Mayor Jenkins tables resolution
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO January 18 Tuesday’s most notable resolution at Monticello’s village board meeting never made it to a vote.
Mayor Gordon Jenkins tabled a proposal to set a public hearing on a potential amendment to the village code that would allow the mayor, instead of the village manager, to make all appointments (including the chief) in the police department, subject to board approval.
It was a resolution put forth by Jenkins, but after the meeting, he said he wasn’t certain he’d bring it up again.
“I can’t get anywhere with my board,” he complained. “There’s a lot of resentment. Why fight?”
Yet Jenkins still likes the idea and continues to gather signatures for a petition he hopes will lead to a March vote to replace the appointed village manager with an elected mayor/manager.
“The mayor should be running the village,” Jenkins explained. “The accountability should stop with the mayor.”
He actually believes the department heads “could run this village by themselves.”
But he also thinks the board majority still wants a manager.
“The board is against this because they want someone they can control,” he alleged. “They just keep fighting. ... I’m at the point where I’m tired of fighting people.”
Old allies are divided
Tuesday’s regular meeting the first of the new year did feature a scrap or two between the mayor and Trustee TC Hutchins, once close allies.
Hutchins questioned a resolution authorizing Jenkins to name Code Enforcement Officer James Snowden the Zoning Officer, wondering if that would be a conflict of interest and cost the village more money.
Jenkins replied that no extra salary is involved, though Snowden will get one extra day a month of comp time.
“It’s not uncommon for code enforcement officers to be zoning officers,” explained Jenkins, adding that Snowden is qualified to act as such.
Hutchins nevertheless remained opposed, though the measure ultimately passed.
Hutchins subsequently wondered when several complaints against the police would be handled by the police commission, which hasn’t met in months.
Jenkins said he passed the most recent complaint on to consultant Preston Felton, but Trustee Carmen Rue pointed out that Felton’s $14,000 contract had expired December 31.
Hutchins, however, said that the three-member commission (of which he’s part) continues to exist but must be called into session by Jenkins.
“We have begged and pleaded that the commission meet,” Hutchins said, leading to an angry exchange between the trustee and the mayor which was ultimately chastised by several audience members as an unseemly display of differences.
A gun ban?
Resident David Gilman broached a topic controversially discussed recently in Ellenville.
“I think it’s time for this board and this community to seriously talk about stricter gun laws,” Gilman said during public comment. “... We can’t say, ‘Leave it to Washington’ or ‘Leave it to Albany.’ We need to make it happen here.”
He advocated for a ban on assault weapons in the village, or perhaps a gun buyback program, or simply a resolution of support for the state and federal actions now under way.
“It may be symbolic, but at least it’s a start,” he urged. “... A minute’s silence [for those killed in the Newtown, Conn. massacre] doesn’t cut it. We need action!”
But he found little support in the audience or on the board, with most speakers instead advising the village should wait to see what state and federal laws are enacted.
“Everyone’s jumping the gun,” Trustee James Matthews observed. “... The President is moving forward with this as fast as he can.”
“That’s passing the buck,” replied Gilman.
“Whatever they do, we have to follow,” Matthews pointed out.
Police Chief Robert Mir said he could not support a buyback program, while Mayor Jenkins called the matter a “big, big issue where you can’t just jump in.”
Jenkins and Snowden announced that over 130 tickets had been issued in the village to residents and businesses which had not sufficiently cleared their sidewalks after the recent snowstorm.
“We got a lot of resistance and a lot of complaints,” said Snowden, “but we had to do what we had to do.”
Trustee Rue, however, noted that Monticello itself needs to be more on the ball on Broadway, where it has responsibility for clearing the lower-level sidewalks.
“I noticed the village is taking longer to clean the sidewalks on the bottom than the people on top,” she remarked.
The village board is scheduled to meet today (Jan. 18) at 6:30 p.m. to review resumés from candidates interested in the open village manager position. No decisions, however, are expected.
The board will also meet on Thursday, Jan. 24 at noon at the village hall to discuss the water services contract sought by EPR and Empire Resorts for their coming mega-resort in Kiamesha Lake.