FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 10, 2018
TEDRA COBB’S FAILED LEGISLATIVE RECORD ON TRANSPARENCY:
AS COUNTY LEGISLATOR TEDRA COBB HELD ILLEGAL, CLOSED-DOOR MEETING IN VIOLATION OF THE NEW YORK STATE OPEN MEETINGS LAW
Glens Falls: Embattled Democrat Tedra Cobb often touts her record on the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators as a selling point with North Country voters. Last week and today, she repeated that claim, using her first and only campaign press event to highlight her record of openness and accessibility.
“What people want is elected officials to be open, accessible and consistent,” said Cobb last week. (https://bit.ly/2CnThfJ)
So why did Tedra Cobb vote to hold an illegal closed-door meeting in violation of the New York State Open Meetings Law while serving on the St Lawrence County Legislature?
The Stefanik campaign will continue to hold Democrat Tedra Cobb accountable for her public record. North Country voters already know Tedra Cobb voted more than twenty times to raise taxes as a St. Lawrence County legislator. They know after a video revealed she wants to ban guns, that Cobb says one thing in public and another thing in private.
Now, Tedra Cobb’s record of officially engaging in closed-door government meetings in violation of New York’s Open Meetings law proves she’s just another typical politician who voters can’t trust.
In contrast, Congresswoman Stefanik sets the standard for transparency in Congress by voluntarily publishing her official meetings on her website as well as posting every legislative vote.
- In June 2008, The St. Lawrence County Board Of Legislators Planned To Hold An Illegal Hearing In Violation Of The New York State Open Meetings Law In Order To Discuss Relations Between The Board And County Officials. “Contrary to state law, the vice chairman for the St. Lawrence County Legislature believes a discussion over the recent problems between legislators, department heads and county administration is appropriate for a closed-door executive session meeting. But the New York State Open Meetings Law states only a few specific items are appropriate for executive session, and that meeting behind closed doors for other reasons is illegal.” (Elizabeth Graham, “County To Meet Illegally Closed-Door Session To Air Laundry Violates State Law,” Daily Courier-Observer, 6/20/08)
- The Legislature Chair Said Only That the Meeting Would Pertain To Personnel Matters. (Elizabeth Graham, “County To Meet Illegally Closed-Door Session To Air Laundry Violates State Law,” Daily Courier-Observer, 6/20/08)
- “Robert Freeman, Executive Director Of The State’s Committee On Open Government, Said The Word ‘Personnel’ Alone Is Never A Valid Reason For A Closed-Door Session.” (Elizabeth Graham, “County To Meet Illegally Closed-Door Session To Air Laundry Violates State Law,” Daily Courier-Observer, 6/20/08)
- Some County Officials Said They Were “Fed Up With Constant Criticism By Several Legislators, Including [Legislature Chair J. Patrick] Turbett And Tedra Cobb.” ” (Elizabeth Graham, “County To Meet Illegally Closed-Door Session To Air Laundry Violates State Law,” Daily Courier-Observer, 6/20/08)
- On Jun. 23, 2008, The St. Lawrence County Board Of Legislators Went Into Executive Session “For Personnel.” “Mr. Nichols moved to go into Executive Session for Personnel at 5:11 p.m., seconded by Mr. Grow, and carried. Mr. FitzRandolph moved to return to open session at 6:25 p.m., seconded by Mr. Forsythe, and carried. Chair Turbett recessed for five minutes, and returned to open session at 6:30 p.m.” (St. Lawrence County Board Of Legislators Minutes, 6/23/08)
- Congresswoman Stefanik Introduces Important Transparency Legislation: https://bit.ly/2AMSx3b
- Congresswoman Stefanik Selected as Finalist for Transparency and Accountability Award: https://bit.ly/2vGAghV
County To Meet Illegally Closed Door Session To Air Laundry Violates State Law
Daily Courier-Observer (Massena, NY)
June 20, 2008
Section: LOCAL News
CANTON – Contrary to state law, the vice chairman for the St. Lawrence County Legislature believes a discussion over the recent problems between legislators, department heads and county administration is appropriate for a closed door executive session meeting.
But the New York State Open Meetings Law states only a few specific items are appropriate for executive session, and that meeting behind closed doors for other reasons is illegal. Robert Freeman, executive director of the state’s Committee on Open Government, said the word “personnel” alone is never a valid reason for a closed door session.
The legislature is expected to hold the executive session ahead of its 6 p.m. county Finance Committee meeting on Monday.
In a formal announcement Legislature Chair J. Patrick Turbett (D-Potsdam) said only that it was for “personnel” matters. Turbett did not return a call seeking more specific information.
Executive sessions can only be held for discussions regarding litigation; collective negotiations; to discuss medical, financial, credit or employment history of a person; for matters involving hirings, firings and disciplinary actions; for the grading or administration of examinations; and for the proposed acquisition, sale or lease of real property, according to state law.
Legislature Vice Chairman Frederick Morrill said Monday’s closed door meeting is being held so that legislators can discuss several recent meetings held between some legislators, county administration, department heads, and county staff.
Asked whether the subject matter is appropriate for discussion behind closed doors rather than in public session, Morrill said he believes it is.
He said little else about the session, except that he hopes the legislature will always strive to meet in a legal and appropriate manner.
Sources said county department heads are unhappy with the legislature’s recent squabbles. Some department heads say privately they are fed up with constant criticism by several legislators, including Turbett and Tedra Cobb.
Cobb has said that she was purposely excluded from recent meetings among department heads, county administration and several legislators, as was Turbett and Peter FitzRandolph (D-Canton), to discuss department heads’ troubled relationships with board members.
FitzRandolph charged recently that meetings between the county administrator, department heads, and a small group of legislators rather than all legislature members were inappropriate and represented a “power grab” by a handful of legislators looking to undermine the current leadership.
But several department heads have told the Courier-Observer privately that they feel their views are not taken into account by the current leadership, that they are constantly on guard, and that they are fed up with being unduly criticized at public meetings.
These county officials say they wished to voice their feelings to legislators who they felt would listen to their concerns without having to worry about whether their honesty would be held against them in the future.
The result has been several meetings which have been held over the last couple of weeks among St. Hilaire, department heads and the legislature, and Monday’s closed-door session will, sources say, be held to discuss department heads’ feelings and the legislature’s relationships with them in an attempt to ease tensions and facilitate better communication.
Copyright, 2008, Johnson Newspaper Corporation
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PAID FOR BY ELISE FOR CONGRESS