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Motion to Release "the Report" Blocked as Supervisors Spar

Written By Editor on 9/26/13 | 9/26/13

Toward the end of a long meeting of the Board of Supervisors last Friday, the County probe into personnel practices came into discussion. The issue was broached by Sheriff Tony Desmond, who asked the Board for the report to be released "as soon as possible." He asked for the dispatch to be issued as early as that day-- and that if the Board could not release in its entirety that at least the portion about the Sheriff's Department could be issued. The Sheriff said that it was not fair for the report to be held as people have been asking about the issue during a political campaign. Desmond said that if there was a problem in the Department, especially one involving his leadership style, he needed to know immediately.

Blenheim Supervisor Bob Mann asked for a more precise time on the release. County Attorney West hoped for the report to be 'wrapped up' by the end of this current week. Chair Phil Skowfoe also asked the attorneys conducting the probe on a precise timeline and did not receive any firm answer.

Jefferson Supervisor Dan Singletary spoke up, stating that he was concerned that the report "does not include what you want" while motioning to Schoharie Supervisor Gene Milone. Singletary stated that the report was "political" and did not reflect "reality." The Jefferson Supervisor said that he requested tapes of the interviews through the Freedom of Information Act.
Singletary motions to Milone. Photo credit SCHOPEG
Milone fired back, saying that "I don't know what kind of political agenda he's talking about" while adding that the tapes could not be FOILed because the report was not released. He also asked if the report would be done by early October. Mike West said that this was certainly possible. He previously had expected an earlier finish date. Milone said that his probe was to get to the "truth" of recent actions in County government.

Photo credit SCHOPEG
Esperance Supervisor Earl van Wormer said that he is asked about the communique "every day" and that people expected it released because "they paid for it with taxpayer dollars." He also mentioned that while the original probe was based on complaints of potential harassment, that no one deserved to serve in the County under adverse conditions. He said that he originally expected the report to cost $50,000. He said that the County "owed it" to the complainants to bring the report to a conclusion, despite the fact that it has dragged "on and on."

The timing of the report bothered Blenheim Supervisor Bob Mann, who believed that it could be used as a political football. The original draft of the interviews are currently available to the Supervisors and Mann called for the transcripts to be placed "on the table" to prevent politicization. Mann feared that it would be delayed until after the election and asked "Why can't they see it now?" Singletary asked again for a copy of the tapes. Attorney West said that the issue had already been discussed and that he had no further comment.

Singletary then intimated that the final report would be manipulated through editing to change its ultimate meaning. West said that he could not initiate disciplinary actions no matter what the results of the probe. Anne Batz said that she was concerned that even though the probe started with "good intentions" she was not convinced of the same now. She was concerned that "hearsay" could result in discipline. She said that she believed that there were "inaccuracies" in the report. Carlisle Supervisor Larry Bradt called for the final report so that questions would be settled.

Skowfoe was asked by Sharon Supervisor Sandra Manko if the Board would reconvene when the report was ready. A special meeting would be held to discuss it and its implications. He replied yes but West said that the report would not be issued until accepted by the Board.

After discussing Butternuts Brewery for several minutes, Cobleskill Supervisor Tom Murray made a motion to release the report immediately. Harold Vroman followed by motioning to delay until the paperwork was complete and that the lawyers involved be present. Discussion ensued on the cost of the probe-- which Attorney West estimated as "close to $300,000." When van Wormer called for the report to be finalized he was interrupted by Murray who said that if van Wormer was serious he would cut off funding for the probe.

Skowfoe called for a roll call vote. On Vroman's motion, Murray and Singletary voted no while the rest of the Board voted yes. Murray's motion received no second.
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Deputy said...

So the article in todays "Cobleskill" paper indicates that Dan Singletary thinks that the county employees decided as a collective unit to target the Ethington campaign over a year ago. Thats about 8 months prior to his declaration to run. And it indicates that he knows that the Ethingtons will sue the county should Todd not be elected. Well then by all means sue! We didnt make your beds you did. We didnt ask for this drama, you gave it to us. Dan Singletary is clearly the quarterback or safety or guard for team Todd. Trouble is they had a bad game plan and not very talented players. I can only hope for the sake of those of us who pay taxes and work in this zoo get what we paid for and this damn report is released asap. If it costs people their political careers than so be it. If they exhibit such behavior then lets highlight it before they get rewarded for the games they play.

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