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October 18, 2012

 

Legislator defends rules disbanding

Pace says Rules of Order subcommittee recommended changes at odds with Legislature aims

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

In defense of his move Monday to disband the Rules of Order Committee, Personnel Committee Chair Tony Pace said Wednesday the committee is no longer needed and he wanted to move rules revisions forward.
Pace (D-7th Ward) said he was concerned the committee was obstructing certain ideas that he says the majority of the Legislature wanted, such as giving appointment authority to the county administrator and merging the Budget and Finance and the Personnel committees.
The Rules of Order panel is a subcommittee of the Personnel Committee.
Pace echoes the sentiment of Legislature Chair Mike Park (R-Homer), who removed members of several committees Friday, saying they were standing in the way of county business.
The Rules of Order Committee was formed in March by former Personnel Committee Chair Larry Cornell (R-Marathon and Lapeer), whom Park replaced Friday with Pace. Park was criticized for his move to also remove from the Personnel Committee Legislators Sandy Price (D-Harford and Virgil) and Susan Briggs (R-Cortlandville) and to remove from the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee Briggs and John Natoli (R-8th Ward).
Pace’s move to cancel a meeting of the Rules of Order Committee and disband it was his first as Personnel Committee chair.
He said he was concerned the committee was going against what was in the best interests of the Legislature, mentioning specifically the committee’s August recommendation regarding the appointment of department heads.
The Rules of Order Committee at that time rejected a July recommendation from a Legislative workshop that the county administrator have ultimate appointment authority. The rules committee instead pushed for that authority to rest with the Legislature.
Pace said this held up the process and went against what the majority of the Legislature wanted.
“So part of my reasoning behind this is to make sure all the options that have come up make it to the floor for a vote. It’s about respecting the wishes of the entire Legislature, not just four or five legislators,” he said.
Pace said the Rules Committee members — Briggs, Price, Cornell and Richard Bushnell (D-5th Ward) — can still bring business to the floor of the Legislature to be discussed and offer amendments to the document.
Bushnell said the Rules Committee was not holding things up but rather putting time into the document to make sure it was done correctly and waiting for feedback from County Attorney Ed Purser. At a meeting in September, Purser said the document needed several modifications, such as clarifying the requirement for all employees to track their hours of secondary employment and whether legislators-elect can sit on advisory boards.
Pace said the document has been held up long enough and was ready to be voted on after the Legislative workshop but the committee blocked that from happening.
Revising the document has been an ongoing issue since the committee was formed in March.
Pace said he also wants to see the Personnel Committee and Budget and Finance Committee merged, saying the agenda for Personnel does not have enough items to merit being its own committee. This was an issue he wanted added to the amended Rules of Order but the Rules Committee instead wanted to wait to see the results of redistricting before changing committees.
Pace said it was not necessary to wait because there is not enough work for the Personnel Committee to exist, regardless of Legislature size.
“Personnel issues like health insurance go through Budget and Finance anyway,” Pace said, calling Personnel a “shadow committee.”
He said the committee meetings were canceled four times this year because there was not enough on the agenda, but Legislative Clerk Jeremy Boylan said so far in 2012 the committee has been canceled twice.
“We need to streamline the process and update what’s going on, things move too slowly for the pace at which we have to make decisions,” Pace said of his reasons for disbanding the Rules Committee and the other changes that Park has made.

 

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