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the Ulster County Legislature’s rules to provide a mechanism to remove the Legislature chairman from office is being withdrawn, but not because its sponsors don’t want to advance it.Great.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.I think would agree with Ragucci. Members of the caucus choose the chairman, not the voters.
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.
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.I think a few members of the GOP are also feeling a bit of buyer's remorse, but who am I to quibble.
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.
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.