Why The Monticello Village Board Should Adopt A Policy Allowing More Public Comment

A village that supports the idea of "open government" welcomes input from local people. Its elected officials know they do not have all the answers. We don't know everything. We need to hear different ideas and various points of view.

Honest board members have nothing to fear by allowing some extra minutes out of each meeting to be sure everyone who took the time out of their busy day to come and sit through a Village Board meeting goes away feeling that they were listened to by their elected representatives.

Proposed Resolutions on Equal Opportunity in Employment and Public Comment

The Village of Monticello
Trustee Carmen Rue


DATE: April 13, 2008
FROM: Carmen Rue, Village Trustee
TO: Edith Schop, Clerk
RE: Equal Employment Opportunity and Allowance of Public Comment

Please include my motions for the following proposed resolutions on the agenda of the next Board of Trustees meeting.

ITEM, First:

Why Not A Latino Village Chaplain?

Each year, it is traditional for the Village Manager in Monticello to name a few local ministers or rabbis as unpaid "Village Chaplains". These clergy are available to assist or advocate for the various communities of faith in Monticello, for example by providing spiritual counseling to inmates.

Hispanics in Monticello deserve to be acknowledged by the appointment of a Village Chaplain who speaks their language.

Corruption As Usual In Monticello

Statement by Village Trustee Carmen Rue
Village Board Reorganizational Meeting - April 7, 2008

I read the following statement prior to the Board's vote on whether to hire John Barbarite as Village Manager:

This is a hard vote for me.

I like John. I have known him many years. I have campaigned for him every time he has run for political office.

But this position should not be political.

Some want to rush into hiring without advertising, interviewing, defining a job description, saying what we require and what we will not tolerate in a Manager – not to mention salary, vacation, sick leave, vacation, benefits, or anything else.

I say give Equal Opportunity consideration to all applicants, not just this one man.

Hiring a hand-picked man, handing him this important job on a silver plate, is bad policy.

It is wrong.

It smells too much like political corruption.

The Board’s choice of a Manager is a serious thing that needs to be carefully discussed in public, not in closed meetings held in diners, or the smoke-filled back room of some store.

I talk to people around this Village every day, and I don’t think they like it.

If we vote to hire this man tonight, it will be a political pay-off. I don’t agree with that.

I always believed this was everything that John Barbarite was against!

I do not like the way John has pressured this Board (including trying to pressure myself) for this job, like it is his right to be the Manager – without any discussion by the Board.

Selecting a Village Manager is a Board decision, not a Mayor’s appointment.

No one is ever entitled to be Village Manager because of political favors or support.

If we hire anyone that way, we are selling out. And I am not ready to do that.

If you do, shame on you; and I am sure history will prove me right.

John Barbarite can apply, just like anyone, but he is not entitled to special preference because of favors or political support he has given.

Please join with me and vote to select our next Village Manager using the right process.

Text of Public Comment offered by Thomas Rue on April 8, 2008.

On The Selection Process For Monticello's Next Village Manager

Tom Rue, Monticello taxpayer, offered the following remarks during the Public Comment period at the April 7, 2008 meeting of the Monticello Village Board of Trustees:

John is a good man. I have no beef with him. Nor do I have one with anyone here.

Gordon, you’ve been public for some time about the fact you hope to see John become Manager. It became an assumption.

As time has passed, however, it’s become clear to me that a coronation is not yet in order.

Motion Allowing Public Comment Before Appointing Villager

"I MAKE A MOTION to change the order of the agenda to listen to public comment before the item concerning the 'appointment' of John Barbarite as Village Manager."

Motion by Trustee Rue.
Second by Trustee Marinello.

Roll Call:
Schoonmaker: Yes
Hutchins: No
Jenkins: No
Marinello: Yes
Rue: Yes

Speech at Sullivan County Government Center

Thank You by Village Trustee Carmen Rue
Monticello, New York – April 7, 2008

Thank you, Dan Briggs, for swearing us in today. As Danny can tell you, I have been campaigning door-to-door for this election since last June. I covered this entire village. I personally collected more than 100 absentee ballots in this election.

Swearing-In Ceremonies

I plan to take my Oath of Office as a Village Trustee two times tomorrow. The public is invited to both ceremonies, as follows:
  • Sullivan County Government Center lobby, 10:00 AM, by County Clerk Daniel Briggs
  • Village Hall, during the reorganizational meeting, 7:00 PM, by County Court Judge Burton Ledina.

A Little About Powers Of Village Officers

Village Law of the State of New York is worth reading. For the sake of informing the public, here are a few points worth noting:

Village Law, Sec. 370. Powers and duties of mayor.
The mayor shall preside at all meetings of the board of trustees; he shall be the official head of the village for services of civil process;The phrase "for service of civil process" as used here simply means that whenever the Village is sued, the mayor has the honor of being named as a defendant; and of being served with the summons and complaints commencing such suits. he shall have no power of veto, but shall have the same power as a trustee to vote upon all matters coming before the board. Added L.1927, c. 650 Sec. 47, eff. July 1, 1927.

By contrast, the Village Board of Trustees is described this way:

Village Law, Sec. 369. Legislative powers vested in board of trustees.

All the legislative powers of the village conferred upon or possessed by it are hereby vested in the board of trustees. L.1927, c. 650, Sec. 47; amended L. 1963, c. 56, eff. Feb. 25, 1963.

Monticello has a form of government in which a Village Manager is designated as the chief executive officer.

The mayor is a figure-head whose chief job is to keep board meetings running smoothly and encourage teamwork among the Trustees.

Only when the Village Board operates as a team can it govern effectively. The Village Board as a whole, by majority vote, has the power to appoint or to fire the Village Manager.

Some positions in the Village are chosen by the mayor. Some are chosen by the manager. Some (like who will be Village Manager) require approval by the board.

And some appointees must meet very specific qualifications. For example, although the mayor has the power to choose a Village Attorney, the person he chooses must then be approved by a majority of the Board. Also, the mayor is not allowed to choose any old lawyer. The Village Attorney, as well as any deputies, must be Sullivan County residents. Monticello's own law mandates:

Local Law No. 12 of 1994.

The Village Attorney and all Deputy Village Attorneys must reside within Sullivan County, New York, the county in which the Village of Monticello is situate.

Thank You!

I thank the voters who turned out for the March 18th election for the betterment of Monticello. You did your part.

Now I am holding up my end of the bargain: to make government more welcoming of citizen input, to support firm and fair enforcement of the Village Code, and to see that all residents and Village employees are treated with respect and fairness. Together, we can make Monticello a safer, more attractive, and pleasant place to live, work, worship, and have fun.


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