Middletown votes for Bracci as CWT committee nominee

By Geoff Samuels
The third time wasn’t the charm when Town of Middletown Supervisor Marge Miller called a special meeting of the town board last Wednesday in an attempt to have the town board approve her nomination as one of three representatives to sit on the executive committee to the Coalition of Watershed Towns.

In two previous votes the board was unable to decide between nominees Miller and Delhi Supervisor Peter Bracci, with Miller and Deputy Supervisor Mike Finberg voting in favor of Miller’s nomination and board members Jake Rosa and Brian Sweeney voting in favor of Bracci. Board member John Roucek was not present at the earlier meeting where both votes were taken, but he was present Wednesday and his vote in favor of Bracci denied Miller the nomination when Sweeney and Rosa again supported Bracci.

Earlier voting
The vote from a previous town board meeting resulted in Walton Supervisor Bruce Dolph and Tompkins Councilman Carl Stuendel being nominated for the first two seats.

The CWT is a volunteer association formed in 1991to serve as a voice for 30 watershed towns west of the Hudson River with the objective of mitigating potential economic constraints in the area due to increasing New York City watershed regulations.

At Wednesday’s special meeting, with the nomination being the only item on the agenda, Supervisor Miller quickly called for the vote with a “If there weren’t any objections” footnote.

Trustee Jake Rosa immediately called the legality of the vote into question quoting from “Roberts Rule of Order” saying that a vote could only be brought up for reconsideration by someone who had originally voted against the resolution in question.

“Since this meeting was set up by you because you didn’t get the outcome that you were looking for,” said Rosa, “is it actually legal?”

Middletown Attorney John Fairbairn then explained that he had researched the issue of proper procedure for the vote and had confirmed his findings with the New York State Association of Towns who said that it was permissible to have a second vote, and that there was no requirement about who can bring the vote up again.

Deputy Supervisor Mike Finberg opined that “one of the distinctions may be the difference between procedure and legality,” with Miller stating that “Roberts Rules are not law, they’re a template for how to proceed in a meeting.”

About representation
“This is not about me getting my desired outcome,” added Miller. “The idea is for Middletown to have three recommendations to the CWT for their executive board, whoever those three people are…we could have left it at two, but they asked us for three.” The votes where then cast and tallied, with Bracci winning the nomination.

All the towns and villages in the watershed area will be sending their nominations in to the Albany law firm of Young/Sommer for the final tally, and the results will be announced at the next CWT meeting which will be held on June 17 at 6 p.m. at the Catskill Watershed Corporation building in Margaretville. Miller could still be elected to the executive committee of the CWT if she is a top vote getter through nominations by other town board in the watershed.

In a subsequent phone interview with the News, Miller characterized the board’s vote as, “It is what it is…it would have been nice to have at least one representative from the East Branch to sit on the coalition board…as it is so far, everyone’s from the west.”