Opponents of court move not giving up
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,”
“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.