Tag Archives: Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler

Legislature chairman names new committees

by Carol Thompson

Newly elected Oswego County Legislature Chairman Kevin Garnder has changed some of the committee assignments — much to the ire of some of the Democrat legislators.

Gardner removed Legislator Doug Malone from the Finance and Personnel Committee and moved him to Economic Planning and Development.

“It’s punishment,” Malone said when he learned he had been removed from what is considered by some as the most prestigious committee.

Malone said he feels he is being punished for reporting the allegations that there may be pornography in some of the county highway department computers.  Malone reported three incidences and so far, one of the allegations has been proven.

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said he was not pleased that he was not consulted in regard to the changes prior to them being made.

Traditionally, the majority and minority leaders are consulted for committee assignments.

Gardner did not return a telephone message left at his office Thursday afternoon and when contacted late Friday morning, it was stated that he had left for the day.

The county offices were closed Monday for Memorial Day.

There were no changes made to the Government, Courts and Consumer Affairs Committee and the Health Committee remained unchanged.

Legislator Milferd Potter was moved to the Infrastructure, Facilities and Technology Committee. Kunzwiler said Potter requested the move.

Legislator David Holst was named as vice chairman of the committee, replacing Gardner, who as chairman no longer serves a committee.

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County legislature appoints Fred Beardsley to treasurer position

by Carol Thompson

Former Oswego County Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley was named county treasurer at the April 11 meeting.

For more than 90 minutes, legislators debated the appointment with questions in regard to Beardsley’s education and qualifications repeatedly asked.

During the public comment session, two residents spoke against the appointment. As the floor debate ensued, those supporting Beardsley sat quietly.

Beardsley resigned his position as legislator sometime prior to the meeting, according to legislature Vice Chairman Kevin Gardner, who ran the meeting. Beardsley was said to not be in attendance.

Legislator James Oldenburg read the resolution to appoint Beardsley, stating that Beardsley was well qualified.

That led to a series of questions as to how Beardsley is well qualified.

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler asked legislators to picture themselves as responsible for the hiring at a Fortune 500 company.

“You’re here to here to protect the people of that company, which for us are the taxpayers,” he said, adding that one candidate graduated cum laude with a degree in the field, referring to the county’s chief accountant Mark See, who agreed to do the job in addition to his accountant duties for five hours pay per week.

“Can anyone answer if Mr. Beardsley ever filed bankruptcy,” Kunzwiler asked. No one answered.

“Not one person can answer me in this room, and you said, ‘well qualified’,” he said.

Kunzwiler asked if anyone knew Beardsley’s education. Democrats said they had traced Beardsley’s background and found he had attended eleventh grade at Cicero High School, but could find no record of his graduation.

Gardner answered that he wasn’t going to produce the interview process.

Legislator Amy Tresidder said she has received many calls from her constituents opposed to appointment and she would be voting on their behalf.

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

Oswego County Legislature reorganizes for 2013

OswegoCountySeal_WEBby Carol Thompson

The Oswego County Legislature held its organizational meeting Thursday with no leadership surprises.

Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley was re-elected, winning the seat over Legislator Amy Tresidder. The Republicans voted for Beardsley while the Democrats voted for Tresidder. Legislator Margaret Kastler abstained from the vote and Legislator Shawn Doyle was absent.

Legislator Kevin Gardner won the seat of vice chairman against Legislator Jacob Mulcahey.  The vote was the same with Kastler supporting Gardner.

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler will continue in his position and Legislator James Oldenburg was named majority leader by his caucus.

The cooperation between the Republicans and the Democrats that dominated the final meeting of 2012 didn’t last long with both sides at odds over the legal newspaper designation.

The Republican caucus once again selected two newspapers for the legal newspaper designation.

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said the county is entering a difficult financial year and it was his understanding that the Republicans were going to select only one newspaper.

“I believe we should be staying true to what we started last year,” he said of the legislature’s stance on conserving money because of the difficult budget year ahead. “We’ve got to start (cutting) somewhere.”

Legislator Morris Sorbello defended the action. “It’s important for our public to be informed,” he said.

The legislature designated The Valley News, The Palladium-Times and the Oswego County Weeklies as the official newspapers.

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County’s reapportionment plan might be heading to court

by Carol Thompson

A lawsuit is expected to be filed within the next few weeks over the county’s reapportionment plan, which was adopted by the legislature during a special meeting Dec. 28.

The approved reapportionment plan divides some towns into multiple legislative districts.

For several months, Legislator Dan Farfaglia, who represents a portion of Fulton and Granby, has questioned the legality of the new boundary lines.

He hired a redistricting expert to evaluate the maps and redraw the lines, claiming that the county’s plan did not conform with the law.

A Reapportionment Committee was formed to reestablish the boundary lines of the 25 legislative districts to conform with the 2010 census. Farfaglia has argued that the county map does not comply with the law.

Farfaglia attempted to have his plan introduced several months ago during a meeting of the committee. He failed to get a second to his motion.

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler was also critical of the majority for not listening to the opinion of the public. He noted that 99 percent of those speaking at a public hearing were opposed to the reapportionment plan.

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

County legislators want review of deputy county clerk position

by Carol Thompson

A deputy position approved for the Oswego County clerk has gone from one of a simple title change to an office position — and several legislators are questioning how it happened.

More than a year ago, legislators approved the position of deputy clerk of operations under the presumption that the person holding the position would perform the duties stated in the job description. Legislators said that did not happen, and the position is an office job — one that isn’t needed.

Minutes of the Feb. 23, 2011 Community and Consumer Affairs Committee explain the position as that of a senior index clerk. “There used to be a Senior Index

Clerk title but it was decided the Deputy Clerk of Operations title fit in better with the position,” then-County Clerk George Williams told legislators.

The job duties included working the front counter, training and accounting.

According to the description provided by the county, the position includes overseeing the front counter 50 percent of the time and miscellaneous work, including filling in at the motor vehicle office 25 percent of the time and filling in as needed in accounting area.

“If you trace it back to the work production and training, it deteriorated when the position was created,” Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said. “That is our argument.”

Democrats and some Republican legislators were apprehensive of approving the position out of concern that a productive position, such as a senior index clerk, would be replaced with a desk job with no assistance to the employees or the public.

Some legislators are now charging that it is exactly what it has become.

The most recent concern is because the senior account clerk has reportedly been out for two weeks and an index clerk has been periodically asked to take on the job duties of the absent employee.

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

Legislators pass 2013 budget with zero tax levy increase

Legislatorsby Carol Thompson

A few last minute adjustments to the 2013 draft budget, including the use of almost $1 million in retirement reserves, resulted in the Oswego County Legislature’s passage of a budget with no increase in the tax levy.

In a bipartisan manner, the Republicans and Democrats alternated the offering of cuts until the goal of no tax levy increase was reached. “It took a concerted effort by both sides of the aisle to get to a zero tax increase,” Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley said. “There was cooperation like I’ve never seen before.”

The meeting was unlike budget meetings of the past. Traditionally, the Republicans and Democrats spar for hours over cuts. This year, the meeting took approximately 90 minutes with several recesses called to allow the two sides to come together to discuss cuts.

Spending will remain at about $193 million, the tax levy will be unchanged at $42,664,531, and the generic tax rate is $7.095 per $1,000 assessed property value or only slightly higher, depending on property assessments, Beardsley said.

The generic tax rate increase of 2.1 percent will result in either an increase or decrease in property taxes, depending on the individual town and city equalization rate. The tax levy came in under the state mandated two-percent tax cap.

All totaled, legislators borrowed approximately $5.9 million from reserve funds and increased the sales tax revenue line by $2 million, something County Treasurer John Kruk cautioned legislators may not happen.

Kruk said the county has never collected the projected amount in sales tax and for that reason, legislators should monitor the revenue monthly.

The legislature agreed to cut travel expenses and a nurse position was eliminated from the sheriff’s department. The legislators unanimously approved the restoration of funding for Air One that had been removed at the committee level.

The cooperation on the floor was attributed to Beardsley’s willingness to work with the Democrat caucus, Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said. That included meetings with Beardsley in the day prior to the meeting.

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 legislators debate reapportionment plan

by Carol Thompson

In a lengthy and sometime heated debate, the Oswego County Legislature approved a resolution to set a public hearing on the reapportionment plan during Thursday’s meeting.

Legislator Dan Farfaglia was the first to question the legality of the process used to redraw the lines for the 25 legislative districts. He has continually done so since the first maps were released.

“The proposed plan largely ignores the Municipal Home Rule Law about splitting towns less than 5,372,” Farfaglia said. “Clearly, the intent of the law is to ensure that community interests are represented in the legislature but the proposed plan doesn’t do that. It breaks up towns and communities into pieces and attaches them to unrelated communities, towns and cities.”

Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler asked County Attorney Richard Mitchell if the county’s plan is legal and would hold up to a court challenge.

“It is defensible,” Mitchell replied.

“So I take that as a ‘no’?” Kunzwiler asked.

“You’re entitled to your opinion,” Mitchell responded.

Farfaglia questioned the need for a public hearing and the response was that it is a requirement. Farfaglia suggested the public’s input was not important to administration, but rather was being held to satisfy the requirement of the law.

Legislator Dan Chalifoux asked Mitchell if the legislature should go forward with the reapportionment committee’s plan.

“It is my opinion that it is defensible and passes constitutional muster,” Mitchell said.

“So, if we get 25 to 50 people in here next month and they say they aren’t in favor of this, ‘we don’t want our towns split up,’ we’re still going forward?” Kunzwiler asked.

A request was made to have someone in the state look at the maps to be sure the proposal was in compliance with the law.

Democrat lawmakers expressed concerns that the reapportionment plan could lead the county into a costly lawsuit.

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 irked over redistricting

by Carol Thompson

The Oswego County Legislature’s minority caucus is not pleased with the proposed legislative restricting plan that sharply divides some town.

“My district looks like a dragon’s tail,” Legislator Doug Malone, who represents the Town of Oswego, said Wednesday.

Under the proposed plan, the town will be represented by five legislators.

Cost is also a factor that has the ire of Democrats. The Board of Elections will need to have one voting district in the new district proposed for the City of Oswego’s legislative district 16, which will serve 38 registered voters, the Democrats said.

The college district will be split under the new plan, creating two voting districts for approximately 100 voters.

“We are trying to cut the budget by $3 million to avoid a property tax increase and here we go adding to the budget,” Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said.

Each new district will require a location, personnel and ballots, all at an additional cost.

Legislator Jake Mulcahey’s legislative district 16 has been changed and he has lost a large portion of a heavily populated Republican area — one he carried in the last election.

Legislator Dan Farfaglia, who represents the City of Fulton and under the proposed plan will sprawl into the Town of Oswego, offered a plan that he worked on himself.

The redistricting committee, comprised of only one Democrat, refused to entertain Farfaglia’s proposal.

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