Carmen's blog

Audio Recordings of Village of Monticello Board of Trustees Meetings

Increasing accessibility of public information about government of Monticello, seat of Sullivan County, garden of the Catskills.

If a file sounds choppy or broken up, or does not play online, try downloading it to your hard drive and then open it.

UPDATED - "Firestorm" In Monticello Created By Dysfunctional Form Of Government -- Monticello Needs A "Strong Mayor" And Active Board Of Trustees, Not A Village Manager

ARTICLE UPDATED BELOW

Municipal management practices cited in a recent NYS Comptroller's audit of the Village of Monticello have led to what a newspaper headline calls a "firestorm". This post contains my perspective, based on decades of close observation at Monticello Village Board meetings and nine years taking an active role as an elected Village Trustee. Some may disagree with my conclusions, but I believe my years of experience on the board give me a perspective that deserves respect and consideration.

According to the Comptroller's audit team, "The objective of our audit was to assess the Board’s and officials’ oversight of Village operations for the period August 1, 2014 through April 6, 2016." (The report also noted, "We reviewed our last two audit reports dated 2012 and 2014 to determine if reported deficiencies were corrected. We also reviewed the last four CPA reports for 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 to assess if reported deficiencies were corrected. We judgmentally selected all bank reconciliations for the months of July 2015, November 2015 and February 2016 to evaluate whether they were completed accurately and in a timely manner.")

The Village of Monticello is governed by existing law under a controversial "manager form of government". Under this antiquated regime, the Village Manager, under Article 15-A of the former Village Law (which outlines that form of government that has existed since 1954), is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Village. Under this law, our Mayor and each of the four Trustees are equal members of the governing body at whose "pleasure" the Village Manager serves. The form of government we have includes a weakened Mayor's post, placing all board members on one level. For decades in Monticello, Village Managers have come and gone, with many acting like Village government is their little fiefdom, until they are let go -- resulting in a dysfunctional and confusing merry-go-round effect.

For years, well-informed observers have recommended doing away with the Village Manager post in Monticello, most recently including longtime Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano, of neighboring Orange County, during remarks this past summer to local residents at the Monticello Diner.

What has stood in the way of accepting this wise counsel, as I see it, is the fact that the highly paid post is treated as a political plumb. Many over the years have had few actual qualifications or experience that justify calling them "profesional municipal managers", relying instead on local political connections to get the job.

By a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees on December 1, 2014, David Sager was hired as Village Manager. So, contrary to assertions by some, the period of the examination is focused primarily on the term of office of Mr. Sager (August 2014 to April 2016). When he first arrived, I was very supportive of Mr. Sager and shared information with him to help him adjust to his new position. However, I have been sorely disappointed by his lax and unaccountable management style.

Among many other personal attacks and insults leveled at me by Mr. Sager in an effort to divide and conquer both the board and Village employees, I have lately been accused by Mr. Sager and others of releasing a draft Comptroller's audit report prematurely. This speculation is false. All board members, the Village Manager, and a few other officials, received an advance "unofficial" copy of the report from the Comptroller for the purpose of review and submitting comment. I did not initially release the draft. It was apparently first released to Mid-Hudson News. However, whether I released the document, which is now a matter of public record, or whether the Village Manager or someone else did so with the intent of embarrassing the board, is irrelevant at this point. Releasing a draft audit report is not a crime, but the fact is that I did not do it. My personal belief, as I have told him, is that Mr. Sager did so. It is consistent with his style. Had it been me, my "style" would have been to simply upload it to this website. I do not care who released it, or whether Mr. Sager is lying about having done so, and taxpayers shouldn't either at this point.

Focusing on who released the draft report reminds me of Captain Queeg in an old movie. The obvious intent in singling out "one Trustee" (namely, me) is to divert, divide, and defocus. Let's stop it now.

What is important, and what risks being missed by obsessively focusing on who leaked the draft audit report to the media, is that taxpayer dollars have been wasted, misused, and according to the Comptroller's audit, in some cases cannot be accounted for.

Corrective action has been needed for months and, in some cases, years. When I and others at Village Hall have asked the manager to take corrective actions, his often highly unprofessional response has been to attack, deny, and point fingers. Of his targets in the Village, I happen to be the only one who is a sitting elected official.

I am willing to stand up to this bully because I owe it to the people of Monticello who elected me. He is skilled at presenting a charming face when he chooses in order to manipulate listeners. Though some who have not seen his "other side" may rally to defend him, many will confirm my experience that he has a less pleasant aspect that is motivated by a drive for power and self-service. Multiple complaints have been made to the board not just by employees, but by taxpayers and members of the public. Some officials are willing to look the other way, promising to "take care" of each new issue, but then do nothing. Perhaps some feel they owe a favor to Mr. Sager. I do not. Perhaps they hope that by ignoring persistent problems, the public will be lulled into thinking everything at Village Hall is "quiet" and therefore going well. It is not.

Valued and reliable longtime employees, many because they were not in a position to tolerate this Manager's abusive nonsense, have resigned. Some have made their complaints public, such as the former Director of Public Works who was physically shoved and insulted by the Manager (to which I was an eye-witness); or the former Treasurer who endured extreme rude, disrespectful, and unprofessional behavior Others have chosen to simply leave.

Notably, the recent Comptroller's audit report observes that the extraordinarily high turnover rate of key employees is partly responsible for the fiscal irregularities that have been documented. I urge Village taxpayers to demand accountability and more courteous service.

On July 6, 2016, responding to a request by staff of the Comptroller's office after speaking on the phone, I sent the following e-mail to Comptroller staff in Binghamton:

"...the Comptroller's auditors questioned why critical employees have been leaving the Village's employ over the last year or two. At the time, I was caught off guard by the question. However, after giving the matter some thought, I need to explain. The former Treasurer, Lilu Li, resigned because of verbal abuse and harassment by the Village Manager. The former Deputy Treasurer, left because she was making a lot of discrepancies in the payroll. When the manager advised her the Comptroller's office was coming for an audit, she submitted her resignation. Account Clerk [personal name redacted] left because money could not be accounted for and she did not want to be held responsible.

"After I spoke with Comptroller's staff, I asked Lilu why she did not complete reconciliations on statements shortly prior to her departure. She said the reason was that there were discrepancies in the deposits for which she could not account. (I believe she provided evidence of this to the NYS Comptroller's Office.)

"I remain concerned that some board members are treated unequally by the Village Manager, who manipulates processes to get his way with respect to expenditures and other matters that lawfully require board approval. Department heads report that he intimidates, abuses, and demands his way (notably, for example, at a meeting last week when he threatened to fire any department heads who provided information to a member of the Board of Trustees). It is safe to predict that in the near future the flow of retirements and resignations of longtime valued employees will continue."

In an e-mail dated December 16th, [personal name redacted], the principal examiner in the Division of Local Government and School Accountability, addressed "Dear Village Board Member", our individual comments were specifically solicited concerning the report:

"If you believe anything in the preliminary draft findings may be inaccurate or incomplete, please feel free to contact me or the examiner-in-charge [personal name redacted]. Also, if you have any other questions or concerns, or would like to meet with the audit team to discuss the draft, feel free to contact me..." (followed by his phone number).

When I called to discuss the draft, I was urged to submit my thoughts in writing, which I did.

I do not know whether any other members of the Board of Trustees bothered or cared enough to directly respond to what they may have considered inaccurate and omissions in the draft report, but individual comments were invited, so I replied. I am aware that the Village Clerk also submitted a response. Others may have as well, or perhaps they did not. A few months earlier, before contacting the Comptroller, our Village Clerk also complained directly to the board.

After the final report was publicized, I read in the newspaper that the Village Manager claimed that he and the Board of Trustees, deliberating in secrecy, without informing me, had drafted what he submitted as the Village's "official" response, consisting of an attack on "one Trustee". In a desperate act of finger-pointing, Mr. Sager told a newspaper reporter that one individual Trustee was to blame for the mismanagement cited in the report.

The assertion that the response supposedly submitted on behalf of the Board of Trustees was approved by the board is, therefore, a fraudulent lie, or else the product of blatant discrimination against "one Trustee" and a violation of the NYS Open Meetings Law.

The Village Manager's ridiculous claim that "one Trustee" is powerful enough to responsible for the management issues cited in the audit, and that "one Trustee" has created a "circus" at Village Hall, is bizarre. It is foolish to assert that one little old lady, with just one out of five votes on the board, has that much power. Anyone who would make such a claim would have to believe the public is made up of fools.

Before being allowed to see the statement that was supposedly made on behalf of the Board of Trustees, taking note of the date when the board's collective response was due, I wrote to the Comptroller's office in Binghamton:

From: "Carmen Rue" (crue07@gmail.com)
Date: Jan 17, 2017 8:06 AM
Subject: Re: OSC Audit - Village of Monticello - Draft Audit Report - Board
To: (muni-Binghamton@osc.state.ny.us)
Cc: "Carmen B. Rue" (crue07@gmail.com)

To Whom It May Concern:

Relative to your office's recent Comptroller’s audit findings in this municipality, It has come to my attention that monies overpaid to Village of Monticello employees as long ago as July 2015 still have not been repaid.

The manager's response to the recent audit report has not been shared with the Board of Trustees, despite my request through the Village Attorney that it be reviewed by the Board prior to submission.

It is respectfully requested that your office continue the present audit, or include as an addendum ASAP, a full review of Village payroll records through December 2016 to ensure accountability and that wrongfully disbursed public funds are restored to Village coffers.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Carmen Rue
Monticello Village Trustee
2008-2020
carmenrue.com

Requests for further Comptrollers audits and law-enforcement action

I have a spreadsheet listing the names of employees who erroneously received in some cases thousands of dollars more than their usual paychecks. Every one of those who were overpaid as a result of the Village Manager's assignment of inexperienced staff to do payroll, knows who they are, just as I do. Some honest workers have taken initiative to repay money to which they were not entitled. However, others have not yet done so, which must be due in part to the Village Manager's failure to recoup the funds from subsequent paychecks.

Without board approval, the manager took it upon himself to have at least some sign "I.O.U." agreements. These documents should have been presented to the board for approval. They were not, and the board as whole has not been informed of which employees still have not made the taxpayers whole for the payroll errors. I blame this failure on the manager, as much as anyone, since he is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Village.

Over a year ago, when I questioned the wisdom of assigning payroll duties to an inexperienced staff member rather than the Treasurer, Mr. Sager attacked me in a series of angry e-mails, asserting his executive authority to assign inexperienced staff if he so desired, and objecting to so-called "micro-management". Later, when I e-mailed him and the board that recoupment of the overpayments to staff should be approved by a board resolution, Mr. Sager again claimed that I was stepping on his toes as Manager and no board action was needed.

Taking seriously the duties of my elected office, I have urged the Comptroller's office to return, yet again, and ensure that all payroll errors have been corrected. At this point, I know that some have not. The Manager's response to date has been inadequate and requires State oversight. This is not "personal". As a Trustee, I am responsible for the use of the Village's public funds, along with the rest of the board. At the risk of being accused of "exceeding [my] authority", I am willing to speak truth to power when I see waste, fraud, and abuse occur with public funds.

Accordingly, my letter to the Comptroller of December 16, 2016, concluded:

"My respectful recommendation is that your office refer your findings to appropriate legal authorities empowered to determine the severity and nature of violations of the law that may have been committed, and who to hold accountable for the protection of the interests of the taxpayers in the Village of Monticello."

"Village Manager" form of government should be abolished

There never was any resolution to approve the Manager's response to the Comptroller's report. I did not see his accusatory letter until February 3rd. I have no way to know if he showed or e-mailed it to other board members and excluded me, but "voting" by e-mail or in anything other than a public meeting is null and void and a violation of the Open Meetings Law. It is also possible that Mr. Sager is not telling the truth when he accuses four members of the Board of Trustees of collectively violating the NYS Open Meetings Law together with him in this manner. However, if the board truly approved the management letter attached to the report without informing me of its contents (it was absolutely not done in an open meeting), this was clearly a violation of NYS Executive Law.

Monticello is one of the last remaining in Villages in New York State that still operates under the antiquated section of Village Law which was abandoned by the Legislature in the early 1970s. In my opinion, the "manager form of government" limits accountability, increasing the opportunity for waste and fraud. It should be abolished. We could still have a comptroller responsible for managing Village offices, and the elected Mayor and Board of Trustees would oversee in the manner like the vast majority of small and large municipalities in New York State.

However, until such a change is made, we must function under an antiquated system in which one unelected appointee (the Village Manager) exerts power over subordinate employees allowing established policies and procedures adopted by the Board of Trustees to be disregarded, and he openly boasts that he can act with impunity because "I have my three votes."

Serious consideration should be given to updating Monticello's form of government by doing away with the so-called "manager form of government". This action has been urged for years, but inertia and political patronage has stood in the way.

Nearly all villages and cities in New York State have what is commonly called a "strong Mayor" form of government. Not so here. In Monticello, the Mayor and Trustees each have one equal vote on the Board of Trustees. The Mayor is not the chief executive officer and does not oversee daily operations. The manager does. The board has the power to hire and fire the Village Manager, which has led to a dysfunctional revolving door in our village over the last 20 to 30 years.

Managers over the years have been hired, and then become politically involved or abuse their power. Boards then let them go, hoping that things will be better with a replacement. But it does not get better. As elected officials, we are accountable directly to the voters of Monticello, and no one else. We are not accountable to social media or to anyone other than those who vote in Monticello.

The February 4th edition of the Times Herald-Record reported, "Mayor Doug Solomon said problems happen when trustees exceed their authority. Can that issue be resolved?' he was asked. 'That remains to be seen at this point,' he said."

What "remains to be seen" is whether Mayor Solomon will join my call for a strong-Mayor form of government. Presently, his own powers are limited by law under the controversial "manager form of government". Under this antiquated regime, under Article 15-A of the former Village Law (which has been eliminated in most municipalities), the Mayor's powers are not significantly different from those of any other board member. These powers, which we in Monticello have unwisely delegated to a never-ending series of Village Managers, are thus limited:

§ 369. Legislative powers vested in board of trustees
All the legislative powe;s of the village conferred upon or possessed
by it are hereby vested in the board of trustees, which shall
be composed of a mayor and four trustees. Added L.1927, c. 650,
§ 47, eff. July 1, 1927.

and

§ 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 service of civil process;
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, 8 47, eff. July 1, 1927.

It is time for Monticello to be governed by those who are elected to serve, and for elected officials to be accountable for our own actions and not have our hands tied by larger-than-life managers.



UPDATE - External Audit Advises Caution

A second team of independent auditors has cautioned the Village of Monticello about municipal spending practices. The latest financial audit (which does not review administration) by the local accounting firm Cooper-Arias LLC found that during 2016 the Fund Balance dropped from approximately $1.3 million to $600,000 as of December 31st. This appears to indicate poor planning by managment, confirming findings of an earlier audit by the NYS Comptroller's Office.

Village Auditors warned the Board of Trustees in a presentation at a February 21st public meeting that if spending is not better contained, it could be necessary for the Village to apply for permission to New York State to exceed statutory tax cap. (Audio of the February 21st public meeting which included an oral presentation by the auditor is here.)

As one Village Trustee, my hope is for the smallest possible tax increase - or for no increase at all - when we formulate the 2017-2018 budget at workshops to be held in the late spring and early summer.

However, I only have one vote out of five.

Members of the public are strongly urged to attend all meetings of the Board of Trustees and express their concerns about matters involving Village government. If you cannot personally attend meetings, contact members of the Board of Trustees. (I can be reached here.) The following summaries are provided to the taxpaying public as a community service, in hopes of soliciting constructive participation:

"Santa Express" Arriving In Monticello On Sunday, December 4th, 5 PM

The Village of Monticello, Village Youth Committee, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Sons of Sullivan motorcycle club, and Monticello Fire Department will welcome Santa Express, arriving at 5:00 PM on December 4th at the corner of Broadway and Saint John Street, across from the L.H. Cooke Sullivan County Court House. Local children and families are encouraged to attend.

Created in Eldred in the year 2005 the Santa Express has grown into a wonderful Christmas tradition in Sullivan County, the mission of the organization is "to spread the magic of Christmas to children and families everywhere as Santa and his North Pole friends travel hundreds of miles visiting 10 towns in Sullivan and Orange Counties. Spreading the magic of Christmas to people of all ages, Santa Express is a one-of-a-kind Christmas event that is sure to delight everyone."


Santa Express, 12/4/2016, Rotary CornerSanta Express, 12/4/2016, Rotary Corner

Middletown Mayor DeStefano Advises Abolishing Monticello's Manager Form Of Government -- Years Of Editorials Agree

In an item on MidHudsonNews.com on entitled "Monticello business leaders learn secret of Middletown’s rebirth" describes advice from longtime incumbent Mayor Joe DeStefano of Middletown on improving government and reviving the local economy. Observing that the Village of Monticello is "on the cusp of a potential rebirth with the Montreign casino and other significant projects underway", business leaders heard from Mayor DeStefano and other top officials from Middletown, a city in neighboring Orange County, during a forum in which they discussed the Village's redevelopment.

According to the report:

"Monticello’s government structure includes a full-time village manager, who runs the day to day business and follows policy as set forth by the village board.

"Middletown has no city manager or administrator and when Mayor Joseph DeStefano was asked what he suggests Monticello do, he told attendees to get rid of the village manager form of government.

“'You need a strong mayor form of government,'” DeStefano said. 'The best thing that we ever did was we staggered our terms – the mayor and council president are four years; council members are two years. That puts a lot of pressure on them to either buy into your plan or to develop their own plan, and then I have to buy into their plan. I think that made for a good working relationship with the members of the board, that you have the power of the bully pulpit.'”

According to the published account, Monticello Mayor Douglas Solomon called the strong mayor concept "interesting", adding, “You would definitely have to have the right person for the job."

Both Middletown and Monticello have similar problems in attracting retail business to their downtown areas, DeStefano said.

The idea of abolishing the antiquated Village Manager form of government has been repeatedly endorsed on this website. Based on more than eight years of experience on the Board of Trustees and many more years than that as a local political observer and participant on government committees, I have seen how difficult it has been to hold the long series of Village Managers, some of whom have been more professional than others, accountable.

The public should be able to elect the Village's chief executive officer and vote him or her out when they fail to perform.



Sulllivan County Democrat, October 16, 2012



Sullivan County Democrat, April 8, 2011

Monticello manager fired after aborted Concord meeting, 10/16/2012, Sullivan County Democrat, news

Trustee would change government - Rue wants to can Monticello village managers, 3/23/2011 Times Herald-Record, news: "Village of Monticello Trustee Carmen Rue says she needs fewer than 250 voters to force a referendum on her proposal to dump the village manager form of government... But she says it's not them she wants to get rid of, but their $120,000 in salary and perks. 'It is not personal,' she said, noting that other communities, such as the Village of Liberty, are running their governments without paid managers."

Calm discussion would help Monticello, 3/24/2011 Times Herald-Record, editorial: "If the village can do without these expenses [of a Village Manager], it should move in that direction. While it is always hard to separate the personal and the political in Monticello, Rue has a point. Other villages operate with other structures, some of them less costly. If Monticello can get along without paying this money, it should."


Related Posts on This Site:

Time To Disband Monticello's Antiquated "Manager Form Of Government", For The 21st Century, 3/18/2011

The Questions Of Our Need For A Village Manager vs. Dissolving The Village Of Monticello, 3/21/2011

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Time To Make The Donuts! New Businesses Coming To Monticello's Jeffersonville Street Gateway

The project described in the following April 9, 2015 account in the Times Herald-Record illustrates the progress taking place on Jefferson Street accompanying planned renovations to the infrastructure there. This project has been in the planning stage with the Village Board of Trustees and Planning Board for several years which I am pleased to see coming to fruition.

UPDATE: This photo, taken June 5, 2016, shows the rapid construction:

Dunkin Donuts, Monticello, NY

Monticello getting new Dunkin' Donuts, boating store

MONTICELLO - A new Dunkin' Donuts franchise will soon replace the former Bean Bag eatery on Jefferson Street after the Town of Thompson land on which it sits was annexed into the village.

The Monticello Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted for the annexation following a joint meeting with the Town of Thompson. It was the last step before the Dunkin' Donuts project - headed by Monticello attorney Robert Gaiman - could move forward with construction.

"I think Dunkin' Donuts is good to go," said Monticello Village Manager David Sager.

Gaiman said during the meeting that the coffee shop will be similar to the one located along Route 42 in the town.
The board also approved the annexation of a parcel of land on Kaufman Road, near Monticello Casino and Raceway, that will be home to a new boating store owned by Rock Hill business owner Ron Resnick. According to village officials, the annexation was necessary for the store to get site plan approval at an April 24 village Planning Board meeting.

The annexation was meant to clean up the boundary lines of the properties since the majority of both were located in the village, according to Town of Thompson Supervisor Bill Rieber. Both parcels already use Monticello sewer and water.

“(The annexation) was meant simply to bring the rest of the parcel into the village as opposed to a case where we bring an entire separate parcel into the village,” Rieber said.

While the parcels were both less than a full acre, Sager says they will expand the village’s tax base. The town will continue to receive property tax revenue from the parcels since the village is part of the Town of Thompson.
Sager says the property assessment for both of the parcels - which he says “were in decay” - will rise after the projects are completed.

He added that the new Dunkin' Donuts and boat shop will make both properties "something the village can be proud of.”

Monticello Spring Cleanup, Saturday, May 14th to 21st, 2016 Free for Village of Monticello Residents

Flyer announcing spring clean-up for Village residents, May 14, 2016

ALL MATERIALS TO BE DELIVERED TO THE MONTICELLO TRANSFER STATION (LANDFILL) ON EAST BROADWAY, MONDAY - FRIDAY 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM & SA TURDA Y 8:00 AM - 11 :00 AM.

*** - LOAD AT A MAXIMUM OF 350 LBS OF NON-RECYCLABLE MATERIALS PER FAMILY - ***

Congratulations And Invitation To Public Swearing-In, Reorganizational Meeting Of Monticello's Board Of Trustees, Tuesday, April 5th, 5:30 PM

Positive and supportive letters and emails from friends, loved ones, and supporters are always welcome, but this one received in today's mail from my favorite Senator, the Hon. John J. Bonacic, was especially gratifying. Endorsement early in my campaign by a respected Senator of the opposing party helped propel my re-election, for which I remain grateful, even if newly elected officials received similar congratulations. It is reassuring to know Senator Bonacic remains in our corner, and recognizes the value of experience and competence in local government, as we move forward toward exciting times ahead and a bright economic future for Monticello and its surrounding area.

I am pleased to announce that the Hon. Frank J. LaBuda, Sullivan County Court Judge and Surrogate, has very kindly agreed to administer my Oath of Office. I look forward to the occasion and hope the public will join us.

Voters, residents, friends, and family are invited to attend the swearing-in ceremony and annual reorganizational meeting of the Village of Monticello Board of Trustees on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, 5:30 PM, commencing with the Oath of Office administered to myself and newly elected Mayor Douglas Solomon and Trustees Aleta Lymon and George Nikolados, on the second floor of Village Hall, 2 Pleasant Street, Monticello, NY.

Letter from NYS Senator John Bonacic congratulating Carmen Rue on re-election as a Village Trustee

Thanks From Trustee Carmen Rue For The Voters' Trust - Hand Extended In Partnership - As Monticello Looks Forward To Continued Progress And Economic Growth

I feel grateful and humbled to have been re-elected to a third term as Village Trustee by the people of Monticello. This result is an affirmation by the people of their favorable judgment not just of my work on their behalf as a board member, but of the progress Monticello has made since I took office.

Unofficial numbers released by the Sullivan County Board of Elections indicate the top two vote-getters are a mere dozen votes apart as of now, with Trustee Larissa Bennet significantly behind. The precise numbers have not yet been certified and may change by a few here or there.

Mayor Doug Solomon and Trustee Aleta Gomez (two-year term) secured for themselves the endorsement of what should normally be the opposing party, resulting in low-key, low-energy campaigns by them. Former mayors Gordon Jenkins and Gary Sommers – who were not even running – received a surprising number of write-in votes.

I offer congratulations to all who won, including new Trustee George Nikolados, and pledge to continue to work to the best of my ability for the good of Monticello. For as long as I have been on the board, when constituents have reached out to me for help, I have always returned their calls. I have been told time and again by Monticello residents that I make myself more accessible than most, and I will continue. As I have for eight years, I work hard for all the residents of Monticello – not just the wealthy and privileged – with fairness for everyone.

I extend my hand to my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, inviting them to join me in keeping our eye on the ball, working together in a positive and professional manner for the good of those who have entrusted us with the responsibilities of local government. As the senior member of the board (by several years), I am more aware than most what it takes to serve the public. I call on the mayor and all the trustees, as well as appointed officials and department heads at Village Hall, to work together in unison. We are there to serve the public, not merely our friends or special interests.

The people of Monticello look forward to continued growth as we move forward toward economic development, doubtless driven and sustained in part by the construction of the Montreign Resort and Casino just outside our boundaries. The hope and expectation of the entire Board of Trustees is that this project will create jobs for Village residents at the same time as it boosts the entire area.

By continuing to work together as a community, our area will prosper. Letting go of negativity of those who would oppose us, no amount of lies or orchestrated “social media” attacks can stop our growth. The final election results indicate that I did well in the minority communities, as well as with the traditional voters of Monticello old and young. The reason is simple – we are all one community, and when we do the right thing the majority of voters know and support it.

During the recent campaign, my focus remained with the voters of Monticello. I worked hard at every opportunity to communicate with the people who vote here. I personally collected 165 signatures on Democratic designating petitions, securing that ballot line not also for myself but also my running mates. It became clear when the Democratic petition was filed that without those signatures that I collected, the Democratic line could easily have been challenged and thrown off the ballot, leaving only the Republicans – an insult to the people of Monticello and the concept of democracy. I sought and obtained endorsements not only for myself, but also for my Democratic running mates, by the Conservative and Independence parties, as well as Laborer's Local 17. These endorsements, and the support of countless community members who worked on my campaign, made the difference.

In closing, the people of Monticello owe a gracious "thank you" to outgoing Trustee Larissa Bennett for her four years of service, as I also offer thanks once again to the voters for their continued confidence. If Larissa had been more open to campaigning with me door-to-door, while absentees were being collected, I know the entire team would have secured the continued approval of the voters. However, her good work for the community deserves to be acknowledged, and in two years there will be another opportunity. It is now up to the board to work together as a team.

Thank you, also, to my husband, Tom Rue, and children, Janesa, Eddie, and Carolina, and the entire family for all their patience and support during a long and time-consuming campaign.

Respectfully,

Carmen Rue
Village Trustee, 2008 to 2020

Unofficial Election Outcome Remains Too Close To Call

As I have said repeatedly before, I want to thank the many people who have supported each of my election campaigns, past and present, and for the voters who have expressed hope for continued progress toward a better Monticello.

The outcome of tonight's election remains unclear. First of all, the set of numbers released to the media by the Board of Elections appears to differ significantly from the machine totals read aloud by election inspectors when the polls closed at 9:00 P.M. on March 15th.

In addition to clarifying the "unofficial" machine totals in dispute, over 122 absentee ballots have to be counted. While I am making no predictions concerning the final count of absentees, I can say that I did a huge amount of footwork communicating with voters to make sure that their right to vote was assured and that their votes will count.

Even if tonight's unofficial machine tallies are accurate, I remain optimistic concerning the final outcome. I have confidence that I, and possibly Trustee Larissa Bennett, may continue to pick up enough ground to change the outcome.

So stay tuned. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Carmen Rue
Monticello Village Trustee

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