Blog

21 May
17

Five cent fee for paper bags makes sense

Last month New York State enacted a law that prevents retailers from using most types of single-use plastic bags beginning on March 1, 2020. The purpose of the law, which permits plastic bags to still be used for things like uncooked meat, take-out food and garments, is to encourage consumers to rely on reusable bags instead.

However, it is up to counties and villages to decide whether they want to impose a small fee on paper bags in an attempt to cut down on their use as well.

Under this “opt-in” provision, counties and cities can pass local laws to charge 5 cents for single use paper bags sold in within their municipalities. According to a white paper published recently by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), found here and embedded below, the ban works as follows:

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08 May
2

Recap of Monday’s Budget Committee Meeting

The Chemung County Legislature’s Budget Committee met on Monday night in what turned out to be an extremely informative meeting that touched on a number of important issues.

Even though the committee is only comprised of seven members (Chairperson Dave Manchester and Legs. Joe Brennan, Mark Margeson, John Burin, Marty Chalk, Bill McCarthy and Rodney Strange) all members of the Legislature are permitted to weigh in and ask questions along with other county officials and/or community members who are asked to provide additional information.

A full recording of last night’s meeting is embedded below:

Introduction of Megan Hill, Chemung County’s new Deputy Clerk

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04 May
0

Response to Legislator Margeson

I saw a post by Legislator Mark Margeson pop up on social media earlier this week. I did not respond in any way because, as I have said repeatedly, it is time for Chemung County leaders to starting focusing on the important issues in our community rather than unnecessary and frankly destructive internal disputes.

This week I worked hard with many other legislators to do just that. The County-City Committee had an excellent meeting with Elmira College President Charles Lindsay where we discussed ways to strengthen the partnership between local government and the school, and we also continued working toward a report we are creating that outlines ways Chemung County can further help address Elmira’s fiscal condition. I sat down with several legislators to look at how we can best prepare for the possibility that Albany lawmakers legalize adult-use recreational marijuana as well as begin taking a hard look at the Opioid crisis that our community faces. And, I worked with a number of environmentalists to see how we can benefit from their knowledge of many programs and grants in New York through either the creation of a new Citizen Advisory Committee or by incorporating them into a council that already exists.

This type of activity is why we have local government, and why I ran for office.

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26 Apr
6

Recreational marijuana in Chemung County?

Image: NYSAC

The question of whether to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use is being carefully considered by the New York Legislature right now. Although the matter was not included in the 2019 State Budget, it is possible legislation will be introduced before the current session ends later this spring.

If New York state lawmakers decide to legalize recreational marijuana, our local municipalities – including Chemung County – are going to have very important decisions to make.

Specifically, Chemung County could opt out of authorizing the cultivation, processing, distribution, and sale of adult-use marijuana through a local law, ordinance, or resolution. In the event Chemung County does not opt out, the County, the City of Elmira, towns and villages may pass their own ordinances and/or regulations governing the time, place, and manner of licensed adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries, provided that such rules do not make the dispensary’s operation unreasonably impracticable, a decision that would be made by the Executive Director of the Office of Cannabis Management.

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25 Apr
14

Update on relations between the Legislature and the County Executive

It is unfortunate – unbelievable, actually – that another post on the state of relations between the Legislature and County Executive is necessary.

Despite pending litigation regarding the Legislative Attorney position, I have been feeling really good about what is happening within county government. We certainly have a lot of very serious issues, but proactive steps to begin addressing them are being discussed. Indeed, I felt optimistic at our Standing Committee meetings last Monday night as it seemed we were finally focusing all of our time and energy on things that actually matter to the community.

That feeling did not last long, as we have since learned County Executive Moss is attempting to diminish or perhaps even outright eliminate the role of the Deputy Clerk of the Legislature.

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11 Apr
2

Chemung County Update: the Opioid Crisis, Town Hall meeting, IDA audits, the Nursing Facility and the Legislative Attorney

Opioid Crisis Word Cloud on White Background

The feverish pace of business for Chemung County government that started in January has not shown signs of letting up yet – something that is good for everyone who lives in or cares about our community. 

The Opioid Crisis

As most of us know by now, the opioid crisis does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you do for work, how long you went to school or whether you or your family has ever been in trouble with the law. I was reminded of this yet again last week. Watching friends — who are outstanding parents — come to grips with the death of their son was a poignant reminder that this issue must be the headliner of every single issue list. Little else matters if we cannot find ways to better protect our community’s children.

Of course, the big question is what to do about it. I posed this question last week in a Facebook post, and received a myriad of interesting and diverse responses, including these very insightful thoughts from Kathy Reagan, someone I have known for a long time and greatly respect:

  1. Publicize again via tv, newspapers and social media the numbers of opioid deaths in our county and contiguous counties for the past 10 years. Compare to other causes of death. 
  2. The drug trade and violence go hand in hand, so both should be addressed together. Ask government leaders, other community stakeholders, and members of the community at large to literally stand unified together and declare “Chemung County drug dealers have no home here”. Like the Elmira shamrock. Make signs available for residents to place outside their homes. Make consequences for drug dealing in our community greater than risk and profit.
  3. Gun buy back.
  4. More police face time in drug infested neighborhoods to establish trust and discourage drug deals. More street cameras focusing on criminals with weapons. Continue to publicize 271-halt for tips.
  5. Explore county/city eligibility for more grants to fight the epidemic due to drugs, violence and poverty in Elmira and Chemung County.
  6. Establish or re-establish a time-limited Chemung County opioid/drug addiction task force. One initial meeting to introduce members and explain goals of the task force, but then main communication with substantive input can take place via email or text within disciplines. Each discipline should agree on best practice recommendations to establish realistic short term and long term goals for our community, and report them to the legislature.
  7. Continue to hold medical professionals and pharmacies legally and criminally accountable for prescription abuse.
  8. Consider overlooking cannabis positive drug tests for more workforce development low risk jobs and apprenticeships.
  9. Continue Drug court as an alternative to jail and highlight those who recover. Addicts do recover every day.
  10. Refer to state and national websites: oasas.ny.govomh.ny.govsamhsa.govaha.org/opioidshhs.gov/opioid for information and best practices.
  11. Refer to Star gazette editorial of April 7th re: need for medication assisted recovery for opioids.
  12. Locally, refer to chemungcountyhealth.org for information. There is currently a drug free coalition through the health department that is closed, but with the possibility of opening meetings to the public. Continue to advertise medication drop box locations.
  13. Locally, make AA and NA area schedules more available for the community at large. Trinity, New Dawn or STARS likely have the most recent schedules. Look for open meetings where visitors can attend. For someone reluctant to go alone, a fried or family member can attend with him or her. Establish Alateen again in our community for kids affected by a family members addiction. Publicize area Alanon meetings for friends and family of those addicted.
  14. Brand park pool restoration via Historic Elmira.
  15. Enlist community volunteers for any task.

Additionally, volunteers from the local iMatter chapter reached out to ask me to spread the word that they are working very hard on this issue and would love to have new volunteers get involved.

As a new member of the Legislature, I am still at the very early stages of the learning curve in terms of finding ways to use policy and local legislation to influence matters like this. Please keep the suggestions coming, and I will explore ways the Legislature and county government in general can help out.

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25 Mar
3

Recap of the March 25th Standing Committee meetings


Image: Joyce Tice

Tonight the Chemung County Legislature held its monthly Standing Committee meetings.

Unfortunately, the WiFi connection for the livestream I provide during the meetings was lost just minutes after they began – something I did not realize until the meetings ended.

To that end, please let me know if there is anyone out there interested in assisting in this effort by using my phone to livestream meetings of the Legislature and/or CCIDA as it is not possible for me to pay attention to the livestream after the meetings begin. Ideally this type of help will insure things like a dropped WiFi signal or a sideways view don’t go unnoticed until such time that Chemung County begins providing livestream services itself.

Below is my best recollection of what stood out tonight.

Clerk of the Legislature

Tonight’s meeting started with sad – and frankly startling news – that Linda Palmer, the Legislature’s Clerk for the past 30 years – is retiring due to health problems. Linda began her remarks by stating that she began considering retirement last year in order to spend more time with her family, and the recent onset of medical conditions made it clear to her that retirement is the right choice for now. In just the few short months I have served on the Legislature, it has become obvious how much Linda contributes to county government. She will be greatly missed by everyone.

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19 Mar
8

Update: City-Council Relations, IDA projects, New Visions partnership, Town Hall schedule, and the Legislative Attorney

Image: Fagan Engineers

A lot of great things are afoot in Chemung County right now despite the unfortunate dispute between the County Executive and Legislature. The new building on Water Street, featured above, is nearing completion, construction is well under way on Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine’s campus, and community spirit was outright feverish on St. Patrick’s day when Elmira snagged the Guinness World record for the largest human shamrock from Dublin, Ireland.

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14 Mar
3

A brief overview of where things stand with the Legislative Attorney

Image: Wikipedia

I published a blog post two days ago about the Legislative Attorney position, found here, that concluded by stating, “[h]opefully this is the last post I will have to make on this issue, and we can all get back to doing the important and tough work we were elected to do.”

Unfortunately that is not the reality, at least for now.

What I didn’t know when I wrote the post – or when I attended a Legislature meeting on Monday night where the overall sentiment was that we could find ways to work with the Executive branch without wasting time or money on litigation – was that a lawsuit had already been filed back on March 7th and an Order had been signed by a judge on March 8th. To the best of my knowledge none of the legislators knew about the filing or Order until yesterday.

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12 Mar
11

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.

History

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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