GALLIGAN: WE HAD AGREEMENT TO INCLUDE TWO SUPPORT STAFF POSITIONS IN MY DRAFT RESOLUTION
MOTION LATER PASSES TO MOVE GALLIGAN'S ORIGINAL RESOLUTION TO BE VOTED ON AT EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE NEXT WEEK
(Screenshot of County Legislature's Human Resources Committee meeting today at the Government Center in Monticello. District Attorney Meagan Galligan is seen in foreground at podium.)
MONTICELLO - A County Legislature resolution that was posted online yesterday - to boost salaries for Assistant District Attorneys and support staff for the District Attorney's Office - was abruptly pulled this morning and the language revised and inserted into a new resolution handed out at the meeting of the Human Resources Committee meeting.
The public had not seen the revised document.
DA Meagan Galligan said she was concerned about "the blindside" that occurred today.
(Galligan has been complaining regularly to the Legislature that her office is chronically short-staffed after the departure of four ADA's in 2021, which cut her prosecution team in half. Two of those positions were recently replaced. She has repeatedly explained to the Legislature that bail reform and discovery reform in New York State has added even more of a burden on her ADA's).
After more than an hour of intense debate today between Galligan and Legislature Chair Rob Doherty, as well as simmering anger expressed by some Legislators who also felt blindsided by the surprise resolution, the Human Resources Committee passed a motion by 5-0 to vote next week on the original resolution that was drafted by Galligan and that was posted online.
Since being elected in January 2020, Legislative Chair Rob Doherty - and those Republicans who consistently vote with him - have made a habit of surprising colleagues and the public with 11th-hour resolutions in order to ram through legislation without the public given sufficient time to read and assess the information.
Legislator Alan Sorensen, who serves as the body's majority leader and as chair of the Human Resources Committee, said he believed the new resolution inserted "largely" meets the intent of what Galligan proposed. But later in the meeting, he gave in to Galligan's argument and suggested that the original resolution drafted by Galligan (and posted by The SullivanTimes late Wednesday) be voted on next week instead of the new resolution that Galligan adamantly opposed.
Early in the meeting Legislator Joe Perrello, said: "People in this County who are truck drivers get paid more than $63,000 (proposed starting salary for an Assistant District Attorney)."
When Doherty and Sorensen argued that Orange County ADA's are paid only $1,500 more than those in Sullivan, Galligan pushed back, pointing out that Orange County's DA's office is also four times the size of Sullivan's. Galligan said she is also concerned that current resolution language would prevent her attorneys from receiving cost-of-living increases in the future.
"We negotiated this as a package deal," Galligan said. "Now we are bifurcating the package. If I come back in four weeks, am I going to get pushback now on the two positions we agreed with?"
Doherty said that the staff positions would be dealt with in the upcoming 2022 budget process. Galligan sought an assurance in the current resolution, that had been removed from the original document.
As for the 11th hour resolution, Perrello later said: "You can't do it five minutes before a meeting and expect everyone to know what happened."
Legislator Nadia Rajsz said: "We need to respect the DA's Office."
Legislator Luis Alvarez added: "It's her office. We (The Legislature) seems to do everything possible to make their (county employees) lives miserable. "
Legislator Ira Steingart, who participated in the last-minute steering committee meeting this morning, acknowledged that he never had a chance to speak with his fellow Democrats in the Legislature (Rajsz and Alvarez) about the proposed changes.
Legislature Vice Chair Mike Brooks said that while "there is overwhelming support " for the DA's office, the Legislature did not want to open the doors for other departments" which may have emergency needs on staff and salaries.
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