Spin doctors

by Doug Malone, Legislator

County Clerk Mike Backus and Legislator Louella LeClair really have honed their skills as spin doctors. LeClair claims that the legislators look at every dime that’s spent. Her constituents should ask her why she and her Republican counterparts voted to give the data imagine contract for the County Clerk’s office to IQS when they were the most expensive company with the lowest rating. This contract will cost the taxpayers approximately $300,000 more than necessary.

There were plenty of qualified companies that bid. Why the Republicans voted to spend more than a quarter of a million more for this service can only be answered by them. The Democrats voted against this waste of tax dollars, so I guess you could say a part of what LeClair said is true. The Democrats are watching every dime spent.

Backus said he needs time to evaluate IQS. What’s there to evaluate? How costly the service is to the taxpayers or how much IQS will give to the county Republican party? In his response to my letter, Backus didn’t address the $500 that IQS donated to the Republican party. Anyone wanting to look at the donation can go to the state Board of Elections website and check the Oswego County Republican Committee January 2013 disclosure report. You’ll find the donation from IQS tucked away under “housekeeping receipts.” There is nothing in any of the expense lines to show the money was returned to IQS.

Backus is the county Republican chairman and the county clerk. Maybe he wants to evaluate how much IQS donates to the party before he decides whether he wants to save the taxpayers money? Look closely at all the Republican party’s financial reports. Interestingly, of all the vendors that bid on the contract for the clerk’s office, only IQS donated to the county GOP.

For all you pistol permit holders concerned with privacy, are you aware that your pistol permit information is held with IQS? That’s right, an outside company has all of your private information and we don’t know who at IQS has access to your information.

What is known is that the Democrat caucus has proof that another county doing business with IQS had a security breach. Last August, when the resolution came up to award the data imagine contract, Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler held up a file with documentation of the security breach and offered it to the Republicans to look at. There were no takers. Obviously, the Republicans weren’t concerned over the privacy and security of your personal information.

Gun permit holders should demand to know why this information is held outside of the county offices, who has access to it and how permit holders are guaranteed there won’t be a security breach.

Backus is correct that he publicized that he wants an audit but that’s as far as it went. It was mentioned at a committee meeting that he couldn’t attend, so it was tabled.

He could have easily asked for a special meeting or asked to have the meeting date changed. Backus sat at the Finance and Personnel meeting a week later and never said anything about wanting an audit. I’m sure he will ask now that his dog and pony show has been exposed.

The feel-good luncheon Backus put on left a question of ethics as to who can pay for the catered meal from Canale’s. Feeding the Republican legislators who have to vote on his salary and anything else for the clerk’s office, gives the appearance that he’s trying to gain favoritism. Check the state ethics law that we have to follow. We are to take no more than a cup of coffee to avoid the appearance of impropriety, improper influence and favoritism. No Democrats attended the luncheon because we knew better.

The Democrat caucus will continue to watch every dime spent and keep the public informed on what the Republicans are doing. Interestingly, Backus stood in the doorway at the Feb. 14 meeting, hawking over the press as if he was trying to intimidate. Maybe he’s trying to keep the public from seeing through the Republican’s veneer?

In the latest county GOP newsletter, Backus pointed out that there are only five Democrats, so “obviously” they can pick the next county treasurer, something they intend to do even though there is a case law to show the governor makes the appointment. But they will do what they want and fight it out in court at taxpayer expense.

Backus said it all, when he concluded his newsletter with, “We are a strong committee because of our hard work, loyal friends and supportive benefactors.” Go check out the Oswego County Republican Committee financial reports on the state Board of Elections website and compare those benefactors to those who get the bid awards in the county. There’s some veneer worth stripping.

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