August 31, 2004

Peaceful public forum

After all the excitement earlier this year over a county executive proposal, I figured someone might show up at a public forum to speak in support of the idea. Similarly, given the questions of the cost of the state's expectations for jail expansion, someone might come who actually wants a larger jail.

It was not to be. County Legislator Mike Lane opened with a report on the legislature's research into the county executive position. New York has a wide variety of county structures, and the Government Operations Committee has been visiting other counties for information on their experience. County executive structures come with costs - executives are typically paid more than administrators, and have deputies who are paid about as much as administrators.

Mike Lane presenting on county executive possibilities
Mike Lane presenting on county executive possibilities, with Tim Joseph and Leslyn McBean-Clairborne.

County Legislator Leslyn McBean-Clairborne presented on the county's efforts to sort out the size of a new county jail, with options ranging from renovating the current jail to expanding it from 72 to 160 beds.

Audience at the forum on county issues
Audience at the forum on county issues.

Much to my surprise, no one at all spoke in favor of changing to a county executive form of government or in support of expanding the jail.

The range of opinions on the county executive ranged from Caroline Town Supervisor Dan Barber and Ithaca Town Supervisor Catherine Valentino's support for examining county government to Ray Schlather's conclusion that the research itself was a waste of time. County Legislator Frank Proto clarified that while the county executive proposal had come from County Republican Chairman Mark Finkelstein, it was not a proposal from the Republican party as a whole.

On the jail, the costs of expansion, the state's apparent insistence on a larger jail, and the prospects for rehabilitation programs were recurring themes in the opposition to the expansion, but there was no support for expansion, especially to the size of expansion the state has wanted. (The state asked for 160 beds, now 136 plus 8 seems to be something they'll consider.)

Posted by simon at August 31, 2004 9:23 PM in
Note on photos