On Feb. 19 the Ulster County Legislature was due to vote on Resolution 0154 which opposes the NYS (un)SAFE Act and admonishes the closed-door procedure by which it was passed. The crowd size was expected to surpass the nearly 300 people who attended the last two (un)SAFE Act sessions.
The Legislature could have let this meeting stand in the county building and at worst endangered the expected masses or at best limited the number of citizens allowed to attend.
The safety factor goes without saying, unless you are Legislator Donaldson, D-Kingston, who would not agree to the move, preferring instead to create illusions that moving a legislative session expected to draw upwards of 300 citizens from a room with a capacity of 120 was not about safety it was a “political stunt” or a “campaign ploy.” And limiting the number of citizens allowed to attend would not only have been wrong for shutting out those who wanted to attend, it would have made it possible for the group (proponents or opponents) that arrived first to shut out the other.
With that said, I want to thank all of the Ulster County legislators who supported the change of venue for the Feb 19 meeting. Moving it to the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston allowed residents to attend in safety and comfort, but every bit as important it allowed the Open Meeting law to mean what it should mean, “open to all.”
Our County representatives stand in stark contrast to our state Senate representatives who saw fit to pass the (un)SAFE Act in a cloak of darkness without reading it or giving their constituents, the citizens of this state, the chance to read and comment on it.
As far as leading is concerned, I want to congratulate Ulster County Legislature Chairwoman Bernardo, R-Accord, who proved she respects all the citizens she represents and not just those who agree with her. Unlike Gov. Cuomo, who through fear of opposing viewpoints, shut out the citizens he is supposed to represent by usurping the state’s Message of Necessity law, Bernardo backed the move to UPAC, and in doing so she bravely and respectfully invited all the people she represents to join in the government process.
In the end, whether I got the outcome I desired or not, I say thanks for at least swinging open the doors and inviting us all in, as opposed to the now too common shut out.