Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How to Kill a Resolution

It looks like the Rodriguez resolution to create a mechanism to remove the chairman of the county legislature is DOA:
A proposal to amend the Ulster County Legislature’s rules to provide a mechanism to remove the Legislature chairman from office is being withdrawn, but not because its sponsors don’t want to advance it.
Great. So what's the problem?:
Legislative Attorney Erica Guerin said that because the position of chairman of the Legislature is a “statutorily created” position that carries a one-year term, legislators cannot adopt rules through a resolution to remove that person midterm. Rather, she said, the procedure to remove must be adopted through a local law and must provide reasons for the removal.

Minority Counsel Chris Ragucci, who represents the Democratic caucus, disagreed, saying that because the chairman isn’t elected in a “public election” but rather through a vote of the Legislature, the position is “an internal administrative position.” He also argued that because it is a legislative appointment, the office holder “has no right to that office,” and no reasons for removal need be delineated.
I think would agree with Ragucci. Members of the caucus choose the chairman, not the voters.

And this comes on the heels of the Republican caucus last week, in which plans to kill the resolution were discussed:
Republicans in the Ulster County Legislature during Tuesday's May 8 caucus handily dismissed a resolution sponsored by a Democratic counterpart that would change the laws of the legislature to enable lawmakers to remove the lawmaking body's chair, if the need ever arises.

Hector Rodriguez, D-New Paltz, sponsored the resolution because he said the legislature presently lacks any mechanism for removal. Most Democrats in their caucus support the measure. While Rich Parete, D-Marbletown, and John Parete, D-Olive, staunchly oppose Rodriguez's legislation, Rob Parete, D-Stone Ridge, said he'd be introducing to the Laws and Rules committee accompanying legislation that would empower the Legislature to remove the Majority and Minority leader, as well. Legislative counsel Langdon Chapman told Republicans that his understanding is that county law provides that the term of the chair of the legislature is for one year.

"When the state law says the term of the chair is one year, your rules are not the appropriate mechanism to try to override the state law," he said. "In my view, that's an issue — you can't be passing resolutions that contradict state laws."

Kevin Roberts, who chairs the Laws and Rules Committee, said, "The only way a chair should be removed is if he or she commits an illegal act."

Chair of the Legislature, Terry Bernardo, R-Accord, who was present at the Republican caucus, asked Roberts to "kill" the legislation at Monday's upcoming Laws and Rules Committee meeting and he assured her it would be "squashed." Chapman said that if the resolution is defeated in committee, it won't make it to the floor of the Legislature.

Several legislators have been grumbling publicly about some of Bernardo's recent actions, and Republicans feared that some Dems might attempt to use the legislation to oust the new chairwoman.
I think a few members of the GOP are also feeling a bit of buyer's remorse, but who am I to quibble.

So, it appears the Rodriguez resolution is history. And it also appears that some Democrats have gotten cold feet about this. Too bad. The good news is that many of our legislators are starting to have second thoughts about the acumen of our current leader, and rightly so. We'll have to wait and see what January 2013 has in store, it appears.


  1. If Roberts says an illegal act then a resolution could say that. Currently even in that event your stuck with the person. mr Chapman the state law does not set the county rules. Not as good as they said you were

  2. They can change the rules of the Legislature which dictate HOW the Chairman is chosen. The charter says there will BE a Chairman. No one is saying to do away with the Chairman, just putting some rules around how they are removed. Nothing wrong with that if you ask me. Don't forget, this goes forward and is not limited to the current failure, Mrs. Len Bernardo.

    The reply by Chapman is political to try and save his bosses ass.

  3. Notice how the voice of the Legislature changes in these 2 stories?
    First it is Chapman saying it is illegal. Then the 2nd time it is Guerin. Must be something to this.
    And why is Guerin (the paralegal) interpreting the legalness of a resolution? Just curious