Dan Ashley, Chairman of the North Greenbush Democratic Committee criticized Republican Rensselaer County Legislators for their sponsorship of a law that would permit some, not all County Legislators, to “double dip” by serving in two elective offices simultaneously. This law is being considered in order to reverse a State Court order that removed three legislators from town board seats they held in violation of State Law prohibiting the practice.
Taxpayers should oppose this “Double Dipping” law on philosophical and ethical grounds. “You can’t serve two masters, and passing a law to allow county legislators to serve on town boards invites double dipping and conflicts of interest which fail to serve the public interest”, stated Ashley.
Ashley noted the “double payday” that will result if the GOP approves this change in the current law. “It’s not just two public paychecks, it’s also a double hit on the State Retirement System, stated Ashley. County legislators generally report to the State Retirement System that they work 30 hours a week. Town Board members generally report 20 hours a week. That’s 50 hours a week in two part time public jobs. When you add the fact that each holds a full time private sector job, taxpayers should ask who is being cheated by holding so many jobs?
Recusal called for:
Since the legislation appears to be proposed for the benefit of three Republican Legislators removed by the Courts, they should recuse themselves from this vote if they intend to use this law to run again for town board seats, stated Ashley. Otherwise they create the appearance of a voting for personal financial gain.
The Rensselaer County Legislature should carefully consider the implications of permitting certain privileged legislators to double dip at taxpayer expense. If greed causes the law to be passed anyway, then voters in North and East Greenbush should reject county legislators as town board members and elect representatives on their town boards who serve only the interests of their respective towns.
Ashley pointed to budget issues which will conflict a county legislator with a town board member. “County Legislators must first consider the needs of the county in devising a sales tax formula that shares revenues with the towns and cities. Town Board members, on the other hand, have an obligation to represent the interests of their town constituencies when lobbying the County Legislature for a larger share of this revenue source. Clearly, you can’t serve two masters, stated Ashley, noting that a Legislator is conflicted on sales tax votes if he also holds a seat on a Town Board. In Desso language, it’s like coaching for both Duke and Butler in last night’s big game.
Double Dipping Double Standard
Ashley also questioned the bizarre double standard proposed by the GOP’s Double Dipping Law. “How can they propose a law that allows legislators from the towns to serve on town boards while refusing to permit legislators from the county’s two cities to serve on their city councils? Could it be that GOP legislators want exclusive rights to double dipping at public expense or would they concede that city legislators possess higher ethical standards, asked Ashley.