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County Executive & Legislature Disagreements

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ElmiraTelegram    121

Read about it more HERE

At Thursday night's meeting, the legislature voted 13-1 to take their case to the State Supreme Court. 5th District Legislator Mark Margeson was the dissenting vote, citing concerns there was something the legislature was missing and adding he needed more information. 

Attorney Ray Schlather will represent the legislature pro bono, putting to rest concerns about added taxpayer expense. 

 

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Chris    910

Why does the legislature need their own separate attorney? I mean, prior to this. 

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Adam    19
5 hours ago, Chris said:

Why does the legislature need their own separate attorney? I mean, prior to this. 

seems to be a question no one is willing to answer

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KarenK    75
8 hours ago, Chris said:

Why does the legislature need their own separate attorney? I mean, prior to this. 

Confusing us all

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KReed    415
Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Chris said:

Why does the legislature need their own separate attorney? I mean, prior to this. 

The closest "answer" to this question I've seen so far is: because when the matter was quietly pushed through back in the 80s,  no one prevented it at that time.

Edited by KReed

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Adam    19

i have been, well relentless i guess, in asking questions such as Why does the Legislature need this attorney? How is it explicitly allowed in the Charter? How was mr. Schlather settled on so quickly? as well as some concerns for true impartiality and whether there is a political angle at play.....the only legislator to answer thus far has really not given actual, fact-based answers .

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KReed    415
Posted (edited)

Furthermore....

Even if we establish some burning need for the Legislature to have its own counsel (because they are somehow fall outside the scope of Section 1602 (b)**.... the position is "Attorney to the Legislature and Special Districts". The Sewer and Solid Waste Districts that comprise half of the job fall under the Executive branch. What part of the Charter allows the Legislative branch to appoint legal counsel for those departments?

**(Section 1602 (b) advise all County officers and employees in all County legal matters of a civil nature;)

 

Since the Land Bank was created by and is accountable to the Legislature, why wouldn't the duties of "Attorney to the Legislature and Special Districts" already include representing the Land bank without the need to hire an "outside contractor" ? 

I understand that there may very well be a legal need for the land bank to have legal representation separate from the body they report to.....in which case, the same lawyer/firm representing both is a clear conflict of interest.

The questions of who has the power to appoint someone to this position, and of who contracts outside services still do not seem to render the following section of the County Charter null and void:

"Section 2909. Officers and Employees Engaging in Other Transactions. No
officer or employee of the County or member of the County Legislature shall have any
interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction
or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature, which is in substantial
conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest."

 

 

You either accept the appointment, or keep your day job. Not both

Edited by KReed

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Adam    19
2 hours ago, KReed said:

Furthermore....

Even if we establish some burning need for the Legislature to have its own counsel (because they are somehow fall outside the scope of Section 1602 (b)**.... the position is "Attorney to the Legislature and Special Districts". The Sewer and Solid Waste Districts that comprise half of the job fall under the Executive branch. What part of the Charter allows the Legislative branch to appoint legal counsel for those departments?

**(Section 1602 (b) advise all County officers and employees in all County legal matters of a civil nature;)

 

Since the Land Bank was created by and is accountable to the Legislature, why wouldn't the duties of "Attorney to the Legislature and Special Districts" already include representing the Land bank without the need to hire an "outside contractor" ? 

I understand that there may very well be a legal need for the land bank to have legal representation separate from the body they report to.....in which case, the same lawyer/firm representing both is a clear conflict of interest.

The questions of who has the power to appoint someone to this position, and of who contracts outside services still do not seem to render the following section of the County Charter null and void:

"Section 2909. Officers and Employees Engaging in Other Transactions. No
officer or employee of the County or member of the County Legislature shall have any
interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction
or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature, which is in substantial
conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest."

 

 

You either accept the appointment, or keep your day job. Not both

Ill hold my breath till you get any substantive answers from those involved.....

  • Haha 1

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Adam    19

I see now they have tabled the hiring of the attorney

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KarenK    75
6 minutes ago, Adam said:

I see now they have tabled the hiring of the attorney

Only until Monday when they have their regular meeting.

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Hal    213

I know I should not be , but I am surprised at all the Chris Moss haters on Attorney Sonshires FB page ! Both of the aforementioned have hit the ground running ( to be seen as a good thing ) ! Strangely , no pun intended Rodney , we don’t hear a lot , publicly, from the rest of the Legislative body or is it that they are letting Ms Sonshire take point on this matter as a trial by fire since she is not afraid to speak out ? Lastly , County Executive Moss (  I like the sound of that , don’t you ? ) seems to have taken the strategic “ high road “ of silence on the whole matter , interesting no ? Two different cliche’s come to mind here . For the Legislature “ Methinks thou dost protest too much “ for Executive Moss ... “ Silence speaks Volumes “ ! Either way this plays out in my opinion ( take it or leave it ) I see this as a win win for Chemung County Residents . 

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Chris    910

Looks like the legislature decided to table the motion to have an attorney represent them pro bono, instead choosing to have a sit down with Moss. 

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Chris    910
On 3/3/2019 at 2:21 PM, Chris said:

Why does the legislature need their own separate attorney? I mean, prior to this. 

"By 1984 the Legislature realized that having the County Attorney draft all legislation does not coincide with separation of powers, and since that time a system where both branches have separate counsel of their choosing has worked abundantly well. The cleanest thing would have been for a the Legislature to amend the County Charter years ago. But, it didn’t, and therefore we are taking that step now. It is hard to envision why this is would be controversial.

More fundamentally, the Legislature needs to have fully independent counsel of its choosing for the occasions when matters it wants to pursue are different from what the Executive branch desires. This was clear to County officials by 1984, and our vote of 14-1 last night shows all but one current member of the Legislature agrees." -Christina Sonsire 

More at https://chemungcountymatters.com/2019/03/12/update-regarding-the-legislative-attorney/?fbclid=IwAR0-OdGD7Kz9Q7iv113WXib3y5oIZK190aA6vf01pAaBIxdeoQMY5faekmw

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KReed    415
Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Chris said:

Looks like the legislature decided to table the motion to have an attorney represent them pro bono, instead choosing to have a sit down with Moss. 

The CC Matters blog didn't mention any planned sit down with Moss. It just says that they passed a local law to amend the charter and believe they have enough support to override a veto. 

I'm not sure how I feel that a public referendum was apparently needed to adopt the charter....but evidently the Legislature is free to amend it at will. I guess I assumed that amending it would be something like Constitutional Amendments and require some sort of public approval (ratification).

 

Edited by KReed
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Chris    910
25 minutes ago, KReed said:

The CC Matters blog didn't mention any planned sit down with Moss. 

I believe it was mentioned on a Facebook post yesterday/ last night. I can't remember where though. 

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KarenK    75
16 minutes ago, Chris said:

I believe it was mentioned on a Facebook post yesterday/ last night. I can't remember where though. 

It was out there on both news stations.  Manchester was the one who advised he would be sitting down with Moss to discuss

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Adam    19

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fchemungcountymatters.com%2F2019%2F03%2F12%2Fupdate-regarding-the-legislative-attorney%2F%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR0bIw7SQJpW8qFv8lTCTAyS5Dzdy349_5oFsMlnm51zIs1HYt8ZpEK_w9g&h=AT18t7f7ByxEQqifAQ6dMy_KJ16RHttY9JdNBR963V_QHbdFriKGyQKnOJDMYNi0-_RBw7BKAw9oNTOud7plazUhcCJoOeVELP9pFt_cK0p_Meu91gD1P5TP4jUBpG-s31FfM6Zi-tgvU4O_SsWi8yFSmJkjc43hO76gOx5rHWzYexeGYvuUoau4m4kpAqn_fYU79becPynUe2CpzGXTQ8kNATp6XtvzTmJxqvUyffKmanVnQcRcOAH_sU3TADNiqtTjVMrsRLmN1JEAO5t9MhkxqhOYQAQnJv_dYQ0lTIWMPbGHyNe1m7kXRmCuk6BR2_gFAmYSPzO18SpeBpibhbeunAe5mJk0cI9LKdh9HtqZGbl2cZZoCCn8nUxlZXPwQls6KZwX7QzgssBVUkBOv9WQahpNDHiRBIbuXe26gA3XrRkIGJpXsuh73iDufqE-zJeCuMOS05NatpY6K94zjlSaES4j_96ADmnhiA_CrPS0xal6XxBIbO7SX8mLJu0PfWCsGNra6W_VqMsd5km6qH2aRd0hBtFAJtpwVPt0FI3zT53A9-OuRmSNfPEYSS54EQ2CTEM9Z8V1zssSqq_xr3BE_I0hM45V9KEYunik6yCv9JYgOHdERVd1dYQDmwgdRFpg21iUGdDu6I8h3w0agP0CiqE8XfiOMwMqBLNU

 

My posted reply is as follows: "One of those departments was called the “Department of Law.” Under the original County Charter, there was just one law department headed by the County Attorney who oversaw all legal functions throughout the county.......By that time there were many other lawyers who did not work under the County Attorney as well such as the District Attorney and assistants, Public Defender and assistants and lawyers working for the Department of Social Services." ARTICLE XXI
DISTRICT ATTORNEY and ARTICLE XXII
PUBLIC DEFENDER of the Charter had covered those functions ( did not see how DSS could retain own counsel admittedly) 

"throughout that time Attorney Keyser’s functions included researching and drafting resolutions, local laws and other related documents. These functions were not inconsistent with the County Charter, 
However, a Local Law passed unanimously by the Legislature in 1987 clarifies that, as of that time, the County Attorney’s job did not include any involvement with legislative drafting whatsoever." "To be clear, this description shows the County Attorney was not paid to perform any legislative functions, because by that time all duties related to the Legislature were handled by the Legislative Attorney." 
Three concerns here; firstly 1602 sections A and D specifically say it is the SOLE legal adviser to the County as well as spells out: "prepare resolutions, ordinances, legalizing acts and local laws,
together with notices and other items in connection therewith, to be
presented for action by the County Legislature;" But according to the Charter, the County Attorney was originally tasked with performing Legislative functions, so why would it need to be stated elsewhere? there seems to be no need for (as outlined in the Charter) for a Legislative attorney, nor any explicit authority for one. 

More concerning is this quote ".... because they did not deprive the County Attorney of also undertaking these tasks if he or she saw the need to do so." 

why would ANY county taxpayer want/need to pay for two attorneys to duplicate work? does not seem very representative of our interests nor financially responsible. 

"It remains unclear why the Resolution was phrased this way, as nothing in the Civil Service documents indicate the County Executive has the power to appoint or oversee the Legislative Attorney. It simply may have been an oversight." May very well could have been mere oversight, or could have been an accidental peek at potential quid pro quo in past Administration. Either way this quote begs the question: Are we looking to Civil Service documents for rule of Law or the County Charter Because if it is the Charter, as it should be, there again does not seem to be explicit support for "Legislative Attorney" 

Having One Attorney representing the County really is not a deterrent to separation of powers, as with the originating issue, one only needs look to the Charter; the veto/approval process sees fit that there need not be concern of overstep. If the Legislature sees fit to draft Legislation, the body of 15 can in fact over ride the Veto of the Executive if needed. Regardless, the Legislature and Executive should both be pursuing matters that mutually benefit those who really count, We the taxpayers of this County, not ego or power-base which quite frankly this whole situation seems to involve, both parties should NOT be thinking as the other as an opposing side; we have enough of that in National politics, work with and trust each other, THAT is how you get things done "cleanly" IF Legislators still think separate counsel is necessary, then best thing is to put it to public referendum, since it is the taxpayers footing the bill for potential duplicate work, then really WE should approve/deny it.

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Adam    19

Two Legislators so far have not/cannot provide specific support in the Charter for a Legislative Attorney, past practice and unanimous decisions and recently " the executive has not raised that concern so it is not an issue (response to question about Article XVI section 1602) do not seem to amount to more than "ya-huh" or "because i said so"...show us explicit support for a separate counsel and be done, otherwise time for change

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KReed    415
9 hours ago, Adam said:

Two Legislators so far have not/cannot provide specific support in the Charter for a Legislative Attorney, past practice and unanimous decisions and recently " the executive has not raised that concern so it is not an issue (response to question about Article XVI section 1602) do not seem to amount to more than "ya-huh" or "because i said so"...

I agree, the decision to amend the Charter is an admission that it is not in there.

 

9 hours ago, Adam said:

show us explicit support for a separate counsel and be done, otherwise time for change

You see, this is what bothers me. You and I have been looking at this issue as if the Charter is a durable set of rules that our representatives are expected to adhere to.

While the realty seems to be that there is no requirement for the Legislature to follow the Charter. If it does not support their actions, they have the power to simply make it say whatever works for them. It's a 'formality' they did not bother with in 1984 or 2001, and is so inconsequential that they can just rewrite the Charter after the fact to make us happy now that we have asked what the Charter says. 

Quote

To that end, the Legislature passed a Local Law last night by a vote of 14-1 that simply amends the County Charter to make it consistent with the law and practice in Chemung County since 1984 – i.e. the Legislature has the power to appoint a lawyer of its choosing, and that lawyer can draft resolutions, local laws and other documents. (I did not embed the law below as it is a bit long, but it can be found here.)

County Executive Moss has the option to veto the Local Law, but it looks like the Legislature almost certainly has the votes to override it as a veto override only requires 10 votesCounty Executive Moss would then have the option to circulate petitions to place this matter on the ballot for a public vote next November.

 

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Johnny Go    156
Posted (edited)

According to New York home rule law, article 4, any changes to the charter law shall not become operative until passed by the voters in a general or special election.

Sonsire, being a lawyer, should know this. I am going to assume the details listed this far are not complete, rather than assume we have a bunch of would be tyrants in our hands.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Johnny Go
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Hal    213
Posted (edited)

Not that this makes any difference at all . While looking at Chemung County Matters last night I did see the response format has changed to requiring ones Name and E mail address to make a response . Is this a way to filter out all that FB fodder or to slow down all those ‘ controversial “ questions !  Now in 3 , 2 , 1 .... no , I do not have a problem giving said information , just found it interesting this happens just when the matter gets tabled and then given the content of Ms Sonsires last paragraph in her latest posting and the finality of the context therein . 

Edited by Hal

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Chris    910

On the Facebook page or main site? I've had to enter that information when commenting before all this. 

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Hal    213
Posted (edited)

FB page , never had to give info before . Like I said it’s no big deal . LOL just went FB site , shows  error message , cannot Open . 

Edited by Hal

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Hal    213

Now back to normal on FB page so I deleted my last  post . 

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KarenK    75

Well apparently the plot thickens.  Moss has filed a lawsuit today. :o

Spoiler

 

 

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