- Rich Klein
EDITORIAL: A PUBLIC HEARING BEING HELD TODAY BUT HAS LEGISLATURE ALREADY PICKED A WINNER?
County Legislature Reviewing Application To Promote The Center For Discovery As Recipient For State CDBG Grant
Today, the Sullivan County Legislature is holding a public hearing at the Government Center for "the purpose of hearing public comments on the Name of Community’s community development needs, and to discuss the possible submission of one or more Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) applications for the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) through the CDBG-CV program."
That's according to the legal notice from the County about the hearing.
The notice also points out that "the CDBG program is administered by the New York State Office of Community Renewal (OCR), and will make available to eligible local governments approximately $60 million in Federal Funds for the 2020 CDBG CV program for supporting small business, improving air quality in public facilities, environmental improvements in housing for safe shelter, conversion of underutilized buildings for affordable housing and public services."
But also included in the November 8 notice is a statement that Legislature is ALREADY considering an application made by the The Center for Discovery, which submitted its application on November 12 -six days before the public hearing and just four days after the legal public notice was published by the County.
The Center is seeking $2 million for a campus wide project to improve the air quality in their facilities.
Let's remember that the Center had revenues of nearly $120 million in 2019 and was awarded another $35 million -courtesy of the federal government - to build its Children's Specialty Hospital in Rock Hill.
Legislature Vice Chair Michael Brooks is the Center For Discovery's Manager of Information Technology and County Historian John Conway, who has close ties to Legislature chair Rob Doherty (who has been a big supporter of Conway's Fort Delaware tourism Project) is the Center's "Information Specialist."
It may be that the Center has a legitimate need to apply for state funding "to assist the Center for Discovery with a campus wide project to improve the air quality in their facilities."
But one has to wonder if the Center - which is the largest employer and wields great political influence in Sullivan - was given a head up and a head start on the application process ahead of much smaller and much needier organizations that don't have CEO's like Patrick Dollar who earn more than $641,000 per year.
You know what else? The Sullivan County Legislature's Executive Committee already has a resolution printed and to be voted TODAY that calls on the County Manager or Legisalture Chair to "authorizes the County Manager, and / or Chairman of the County Legislature (as required by the funding source) to accept the award, and enter into an award agreement or contract to administer the funding secured..."
That resolution could be voted on less than 30 minutes after the public hearing concludes.