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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14 Jan

Agendas for tonight’s meetings, etc

The Chemung County Legislature will hold two meeting tonight (Monday, January 14, 2019).


The first, a special meeting of the Personnel Committee, begins at 6:50 pm. The only item on this Agenda whether County Executive Chris Moss’ appointees to the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency (“CCIDA”) should be voted upon by the full Legislature. A link to the meeting’s Agenda is found here. (Please note you can view Agenda items and their attachments by clicking on them.)

The second meeting is of the Full Legislature. It begins at 7:00 pm. An Agenda for this meeting is found here.


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11 Jan

Chemung County update: Appointments, the IDA, City-County relations and the West Elmira Fire Department

It has been a very busy start for Chemung County’s new Executive and Legislature. With votes on numerous department-head positions and committees set to take place this Monday, there are many important issues facing our community. In addition, an unfortunate situation is unfolding in West Elmira involving its Fire Department, discussed in detail below.

The Appointments

The Agenda for Monday night’s Full Legislature meeting has not been published yet, but should appear here by the end of the day. The meeting will be held at 7:00 pm on the Hazlett Building’s 5th Floor. Members of the public are permitted to speak for up to 5 minutes on any matter at the start of the meeting. Prior notice does not need to be given to the Legislature in order to speak. I will again livestream the meeting to the Chemung County Matters Facebook page.

The resolutions addressed at last Monday’s Committee Meetings will all presumably be included on the Agenda for the Full Legislature Meeting. This includes appointments to numerous department-head positions (and their salaries) as well as many committees.


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07 Jan

Important personnel matters addressed by the Legislature

Two of the Legislature’s powers were in the spotlight tonight during the Personnel Committee’s meeting, including its ability to fix certain salaries and confirm appointments made by the County Executive.

Both powers are laid out explicitly in Chemung County’s Charter, found here.

The power to fix salaries is found in Section 203(h):

The power to confirm executive appointments is found in Section 309:


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05 Jan

Many issues to come before the Legislature Monday night

Members of the Chemung County Legislature were sworn in on January 1, 2018 following a short organizational meeting. The real work starts on Monday. If the Committee Agendas are any indication, it will be a very busy start to the year.


The Legislature usually meets three times per month. Unfortunately the Legislature’s website, found here, has not been updated to show the new schedule, so I embedded it below for anyone who is interested.


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31 Dec

Looking ahead to 2019 in Chemung County

Image: Britannica

Last year on New Year’s Day I published a blog post entitled “Key Fiscal Issues in 2018”, found here. The issues – what to do with the First Arena, Sales Tax distribution, the fiscal health of Chemung County and the City of Elmira, the impact of state and local law on our economy, and the potential for significant change in local leadership – proved to be important matters in 2018, most of which will continue to demand our attention until they are resolved.

The New Year’s post this year is somewhat different. Having been entrusted by the residents of Chemung County’s 7th Legislative District to try to help address the issues listed above along with a host of others, I have shifted the focus of my 2019 New Year’s post away from a simple commentary about the issues into an action plan where possible. Is the list below complete? Not even close, but it presents a few workable, practical ways to begin dealing with some of our community’s very serious problems.


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