Tag Archives: Mike Kunzwiler

Legislature chairman delivers state of the county address

by Carol Thompson

Fiscal challenges lie ahead for the Oswego County Legislature in part because of the state’s unfunded mandates.

That’s the message Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley delivered in his State of the County address last Thursday.

“Dealing with this dilemma will require many difficult decisions and bipartisan support, and recognition that the state must stop this practice,” Beardsley said.

“It is now my fear that the ongoing practice by the state of creating mandated programs and services with no funding stream attached is going to drive us to the point where we have to consider cutting services that our constituents have come to enjoy so we can operate mandated programs that may not necessarily be among our most needed or desired.

Beardsley encouraged the legislature to work together.

“To my colleagues here in the legislature, I continue to have faith that we can set our political differences aside and that together, we can accomplish our task of providing the people of Oswego County with an efficient, effective, and friendly government,” he said.

Both Republicans and the Democrats worked in harmony to pass an acceptable 2013 budget, however, the Democrats now allege that promises were broken.

One of those promises was to begin making cuts at the first of the year. Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said that it has yet to happen.

Kunzwiler said that he respects the olive branch that he agrees everyone must work together.

To read the rest of the story, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe today by calling 598-6397

Controversy looms over county treasurer appointment

by Carol Thompson

How to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Oswego County Treasurer John Kruk may have to be settled by the court as the Republicans and Democrats are in disagreement.

Kruk resigned Feb. 27 and the position has been vacant since that time. The Republicans maintain that the position is to be filled by the Oswego County Legislature based on a local law.

Michael C. Backus, who serves as the county Republican chairman, believes this stance is correct.

“I have been advised that the Oswego County legislature has the ability to appoint,” Backus said Friday in a written response. “As chairman of the Oswego County Republican Committee I have called a meeting of the OCRC for (tomorrow) where I expect our over 200 members to vote to recommend one candidate to the legislature for appointment.

“In May, we’ll go through our formal endorsement process and vote for a candidate to run in the fall,” he added. “At the end of the day, regardless of any appointment, the people of Oswego County will elect their next treasurer in November.”

Oswego County Democrat Chairman Mike Kunzwiler disagrees.

“I believe this is an appointment to be made by the governor,” he said. “There is a court case to back this up. The Republicans are saying the legislature can appoint because of a local law, but I have been advised by legal counsel that local law cannot supersede state law.”

Kunzwiler said he has been in contact with the governor’s office and has submitted the resume of the county’s chief accountant Mark See.

To read the rest of the story, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe today by calling 598-6397

Backus ready for challenges as Oswego County clerk

by Carol Thompson

When Michael C. Backus takes office Jan. 1, he has his work cut out for him.

Backus, 28, of Mexico, won the race for Oswego County clerk, an office that has been plagued with controversy.

“My approach as clerk will be gradual and measured,” he said.  “I look forward to meeting with the employees in the days ahead and hearing their ideas on the office as it currently exists. Then we’ll begin implementing some new practices and programs that we’ve outlined throughout the campaign.”

Backus did not fully address the question of whether he will call for an audit of the office nor how he intends to rebuild the office that legislators have referred to as “dismantled.”

Oswego County Legislature Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said Wednesday that while he remains hopeful Backus will work toward betterment of the office, he will continue to keep a close watch.

“Mr. Backus has an opportunity to go in and make the proper changes in that office, but to sit there and say he needs to evaluate…the evaluation has been done, the damage has been done and someone needs to go in and correct that damage,” Kunzwiler said.

“We’re going to hold him to that level that he will correct what’s wrong in that office.”

Phil Vasho, a former legislator who challenged Backus, said he, too, will keep up to date on the clerk’s office. Vasho had the support of several employees, whom he had met with prior to the election to hear their concerns.

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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DSS asbestos abatement project debated once again

asbestosby Carol Thompson

How much is too much?

That was the question that sparked a lengthy debate during Thursday’s meeting of the Oswego County Legislature.

In the end, legislators approved spending up to $1,566,341 for asbestos abatement and building renovations at the county’s Department of Social Services (DSS), located in Mexico.

The vote was not unanimous as eight legislators opposed spending tax dollars on items that are not considered a necessity in completing the asbestos abatement.

Legislator Jake Mulcahey asked if the project could be done for less money, noting that the legislature is looking to cut $3 million from the preliminary 2013 budget to avoid a property tax increase.

Mulcahey said he is very concerned about the safety of the employees, however, noted that the scope of the project has grown and may continue to grow.

Majority Leader Jack Proud said the legislature needed to take into consideration the age of the building.

“We are looking at a 30-year-old building, to which no major improvements have been made over the course of those years,” he said.

The state may pay up to 75 percent of the project cost, leaving local tax dollars to pay nearly $400,000.

As Proud reminded his colleagues that the state will pay up to 75 percent, Malone reminded him that local residents pay state taxes as well.

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said he appreciates the urgency but cautioned that the county is currently in hard financial times.

He said that the county does need to address the asbestos, however, like other legislators, Kunzwiler questioned the need for the additional expenses, including new carpeting and painting.

The county originally authorized $30,000 for the asbestos testing and later approved an additional $70,000 for an abatement plan.

Legislator Shawn Doyle said that the project is a necessary evil that needs to be done.

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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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

Legislator irked over clerk memos

by Carol Thompson

Three memos — all issued by Acting County Clerk Georgiana Mansfield — has the ire of legislators, who according to Mansfield, are not allowed to speak to employees or allowed to go behind counters.

The memos, issued Thursday, instructs employees not to speak to legislators, the press, or the public.

“Any contact with representatives of the public, media or legislators concerning the functioning of the Oswego County Clerk’s office or any topic concerning this office not related to the filing, recording or searching of documents will be handled solely by the acting county clerk or the deputy clerk,” the memo states.

Oswego County Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said he was livid to think that two employees would make an attempt to dictate to other employees who they can and cannot speak with. He added that he was further angered with the attempt by Mansfield and Deputy Clerk of Operations Matthew Bacon to attempt to stifle the legislators.

“We, as legislators, are responsible for the county building and what goes on inside them,” said Kunzwiler. “These two employees cannot dictate to the legislature. What are they trying to hide?”

A second memo instructs employees to restrict access to specific parts of the clerk’s office to anyone any other than employees.

Both memos state that permission must be granted by either Bacon or Mansfield before stepping outside of the boundaries of the memos.

“This is why the governor needs to appoint someone to come in for the remainder of the year,” Kunzwiler said.

Mansfield was named acting clerk upon the death of George Williams. Kunzwiler has been pushing for Governor Andrew Cuomo to appoint someone through the end of the year due to the “continual controversy and mismanagement” of the office.

A third memo instructs two employees to essentially train a new employee. Kunzwiler said that he will investigate why the employees are being asked to show a new employee how to do work when Bacon’s position was created in part for the purpose of training.

 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

Governor Cuomo expected to appoint new county clerk

by Carol Thompson

Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to fill the vacancy created in the Oswego County Clerk’s Office due to the death of George Williams.

Oswego County Democratic Chairman Mike Kunzwiler said that as of Thursday, the word from Albany is that the governor will appoint someone to the county clerk position through the end of the year and the position will be on the ballot for November’s general election.

The seat has not been held by a Democrat in decades, if ever. Kunzwiler said he is awaiting the return of the governor from the Democrat National Convention to have an exact determination as to how the seat will be filled.

Each major party caucus can submit a name to be on the ballot should it go to a November election. “We will definitely submit a name,” Kunzwiler said.

The Democrats are most likely to have a candidate selected as the governor is Democrat and appointments traditionally remain within the political affiliation of the governor.

“The position is one that cannot remain vacant for an extended period of time,” Kunzwiler said.

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