Legislature votes down IDA Board appointment

MAYVILLE – A resolution from last week’s legislative meeting is giving county executive candidates something to talk about.

The legislature voted down a resolution appointing Kathleen Geise to the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency board of directors. Had she been appointed, Geise would have replaced Michael Piazza, who retired.

Legislator Vince Horri-gan, R-Bemus Point, was one of nine who voted in favor of appointing Geise to the board. His opponent for county executive, Democrat Ron Johnson, took the opportunity to raise a political point in opposition to Horrigan’s vote.

“The vote (Wednesday) by my opponent, Vince Horrigan, confirms to me that we absolutely need a new direction to bring jobs to our county,” Johnson said. “I am the only candidate for county executive who has created a private sector job at a private-taxpaying business, and I understand our need to work hand-in-hand with labor and private sector job creators to turn our county around.”

Johnson said his strongest concern was that Geise would have filled the term of Piazza, who has been the representative of the county organized labor workforce on the CCIDA board.

“Mrs. Geise is not a member of our local unionized labor, and this spot on the board needs to represent our local labor force,” Johnson said. “As a matter of fact, I intend to expand the voice of organized labor on the IDA board under a Ron Johnson administration.”

Horrigan defended his vote, saying he fully supports County Executive Greg Edwards’ recommendation to appoint Geise to the CCIDA board of directors.

“Mrs. Geise is the representative of the Workforce Investment Board, represents all of the demographics, and is exactly the kind of person that we need on the board,” Horrigan told the OBSERVER.

“There were comments made about Mike Piazza, who was formerly on the board, and also, as I understand, was a member of organized labor. Mike, from my information, did an excellent job on the board. He was a former chairman of the IDA. I just believe going forward that we need the absolute best person, and right now Katie Geise is the one from the Workforce Investment Board that will represent the workforce that we need. That is the reason that I voted for her to be on the IDA board,” Horrigan said.

Additionally, Horrigan pointed out Geise is from the northern part of Chautauqua County, which was another important consideration in his vote to support her appointment to the IDA board.

According to Edwards, although the position on the board has been filled by a member of organized labor, it does not necessarily need to be replaced by one.

“Our charter is very clear,” Edwards said. “It says in there that folks that can serve are from a representative group of people, which include: members of school boards, members of labor, and a whole host of other folks. … This is not a position that is exclusive to any of these groups of people.”

In addition to Horrigan, voting in favor of the resolution were: George Borrello, R-Irving; Rob Stewart, R-Ellington; Larry Barmore, R-Gerry; Mark Tarbrake, R-Ellicott; Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville; Fred Croscut, R-Sherman; David Himelein, R-Findley Lake; and John Hemmer, R-Westfield.

Voting against the resolution were: Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk; Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown; Bill Coughlin, D-Fredonia; Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton; Paula DeJoy, D-Jamestown; Bob Duff, R-Sheridan; Tom Erlandson, D-Frewsburg; Shaun Hee-nan, D-Dunkirk; Timothy Hoyer, D-Jamestown; Victo-ria James, D-Jamestown; Charles Nazzaro, D-Jamestown; Rod Rogers, G-Forestville; John Runkle, R-Ellington; Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia; and Robert Whitney, D-Jamestown.

“(Geise) was absolutely the best selection for that very important volunteer board,” Edwards said. “One of the very important components that people talk about all the time are the jobs, we need more jobs. Who better to have on the IDA board than the person who is the single best and most recognized employment specialist in the county, the director of the Workforce Investment Board? … Unfortunately, what the legislature did was missed out on putting the best person possible in the job.”

Also during the meeting, the legislature voted down a resolution to amend the rules and regulations for the Chautauqua County Legislature, to have motions signed by two-thirds of the members of the legislature, rather than the majority.

“What this is about is making bipartisan motions, rather than having one party motions come to the floor,” Whitney said. “Requiring two-thirds would make it bipartisan, so that’s why I would like to see it at two-thirds to bring these motions to the floor.

Borrello pointed out that by requiring two-thirds of legislators to sign a motion before it is brought to the floor, legislators are potentially limiting their own discussion.

The resolution failed 8-16. Voting in favor of the resolution were Rogers, James, Cornell, DeJoy, Whitney, Nazzaro, DeJoe and Coughlin.

Voting against the resolution were Ahlstrom, Barmore, Borrello, Croscut, Duff, Erlandson, Heenan, Hemmer, Himelein, Horrigan, Hoyer, Runkle, Scudder, Stewart, Tarbrake and Gould.