Sullivan lawmakers clash over special meeting

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Sullivan County legislators

MONTICELLO – They were supposed to meet Friday April 23, but a disagreement among Sullivan County legislators ended with the adoption of new ethics code without a Democrat in attendance.

Three days later, three Democrats, Ira Steingart, Nadia Rajsz and Luiz Alvarez, and Joe Perrello, a Republican, gathered on the steps of the Sullivan County Courthouse Monday to complain about what they maintain are the autocratic manners of Robert Doherty, the legislature’s chair and a Republican.

Steingart opened the Monday news conference seeking Doherty to resign, though he believes it would be a futile request.

“Do I expect him to resign? No,” he said. “I am asking him to, but I know he won’t.”

Steingart and the other legislators present Monday are seeking a more collegial and better working environment with Doherty.

“He is not communicating information to his peers and making decisions without the full board’s knowledge,” said Steingart. “It’s been going on a for a long time. I think having a meeting, after we agreed upon a time, when he knew several could not make it and not even giving us the reason why he changed the meeting or the opportunity to change when we could meet at a possible time, he just doesn’t care. It just reached the level of not caring what anybody thinks.”

Rajsz is upset because of a lack of teamwork and her inability to vote at Friday’s meeting.

“Not being able to work as a team. We need to sit down and be informed, be respected,” she said. “I was not allowed to bring a voice from the constituents who elected me.”

Doherty does not understand the lawmakers’ concerns.

“On a lot of the big issues that we faced over the last year-and-a-half, it has been a supermajority on most of the items that we voted on. So, for them now to sit there and say we are not together, I find that odd,” he said.

Alvarez has already sued Doherty for defamation.  Perrello brought an human resources charge against Doherty last week and the chairman filed an human resources charge again Rajsz. A resolution to censure the legislature chair, brought forth by Rajsz, has already failed 5-4.