23 Jul

Update: Legislative Salaries, Prevailing Wage and the City-County Committee

Legislative Salaries

The Chemung County Legislature’s ad hoc Compensation & Benefits Committee held its initial meeting last night. The Committee is comprised of five legislators including John Pastrick, Mike Smith, Rodney Strange, Bill McCarthy and myself. Together we are charged with evaluating the salary and benefit package offered to legislators and recommending what changes, if any, should be made.

Resolution 18-640 was passed last December designating the salary and benefits offered to Chemung County Legislators this year.


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18 Jul

Oral argument in Moss v. Legislature to be heard on July 19th

Judge Eugene Faughnan of Binghamton will hear oral arguments tomorrow in the two lawsuits filed by County Executive Chris Moss and County Attorney Hyder Hussain against the Chemung County Legislature, its lawyer Bryan Maggs and former legislative clerk Linda Palmer.

Arguments will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Hazlett Building’s Third Floor courtroom. Live-streaming is not permitted, but the proceeding is open to the public.


Attorney William Kinnery, hired by the Legislature and Palmer, and Attorney Bryan Maggs, representing himself, filed a motion last week to consolidate the two lawsuits. I expect Judge Faughnan will grant it as the issues involve the same parties and seem to be inextricably intertwined.

At the hearing, Robert Rosborough, the attorney hired by Moss and Hussain to bring the lawsuits, will be permitted to argue first as he represents the Petitioners, i.e. the people who brought the actions. There are no hard rules about how long his argument can last, but judges can – and often do – tell lawyers to stop arguing when they feel their questions have been adequately answered.


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25 Jun

Chemung County update on…a bunch of things

Image: Shutterstock

I have had a crazy few weeks as my daughters’ school and spring sports ended while a number of my cases at the Ziff Law firm started really cranking. As a result I have not been able to put together a update-style post in quite a while.

The list below demonstrates that there is a lot going on in local government right now. As always, you are encouraged to share your thoughts on these and any other matters as greater public involvement with government results in better government overall.

Shared Services

Last Thursday Chemung County Executive Moss held a meeting for all municipal mayors and supervisors where he laid out a new plan for shared services in Chemung County. Unfortunately the Legislature was not informed of the meeting, and to date has not received any information from the Executive’s office about what the plan entails.


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13 Jun

First Arena: an update

Image: Trip Advisor

In addition to serving as a Legislator for Chemung County’s 7th District, I am the secretary of the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency. In order to clarify and explain the state of affairs at Elmira’s First Arena, we offered this statement today.

A copy of the lease referenced in the statement and the specific requests for reimbursement are embedded at the end of our statement.


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28 May

Legislature to address many important issues on May 28th

May 28, 2019 Personnel Committee Agenda

The Chemung County Legislature’s Standing Committees will meet tonight (May 28th) starting at 7:00 pm on the Hazlett Building’s fifth floor. The meetings are open to the public and will be live-streamed to the Chemung County Matters Facebook page, found here.

Agendas for the meetings can be found here.


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22 May

Overview of how the New York state budget affects us

New York’s State’s Association of Counties issues its annual report detailing how the 2019-2020 budget impacts Chemung County. A copy of the report is embedded below:


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21 May

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

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

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

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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