Dear Fellow Legislators:
Published by Record: 2:00 AM - 11/21/10
"His fellow legislators in Sullivan County have accused Alan Sorensen of grandstanding. He should plead guilty and do it more often. The incident was one of three minor yet telling episodes in local public affairs toward the end of the week.
Sorensen sent an e-mail to his colleagues and made sure that the public got ahold of it as well. In it he said he would take a pay cut in 2011 and felt that others on the Legislature should do the same.
The cut is both symbolic and meaningless; legislative salaries are modest to start with, and any reductions will not affect the bottom line. Those who disagreed were upset that he would dare to communicate directly with the public without talking this through first in private.
They should have taken a different approach by proposing similar modest reductions in other budgeted areas that they would like to see lowered or eliminated. Think of it as a bidding war in reverse — I'll see your cut of $3,106 and raise it. Pretty soon, it would add up to real savings."
Let Alan know your reaction by emailing him at:
"The time is always right to do what is right" - Martin Luther King -
ROCK HILL - I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you as County Legislator for District 9. It has been a great experience for me to represent my constituents and their needs.
When I ran for office, I promised to fight hard for a closure of the County Landfill, for economic development to bring jobs and families to Sullivan County, and for open government. It has been a great experience for me to represent my constituents and their needs. When I ran for office, I promised to fight hard for a closure of the County Landfill, for economic development to bring jobs and families to Sullivan County, and for open government.
After three years, I can tell you that it has been difficult to push ahead with true progressive ideas and solutions in the County Government Center. That has not deterred me from pushing ahead with an agenda to make Sullivan County a better place to live, work and go to school. I have always tried to do what I felt was right in the County Legislature.
I will continue to take unpopular stands that may upset those who want no change to preserve their power, particularly on the important issues like on open government and our crazy property taxes that are hurting our citizens in Sullivan County.
For example, two years ago, few would have believed that the “full steam ahead” Phase II Landfill Expansion Project could have been stopped. I did my homework and worked hard with community groups such as Special Protection of the Environment of the County of Sullivan (SPECS) to bring common sense to County Government in terms of solid waste policy. Initially, I found myself the sole “no” vote on this Legislative issue, but I continued to push hard until the proper action was taken.
The battle to bring common sense and fiscal responsibility into the landfill discussion was a difficult one. However, I worked tirelessly to bring reason to the discussion, provided a viable cost effective alternative (exportation) and did the necessary homework to make the case for exportation. The fight continues now with the unfair solid waste “fee,” that was imposed at the last minute in December, which is inequitable and political in nature.
We are now in the process of closing Landfill Phase I and the Phase II Expansion is no longer on the table. We are exporting the County's Solid Waste and are in the process of expanding our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) with the goal of increasing the amount of solid waste that we recycle each year. The next step is for the Legislature's long-standing mandatory recycling policy to be enforced along with measures to make recycling easier for all residents.
Another positive outcome in the fight to end Phase II and the importation of garbage is the opportunities that now exist to redevelop the Apollo Plaza that is now owned by the County. The closure of the dump has opened the door to redevelop the Apollo Plaza site and adjacent county-owned 78-acres that was purchased for the Phase II Landfill Expansion. Instead of having a tax-exempt dump as the gateway to our County Seat, we have a real opportunity to create a regional retail, recreation and green industry complex on the East End of Monticello that will help us to expand our tax base, create jobs and recapture lost sales tax revenues. This is a vision that I have pushed for even before being elected and one that I will continue pursue with State, County, Village and Town Officials in the year ahead.
In the year ahead, I will work with my Legislative colleagues to improve the process by which the County Budget is adopted. The County's Tentative Budget should be provided to the Legislature for review on October 1, 2010 with ample time for review, departmental meetings and public budget hearings. The Legislature also needs to ensure that the process is inclusive and that all department heads have an opportunity to address the Legislature directly and not asked to remain silent behind the curtain.
With respect to Open Government, I fought to have the County Legislative meetings held during the evening so that those with day jobs could attend and to have the meetings Webcast. Both efforts were met with stiff opposition. Thanks to a grant from Senator Bonacic, our Legislative meetings were Webcast for a period of six (6) months in 2008-2009. These Webcasts provided constituents with their first unfiltered view of the Legislative process and made it possible for those with day jobs to watch Legislative proceedings at their leisure. Unfortunately, I could not get Legislative support to continue to provide this public service.
That is one of the reasons that I created this blog so that I can get important information and concerns out to the public in a timely and effective manner. I write the articles for my blog and pay a consultant - Steven Kurlander - to edit my stories and maintain the website. Without this blog, I am uncertain that I would have been able to raise awareness of the impending Solid Waste User Fee issues and its pending impact on area businesses. Thankfully, you responded to my call and made your voice heard at Legislative meetings. I hope you do so in the year ahead.
As we embark on a new decade, the Legislature must create a realistic and sustainable vision for the County's future, one in which all residents can participate in the economic growth of our County while being free to pursue the American Dream. We must address our present fiscal crisis in a smart, planned way, not by crisis management and bad last minute decisions. I will continue the fight for better, open government, better fiscal spending policies that don’t waste taxpayer monies, and new, progressive ideas that turn into real developments so that we can turn our economy and standard of living around in Sullivan County.
I wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year. I will continue to do my best to represent you.
I would like to leave you with a musical message from your Legislator via a song I composed and performed as a tribute to the Columbia Astronauts at http://lhvcc.com/coollink.html. It is really the story of the American Dream and is a fitting tribute to all of you as we celebrate Martin Luther King Day.
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