- Rich Klein
EXCLUSIVE: Perrello Files Complaint Against Doherty - Follows Alvarez Lawsuit vs Legislature Chair
Updated: Jan 7, 2022
MONTICELLO - District 7 Legislator Joe Perrello has filed an official complaint against Legislature Chair Rob Doherty, two sources at the Government Center have confirmed to The SullivanTimes.
Perrello did not respond to a request for comment when told in a message on Tuesday that this media outlet was publishing a story.
Legislator Joe Perrello, at left, and Legislature Chair Rob Doherty.
One of the sources , though, said that the complaint was made directly to Julie Diescher, the County's commissioner of Human Resources. It reportedly was made in response to comments made by Doherty at a March 11 meeting of the Health & Family Services Committee in which he called Perrello a "punk" three times and accused him, at that same meeting, of unspecified behavior that questioned Perrello's ethics.
Another source with knowledge of the complaint said that County Attorney Michael McGuire has circulated an email to all the legislators for some guidance on the handling of the complaint.
That's partly because Doherty (the District 1 legislator) and McGuire, in January, forced into the public domain a County Board of Ethics investigation into the behavior of Legislator Luis Alvarez - intended as required to be kept confidential - that ended up going before the Legislature. Alvarez retained Goshen attorney Michael Sussman to defend him in front of the Legislature in January.
Doherty, with help from McGuire, had pushed in January for the Legislature to take some form of disciplinary action, via a resolution, against Alvarez for something (using the "c" word) that the immediate past chair of the body has adamantly denied. In addition, the Board of Ethics has since acknowledged that the use of the word never came up in its investigation.
As a result of that public spectacle and Doherty's repeated personal attacks of Alvarez online (including the use of the official County website), Doherty faces a defamation lawsuit that Alvarez filed on March 11 in State Supreme Court/Sullivan County. The defense attorney for Doherty in the case is Stephen Coffey, the same Albany attorney retained by McGuire when the disgraced former judge faced imminent removal from the bench by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in 2020.
(Upon learning that Doherty was using the same attorney, The SullivanTimes was able to report exclusively that the County is using taxpayer dollars to defend Doherty but not Alvarez, even though the County Attorney's Office represents all nine legislators and all County employees. In addition, McGuire has refused to make public an invoice for those legal services in a likely violation of the Freedom of Information Law, according to the Committee on Open Government).
Doherty had repeated the personal attacks on Alvarez on other local Facebook pages, asserting in online dialogue with county residents that Alvarez - during a meeting last Fall - used the "c" word to refer to Stephanie Brown, the former Health & Family Services commissioner.
That meeting was attended by Alvarez, Brown , Legislator Nadia Rajsz, and John Liddle, the new Commissioner of the Division of Health & Family Services. Rajsz has said publicly that Alvarez never used that word at the meeting. (On March 11, Rajsz also introduced a resolution to censure Doherty for his behavior towards her and other legislators, but it was defeated).
John Kiefer, chair of the Sullivan County Board of Ethics, also told the Legislature on February 18 that Alvarez never used that word after the Board conducted its investigation of the matter, which reportedly included an interview with Brown. Liddle has been silent about the matter.
Alvarez has acknowledged that he expressed anger towards Brown because she oversaw the Care Center at Sunset Lake at the time his wife was transferred without his knowledge to Garnet Health last summer.
"You went after me and forgot about my wife," Alvarez said on February 18 at the Executive Committee meeting of the Legislature, referring to Doherty's attacks. "That isn't right."