2 leg­is­la­tors file law­suit over court ref­er­en­dum

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Pa­tri­cia Doxsey pdoxsey@free­manon­line.com pat­ti­at­free­man on Twitter Cor­re­spon­dent Wil­liam J. Kem­ble con­trib­uted to this re­port.

KINGSTON >> Two Ul­ster County leg­is­la­tors are ask­ing a court to force a change in the word­ing of a voter ref­er­en­dum about whether the county’s Fam­ily Court should be moved from Lu­cas Av­enue in Kingston to the county’s Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter in the town of Ul­ster.

Democrats David Donaldson and John Parete have filed a law­suit in state Supreme Court against County Ex­ec­u­tive Michael Hein, Leg­is­la­ture Chair­man Ken Ronk, Leg­is­la­ture Clerk Vic­to­ria Fa­bella and the county’s two elec­tions com­mis­sion­ers. The suit fol­lows the de­feat ear­lier this month of a leg­isla­tive res­o­lu­tion that would have changed the ref­er­en­dum’s lan­guage.

In the law­suit, the two law­mak­ers, who op­pose mov­ing the court out of Kingston, call the ref­er­en­dum “mis­lead­ing, am­bigu­ous, il­le­gal and not a clear and co­her­ent rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what the vot­ers should con­sider.”

In June, law­mak­ers ap­proved a bal­lot propo­si­tion that states: “In or­der to im­prove ser­vices to the chil­dren and fam­i­lies of Ul­ster County, re­duce the need to raise prop­erty taxes and sat­isfy state man­dates, the County of Ul­ster pro­poses to re­lo­cate the cur­rent leased site of the Ul­ster County Fam­ily Court, lo­cated at 16 Lu­cas Av­enue in the City of Kingston, County of Ul­ster, State of New York, to a more suit­able county-owned prop­erty sit­u­ated less than 800 feet from the City of Kingston line, lo­cated at 1 Devel­op­ment Court, Ul­ster Av­enue in the Town of Ul­ster, County of Ul­ster, State of New York. Shall this propo­si­tion be ap­proved?”

Donaldson, a Kingston res­i­dent, wants that lan­guage changed to some­thing more “neu­tral,” ar­gu­ing there is no proof that the move will do any of the things claimed in the bal­lot lan­guage.

Rather, he and other op­po­nents say, mov­ing Fam­ily Court out of the city of Kingston could hurt the Up­town Kingston busi­ness district and in­con­ve­nience those us­ing Fam­ily Court, and that con­vert­ing va­cant space at the Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter could cost as much as $3 mil­lion more than the $10 mil­lion price tag es­ti­mated by the ex­ec­u­tive.

The suit asks the court to or­der that the bal­lot read in­stead: “Shall the county of Ul­ster be per­mit­ted to re­lo­cate the cur­rent leased site of the Ul­ster County Fam­ily Court, lo­cated at 16 Lu­cas Av­enue in the City of Kingston, County of Ul­ster to an ex­ist­ing county-owned prop­erty, ap­proved by the New York State Of­fice of Court Ad­min­is­tra­tion, lo­cated at 1 Devel­op­ment Court, Ul­ster Ave­une in the Town of Ul­ster, County of Ul­ster, State of New York?”

For­mer Kingston Al­der­man Brad Will said at a Com­mon Coun­cil meet­ing last week that he sup­ported Donaldson’s ef­forts to change the bal­lot lan­guage, call­ing it an ex­am­ple of how county lead­ers have ma­nip­u­lated in­for­ma­tion in fa­vor of the Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter. Will urged coun­cil mem­bers to cam­paign against the ref­er­en­dum.

“They looked at the BRC (Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter) and they looked at sev­eral other sites, and these other sites were lo­ca­tion-chal­lenged, cer­tainly not con­ve­nient, and when they looked at them, they were grossly over­es­ti­mated in cost,” Will said.

Ul­ster County has come un­der pres­sure from the state Of­fice of Court Ad­min­is­tra­tion to up­grade its Fam­ily Court fa­cil­i­ties, which the state has called “wholly in­ad­e­quate.” Un­der state law, mov­ing the court to the county-owned Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter re­quires voter ap­proval be­cause it is out­side the county seat, which is the city of Kingston.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.