THIRD REGULAR SESSION
Johnstown, NY March 8, 2021
Roll Call – Quorum Present
Supervisors: Argotsinger, Blackmon, Born, Bowman, Bradt, Breh, Callery, Goderie, Greene, Groff, Horton, Howard, Kinowski, Lauria, Perry, VanDenburgh, Wilson, Young
TOTAL: Present: 20 Absent: 2 (Supervisors Fagan and Potter)
Chairman Callery called the meeting to order at 1:00 p.m. and welcomed all attendees.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, Chairman Callery asked if there was anyone from the public who wished to address the Board. No one came forward.
PUBLIC HEARINGS/SCHEDULED SPEAKERS
1:30 P.M. PUBLIC HEARING TO RECEIVE COMMENTS ON THE PROPOSED FULTON COUNTY POLICE REFORM AND REINVENTION PLAN IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE NYS GOVERNOR’S EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 203 OF 2020
2:00 P.M. PUBLIC HEARING TO RECEIVE COMMENTS ON THE COUNTY’S COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT NEEDS, AND SUBMISSION OF ONE OR MORE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2020 PROGRAM YEAR (MICROENTERPRISE GRANT)
Communication from Assemblyman Robert Smullen
Subj: Advancement of Assembly Bill A.44047 from the Environmental Conservation Committee to the Assembly Floor Regarding Conservation Subdivisions within the Adirondack Park
Communication from the Town of Northampton
Subj: Resolution Adopting Local Law 1 of 2021 “Opting Out of Section 487 NYS Real Property Tax Law Exemptions for Solar Farm Projects”
Communication from FitzGerald Morris Baker Firth Attorneys and Counselors
Subj: Fulton County IDA – Benjamin Moore & Co. Expansion Project, City of Johnstown, NY
UPDATES FROM STANDING COMMITTEES
Human Services: Supervisor Born stated that there was a Public Health Department vaccination POD held at the Fulton Montgomery Community College this past Thursday. Since the POD was held, Ms. Born stated that she received two (2) calls from individuals who received vaccines at the POD and they both could not say enough “good things” about how it was operated. She stated that another vaccination POD would occur in the near future and our County departments were doing an excellent job.
REPORTS OF SPECIAL COMMITTEES
Soil and Water Conservation District: Supervisor Horton stated that Fulton County Soil and Water’s Annual Report was recently submitted to certain State offices. The Soil and Water Conservation District Board approved to have an independent audit in May or June of 2021. He noted that Soil and Water will have a “Tree and Shrub Program” for anyone who may be interested.
Chairman Callery stated that local police agencies have expressed interest in reviewing the Fulton County Police Reform and Reinvention Plan for guidance.
Chairman Callery also read a “thank you” letter from the U.S. Census in recognition of Fulton County government’s efforts in the U.S. Census process.
RESOLUTIONS (TITLES ATTACHED)
Chairman Callery noted that Supervisors Fagan and Potter were unable to attend today’s meeting and asked for sponsors on the resolutions where said Supervisors were noted as the sponsors. Supervisor Bradt agreed to sponsor Resolutions 75 through 78 in behalf of the Public Works Committee. Supervisor Born agreed to sponsor Resolutions 65 through 67 on behalf of the Human Services Committee.
Resolution No. 73 (Resolution Calling upon NYS Legislators to Curtail Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Emergency Powers Authority): Supervisor Young stated that this Resolution is very important to restore checks and balances as well as local control. He stated that there is growing question about the recent actions of Governor Cuomo. Supervisor Born stated that she voted “no” for this during the Public Safety Committee meeting, but now that the Resolution title has slightly changed, she agrees with it.
A motion was offered by Supervisor Bradt, seconded by Supervisor Groff and unanimously carried, to waive the rules of order to take action on Late Resolutions 1 and 2.
Resolution No. 84 (Resolution Authorizing Hourly Stipend for Vaccination Auxiliary Personnel Who Assist County Departments with Vaccination PODS): Chairman Callery stated “this is money well spent” and hopefully Fulton County can get more vaccines. Supervisor Kinowski asked if this will be retroactive. Mr. Stead stated only until March 1, 2021. Mr. Stead stated that about three (3) weeks ago the County started doing “second dose” vaccination POD’s. He noted that when second doses began, the County was doing 400 to 500 doses each week and maintaining a consistent flow of auxiliary workers is important for the future. He also stated that the County Public Health Department POD did over 600 doses last Thursday.
Chairman Callery opened the Public Hearing to receive comments on the proposed Fulton County Police Reform and Reinvention Plan in accordance with the NYS Governor’s Executive Order No. 203 of 2020 at 1:30 p.m.
Ralph Desiderio, 152 Eden Lane, Mayfield, NY: Mr. Desiderio thanked the Sheriff’s Department for doing an excellent job. He stated that he went through the Fulton County Police Reform and Reinvention Plan and would raise a few key issues. He asked what it means where it reads the department will pursue more training and de-escalation training regarding “implicit bias”. He asked, “what is implicit bias” and “what kind of training will they get for implicit bias”. He also stated that the Sheriff’s Department only received 75 responses to the survey and expressed that is not enough responses to get a good view of the situation when there are approximately 41,000 adults in Fulton County. He noted that he has a problem with the “pass/fail system” recommendation that is proposed regarding State Civil Service exams for police officers. He stated that the Plan shouldn’t be considered with a pass/fail system. He also noted that the plan states that minorities have scored less than whites historically. He then asked, “what is whites” and “what does that mean”. He stated that the term “whites” shouldn’t be used. He stated that “We want the best people in our police department.” Being the best has nothing to do with the color of someone’s skin. He thanked the Board for allowing him to speak.
Chairman Callery asked if there were any other members of the public who wished to make comments regarding proposed Fulton County Police Reform and Reinvention Plan in accordance with the NYS Governor’s Executive Order No. 203 and none came forward. He then stated that he will keep the public hearing open for a while longer.
Chairman Callery asked for an update regarding COVID-19.
Mr. Stead stated that there are vaccination conference calls now with Larry Schwartz who is leading New York's vaccination strategy planning for Governor Cuomo. He stated that Mr. Schwartz has held multiple briefings regarding vaccines. Mr. Stead stated that they are State-wide calls that include members from counties throughout the State.
Mr. Stead noted that contact-tracing is still underway and advised that Fulton County Public Health Director Laurel Headwell made commitments to complete State contact-tracing protocols and will continue with said protocols.
Mr. Stead stated that certain “Phase 1B essential workers” which included teachers, first responders, grocery workers, etc. were given priority over senior citizens. He stated that two weeks ago, the Governor announced that folks with certain comorbidities were now eligible for vaccinations which allowed some seniors to be vaccinated with that category. He noted that local pharmacies are receiving quite a bit more vaccine. He stated that there are three (3) Walgreens locations in the County that have been getting vaccines and Palmers in Johnstown has received vaccine.
Mr. Stead stated that the Fulton County Office for the Aging is going to be announcing an initiative with Kinney’s Drug Stores. He explained that certain Kinney’s pharmacists will go to senior housing complexes and administer vaccinations on-site. Mr. Stead stated that Fulton County has received its normal amount of vaccines this week, but didn’t receive any specifically allotted for seniors.
Chairman Callery again asked if there were any members of the public who wished to make comments regarding proposed Fulton County Police Reform and Reinvention Plan in accordance with the NYS Governor’s Executive Order No. 203 of 2020. There being no interested speakers, Chairman Callery closed the Public Hearing at 1:47 p.m.
Supervisor Greene stated that during his previous employment with the Fulton County Probation Department he never had any issues with any police agency in Fulton County related to racial bias. He stated that the Sheriff’s Department had sent out a lot of surveys to multiple areas in the County to be completed but few were returned. He also stated that the Undersheriff was extremely strong on training and any must be well-documented and validated to be helpful. The Police Reform Advisory Committee took a vote and endorsed the final Plan. He noted that all residents that were present for the final meeting all agreed to this Plan.
Supervisor Breh thanked Mr. Greene, Mr. Stead and Ms. Lathers for their help with the administrative duties and deadlines that had to be met during this process. She then thanked the Committee. Ms. Breh expressed that Sheriff Richard Giardino and Undersheriff Dan Izzo did a great job working through this Plan and committed a great deal of time to this process. She also stated that the Committee had multiple public speakers and she found them all to be informative and helpful.
Mr. Stead stated that due to time limitations by the Governor’s Executive Order, the survey was done parallel to as recommendations for the very reason mentioned by the earlier public speaker. It was a very small sample size. It was considered only as an Appendix to the Plan rather than included. He also stated that the recommendations that are included in the Plan were not made based on the survey due to the limited amount of responses.
Supervisor Greene stated that sometimes individuals are good test takers but may not have the experience, references or background that the Sheriff’s Department is looking for. Mr. Stead stated that there are multiple Sheriff’s State-wide that have put forth an initiative to try to convince the State Civil Service Commission to make some changes to who can be hired if they pass a Civil Service exam. Mr. Stead stated that the State Civil Service Commission will likely not approve a pass/fail exam, but may enlarge the top qualifying list.
Supervisor Groff stated that having worked in the Sheriff’s Office of over 40 years, he expressed that a pass/fail system isn’t the answer. He stated that an Officer must need to meet certain qualifications and reverting to a friend and relative process is not progress.
Supervisor Young stated that an online survey may have allowed for more survey responses and noted that accreditation will be good for the Sheriff’s Department. Mr. Stead stated that during the first Police Reform Advisory Committee meeting, he advocated for using social media or an online survey platform, but the Sheriff felt that a lot of the groups in Fulton County would respond better to a paper survey. He stated that he expected that Sheriff Giardino would probably also opt for an online survey process if we were to do it over again.
Chairman Callery opened the Public Hearing to receive comments on the County’s Community Development needs, and submission of one or more Community Development Block Grant applications for the 2020 program year at 2:00 p.m.
DECLARING WEEK OF APRIL 18-24 OF 2021 AS
“CRIME VICTIMS RIGHTS WEEK IN FULTON COUNTY”
WHEREAS, in 1982, the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime envisioned a national commitment to a more equitable and supportive response to victims; and
WHEREAS, this commemorative week celebrates the energy, perseverance and commitment that launched the victims’ rights movement, inspired its progress, and continues to advance the cause of justice for crime victims; and
WHEREAS, crime can leave a lasting impact on any person, regardless of age, national origin, race, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation, immigration, or economic status; and
WHEREAS, incorporating communities’ existing experts and trusted sources of support into efforts to fully serve survivors will develop a criminal justice system response that is truly accessible and appropriate for all victims of crime; and
WHEREAS, engaging a broader array of healthcare providers, community leaders, faith organizations, educators and businesses can provide new links between victims and services that improve their safety, healing, and access to justice; and
WHEREAS, honoring the rights of victims, including the rights to be heard and to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect, and working to meet their needs rebuilds their trust in the criminal justice and social service systems; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors hereby expresses its dedication to strengthening victims and survivors in the aftermath of crime and building resilience in our communities, and offers it appreciation to all those community members, criminal justice professionals and provider agencies working for a better future for all victims and survivors; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors hereby proclaims April 18-24 “Crime Victims Rights Week in Fulton County”.
Chairman Callery again asked if there were any members of the public who wished to make comments regarding the County’s Community Development needs, and submission of one or more Community Development Block Grant applications for the 2020 program year. There being no interested speakers, Chairman Callery closed the Public Hearing at 2:10 p.m.
Upon a motion by Supervisor Lauria, seconded by Supervisor Bradt and unanimously carried, the Board entered Executive Session at 2:11 p.m. to discuss employment history.
Upon a motion by Supervisor Bradt, seconded by Supervisor Howard and unanimously carried, the Board re-entered into Regular Session at 3:52 p.m.
Upon a motion by Supervisor Kinowski, seconded by Supervisor Bradt and unanimously carried, the Board adjourned at 3:53 p.m.
Jon R. Stead, Administrative Officer / DATE.
Clerk of the Board.