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Ulster County legislator talks about leaving GOP indicating scenarios for the political year to come

Jan 04, 2011 6:41 am
In a story that indicates several possible scenarios for the year ahead, both locally and on a national basis, the Kingston Daily Freeman has a story this morning about a freshman Ulster County legislator is threatening to pull out of the Republican caucus and take other GOP lawmakers with him, a move he said could jeopardize the GOP hold on the Legislature. In his blog titled “The Attacks Have Begun,” Legislator Michael Sweeney expressed dissatisfaction with the county Legislature, which he called “basically ‘a rubber stamp Legislature,’” that has no “real discussion” about the issues it votes on. The story goes on to note how Sweeney did not return a telephone call Monday, but in his blog wrote that he has been “contemplating leaving the Republican caucus and forming a new caucus with the idea of increasing transparency.”

Via the legislator's reasoning, that caucus efforts didn't pay attention to the issues of tax cuts and belt-tightening that he ran for election on, it's easy to surmise similar actions coming on a national level before the next big congressional elections in 2012, or locally by the end of this current year, when all town and county races get decided here in the Hudson Valley.

During his first year on the Legislature, Sweeney said, his efforts to reduce the county property tax levy, his opposition to giving pay raises when other county employees were losing their jobs and his attempt to return $1 million in taxpayer money to property taxpayers were shunned by party leaders.

He said he’s been told that since news that he might leave the Republican caucus began to circulate he has been “demonized by a couple of party leaders.”

He said he was also upset by reports that another legislator who was voicing an opposing opinion was told to “shut up.”

“I can understand why the attacks against me have begun ... because I know of numerous legislators that would be willing to caucus with me, so this may greatly disrupt both caucuses, especially the Republican caucus, which could lose it’s majority,” he wrote.

Republicans currently hold an 18-15 majority on the Legislature.

Legislature Chairman Frederick Wadnola said he was unaware of Sweeney’s comments or possible defection from the caucus.

“He didn’t come in and talk to me,” said Wadnola, R-Ulster. “I don’t read blogs, so I have no idea what he’s talking about.”

Sweeney became a legislator following the November 2009 election that saw Republicans regain control of the Legislature.