Executive Action

This Lisa Cutten-comptroller business gets more curious every day. The nascent Pat Ryan administration, which seems to hold a press conference every other day about something or the other, has yet to comment on Cutten’s sudden dismissal on July 2. Camera shy? I doubt it.

By sudden, I mean like whoa! After losing her party’s nomination for comptroller on June 27th, Cutten was called into county executive Pat Ryan’s office at 9 a.m. sharp on July 2 and given the ax. We know this not from the administration but from Cutten’s own press release, issued hours after she hit the bricks.

It would appear that the only way she could have survived was to have defeated March Gallagher at the Democratic nominating convention at City Hall. Cutten, no stranger to the slings and arrows of local politics, probably read the handwriting on the wall when she saw all those Gallagher campaign buttons affixed to the chests of sweaty delegates.

For sure, Cutten had no juice where it might have counted. Mike Hein, the former executive who created the ACE financial oversight department and hired her to run it, was by then long gone. And Ryan didn’t need an experienced CPA poking around in his ledgers, one who had been tasked with stalking former comptroller Elliott Auerbach, also history. Likewise, acting comptroller Adele Reiter would not have relished dedicated oversight from the executive branch, even if she had promoted Cutten as a senior member of the Hein administration. n

Cutten, the CPA gunslinger, will survive; she always does. Meanwhile, hapless Republicans, unable to secure a candidate for comptroller since Auerbach left in mid-May, will dangle their nomination in front of Cutten. She, like Gallagher, had sworn they wouldn’t stoop to such depths, Gallagher doesn’t have too, now, too but for Cutten, it’s a different story.

As for the administration, in office only since June 7, first impressions mean a lot. Clearly, it will act swiftly and decisively when necessary. Heads will roll.

Speaking of Auerbach, he may be the happiest man in state government. Not only did his new job as deputy state comptroller come with a handsome $50,000 pay raise (to about $150,000), but he’s in charge of a $24 million department with 300 employees scattered around New York, he told us just prior to the Democratic convention. “And it comes with a million-dollar travel budget (his),” he marveled.

Previously, Auerbach motored from, Ellenville every day on his dime and supervised a six-person operation with a $900,000 budget. His father’s Ace hardware store in Ellenville had more hands-on deck.

Requiem for a legislator – In this maelstrom of politics we endure, what with everybody biting somebody’s ass almost every day, the occasional “right thing” story inspires hope.

Case in point. Ulster legislator Jim Maloney died last week after a brief awful battle with pancreatic cancer, but not before being reappointed by the town board to a full six-year term as town assessor,

The story is in the timing. Maloney, a former town Republican chairman, had organized a (failed) coup against town supervisor Jim Quigley a few years back. He loved intrigue. Quigley chewed on that for a while, awaiting opportunity. Relations between the two men were civil, but not much better. Had Maloney not been stricken with and all but fatal illness, he probably would not have been reappointed assessor. The town board usually follows the supervisor’s lead.

Instead, the board, when they learned of Maloney’s diagnosis in April immediately moved by unanimous vote to reappoint him to the position, he had held for almost 20 years. “It was a way of giving Jim some hope and support in a very desperate situation,” Quigley said.

Politics be damned.

Ed Ford retires – Kingston historian Ed Ford will officially retire next month after more than 34 years on the job. The marvel is, Ford turned 101 in April, but it wasn’t age that caught up with him. He’s still sharper than people half his age.

No, it was a cold wind “blowing straight off the Catskills” following a meeting at city hall last winter, he said. “I just decided I didn’t want to do it anymore.”

Mayor Steve Noble asked the much-honored historian for recommendations. After due consideration, he offered and the mayor accepted Taylor Bruck, 28. Bruck is an archivist with the county clerk and since childhood a keen student of local history. His mother, Lisa, Bruck, was an archivist at the state Senate House.

“I will do my best,” said Bruck, whose appreciation of Ford was evident.  “I’ve got 70 years to catch up (actually, 73) but I will do my best.”

An official retirement ceremony will take place at City Hall on Aug. 13. Before that, Ford will be recognized as Kingston American Legion Post 150’s oldest member at the Legion’s 100th-anniversary celebration on Saturday. Imagine that. Ed Ford was alive (and living on a farm in New Patz) before the Legion was founded. They’ve made him a life member.