Dan Hust | Democrat
Dan Hogue Jr., left, and Millie Hogue, right, are welcomed by Legislator Kathy LaBuda and Legislator Cora Edwards (not pictured) during this month’s full Legislature meeting in Monticello. Dan’s father and Millie’s husband, the late Sheriff Dan Hogue, was memorialized in a resolution by the Legislature, presented to his family. “He lived a life of public service,” affirmed Dan Jr. “What he said and what he thought and what he did were all in alignment,” added Edwards.
County Legislature: In Sager suit, a recusal from Sam Yasgur
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO June 25, 2013 County Attorney Sam Yasgur has stepped out of defending the county in the pending lawsuit from deposed Family Services Deputy Commissioner David Sager.
Citing a potential conflict should he be called as a witness in the trial, Yasgur on Thursday recommended to the Legislature four law firms from which he had solicited proposals.
“We’ve worked with all four of these attorneys on different matters,” he said of the submitted names, calling each “eminently qualified.”
Rates ranged from $175-$255 an hour.
“You get what you pay for,” cautioned Legislator Kathy LaBuda, who said she wants to prevail against a “frivolous lawsuit” she worries could cost the county as much as half a million dollars.
Legislator Cora Edwards, however, thought her colleagues should pick the firm with the most expertise and the best winning track record in these kinds of lawsuits.
“Their success rate ... would be very critical to me,” agreed Legislator Kitty Vetter.
“You have to make this determination quickly because we have an unanswered summons and complaint,” warned Yasgur, who said a response is due this week.
He tried to call the four attorneys immediately to gain the requested info but could not reach them.
“I’m not comfortable rushing into this,” LaBuda said.
“Me neither,” added Legislator Cindy Gieger.
Initially, they were the minority, with legislators Edwards, Jonathan Rouis, Gene Benson, Scott Samuelson, Ira Steingart and Alan Sorensen voting to go with James Roemer, the county’s current labor counsel, for $210 an hour.
LaBuda, Gieger and Vetter were against.
But that was only in the Executive Committee. During the subsequent full Legislature meeting, Samuelson asked to table the matter, and that passed with only Benson opposed.
“We just felt that we rushed it through,” Samuelson explained afterwards.
Legislators are expected to pick an attorney/firm this week.
Jail Task Force reconvening
Responding to a state audit advising the county could save more by building a new jail than continuing to operate the existing one, Legislature Chairman Scott Samuelson and Sheriff Michael Schiff confirmed on Thursday that a task force on a future jail will be re-created to advise the Legislature.
“I believe there is an answer, but it doesn’t have to be an $80 million jail,” explained Samuelson. “... We really need to look at it closely and soon.”
Action is expected next month.
More cuts at CCE
Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Executive Director Greg Sandor informed legislators on Thursday that the nonprofit will be excising staff as a result of budget cuts.
“We decided by the end of the year to really get to the rock-bottom of these cuts,” he explained. “... The shortfall is just too big.”
He indicated the loss is larger than just the $83,000 the county and the $33,000 the feds cut from CCE’s budget this year, citing a figure around $200,000 total.
“Basically the only thing we can cut is staff,” he lamented.
Three were let go on Friday, followed by two taking early retirement, with a total reduction of eight by year’s end, said Sandor.
However, CCE will hire a full-time agriculture program leader to replace one who left earlier this year, he added.
A Small Business Roadmap
Legislator Cindy Gieger on Thursday announced the creation of a Small Business Roadmap on the county’s website.
Containing step-by-step instructions and advice for new and existing small business owners, the single page is designed “to simplify the process” of navigating through the various available services, she explained.
“Now it’s in one place all the steps,” she affirmed.
People need only click on the “Business” tab at the top of the county’s homepage. The direct link is at www.co.sullivan.ny.us/Tabs/Business/tabid/3057/Default.aspx.
New DPW head
Legislators unanimously named Ed McAndrew the commissioner of the Division of Public Works (DPW) on Thursday.
He’s essentially served in that role since his predecessor, Bob Meyer, suffered a debilitating motorcycle accident last year.
Meyer officially retires on July 25 as the county’s Supt. of Highways, a separate but related role that McAndrew will also then assume.
The Jeffersonville resident has served in DPW for 17 years. He’ll be paid a total of $103,246 per year.
Reshaping Public Health
With Public Health Director Carol Ryan’s coming retirement next month, legislators agreed on Thursday to restructure its leadership.
Ryan has long served as both the Public Health Director and the Director of Patient Services. Those two positions will once again be split apart, and a WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program Coordinator will be created.
“It’s just an overwhelming amount for one person,” Ryan noted. “This would be a far better step.”
A net savings of around $25,300 is expected, as the Legislature has abolished the Deputy Public Health Director and Senior Supervising Public Health Nurse positions.