On July 2, Dutchess County Republicans blocked yet another anti-corruption and good-government law when Dutchess County Legislature Chair Gregg Pulver (R-North East) removed a proposed law from July’s agenda that, if passed, would ban the use of taxpayer funds to promote politicians.
The law, put forward by Dutchess County Democrats, would, among other things, prevent local officials from appearing on taxpayer-funded mailings, something that happens regularly in Dutchess County.
“The Legislature is the branch of government that approves the appropriations of how money is spent; we cannot afford to serve as rubber stampers,” said Legislator Francena Amparo (D-Wappingers Falls).
Despite a similar law having been passed in Ulster and Westchester counties, the Republican-appointed County Attorney, Republican-appointed Legislative Attorney and Republican Chair of the Legislature claimed it would not be proper to pass such a law in Dutchess and thus should not be allowed on the agenda.
“Dutchess County spends tens of thousands of dollars on mailings and materials each year that have photos of local elected officials, usually the County Executive,” said Legislator Giancarlo Llaverias (D-Poughkeepsie). “We should be focused on helping the people of Dutchess County, not promoting politicians.”
Among the arguments against considering the proposed law was that it would interfere with the county executive’s “power to inform the public about government administration.”
“Are they suggesting that the county executive will refuse to do informative mailings unless a politician gets their headshot on it?” asked Minority Whip Kristofer Munn (D-Red Hook). “If that’s true, then we still need this law but we also need new people making those decisions as well.”
The Public Likeness law is only the latest in a long string of government reforms blocked by Republicans with similar excuses including campaign finance reform, term limits and a local prescription drug take-back law.