he’s no longer the county’s Republican Committee chairman, and after December 31, he won’t be Lumberland’s supervisor either.
“I retired from politics,” he told the audience, adding that he’s hoping this job will provide him with something “less stressful.”