Sullivan County Democrat
O n l i n e  E d i t i o n National Award-winning, Family-run Newspaper
  NEWS ARCHIVES Established 1891 Callicoon, New York  
home  |  archives
Jeanne Sager | Democrat

THE BOARD MEETING Monday evening in the Town of Callicoon wasn’t without controversy – including a presentation by Councilman Tom Bose holding up a poster showing different numbers from those on a poster Supervisor Linda Babicz had shown almost two weeks prior.

Callicoon Board Gets Public Praise

By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE — January 18, 2008 — There was discontent, but the Town of Callicoon Board earned compliments for coming together in its fourth meeting of the year.
Convened once again in the largest room of the town hall because of an overflow crowd, the meeting began with new ground rules laid out by Supervisor Linda Babicz.
“To provide more opportunity for public participation,” Babicz expanded the regular comment session at the close of the board meeting.
Added was public discussion during the board’s business portion of the meeting.
Asking for respect for time constraints and civility, Babicz directed the public to address all of its questions and comments to her.
Where necessary, she said, she’ll redirect them to the various board members.
Although calmer than the raucous reorganizational meeting – perhaps due to the presence of a Sheriff’s deputy, invited by Councilman Tom Bose, who stood in the kitchen alcove just off the meeting room – the crowd was vocal.
And unlike the one that gathered on the 2nd of the month, this was a crowd split in its loyalties.
“You’ve got to work together and you’ve got to iron these [issues] out,” said one-time councilman and supervisor Rodney Gaebel at one point.
He asked the board to remember the “2,950 people” not present in the audience as they make their decisions.
“They all took part in this, they all took part in the election, and they’re not here,” he said.
Motioning to the crowd, Gaebel added, “This does not necessarily constitute what the silent majority wants.
“Everybody elected up there has a position, you each have a vote,” he continued. “Please, let’s get on with it, and cut out the semantics.”
Similar requests came from across the aisle, with North Branch resident Victoria Lesser asserting once again that the public has voted for Babicz.
“Don’t make us sit here and accept what you think needs to happen,” she demanded. “We voted.”
She was answered by Councilman Howard Fuchs.
Re-elected in November, Fuchs reminded Lesser he too was elected – as were the other members of the board.
“We did elect Linda, right?” retorted one woman in the back. “I think from what I get, the rest of the board is not really happy with that.”
But the board did come together on issues, answering the public as a unit on complaints.
Objecting to minutes about to be approved, Callicoon Center resident Sonja Hedlund – who lost a council race in November – complained of omissions, only to have their inclusion pointed out by members of the board.
Later one Youngsville resident was reminded that her request that votes made several years prior did not need to be reintroduced and added to the minutes of Monday night’s meeting – as she was requesting.
They’re already in the town’s records, Town Attorney Marvin Newberg said, and they’re available for review.
Also available at any time are the financial records of the town.
With Babicz’s proposal that a community committee be formed to review the budget process, Town Bookkeeper Joe Anne Baker was put on the spot by board members.
“I have no objections to anyone asking me any questions about anything I do,” Baker said to murmurs of approval from the crowd. “The town books are town property; they belong to the people of this town.”
Asked if a committee is necessary, Baker said she has no problem with it if the board creates one.
Her only request was that she not be put in the position of teaching the committee members the intricacies of the budget process in lieu of completing her own work.
A board discussion, which included a review of the budget process that already features public workshops and public hearings, prompted a unanimous decision not to create a formal committee.
Instead Babicz said a sign-up sheet would be posted in the town hall, and folks who signed up would be given one another’s information.
The committee won’t be under the town’s purview, but they’ll be able to do as a group what any one resident can already do in the budget process – ask questions.
Closing with a public comment session, the board was encouraged to keep working together.
“We have to scratch it off, work together,” said Youngsville resident Joanne Walls, “show we can be above this and rise to the level where we need to be.”
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with us disagreeing on an issue,” Fuchs agreed. “That’s . . .”
“Healthy,” finished Councilman Charlie Schadt.
“Despite all the bickering and the disagreements, tonight you guys did a good job,” said Callicoon Center resident Dennis Finley.

top of page  |  home  |  archives