Op­po­nents of court move not giv­ing up

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Pa­tri­cia Doxsey pdoxsey@free­manon­line.com pat­ti­at­free­man on Twit­ter By a mar­gin of about 2.5 to 1, Ul­ster County vot­ers re­sound­ingly ap­proved mov­ing Ul­ster County Family Court from the city of Kingston to the town of Ul­ster. Un­of­fi­cial re­sults from t

ef­fec­tive op­tion for our tax­pay­ers.”

Ronk, R-Wal­lkill, said he was “thrilled” by voter ap­proval of the plan.

Both men said they were par­tic­u­larly grat­i­fied that vot­ers were, as Ronk said, “able to see through the mis­in­for­ma­tion that was be­ing spread around through­out the county, and make what I think is the right call.”

“The peo­ple were over­whelm­ing in their sup­port of this in spite of the fact that Don­ald­son and Parete waged a dis­grace­ful cam­paign of mis­in­for­ma­tion,” Hein said.

Although the pro­posal to move the court from its cur­rent leased lo­ca­tion at 16 Lucas Ave. in Kingston to the Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter in the town of Ul­ster had the sup­port of the Hein ad­min­is­tra­tion and most of

the 23-mem­ber Leg­is­la­ture, Don­ald­son, D-Kingston, and Parete, D-Boiceville, ac­tively cam­paigned against the mea­sure, say­ing the county ig­nored other po­ten­tial so­lu­tions to ad­dress­ing Family Court’s needs and that tak­ing the court out of county seat would hurt Up­town Kingston busi­nesses.

In a state­ment Wed­nes­day, Kingston Mayor Steve Noble said he doesn’t sup­port mov­ing “crit­i­cal an­chor in­sti­tu­tions” like Family Court out of the city, and he said the fact that 30 per­cent of the vot­ers op­posed the mea­sure “in­di­cates to me that con­cerns re­gard­ing this move ex­tend out­side of the city of Kingston and that a great deal of pub­lic out­reach and buy-in is still needed.”

“It is my sin­cere hope that the county’s lead­er­ship rec­og­nizes the weight of th­ese con­cerns and responds through a thought­ful, well-re­searched and trans­par­ent pub­lic process as the project moves for­ward,”

Noble said.

“We got beat up pretty bad,” Don­ald­son said Wed­nes­day, at­trib­uted the trounc­ing at the polls to what he said was the “mis­lead­ing lan­guage” of the bal­lot what he called the “un­eth­i­cal use of county funds” by the Hein ad­min­is­tra­tion to send out a mailer days be­fore the vote.

Last week, Don­ald­son filed a com­plaint against Hein with Ul­ster County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Hol­ley Carn­right, claim­ing the mail­ing “was an ef­fort to pro­mote his opin­ion against all oth­ers,” and a mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds. Carn­right re­sponded that there was “no ev­i­dence of crim­i­nal­ity that would war­rant my of­fice’s in­volve­ment.”

Deputy County Ex­ec­u­tive Ken Cran­nell said the county spent about $16,400 on the coun­ty­wide mail­ing, which he said was part of the county’s out­reach and ed­u­ca­tion plan. He said mem­bers of the Leg­is­la­ture’s Ways and Means

and Cap­i­tal Projects com­mit­tees were told, ac­cord­ing to June 9 meet­ing min­utes, that “pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion would be re­quired” and that there would be an “ac­tive cam­paign to get the information out to the vot­ers re­gard­ing the pub­lic ref­er­en­dum.”

Don­ald­son said he is con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of su­ing Hein to re­coup the money that was spent on the mail­ing.

“I’m go­ing to con­sider that,” he said. “We would be go­ing af­ter the county ex­ec­u­tive for spend­ing tax­payer money. To me, its mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds.”

Parete, mean­while, said the pair have sub­mit­ted a res­o­lu­tion call­ing for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the han­dling of the process used to pick the Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter as the site for the new Family Court. Parete and Don­ald­son al­lege the ad­min­is­tra­tion failed to in­form law­mak­ers of a ren­o­va­tion plan cre­ated by an ar­chi­tect for the Lucas Av­enue

build­ing owner, and mis­led law­mak­ers into be­liev­ing the Lucas Av­enue site would be too ex­pen­sive to ren­o­vate and that the cost of ren­o­vat­ing the Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter would be cheaper than it ac­tu­ally will be.

Deputy County Ex­ec­u­tive Robert Sud­low said that study never was pro­vided to the county, but Parete said the ad­min­is­tra­tion was aware of the study and tried to bury it, rather than pro­vide it to law­mak- ers, in an at­tempt to push the court to the Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter.

In 2014, Sud­low told law­mak­ers the build­ing’s owner had de­vel­oped a $7 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion plan, though that num­ber was changed to $6 mil­lion — in­clud­ing the pur­chase of the build­ing — in 2015. In 2016, the idea of ren­o­vat­ing the build­ing was no longer be­ing pre­sented by the Hein ad­min­is­tra­tion as an op- tion.

The county is un­der pres­sure

by the state Of­fice for Court Ad­min­is­tra­tion to up­grade its Family Court fa­cil­i­ties, which the state has said are “wholly in­ad­e­quate” for the court’s needs.

Mov­ing the court to the Busi­ness Re­source Cen­ter re­quired voter ap­proval be­cause state law re­quires county court fa­cil­i­ties to be in the county seat.

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