The Common Council will not hold its first meeting of the new year until next Monday, but this afternoon the Columbia County Board of Supervisors held its organizational meeting. The following press release from the Columbia County Democratic Committee tells what happened at that meeting.
On January 3, 2022, the Board of Supervisors held their Organizational Meeting. At the meeting, in an unusual and unprecedented move, Republican Chairman Matt Murell called for a vote on a resolution severing the Emergency Management Office (EMO) from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office. A majority of the Town Supervisors voted against the measure, but it narrowly passed because of weighted vote. No public comment was permitted on the measure.
"We needed to gather more information and do our due diligence before voting on this very important issue. Many supervisors, including myself, first learned about this proposal at the November public safety meeting. I requested that Chairman Murell postpone this vote and allow time to investigate best practices for emergency management. He declined to seek consensus. I'm disappointed in today's vote, but I hope that we can find common ground on other issues facing our county in the future," Tistrya Houghtling, New Lebanon's Town Supervisor and Minority Leader.
"The explanations for creating a new department and severing the EMO from the Sheriff's Office have been muddled and inconsistent. The timing, budget, and reasoning keep changing. And yet one thing that remains consistent--there hasn't been a compelling reason for why this decision needed to be rushed," said Michael Chameides, a Supervisor representing Hudson's 3rd Ward. "The voters elected Sheriff-elect Don Krapf to run the Sheriff's office and to have oversight over Emergency Management. Immediately following the election, it was proposed to reduce the Sheriff's budget and remove the Emergency Management Office. This is against the wishes of the voters." . . .
Supervisors Chameides and Houghtling were not the only Supervisors who were unhappy with the rushed voted on the future of the EMO. Jeanne Mettler, Copake's Town Supervisor, said, "I am disappointed that in the first days of 2022 we are departing from that goal of bipartisanship. For me this vote boils down to this: wholeheartedly accepting the results of an election and respecting the person who the voters have elected as Sheriff or not."
It was apparent during the roll call on the resolution that some Supervisors were confused on what they were voting for and the implications of passing Chairman Murell's partisan proposal. More than one Republican Supervisor gave those watching the meeting the impression that they believed they were voting on moving the offices of the EMO, not creating a completely new department. . . .
It is obvious from his quoted statement that Chameides voted against the proposal. It is not reported how the other four Hudson supervisors--Claire Cousin (First Ward), Abdus Miah (Second Ward), Linda Mussmann (Fourth Ward), and Rick Scalera (Fifth Ward)--voted, but since they are all Democrats, one can assume that they voted against the proposal.
Update: The link to the recorded Zoom meeting was provided by Steve Dunn in a comment on this post. To access the recording, click here. The discussion of this issue begins at about 21:09.