Jenkins back as Monti manager
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO April 23, 2013 In a controversial vote that ended in accusations, Monticello’s village board majority on Thursday reinstated Mayor Gordon Jenkins as the acting village manager.
Jenkins had taken over the role last year after the firing of John LiGreci, but the board had been unable to find a permanent replacement.
Last month, Jenkins’ four colleagues on the board unanimously agreed to depose him, citing dissatisfaction with his leadership and communication.
But on Thursday, trustees James Matthews and Larissa Bennett motioned to reappoint Jenkins as the temporary acting village manager.
Joined by Jenkins, their three votes negated trustees Carmen Rue and TC Hutchins’ dissent.
A similar 3-2 vote happened minutes later, resulting in the reappointment of former Treasurer Heather Berg.
Both Jenkins and Berg will get paid Jenkins $3,000 a month, Berg $25,000 a year (part-time).
“This is a show!” railed Rue during the meeting. “... Oh my god, this is corruption! Shame on you, all of you! Shame on you three!”
Viewing it as a prearranged deal to enrich the mayor, she promised to take the matter to the NYS Attorney General’s Office, which investigates alleged criminal conduct. The NYS Comptroller’s Office is already engaged in an audit of the village, which Hutchins later indicated will show “that the village is not in good shape.”
“This village is broke,” Rue said in an interview afterwards. “Everything’s drained to nothing!”
“I believe the only assistance we could get is for the Attorney General’s Office to come in and help us here,” agreed Hutchins.
Caught by surprise by the motion to reappoint Jenkins, Hutchins decried the move, saying Jenkins had been given an opportunity to lead but had failed, especially in communicating with the board.
“Gordon doesn’t have the ability or education to move the village [forward],” Hutchins argued.
He was also surprised by the reappointment of Berg, who had been working part-time for $30,000 (now $25,000) and, prior to her resignation, had herself advocated for a full-time treasurer.
In the meantime, Hutchins thanked all the manager candidates the board has interviewed, plus Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini for offering to temporarily serve as the manager, sans any pay. (Cellini withdrew that offer last week when it became clear the board remained divided.)
“Just with the Cellini name came attraction for business, leadership and economic development,” noted Hutchins.
"It is hard to make a decision with such a conflicting board," admitted Bennett. "However, despite our differences, for now I felt that having the mayor there until we can find a agreeable candidate was needed. The board has been turned down by so many reputable candidates. We are still looking for a permanent village manager. If the board can agree, hopefully we will make a resolution to post the position again. I am hoping that this will get things back on track and the village can move forward."
Matthews agreed, denying charges of collusion or corruption.
“We needed somebody in the position [of acting village manager] to carry out the business of the village,” he explained.
He promised the village plans to advertise for a permanent village manager soon.
“If we can just work together ... that’s what I’m hoping,” Matthews said.
He’s joined in that sentiment by Jenkins.
“Doing nothing moves the village backwards,” the mayor wrote in a press release issued Friday. “I call on all good citizens in Monticello to stop the personal attacks and pursue one common goal, which is making the village government better.”
In an interview afterwards, Jenkins said he was willing to step back into the contentious position “to help the village.”
“Nothing comes easy,” he acknowledged. “But my #1 agenda is to get all the board members to work together. ... I owe it to the taxpayers of the village.”