Tag Archives: Michael Backus

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Legislators want clerk supervisors replaced

supervisorsby Carol Thompson

The hostile work environment in the Oswego County Clerk’s office has reportedly turned to violence in the work place as an employee allegedly threw a staple remover at another employee, hitting the employee.

Index clerk Justin White, who allegedly became enraged Tuesday, is said to have picked up a six-inch metal staple remover and flung it at a coworker.

The incident occurred in front of one of the security cameras located in the clerk’s office.

The clerk’s office has been shrouded in controversy with allegations of bullying and harassing. The office has an acting county clerk, a deputy clerk of operations and one senior index clerk, responsible for supervising nine employees.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle question how three supervisors could be present when the incident occurred yet there was no intervention and both sides are calling for County Clerk-elect Michael Backus to replace acting County Clerk Georgiana Mansfield and Deputy Clerk of Operations Matthew Bacon when he takes office at the first of the year.

“The atmosphere in the clerk’s office is toxic,” Legislator Shawn Doyle said. “Mansfield and Bacon bear the ultimate blame for this in my opinion. Backus must remove them to begin any reorganization and healing among staff.”

Legislator Doug Malone agreed. “I don’t know why we need deputies,” he said. “Bacon was supposed to be in charge of operations and it doesn’t look like it’s working.”

He added that the legislators don’t need to be babysitting the office everyday.

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said, “I concur with Shawn. It’s well past the point of turning your head and saying nothing is wrong. It’s well past that.”

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397
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Local voters favor Democrats at national level

Democratsby Carol Thompson

Oswego County voters came out strong for national Democrat candidates in a heavily Republican district and local party chairmen have differing conclusions as to why.

“New York state wasn’t in play nationally, so at the top of the ticket I am not surprised that the president and Senator Gillibrand ran so strong,” Oswego County Republican Chairman Michael Backus said Wednesday.

“That certainly affected all of our races through the county. I am proud of our victories with re-electing State Senator Patty Ritchie, State Assemblyman Will Barclay, State Assemblyman Bob Oaks and electing Spencer Ludington to Surrogate Court,” Backus added.

“I was also proud to run with and win with Congressman Richard Hanna on the eastern side of the county.”

Oswego County Democrat Committee chairman Mike Kunzwiler said that he believed the strong support for President Barack Obama was based on policies.

“I think it comes down to who the voters in Oswego County felt more in touch with as far as the policies of the candidates,” he said.

Kunzwiler added that the voters based their decision on the stance of each candidate.

The national victories for the Democrat Party are not unusual. Four years ago. President Obama took Oswego County as well.

The number of voters this year, however, was slightly lower than four years ago. Approximately 60 percent of registered voters turned out at the polls, according to Oswego County Board of Elections Commissioner Dick Atkins.

The City of Oswego’s Seventh District, which historically has a high voter turnout, had an approximate 67 percent turnout and could reach 70 percent when absentee ballots are counted, Atkins said.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Democrats fare well in national races, GOP takes local races

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County, known to be a stronghold for the Republican Party, once again supported a Democrat in the race for the White House.

President Barack Obama won the county this year, which he did four years ago. Obama took 54.6 percent of the vote to Romney’s 44.8 percent.

Democrat Dan Maffei won with a two-percent lead over Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle in the race for the 24th District Congressional seat in Oswego County. Overall, the unofficial results show Maffei ahead by four percent.

Democrats did not fare so well in the remainder of the races with 48th District State Senator Patty Ritchie winning re-election by a two-to-one margin over Oswego County Legislator Amy Tresidder.

Oswego County Republican Committee Chairman Michael Backus won the seat for County Clerk ousting Phillip Vasho by a 20-percent margin.

Following a national trend, voters in Oswego County were unpredictable and did not vote straight party line.

Also following some national trends, local voters willing to express their opinion at the polls said they felt some incumbents were “ineffective” but voted for their re-election for various reasons — either because they did not know enough about the opposing candidate or because of the stand on a particular issue.

For Tresidder, it was, in part, her effectiveness as a county legislator that impacted voters, according to some voters. “I voted for Patty Ritchie because I think Amy Tresidder does a great job for the county and I think we need her here more,” a City of Oswego voter said. “The state’s a mess and no one person can fix that but Amy makes a difference here.”

Six other voters expressed the same sentiment. A Town of Hannibal voter said he bypassed the race altogether. “I like Tresidder and I’d like her to stay here but I didn’t want to vote for Ritchie so I just didn’t vote for either of them,” he said.

Some voters said they continue to believe Albany is dysfunctional, a sentiment expressed in the last few years.

On the state level, early results show the Democrats may take control of the Senate. The Democrats picked up three critical seats and are awaiting results to determine if they will hold the now 63-seat Senate by a 32-31 margin.

All results are unofficial until re-canvassing and absentee ballot counting has been completed.

Valley Viewpoints: Expect more of the same

by Doug Malone, Legislator

I guess the news of senator Patty Ritchie’s endorsement of Michael Backus for county clerk means Oswego County residents can expect more of the same controversy and overspending if Backus is elected.

Back in August, most of the Republican legislators voted to award a contract for the clerk’s office to IQS, the company that came in more costly than any of the other bidders. The taxpayers can expect to fork over $300,000 more over the life of the contract for the same service the other companies offered and they all had a better overall rating than IQS.

When Ritchie was the St. Lawrence County clerk, she brought IQS onboard in her office, so it’s a no brainer that the chances of cancelling the contract with IQS are slim to none if Backus becomes the next county clerk.

Backus said that having Ritchie’s insight and experience once he’s successful in the fall will be a huge asset. Should Oswego County residents take this to mean that the senator will be micromanaging the clerk’s office? I would think there’s enough for Ritchie to do in Albany than to meddle in the affairs of the Oswego County clerk’s office.

There are many problems in the clerk’s office and the successor needs to be a take charge person who can bring a dismantled office back to a functioning, cost effective operation to serve the public.

Residents need to decide if they want another county Republican chairman at the helm of the clerk’s office or if they want to be rid of mixing politics with the public’s business. We have a chance to end the Republican stronghold on county government and return the clerk’s office to the people – where it belongs.

Judge denies motion in county clerk challenge

by Carol Thompson

State Supreme Court Judge James McCarthy has denied a motion to allow the governor to appoint a successor to the office of Oswego County Clerk.

A petition seeking to remove the names of Michael Backus and Phillip Vasho from consideration for the Oswego County Clerk was filed by former legislator James McMahon.

McCarthy submitted a ruling this morning that the state Election Law and the New York Public Officers Law stating any vacancy occurring before Sept. 20 should be filled at the next general election is valid.

Attorney’s for the plaintiff argued that the election for county clerk cannot be held before November 2012 because the vacancy occurred less than three months prior to the general election, as stated in New York State County Law.

Former County Clerk George Williams died Sept. 3 and Backus and Vasho were nominated to run for the seat by the Republican and Democratic county committees.

Scott DelConte of Bond, Schoeneck and King argued for the plaintiff that “there is no ambiguity” in the state’s county law that states a vacancy occurring less than three months before an election must wait until the general election of the following year to be on the ballot.  In his ruling, McCarthy said it is clear from the legislative history, amendments and enactactment of Article V that it was the intent of the legislature to impose the three-month limitation only upon those offices listed within the second sentence of the statute.

During the hearing held yesterday, McCarthy questioned why Governor Andrew Cuomo had not appointed a successor if state county law was indeed valid. There is no word as of yet if an appeal will be filed or if an appeal will be made to the governor to appoint a successor through the end of the year.

Judge McCarthy to rule on county clerk case tomorrow

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County Supreme County Judge James McCarthy will render a decision in an Article 78 proceeding held to determine if the Oswego County clerk position will be on the ballot in the Nov. 6 election. Attorneys for all side argued the case this afternoon at the county courthouse in Oswego.

Former legislator James McMahon had filed the Article 78, alleging that the successor to the late county clerk George Williams should be appointed by the governor though 2013.

The defendants include the Democrat, Republican, Working Families and Independence parties, candidates Michael Backus and Phil Vasho as well as county election commissioners Donald Wart and Richard Atkins.

Attorneys for the plaintiff argued that New York State County Law section 400 should apply in filling a vacancy. The law states that a vacancy occurring three months prior to an election should be a governor’s appointment.

Attorneys for the defendants argued that state Election Law, which contradicts county law, should prevail and an election should be held.

McCarthy  quizzed the lawyer for the plaintiff extensively. At issue was the placement of a comma in the county law.  McCarthy also noted that if the governor wanted to appoint someone to the position, he would have done so by now.

In attendance at the hearing were Assemblyman Will Barclay, clerk candidate Michael Backus, his father Mark Backus, and Oswego County Conservative Party Chairman Ron Greenleaf.

McCarthy said he will have his decision available at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.

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Petition filed to stop county clerk election

by Carol Thompson

The legality of having the office of Oswego County Clerk on the ballot in the November election is being challenged in Oswego County Supreme Court.

Lawyers for Bond, Schoeneck and King, PLLC, filed a petition Friday afternoon on behalf of James McMahon, asking the court to restrain from printing and placing the candidates’ names on the official ballots and voting machines to be used in the Nov. 6 election.

Named as defendants in the Article 78 action are the Oswego County Board of Elections; Michael Backus, both personally and as chairman of the Oswego County Republican Committee; Phillip Vasho; the Oswego County Conservative Party and chairman Ronald Greenleaf; the Oswego County Democrat Committee and chairman Mike Kunzwiler.

The Board of Elections added the position to the ballot for the Nov. 3 election, following the Sept. 3 death of George Williams.

The three political parties selected candidates at their respective committee meetings and filed a certificate of nomination for each candidate.

The Democrat Committee selected Vasho and Backus was selected as the candidate for both the Republican and Conservative committees.

 To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

County Clerk election legality challenged

by Carol Thompson

The legality of having the office of Oswego County Clerk on the ballot in the November election is being challenged in Oswego County Supreme Court.
Lawyers for Bond, Schoeneck and King, PLLC, filed a petition Friday afternoon on behalf of James McMahon, asking the court to restrain from printing and placing the candidates’ names on the officials ballots and voting machines to be used in the Nov. 6 election.

Named as defendants in the Article 78 action are the Oswego County Board of Elections; Michael Backus, both personally and as chairman of the Oswego County Republican Committee; Phillip Vasho; the Oswego County Conservative Party and chairman Ronald Greenleaf; the Oswego County Democrat Committee and chairman Mike Kunzwiler.

The Board of Elections added the position to the ballot for the Nov. 3 election, following the Sept. 3 death of George Williams.

The three political parties selected candidates at their respective committee meetings and filed a certificate of nomination for each candidate.

The Democrat Committee selected Vasho and Backus was selected as the candidate for both the Republican and Conservative committees.

To read the rest of the story, pick up a copy  of Wednesday’s edition of The Valley News