OSWEGO COUNTY – The Oswego County Legislature met Jan. 6 for its first meeting of the new year. The following is a summary of that meeting;

Newly-elected legislators were sworn in individually by County Judge Karen Brandt. Frank Bombardo, representing Mexico, was excused. The four other legislators were James Scanlon, District 16,; Noelle Beckwith Salmonsen, District 21,; Michael Solowy, District 23,; and Frank Castiglia, District 25 (sections of Fulton).

All incumbent legislators were sworn in as a group.

James Weatherup was re-elected chairman of the legislature.

Linda Lockwood was re-elected vice-chairman of the legislature.

Betsy Sherman-Saunders was re-elected clerk of the legislature.

Nathan Emmons was named Majority Leader.

Laurie Mangano-Cornelius was named Majority Whip.

Frank Castiglia was named Minority Leader.

Marie Schadt was named Minority Whip.

Richard Mitchell was re-appointed County Attorney

Phil Church was re-appointed County Administrator.

David Turner was appointed Director of Strategic Initiatives for a term to coincide with the term of the legislature.

Jiancheng Huang was re-appointed Director of Pubic Health for the county for a term beginning Jan. 1, 2022 and ending Dec. 31, 2027.

Brian Chetney was appointed Director of the Youth Bureau for a term to coincide with the term of the legislature.

Sara Sunday was appointed Aging Services Administrator for a term to coincide with the term of the legislature.

Gregory Powlin was appointed Director of Central Services for a term to coincide with the term of the legislature.

Kevin Pooley was appointed Director of 911 Communication System for a term to coincide with the term of the legislature.

Mark Powell was appointed Director of Solid Waste Programs for a term to coincide with the term of the legislature.

Veronica Turner was appointed Auditor for the county.

Holly Carpenter was appointed Purchasing Director for a term to coincide with the term of the legislature.

Sara Davis was appointed Plan Administrator the Oswego County Assigned Counsel Plan with a term to expire on Dec. 31, 2023.

Shane Laws was appointed Fire Coordinator for the county for a term to coincide with the term of the legislature.

Cathleen Palmitesso was appointed Director of Emergency Management for a term to coincide with the term of the legislature.

Strategic Development Specialists of Syracuse was awarded the renewal of its present $65,000 annual contract as grant writer for the county.

The Oswego County Weeklies and the Palladium-Times were named the official newspapers for the publication of all election notices, official canvass, local laws, notices and other matters required any to be published.

Janet Clerkin, an infinite source of help and information, was honored upon retirement after 37 years with the county.

“I’ve really been blessed beyond words to have a career that I loved,” she said. I loved working with the department heads. I worked with some of the finest people you will ever meet. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my husband Kevin and my family and the many friends that I made along the way. None of what I have been able to accomplish would have been possible without the people along the way that helped me out. And so, I thank everyone. It’s been a wonderful opportunity.”

This was followed by a lengthy standing ovation.

Twenty resolutions were voted on.

Resolution OR-4: Appointing a Purchasing Director for the county. Passed with a vote of 19 in favor, two opposed, and four absent.

On Resolution OR-5, Appointing a Plan Administrator for the county Assigned Counsel Plan, Legislator Frank Castiglia asked, “Why aren’t we just fixing the plan that we had instead of starting a new plan and putting money into that? Government’s way of fixing things is just to throw money at it, and I can’t see throwing taxpayer money into something we have not known. And for those reasons, I’ll be voting no, not on the person but the position.” The resolution passed with a vote of 20 in favor, one opposed, and four absent.

On Resolution OR-14, Appointing a Strategic Initiatives Director for the county, Castiglia spoke on his decision.

“I look at this position,” he said, “and I just see us taking money and spending it because we can spend it. I just can’t see spending $1 million on it. In my mind I’m thinking this could be done within the office that’s already held.” The resolution passed with a vote of 19 in favor, two opposed, and four absent.

Five legislators voted against Resolution OR-19 Authorizing the application for and receipt of COVID-19 supplemental funding from the state of New York totaling $1 million. The resolution passed 16-5 with four legislators absent.

Resolution OR-20 passed unanimously authorizing the execution of a settlement and participation agreement with Allergan regarding the matter of the County of Oswego vs. Purdue Pharma, et al. This entitles Oswego County along with a number of other counties in the state to split a settlement of $200 million. The exact amount due Oswego County under the settlement is not presently known. Details are expected to be released in the near future.

Public comment session followed. Legislator Marie Schadt ascended the podium to give the following speech remembering those who died protecting the Capitol one year ago on Jan. 6.

“Let’s all take a moment to remember those who died one year ago today faithfully protecting our capitol against those who would seek to destroy the very tenets of our government,” Schadt said. “We should keep in the forefront of our minds as we deliberate each month that we swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Let us remember that our duty is to represent our constituents with the integrity and honor our positions require and not fall victim to the constant onslaught of destructive politics.

GOD BLESS AMERICA.”

Following adjournment, Legislator Frank Castiglia expounded on the positions he took during the meeting in opposition to three resolutions.

On his vote against appointing a Purchasing Director:

“The last minority caucus was not in favor of that appointment,” Castiglia said, “because there are many people that have experience in purchasing that were overlooked. She’s not coming in to that position having been the Purchasing Agent. She was the Director of Public Housing in the city of Fulton. It was the fact that it was a political appointment. She came out being the secretary, I believe, for the Oswego County Republican party. That’s what her avenue was to get that job, and that, we didn’t agree with.”

On his opposition to the new appointed counsel plan:

“The system is broken,” he said. “The assigned counsel program is broken. They can’t get enough assigned counsels to represent the criminals that they have. So, instead of fixing what they have, they say, ‘all right, we’ll go to another program. We’ll put money into that. I just think that’s ludicrous. It’s going to cost us extra money, but they’re saying the money’s coming from the state. Well, sooner or later, the state’s going to stop paying you. That’s the way the state works. It’s good for five years, but all of a sudden after five years they’re going to say it’s mandated, and you’re going to pay for it. That’s why I don’t agree with just throwing money at something. My understanding is there’ll be one director of it, and then there’ll be three people that they can get underneath him that would go and show up for arraignments and so forth. I’d say six years ago, during my first or second term, they set up an assigned district attorney that would go to outlying areas to represent the district attorney’s office. They did that, why couldn’t they do the same thing with the assigned counsel? The problem they have is people won’t show up. The criminals, they haven’t seen their lawyer, so they can’t have a case, we can’t do this, we can’t do that. Fix the problem. Don’t just throw it away and start another program, because you’re gong to have another problem with this one. You’re not going to get people to go into the public defender’s office, because you’re talking about low pay. If not, then you’re going to come up with more money, and it’ll cost us more money than the assigned counsel.”

Will defendants get better representation under this new plan?

“There won’t be any difference,” Castiglia replied. “The difference will be that now, all of a sudden, there’s extra money that we’re getting from the state. We had money from the state before, but now, we’re going to get extra money. I can’t see just throwing money at the problem. Every government does that.”

And on his opposition to the appointment of a Director of the Strategic Initiative:

“That to me is a ludicrous appointment,” Castiglia said, “in that we get $23 million, we’re going to take a million of it and spend it on having somebody that will tell us how to spend the money or where we can spend the money. The job could have been performed while he was still in the position he was in and the county administrator. This is a brand new position. It’s $1 million over five years is going to be paid to this gentleman and his associates. In five years he’ll retire. It’s just a boost of his pension. That’s all it is. And we’ve got somebody else who’s going to take his position. It’s going to be a high-paying job, which will be another political payoff. And I don’t like that. And they don’t like that I don’t like that.”

Democrat Castiglia was named Minority Leader. He gave some insight into how that came about.

“Marie (Schadt) and I flipped a coin to see who was going to be the minority leader. And we may switch next year. It all depends on who feels comfortable doing it and who likes it. We both like it. We both like holding people accountable and making our point on the floor.”

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