By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Come June, the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) will have two new members on its board.
During and after Tuesday’s board meeting, IDA Board members Ray Walter and Cindy Garlinghouse confirmed they would be resigning neither by choice, however.
Walter and Garlinghouse affirmed that they were told to resign by legislators, who have the authority to appoint or terminate board members at will.
Walter was not upset about it, even though he would have stayed, had it been up to him. He’s been a Florida resident for two years and returns for this and Jeff Bank board meetings.
Garlinghouse, on the other hand, expressed disgust.
“It’s just all political,” she remarked after the meeting. “I think it’s totally wrong.”
The members of the IDA Board expected to remain in place have been interviewed over the past weeks by the Democratic majority in private caucus meetings.
Garlinghouse and Walter were not interviewed, said Legislator Ira Steingart, who chairs the IDA Board.
“I felt it wouldn’t be right,” he explained, since at least five Democratic legislators were already in agreement about replacing those two seats.
Though he wouldn’t talk about other legislators’ reasoning, he indicated he was opposed to the forced resignation of Garlinghouse.
“I think she did a great job, and I’m sad to see her go,” he remarked.
Garlinghouse was told legislators were fine with her performance in a position she’s held since 2009.
Having been brought on the board by the prior Legislature because of her involvement in Teamsters Local 445, she considered herself a voice for the working-class.
“I’m not afraid to ask questions and say things,” she explained. “Why be on there if you’re not going to be?”
She wasn’t told why she was being let go but suspects it’s because she’s not an officer in the union any longer (though she’s still a member).
Steingart and Legislator Alan Sorensen said two unions the Teamsters and Laborers Local 17 are vying to put a person in Garlinghouse’s seat once she resigns on June 13.
But no decisions have yet been made, said Steingart, for Garlinghouse or Walter.
Walter confirmed he’s no longer a New York State resident, though he maintains a home in Yulan.
“I was told the amount of time I spend outside of the county was the reason I was asked to depart,” he explained. “And I have been on it [the IDA Board] for 20 years that’s a long time.”
“Ray has been an excellent board member,” Steingart said of the former Jeff Bank president.
Sorensen, the Republican minority leader, said he does not support forced resignations (though he is in favor of researching term limits) and hasn’t been told why his Democratic counterparts want Garlinghouse and Walter replaced.
“I do have a great deal of confidence in the board,” he explained. “I think they take their public service very seriously.”
Sorensen said he only found out about the interviews of current IDA Board members “through the grapevine” and was not invited to participate.
Steingart, however, pointed out that the interviews happened in Democratic caucus, and the Republicans could do the same in their caucus (which only includes Sorensen and Kitty Vetter).
Sorensen said he doesn’t plan to conduct such interviews in Republican caucus but hopes to be involved in the choice of successor to Walter and Garlinghouse.
To that end, Walter has one request of legislators.
“I just hope they replace me with somebody who is cooperative and doesn’t have personal agendas,” he remarked.