The top Republicans on the Monroe County Legislature are now saying they are ok with a delay in changes being proposed that affect the power of the county executive.
The response follows a firestorm of criticism on social media and elsewhere after news broke Tuesday night that the Republicans, who hold the legislative majority, were trying to water down some of the powers that would impact the newly elected Democratic County Executive Adam Bello, through a piece of legislation called the CABLE Act of 2019.
The legislature’s Republican President Joe Carbone and Majority Leader Brian Marianetti, made their first in-person comments to the media on Thursday.
Carbone maintains there were a lot of misconceptions about the proposal, which the majority lawmakers wanted passed as a matter of urgency, meaning it would bypass the committee process.
Now, Carbone indicated there’s an olive branch being offered to Bello.
“In the spirit of bipartisan cooperation, we have already reached out to Mr. Bello with the intention of getting together in the next few days to see if we can achieve our mutually stated goal of increasing transparency in a collaborative manner, while also fully recognizing the independence of county government,” Carbone said.
Carbone says that Bello will still be able to put his team of top officials in place. He says even if the proposal from the Republicans passes at the next legislature meeting, it would not come to fruition a few weeks into Bello's term.
“The county executive is still going to put his whole team in place," said Carbone. "Even if this was passed at the next legislative meeting, it wouldn’t come to fruition for 45 to 60 days afterwards. He’s still going to set up his whole administration, this doesn’t move the needle that much.”
Marianetti also said he’s ok with a delay in getting the legislation passed.
“If this ends up being delayed and needing to be tabled, in order to come to some bipartisan (agreement), we’d rather be bipartisan, of course," Marianetti said. "Was there a desire, an interest in maybe getting this taken care of at the end of the legislative cycle? Yes. If it doesn’t happen, that’s ok.”
Earlier in the day, some local business leaders expressed concern about the divisiveness caused by the legislative move that suddenly popped up on Tuesday night.
Bob Duffy, the President and CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, said that the move by the Republicans “hit a nerve” and he says it’s wrong to change the rules in this matter, no matter what party is in power.
“To have other people outside of Rochester, around the state and even beyond, read what’s happening; it’s really not the reflection we want on our community, we’re better than that, we’re much better than that,” Duffy told WXXI News.
Tim Mason, is Chair of the Chamber’s Political Action Committee. He says that PAC endorsed both Democrats and Republicans for recent county races, and he says that committee was trying to push the idea of politicians spending more time cooperating, instead of dealing in partisanship.
“Think about the people outside, looking in; we’re trying to attract people to this community and promote regional prosperity and economic development and you’ve got this conflict going on with the county legislature and it’s just not good for Rochester, “ Mason said.
Monroe County Clerk and County Executive-elect Adam Bello isn’t swayed by the offer of negotiating this week’s proposal put forth by Republican lawmakers. He has a problem with how the entire process has developed.
“I am not going to engage in a negotiation that is happening behind closed doors, that’s outside of the normal process, that is part of some matter of urgency at the last hour at the last month at the moment to radically transform how county government operates, that’s not what I was elected to do," Bello said.
Bello said that in January, he’d be happy to meet with everyone in a bi-partisan process and discuss issues in the normal committee process.
Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo released this statement on Thursday:
"When I took office as County Executive on January 1, 2016, my goal was to always do what I believed is right and in the best interest of the nearly 750,000 residents of our great County of Monroe. Last week when the voters elected a new County Executive, I immediately offered assistance to Mr. Bello for a smooth transition. Also elected last week was a Republican Majority in the County Legislature. Having an open and strong working relationship with the Legislature is vital to operating County government. This was never more evident than during the creation of the Office of Public Integrity.
When enabling legislation was first submitted by my office for consideration by the Legislature, members of the Minority Office provided recommendations. I listened and worked with my partners in government to incorporate their feedback into the legislation. Being a good leader means listening to others, which I have always done, to achieve the best outcome and I am pleased that the Legislature is doing the same.
The recently submitted CABLE Act of 2019 is another opportunity for the Majority and Minority Office and the new Administration to work together in the spirit of bipartisanship and create a working plan moving forward. I am pleased to hear the Majority Caucus has offered to work with their partners in government on the CABLE Act and I encourage all parties to continue to work together on behalf of the people of Monroe County."