Hugh Reynolds: Q&A on Q&A

Hugh Reynolds.

It was one of those deals that never got done that people speculate about forever — Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams, for instance. Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach has confirmed he offered the post of deputy comptroller to former opponent and occasional critic Jim Quigley, Town of Ulster supervisor. What an odd couple.

A pair of obscurities at the time, Democrat Auerbach defeated Republican Quigley in the first contest for comptroller in 2008. With Barack Obama providing him coattails, Auerbach squeezed through by an official 174 votes after a month-long count of absentee ballots. Quigley, elected to the first of two terms as Ulster supervisor in 2009, has called him “Mr. Lucky” ever since.

Just what motivated Auerbach into inviting this oversized fox into his henhouse hasn’t been revealed. The comptroller insists the offer was “serious enough.”


“I even offered to put his name on the door, above mine,” Auerbach said. “You know, Quigley and Auerbach, Q&A. But he wasn’t buying.”

Reached at the NCAA Final Four inNew Orleans, Quigley slam-dunked his former suitor.

“I never took it seriously and I never would do it,” Quigley said. “I’d wind up doing all the work and he’d wind up with all the glory. Elliott and I have a professional relationship. I looked on his offer as an extension of his joking personality.”

The guy upstairs from Auerbach has his name on the wall in two-inch-high letters: Michael P. Hein. He would probably have come right through the floorboards had Auerbach proved more persuasive with the two-termUlster supervisor.

Quigley, who briefly considered a run against Hein last year before discovering that almost all the cards were stacked against him, including in his own party, has emerged as the county executive’s most persistent and knowledgeable critic. A forensic CPA, Quigley does his homework, and he does not give up. He can be litigious, pursuing claims in court at his own expense. Quigley as deputy comptroller with subpoena power would have been Hein’s worst nightmare.

As a partnership, Q&A probably wouldn’t have lasted long. Trading Ted Williams for Joe DiMaggio would have put superstars on opposing teams, hundreds of miles apart except for ball games. Auerbach and Quigley would have been bumping into each other in the hallways and no doubt bumping heads. And there is only one boss.

Spurned by Quigley, among others, Auerbach turned to Joe Eriole, a lawyer with accounting experience and two-time Democratic candidate for legislator from Wallkill. Ironically, one of Eriole’s first assignments from his new boss was compiling a report against Quigley and Rochester supervisor Carl Chipman for their refusal to include Safety Net expenses in their 2012 town budgets.

Quigley certainly found it ironic. “Imagine,” he said from theCrescentCity, “offering a guy a job and then accusing him of doing something illegal?”

As they say in sports, sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.

Hey, Julian

I have been pointedly advised by office Wikipediacs that the proverb about living in interesting times was not originated by the Chinese, but I’m pretty sure my Beijing pals said something about long journeys beginning with single steps.

Which brings me to congressional candidate Julian Schreibman’s disappointing kickoff fundraiser at Hillside Manor last month. Many, many, were called, I’m told, but only about 40 came out at $100 a ticket to encourage their would-be new congressman. With the exception of ubiquitous comptroller Auerbach — he goes to everything — Democratic heavies were conspicuous by their absence. Organizers had hoped for at least 100 supporters, perhaps 150.

Slideshow image: From left, Congress hopefuls Julian Schreibman and Joel Tyner and U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson.