Supervisors won't change meeting time; "It's all about you"


By Patsy Nicosia

A bid to move the Board of Supervisors’ meeting time so newly-elected Middleburgh Supervisor Wes Laraway can attend without penalty is dead.
Members of supervisors’ Rules Committee rehashed the request from Mr. Laraway, a new member of Rules and a teacher at Middleburgh Central School, at a meeting Tuesday.
Mr. Laraway has maintained that late afternoon or evening meetings would allow more of the public to attend, and Assemblyman Chris Tague, who’s also county GOP chair, has said it would make it easier to get candidates.
But that’s not what’s really going on, Fulton Supervisor Phil Skowfoe told Mr. Laraway Tuesday.
“It’s about you,” he said. “Any way you look at it, it’s about you.”
Yes, Mr. Laraway conceded, it is about him—in part, he said, because his inability to attend daytime meetings if he was elected became a political weapon in the Middleburgh race.
Mr. Laraway defeated incumbent Pete Coppolo to win the Republican nomination for supervisor and then beat Democrat Bill Ansel-McCabe in November for the job.
But now, with the exception of Friday’s meeting, he said MCS Superintendent Brian Dunn won’t allow him to use personal days to be there.
Because of school breaks and vacations and conference days, Mr. Laraway told Rules members that most months, he won’t have a problem with the daytime schedule; March, he won’t be able to attend, though, and April, he’ll be gone on a class trip to Europe.
MCS considers the supervisor’s job “vocational,” Mr. Laraway said, even though he’s donating his salary to charity, and so he can’t use personal days to attend meetings.
He said he’ll likely take a personal day in March, except that he’ll have a letter “put in his personnel file,” and then ask his union to grieve it.
Mr. Laraway began his request Tuesday by pointing out that according to the Association of Towns, 34 counties meet after 2pm, 13 meet before 2pm, and five split their meeting times.
“I’m not even saying 50-50,” Mr. Laraway said. “Why can’t we try a few?”
But Rules members pointed out that they’d tried later meetings in the past, with no better attendance, “and we had a lot of unhappy people,” Mr. Skowfoe said.
Blenheim Supervisor Don Airey told Mr. Laraway board meetings are really the least of the job; demands and meetings come up during the day too, he said, “never mind the things that come up out of the blue—like a flood.
“What are you going to do day-to-day? A town the size of Middleburgh? That’s my biggest concern. My day as Blenheim supervisor today started at 6:45am. Plenty of days I get up knowing I’m going to lose money.”
Mr. Laraway said his day starts at 5:30am; he plans to handle day-to-day responsibilities by email and phone calls during his free periods.
Even before he was elected, Mr. Laraway said, he was attending committee meetings.
“I practically lived here after school,” he said.
“If I have to miss three or four supervisors’ meetings a year, I have to miss three or four supervisors’ meetings a year.”
Other supervisors pointed out that it’s in committee that most of their real works gets done.
Rules Chair Dick Lape of Richmondville asked for a motion to forward Mr. Laraway’s request to the full board, but it died for lack of a second.
Still, a supervisor could bring it up to the full board for a vote, Mr. Lape said.