Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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Tyner censured in unanimous vote; he was not allowed to vote

Tyner: "I never called any
of you "fascists"

Miccio: "... our only tool in
the tool box ..."

POUGHKEEPSIE – With little debate, the Dutchess County Legislature voted to censure Joel Tyner, for reported offensive comments he made, during a Democratic Caucus last month, during a discussion on buses. He said his reference to “following orders… just like the Germans 70 years ago” was directed at county policies and not against individuals including Public Works Commissioner Robert Balkind, who is Jewish.

The vote came after several spoke during an hour of public comment, most defending Tyner, including a few who conceded the often outspoken legislator made a poor choice of words, while speaking with his typical passion.  Among the 15 who spoke, 13 opposed censure; two favored it.

Candace Sunderland, of LaGrange, said this did not rise to the level of censure.

“There are two words that primarily come to my mind when I think of Legislator Tyner, and those are ‘passion’ and ‘commitment’,” Sunderland said.  “I worked in an elementary school and I am acutely aware of the power of words to hurt.  I wish Mr. Tyner had not chosen that particular “F” word to describe some of the behavior he saw happening in this chamber.  And, in a year of many, many political firsts, I think I understand the inclination to censure him for the choice he made.”

Sunderland said “… he’s human and vulnerable to his own passion.”

Tyner’s wife, Laila Nicole Tyner, said the vote “reeks of hypocrisy” by ignoring indiscretions and even crimes by other legislators.

“Where was the censure resolution when Michael Kelsey sexually assaulted two boy scouts?” Laila Tyner asked.

That was a reference to an incident involving a former legislator at a scout camp in upstate New York and was not in his capacity as a legislator.  Kelsey is serving seven years in prison.

When the resolution came up during the meeting, Republican Majority Leader James Miccio, one of the resolution’s six coauthors, all Republicans, argued they had little choice.

“Do I really want to have a censure? Miccio asked.  “No, probably is not the best way to go, but it is our only tool in the tool box to stand up to any member of this body and say ‘you shouldn’t do this, this is wrong, you need to live up to the facts’.”

Miccio said the resolution would have been pulled had Tyner publicly apologized. 

He didn’t.

Tyner continued to claim his remarks were being misreported, particularly in the media, and that he never directed any words at a specific person.

“’You called him a Nazi’; No I didn’t,” Tyner said.  “I never called any of you ‘fascists’, I never called him a ‘fascist’.”

The wording of the resolution contends otherwise, calling Tyner’s remarks “… inexplicable, indefensible and offensive …” and “… below the dignity of an elected official …”

The resolution was adopted on a unanimous voice vote.  On advice of legislative counsel, Miccio announced that Tyner could particulate in the discussion, but could not vote.

Censure is a legislative formality which carries no repercussions regarding Tyner's capacity as a county legislator.

 


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