July 29, 2011


County adopts new Rules of Order

Compromise gives county administrator vote on selection of key county positions

Staff Reporter

The Cortland County Legislature voted unanimously Thursday to adopt its revised Rules of Order, with an amendment that allows the county administrator some say in picking candidates for five key appointed positions within the county.
The amendment gives the administrator a seat on the bipartisan selection committee and allows him to vote on the positions of public defender, county attorney, Legislature clerk, veterans’ service officer and county auditor.
This is a compromise between giving him no voting power at all, as favored by Legislator Jennifer Gofkowski (D-Homer), who chaired the committee revising the Rules of Order, and giving him full authority to recommend candidates, as favored by Legislator John Troy (D-1st Ward) and County Administrator Martin Murphy.
Gofkowski ultimately approved the amendment after hearing several legislators would not approve the rules as proposed. The Rules of Order needed a two-thirds vote to pass.
Sandy Price (D-Harford and Virgil) was among the legislators who said she would not have passed the rules at first. After some clarification of the document’s revisions, Price changed her mind.
Price also said she favored giving the administrator an equal part in the selection process but wanted a system of checks and balances.
The amendment, which requires a five-vote majority for the committee’s recommendation to pass, provides this.
Gofkowski said she approved the amendment because the administrator’s vote could ultimately mean nothing.
Murphy said the amendment, though not the model he proposed, at least gives him some say.
“The fact the administrator is involved in the process — I think that’s a good step,” Murphy said.
Troy said he too would not have approved the rules as originally presented, saying he wanted the administrator to be the one to recommend candidates to the Legislature.
“It doesn’t take anything away from the Legislature, they can still approve or deny (the recommendation),” Troy said before the amendment was presented.
Legislators Larry Cornell (R-Marathon and Lapeer) and Gene Waldbauer (R-Cortlandville) also said they wanted the administrator to have more say than originally presented.
Legislator Ray Parker (D-2nd Ward) introduced the amendment, which was favored by all.
Amendment supporter Legislator Tony Pace (D-7th Ward) said it gives the administrator say while eliminating politics from the decision.
The selection process calls for three legislators-elect of either party to be chosen by the party caucuses for the selection committee. The personnel director and county administrator will sit on the committee and the administrator would be fully involved in interviews.


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