Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
January 22, 2010 Issue
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Surprises, disagreements in Monticello

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — A surprise resolution presented by Trustee Carmen Rue set off a flurry of angry words at Monday’s Monticello Village Board meeting.
The resolution aimed to “correct” wording in a July 6 resolution the board used to hire Village Manager Ray Nargizian.
According to Rue, it would resolve one of the issues Mayor Gordon Jenkins has raised in his suit against the rest of the board – namely, that Nargizian’s hiring was, as Jenkins alleges, invalid.
But Jenkins and Deputy Mayor TC Hutchins wouldn’t allow Rue to read the resolution aloud, saying they hadn’t read it yet and that it concerned a matter of litigation.
Rue repeatedly tried to read the resolution, until trustees Scott Schoonmaker and Vic Marinello confirmed that they, too, had not seen the resolution before that evening. So Jenkins ordered a 15-minute recess until everyone could peruse it.
Jenkins and Hutchins left the room, returning a few minutes later with copies of the resolution for everyone in the audience.
“It appears this was already kind of a done deal,” Jenkins said when the meeting resumed, once again accusing Rue, Marinello and Schoonmaker of conspiring against him in an ongoing power struggle.
“I don’t see how you possibly would allow Carmen to come up with a resolution,” Hutchins said to Schoonmaker and Marinello, citing an understanding that only emergency resolutions would be introduced after a preliminary agenda is distributed (normally on the Friday prior to the meeting).
Marinello vehemently rejected such assertions, and Rue pointed out that the new resolution had just been given to her (though she did not specify whether that was last week or that Monday).
However, she did acknowledge that the resolution was written by the attorney representing her, Marinello and Schoonmaker in their defense against Jenkins’ suit.
After more personal snipes against Rue by Jenkins and Hutchins, it was ironically Schoonmaker who eventually put the issue to rest, albeit temporarily.
“This should be tabled for tonight,” he said. “... I’m not sure what’s going on here.”
A vote to table passed 3-1, with Rue the only one opposed (Jenkins did not vote).
Clerk gets a salary
For much of the rest of the meeting, the board did find itself in agreement, including on the issue of new Village Clerk John LiGreci’s salary.
Schoonmaker proposed $44,000 a year, based on his own research and a discussion with LiGreci.
Jenkins, like LiGreci, wanted it higher – at least to the $53,000 base former Clerk Edith Schop was earning – but seeing that agreement on that figure wasn’t likely, he suggested a “probationary” period.
Though technically LiGreci is not on probation, he agreed to the concept, saying he was willing to work at that salary on condition that when he comes up for reappointment in April, the $44,000 be considered for upward revision.
The board agreed unanimously (with Marinello absent, having been called away to a funeral).
The day after, LiGreci said his first week in office had been difficult but that relations with fellow employees were becoming warmer.
He said, however, the filing system was virtually nonexistent, creating delays and frustrations for staff and visitors.
“I’m inheriting a system that seems to be broke,” LiGreci explained.
He was confident that he can demonstrate to board members that he’s qualified for the job and Schop’s base salary.
However, Rue recently sent an e-mail to friends and supporters saying she was “very uncomfortable” with LiGreci’s hiring, based on research she and others have done into his past performance.
So there’s no guarantee LiGreci will get a pay hike anytime soon.
And if he doesn’t, “I’ll have to re-evaluate the situation,” he said.

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