Monday, January 3, 2022

News from the Board of Supervisors

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.


  1. There really is some dysfunction going on in our county government. Shenanigans like this shouldn't surprise.

  2. Unfortunately, there is no re-call process in New York State.


  3. A link to a video of the meeting is below. The discussion of the EMO being extracted from the Sheriff's office starts at about minute 20:15.

    A few comments. The Board is way too large at 23 members, and unwieldy. I understand why such featherbedding exists, along with weighted voting and all the rest. The more one understands about local government, the more unfathomable and depressing it gets.

    The Board does not follow the Roberts Rules or Order. After a motion is made and seconded, in the rest of the civilized world, you have discussion, and then you vote with everyone having their say first. Not in the Board's universe. There each member votes, and makes a speech before voting, in serial fashion, with no discussion at all (other than from the Chairman), before the voting starts. Since no one objected to the way the Chair did this, the members must be used to and acclimated to this particular indicia of barbarism. Thus, members are voting before having heard the comments of others. Does that make any sense? No.

    But in this case, it would have made no difference. The minds were all made up, and the comments talked past each other. The Democrats all complained about process and the rush (some commenting it probably would make sense in the end but give it more time), the GOP said rush, really, no rush, it was all very deliberate, and lots of discussion had occurred. The question as to why the exact timing or pushing the proposal was after the votes were counted was not really answered other than it had been in the hopper for a long time. So, what happened instead is that everyone read out their speeches, some of which were longer than others. No, the word “patronage” and who controls it, was never mentioned. Someone’s pet fly should check if it is lurking behind the curtain.

    If you want to know what is really going on in the County, don't bother to watch a Board meeting. What I think you need to do instead is for your pet fly to be on the wall in the Chairman's office. He seems to in effect run the County with an iron hand. The rest, at least on his team, seem more like window dressing. That obvious is not fair to some of the other GOP members, but that is my general sense of it.

    Oh, all five Hudson supervisors voted no. Abdus bless him took the longest time to speak, Michael Chameides was the most articulate and probing (suspicious timing, ever changing rationales, false labeling of what was in the package, and more, bang, bang, bang), and the most acerbic by a considerable margin was Eldridge, from Greenport. Brenda Adams is the one with whom I would most like to go out to dinner. Class act she. Linda Mussmann as per usual had the most interesting sartorial presentation.

  4. I wouldn't assume anything about "Democrat" Scalera.

    1. Fifth Ward supervisor Richard Scalera submitted this response by email:

      Your "assumption" could not be more accurate!

      Rick Scalera