12 Mar

Update regarding the Legislative Attorney

Image: Lawyers Niagara

Anyone following Chemung County government over the past few weeks is aware that an unfortunate impasse arose between the Legislative and Executive branches concerning the Legislature’s power to appoint an attorney to handle matters such as researching and drafting resolutions, local laws and other related documents.

The purpose of this post is to succinctly (I did my best!) and clearly set forth the history of the County Charter and legislation surrounding this issue, and update the public on where things stand now.


Chemung County was governed by a Board of Supervisors until 1973 when, through a public referendum, a County Charter was passed creating a Legislature and County Executive as well as several other governmental departments.

One of those departments was called the “Department of Law.” Under the original County Charter, there was just one law department headed by the County Attorney who oversaw all legal functions throughout the county.


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04 Mar

Budget Committee postpones vote on litigation

\Image: Huffington Post

Tonight the Chemung County Budget Committee considered a measure to allow Ray Schlather, a very well respected litigator with vast municipal law experience, to represent the Legislature for free in a proceeding involving an attempt by County Executive Chris Moss to fire the Legislature’s Attorney.

Last Thursday the Personnel Committee voted unanimously to bring an Article 78 proceeding that would allow a judge to decide whether (1) the County Executive has the power to unilaterally veto a Resolution; and (2) the Legislature has the power to appoint its own lawyer.


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02 Mar

Brief update on the potential for litigation related to the Legislative Attorney position

Last Thursday the Chemung County Legislature approved a Resolution by a vote of 13-1 authorizing it to bring an action in New York Supreme Court to affirm its right to appoint a Legislative Attorney. The Resolution included the authority to hire outside counsel if necessary.

A copy of the Minutes where this matter was decided is found here, a video of the Committee Meeting where it was thoroughly discussed is found here, and a blog post outlining my thoughts on the legal issues is found here.

The Legislature passed a second Resolution Thursday by a vote of 14-0 affirming its power to appoint an attorney, and, among other things, ordering all Chemung County employees and departments to refrain from engaging in any acts that would interfere with our current attorney’s ability to carry out his duties.

A copy of the Resolution is found here and is embedded below:


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28 Feb

Attempted firing of the Attorney for the Chemung County Legislature: an overview

At the onset it is important to note that I, and I believe many other members of the Legislature, have no interest in engaging in a dispute like this. Chemung County is facing many serious problems that demand our attention. We cannot afford these types of senseless distractions.

However, the Chemung County Executive is attempting to fire our attorney, a person we unanimously selected to serve as the Legislature’s legal advisor and counsel, and who serves as an employee of our Administrative Department. We offered the County Executive ways to work together to find a way through this but were not given any options. Hopefully we are able to move past this quickly and get back to the important work we were elected to do.


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24 Feb

Chemung County Update: City-County Committee, Separation of Powers and IDA reviews

Image: Star Gazette

As Chemung County government continues to move ahead with many changes at a rapid pace, it is bound to encounter some bumps. The hope is that these bumps are mild and ultimately push us in an even better direction with the kind of positive momentum everyone wants to see.

City-County Committee

An undertaking that seems to be working particularly well so far is the new City-County Committee. The group was formed upon the recommendation of County Executive Chris Moss earlier this month and is co-chaired by County Legislator John Burin and City Councilperson Jim Waters.


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15 Feb

Chemung County leaders to Amazon: Consider us!

Image: Flyin’ Phil’s Photos

A group of local economic development leaders sent a letter today to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos encouraging him to partner with us.

This is exactly the type of mindset we need to get things moving in our community. As Wayne Gretzky famously remarked, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Chemung County has tremendous things to offer. It’s incumbent on all of us to get out there and invite people in!


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09 Feb

Fast pace of change continues in Chemung County

“How are things going so far?”

Roughly six weeks after many new Chemung County officials were sworn in, this is a question I am asked frequently.

The short answer is this: Chemung County is moving in the right direction. I have disagreed strongly with some things proposed by County Executive Chris Moss, and I recognize we have a long way to go to create a Legislature that is fully transparent and that provides its members with the data they need to make informed decisions.

However, the many good things happening right now outweigh these concerns. Moss and his team are clearly working very hard to identify ways to make our government more run more efficiently while opening it up so that people have a chance to participate in a fair manner. Similarly, the Legislature is beginning to look at ways to use its powers under the charter to reassert itself as an independent branch, something that has been missing for many years.


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28 Jan

Updates from the NYSAC Conference

The 2019 NYSAC Conference got underway today with significant representation from Chemung County. The goal of the conference seems to be twofold: the education of community leaders along with advocacy by NYSAC on issues with particular consequences to local government.

The conference allows participants to choose among a number of training sessions. The newbies – including me – seemed to gravitate toward skills-based courses in order to learn more about the nuts-and-bolts of how county government functions.

Meet the Mandates


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28 Jan

The 2019 Winter NYSAC Conference

The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) is holding its Winter Conference from January 28-30 in Albany where more than 800 legislators, county executives and administrators, legislative clerks and attorneys and other county personnel will gather to share best practices and learn from each other.

A number of representatives from Chemung County are in attendance, including:

A link to the Agenda – including a description of many of the offerings – is found here.

I will do my best to post updates to this blog and to the Chemung County Matters Facebook page throughout the next few days for anyone who is interested in what is taking place.


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15 Jan

Appointments and salaries approved

On Monday night the Chemung County Legislature approved all of the appointments made by Legislative Chairperson Dave Manchester and County Executive Moss to various boards, committees and employment positions.

I livestreamed the Special Personnel Committee meeting as well as the Full Legislature Meeting, embedded below.

Special Personnel Committee Meeting


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