Supervisors argue about committee reappointment

FONDA – Montgomery County Board of Supervisors members argued Tuesday during the Education and Government Committee meeting about the reappointment of a member of the board’s Ethics Committee because of comments he allegedly made during an interview.

The situation started when a resolution to reappoint Democrat Justin Knudsen, whose term expired at the end of December, appeared.

After a motion failed to have the discussion about the appointment in executive session, Amsterdam town Supervisor Thomas DiMezza argued against the appointment.

DiMezza said he, along with Amsterdam 3rd Ward Supervisor Ronald J. Barone Sr. and Amsterdam 4th Ward Supervisor Barbara Wheeler, were slandered on a live Amsterdam radio program by Knudsen in November.

Barone said Knudsen called them liars on the radio program.

DiMezza said he has an audio recording from the station to submit to the clerk of the board for the record at next month’s committee meeting.

County Attorney Douglas Landon said the only individuals likely to ever appear before the ethics board are supervisors and county employees.

Minden Supervisor Thomas Quackenbush said if someone had negative or positive things to say about a supervisor, it might be problematic if the supervisor was due to appear before the committee.

“Even if the statements were all positive, and [the supervisor] appeared before the committee, the committee member might say ‘There’s no way I could find against him, because he’s a great guy.'” Quackenbush said.

The board’s three appointments have to be broken down by party, with one Democrat, one Republican and one Conservative, Quackenbush said.

Quackenbush said he doubted the disagreement was caused by party differences.

“I can understand the position and why [those supervisors] might feel uncomfortable appearing before him,” he said.

Amsterdam 2nd Ward Supervisor Jeff Stark, chairman of the city of Amsterdam Democratic Committee, questioned why Republicans would nominate the Democratic post.

“Are we going to try to work together this year or [will we] keep settling scores? We need to do the will of the people and get along,” Stark said. “I’m tired of people acting sanctimoniously.”

“I’ll match you any day of the week on ethics,” DiMezza snapped back to Stark, leading to a heated exchange between the two.

Committee Chairman and Glen Supervisor Lawerence Coddington called for order, stating moments like that are what led to people voting in November in favor of the new charter to change the county’s form of government.

Coddington said in the first three years of his current term, the ethics board hasn’t met once.

The committee sent the resolution reappointing Knudsen to the full Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors can amend the resolution on the floor at the full board meeting Jan. 22, Coddington said.

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