Around these parts there will be lots of new political faces tackling long-standing problems, plus a plethora of retreads to offer guidance and pundits who occasionally get things right.
On the Ulster County level, we’ll have five new legislators, but the 18 returnees will call the shots.
Terry Bernardo of Rochester looks to be the new chairwoman, but as Phil Sinagra will attest to his dying day, you never know until they count the votes. Back in ’99, Sinagra was so sure he had the votes to oust incumbent chairman Dan Alfonso, he had stationary printed up. What he didn’t have was 17 votes. Politicians being naturally sneaky, devious and cunning, Bernardo will not reach for the gavel on (Jan. 3) until it’s handed to her.
How this new 23-member legislature matches up against the powerful county executive will of course be a work in progress. It can’t be any worse than a previous doormat legislature the late radio editorialist Harry Thayer dubbed “The Fiddlers 33.” The executive will not give an inch — pledges of “cooperation” to the contrary. He will more likely seek to expand his influence.
Seeking a balance of power, Republicans are expected to appoint as majority attorney Orange County no-neck (he doesn’t choke) pit bull Langdon Chapman as their counter to the imperious Queen Bee, county attorney Bea Havranek. Many a forest will be sacrificed in the coming exchange of legal briefs.
Though little surprises me any more, I was amazed at how quickly the air went out of the pro-nursing-home balloon after the legislature voted to sell the place. Scores of defenders attended every county legislature meeting for more than a year, many of them pleading passionately for preservation, but December’s meetings looked like a ghost town.