ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A controversial proposal in the Monroe County Legislature would limit the power of the county executive.
Monroe County Executive-elect Adam Bello says the proposal should be tabled, and was only done for political purposes.
“I was not elected to participate in a process like this,” Bello said Thursday. “I’m not going to engage in a negotiation that’s happening behind closed doors.”
It’s called The CABLE Act (Checks and Balances for Legislative Equality) and it was introduced by Republicans in a Legislative meeting Tuesday. It was contained in a “Matters of Emergency” measure and would amend the Monroe County Charter to reduce the power and independence of the County Executive, and give more oversight to the GOP-led legislature.
“None of this even makes sense, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bello said.
It’s controversial because of timing. Despite holding power in both branches of county government for years, Republicans put forth this proposal only one week after they lost the County Executive office — for the first time since 1991.
“What’s played out the last couple of days is what voters rejected last week,” Bello said.
Republicans say the proposed law is about a balance of power.
“We were voted in as the majority, the people kept us as the majority — we can’t lose our teeth, we have to have some power to govern,” said Monroe County Legislature President Dr. Joe Carbone said Thursday afternoon.
Bello slammed the proposal Wednesday too when details of the proposed law were first made public.
“This is not acting in good faith,” Bello said. “This is not how county government is supposed to work.”
The law could skip the normal committee process and can be signed into law in December as a result, according to Monroe County Legislature Democratic Staff Director Denis O’Brien.
“What I am willing to do, and what we will do, is sit down with people from both parties, and we’ll have a real conversation about how to reform county government,” Bello said.
The Republicans maintained a majority on the county legislature on Election Night, and if passed, current County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo could potentially sign the law before handing over power to Bello.
Carbone and Legislature Majority Leader Brian Marianetti both said they want to work with Bello on the bill, but they also wouldn’t commit to waiting until he was sworn in to try and pass the CABLE Act as law.
News 8 reporter Kayla Green: “So there’s no rush to pass this and have Dinolfo sign it before Bello is sworn in?”
Carbone: “We’ll see.”
GOP officials defend CABLE Act
If the measure becomes law, Bello would lose his authority to create new positions and adjust county salaries.
“The fact that they [Republicans] did it the way they did it is a demonstration to the public that they knew what they were doing is wrong,” Bello said Wednesday.
It would also reduce Bello’s spending authority to $5,000 whereas Dinolfo was allotted up to $20,000 without legislature approval. It would also put more of Bello’s appointments to the legislature for approval.
Bello’s budget would also be due a month earlier and the legislature would take away oversight on public works contracts and purchasing.
Republicans say the proposal is about checks and balances, not taking control of county government.
“Even as drafted, it’s not taking the ability away to nominate someone in that position it just adds that extra layer,” Marianetti said. “We’re not doing this because we’re looking to vote ‘no’ on anything that comes forward, that’s not good for anyone.”
When sworn into office, Bello will be the second Democrat in the county’s history to hold the seat, the last one in 1991.
One Republican who wasn’t present for Thursday’s GOP press conference was Dinolfo, who has been unavailable for comment due to a planned out of town trip. Her team released this statement on her behalf Thursday:
“When I took office as County Executive on January 1, 2016, my goal was to always do what I believed is right and in the best interest of the nearly 750,000 residents of our great County of Monroe. Last week when the voters elected a new County Executive, I immediately offered assistance to Mr. Bello for a smooth transition. Also elected last week was a Republican Majority in the County Legislature.
Having an open and strong working relationship with the Legislature is vital to operating County government. This was never more evident than during the creation of the Office of Public Integrity. When enabling legislation was first submitted by my office for consideration by the Legislature, members of the Minority Office provided recommendations. I listened and worked with my partners in government to incorporate their feedback into the legislation. Being a good leader means listening to others, which I have always done, to achieve the best outcome and I am pleased that the Legislature is doing the same.
The recently submitted CABLE Act of 2019 is another opportunity for the Majority and Minority Office and the new Administration to work together in the spirit of bipartisanship and create a working plan moving forward. I am pleased to hear the Majority Caucus has offered to work with their partners in government on the CABLE Act and I encourage all parties to continue to work together on behalf of the people of Monroe County.”