Nothing Changes; If Nothing Changes

Letter by Robert A. Doherty
Posted 5/5/21

I write in response to a letter sent to all Legislators by the Chairman of the Sullivan County Democratic Committee, Steve Vegliante.

As a preliminary note I observe that it is remarkable that Mr. …

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Nothing Changes; If Nothing Changes

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I write in response to a letter sent to all Legislators by the Chairman of the Sullivan County Democratic Committee, Steve Vegliante.

As a preliminary note I observe that it is remarkable that Mr. Vegliante could see fit to place a political twist on any issue presented, most recently on our ability to ensure that the residents at our adult care center receive the best possible care available, a standard that has not been maintained over the past five years.

Mr. Vegliante asserts that the meeting of April 23, 2021, represented a new low of our County Government. To a point I concur. Legislators are compensated based on a rate of 15 hours each week.

A special meeting was necessary because the staffing levels at the Adult Care Centers have dropped, due to retirement and resignation, to unacceptable levels. This special meeting was set for Friday to ensure that additional positions were created in order to ensure that appropriate staffing levels exist to provide proper care to our residents. Given such an important and exigent issue I find it remarkable that, while Legislators George Conklin and Alan Sorensen made appropriate arrangements to be able to participate in the meeting remotely, none of the minority members found it necessary to make any such arrangements.

In fact, in the case of Legislator Nadia Rajsz, the Chair of the Health and Family Services Committee, she could not even afford the People of the County the courtesy of advising that she had any sort of conflict that prevented her from attending the meeting.

Public Officers Law 102(1) provides that a meeting means the official convening of a public body for the purpose of conducting public business, including the use of videoconferencing for attendance and participation by the members of the public body. The law of the State of New York simply does not provide for attendance and participation by members of the Legislature via telephone or other electronic means, only videoconferencing.

This is of particular interest since this precise issue was discussed, at length, during our recently completed debate on the amendments to the Rules of the Legislature, which likewise do not permit attendance and participation by other than videoconferencing. Therefore the inescapable conclusion to be gleaned from Ms. Rajsz's feigned outrage at not being able to participate via telephone is that she set up the scenario for political gains in an effort to inflame the public against the chair who merely sought to enforce the rules and the law as provided.

Moreover, a member wishing to appear and participate other than in person is required to seek approval of the chair before determining the way they elect to participate. In the case of Ms. Rajsz no such request was made. Indeed, it is difficult for me to imagine a conflict so great as to prevent the Chair of the Health and Family Services Committee, the very group charged with oversight of the Adult Care Center, from being present, in person, to spearhead the proposal to ensure adequate levels of nursing staff are maintained at that facility.

Such wonderment is only trumped by the fact that Ms. Rajsz, after failing to attend the meeting, failing to understand the rules that she helped promulgate less than one month ago, and failing to consult anyone regarding her participation then sought to delay the vote on these positions for another month, thereby potentially imperiling the welfare of each resident in that facility.

Clearly, Ms. Rajsz in her zeal to place the chair before the public in a bad light was more keenly focused on the politics than on the health and wellbeing of the residents in the Adult Care Center.

Mr. Vegliante, the leader of the Democratic Party, clearly seeks to take up that mantel by calling for the resignation, not of the person who failed to carryout our sworn duty to the People of Sullivan County but to call for the resignation of the chair, the very person who identified the problem and acted to address it as expeditiously as possible. More politics from Mr. Vegliante and more peril to the People of this County occasioned by his petty games.

Mr. Vegliante's leadership has yielded past legislatures whose achievements can be measured only in terms of their inactivity. The lack of financial oversight noted by two auditors following the 2019 review forms the epicenter for the turmoil confronting the county in general and the Adult Care Center specifically.

In each of their four years in control, Mr. Vegliante's minions overspent the budget, adding to the tax problems confronting the people of Sullivan County and they failed miserably to recognize that the care levels at Sunset Lake had been diminished to such a degree that recovery under county ownership was simply not possible.

Considering this, I find it truly remarkable that Mr. Vegliante would have the temerity to suggest that it was the current Chair who had placed the County in jeopardy and caused harm to members of the public. Perhaps Mr. Vegliante should spend more time understanding reality and less time casting aspersions on those who are merely attempting to rectify the mess caused by four years of control by his crew.

Mr. Vegliante, however, is not alone in his efforts to cover for the incompetence of his crew while transferring blame to me. He has a loyal gang of foot soldiers who will charge forward with their rhetoric despite contrary facts. Those “concerned” members of the public who frequent meetings of the Sullivan County Legislature are merely foot soldiers in Vegliante's gang seeking to discredit those who are at tempting to address years of incompetence within the leadership of the County Legislature.

I could not adequately address the level of Mr. Vegliante's hypocrisy without discussing those who regularly attend meetings, under the guise of “concerned” citizens of Sullivan County. To be clear, these are a select group of political operatives charged with attempting to discredit the majority while ignoring the indiscretions of the beloved minority.

How else could one explain the bevy of women coming forward, not to condemn but to exalt the actions of Mr. Alverez after it was determined that he had verbally assaulted a staff member, woman and single mother. There could be no more plausible explanation for the spin squad displaying placards declaring the actions of the chair, in following the law and the rules of the legislature as “shameful.”

This display only magnified when superimposed with the facts that those same operatives who would display such placards are the people who have endeavored for over a year to gain credibility for their positions by declaring that they were representing friends and family within the facility.

That mask was conclusively removed last week when they declared it shameful that the chair, consistent with the law of the state and the rules of this legislature, determined that the resolutions presented would be brought to a vote.

Included among those resolutions which the spin squad sought to delay for a month, was a resolution to bring much needed additional staff to the Care Center, clearly the spin squad has a greater commitment to their “political cause” than they do the health, safety and welfare of their own mothers.

Who are the spin squad: they are political operatives, former candidates for office, current political committee members and those with future aspirations for political office. That is who they are (as set forth in a letter to the editor dated March 9, 2021).

So, what is it that Vegliante and his spin squad truly condemn? Do they condemn the fact that his loyalists attempted to bring a censure resolution condemning the chair knowing full well that the Legislature had no authority to censure anyone, or is it that the I attempted to provide the very authority they sought to exercise without the authority to do so?

Do they condemn the fact that I recognized that the Adult Care Center had dropped to the point where they were not servicing their residents adequately and took steps to now ensure that the residents of that center will be treated to excellent care for generations to come? Do they condemn the fact that the I recognized the challenge confronting much of our county given today's communications and have taken steps to deliver broadband service throughout the county?

Do they condemn the fact that I have spearheaded the planned expansion of our recycling program to include composting that will not only safeguard our environment in the future but will also dramatical-ly limit the cost of the County managing its refuse? Do they condemn my exploration into the industrial hemp market that will restore our farming communities to their once profitable status and dramatically enhance land values?

Do they condemn my having reimagined the plan for tourism in this county seeing our bed tax revenue as an investment in sales tax the driving force of the County's economy? Do they condemn the fact that my sound fiscal management has safeguarded the county through one of the most uncertain economic periods in our nation's history while setting the stage for clearing debt brought about by years of eco-nomic mismanagement under the Vegliante-endorsed leadership?

Do they condemn my focused effort to address the county's health crises which has Sullivan County ranked 61 of 62 counties statewide, besting only the Bronx, while Westchester County, Rockland County and Dutchess County, our neighbors, each find themselves ranked among the top 10 statewide and Orange County sits well ahead of us at 23 and Ulster checks in at number 16.

Do they condemn our initiative to complete the 55-mile O & W rail trail that will provide countless opportunities to attract tourists to our region and provide a wide range of healthy recreational outlets for the residents of Sullivan County? Or do they condemn the fact that this new dawn for Sullivan County is being led by a Republican Chair after years of mismanagement in the hands of the Vegliante Gang.

It has often been said that change rarely occurs without opposition. Those who have used their power and authority to establish the status quo are often reluctant to endorse change, regardless of the benefit occasioned thereby.

The history of this country is replete with those who possessed the courage, resilience and fortitude to bring about change and we regularly salute those who have guided such change. The condemnation referenced by Vegliante is merely the hollow utterings of his ignorance in the face of overwhelming factual support for the mismanagement and lack of planning which accompanied his gang's power.

The current legislature does not seek power, they seek change and improvement in the lives of every person who calls Sullivan County home and to that I can only offer: Nothing Changes; If Nothing Changes.

So, if you are happy with the paralysis which characterized the Vegliante-endorsed leadership which then lead to financial disaster and a worsening health crisis, then you too should join in condemning the current leadership for whatever self-serving interests you may have.

But if you believe that Sullivan County can stand on the threshold of a brighter financial future and increasingly better health outcomes and believe that change is essential to our future growth then join the current leadership in condemning Vegliante, his inactive minions and the obstructionist spin squad in their efforts to hijack our magnificent home.

Robert A. Doherty
Monticello, NY

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