KINGSTON, N.Y. - Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan today delivered a veto message to Resolution No. 374. The resolution was passed by a single vote at the November 19 session of the Ulster County Legislature and was presented as a conflict resolution measure, but has also been questioned by good government experts and described as retaliatory by legislators. It also would improperly set different standards for various elected officials in the County.
The resolution as passed would restrict appointees of countywide elected officials from holding office in local municipalities while setting no such restrictions on legislators themselves.
“I am committed to engaging with the Legislature to develop and adhere to policies that increase the public’s faith in government and which all our constituents can view as a model of good governance,” said County Executive Ryan in his veto message. “Legislation that focuses on political vendettas against a specific individual rather than good public policy undercuts the public’s faith in government. Protecting and ensuring the public trust is my most solemn responsibility, and one that I take very seriously.”
“I commend County Executive Ryan for vetoing this bill. In passing this ill-considered law, the legislature looks like it’s engaged in the petty politics of personal vendetta rather than good government,” said Ulster County Legislator Lynn Eckert. “The legislation, whether intentional or not, has a disparate impact on one lone individual in County government. The deciding vote on this piece of legislation was cast by someone who was in a position to retaliate against this employee. That employee had been instrumental in bringing to light sexual harassment allegations against this particular legislator. Under the circumstances, Legislator Rodriguez should have recused himself from the vote.”
“Government service attracts people who are interested in government; diminishing the pool of potential elected officials by excluding these people from office at a time when there is increasing skepticism about such service seems unwise,” said Dr. Gerald Benjamin of the Benjamin Center in a recent interview on Radio Kingston. “In many New York counties the structure of government requires County elected officials to hold elected positions in two governments: town supervisor and member of the county board of supervisors. By implication, this is an endorsement of the practice in State law - or at least acknowledgement that it is not presumptively one that creates a conflict of interest.”