County Supervisors express oppposition to Safe Act

For the second time in as many months, the Washington County Board of Supervisors expressed its opposition to the state’s recent crackdown on guns.

The board overwhelming approved a largely symbolic resolution Friday opposing the NY Safe Act and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s use of a “message of necessity.”

The resolution, which was passed by a 14-2 margin, comes a month after the board expressed its opposition to the highly controversial law, which includes more stringent regulations on the sale of ammunition and bans high capacity magazines and assault rifles.

Friday’s resolution was passed in opposition to the manner in which the law was passed.

Utilizing a “message of necessity,” the Legislature passed the bill without allowing an opportunity for debate or public comment. Traditionally, there is a three day waiting period that follows the introduction of any new legislation. But there is a special clause that allows the governor to override that three day period in the event of an emergency.

Opponents have argued, and the Board of Supervisors agreed, that there was no emergency and that the governor abused his powers.

Greenwich Supervisor Sara Idelman said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has used the “message of necessity” 34 times during the last two years and has abused the privilege, but she didn’t vote in favor of the resolution because she viewed it as backdoor criticism of the Safe Act, with which she agrees.

She said many of the state lawmakers who are upset with Cuomo’s use of the clause never expressed their opposition when he used it last year to legalize casino gambling and gay marriage.

“There was no outrage then. To me, there’s a lack of integrity to bring this up now. It’s disingenuous,” Idelman said.

She said she wished her fellow board members felt as passionately about other social issues as they do about gun control.

“I wish there was as much passion for the elderly, underprivileged youth, victims of domestic violence, education and to maintain infrastructure,” Idelman said.

Opponents of the Safe Act have argued the bill is an assault on their Constitutional rights.

“There is room for improvement on how firearms are handled and sold, but the right to bear arms is part of the Constitution,” said Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff. “I think Safe Act is the thin edge of the wedge.”

Friday’s resolution also described the bill as another unfunded state mandate that will result in more work for the County Clerk and local law enforcement agencies.

Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy said the number of pistol permit requests and renewals has increased greatly since the law was passed.

Murphy met with members of the Washington County Tea Party last Thursday to discuss the new law, and several party members attended Friday’s meeting and asked supervisors to reschedule committee meetings slated for Feb. 28 so they could attend a pro-gun rally in Albany that day.

A Government Operations Committee and an Agriculture, Planning and Tourism Committee meeting planned for that date were expected to be adjusted accordingly.

Fort Edward Supervisor Mitch Suprenant also voted against the resolution. Putnam Supervisor John LaPointe was absent.

Public Hearing on Farm Land

A public hearing on landowners who have asked their land be included as certified agricultural districts will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26, in the Supervisors’ Chambers in Fort Edward.

Fourteen residents, owning more than 900 acres, have asked for their land to be included as part of an agricultural district.

FFA Students address Board

During Friday’s meeting, a group of students representing the county’s FFA groups addressed the board about the importance of the organization and agriculture.

Several of the students pointed out the fact that they were the children or grandchildren of several of the supervisors.

One of those students, Emily Campbell, whose father Brian serves as Hebron Supervisor and the county’s budget officer, lectured the board on the importance of foreign farm workers.

Hunt appointed to Ethics Board

Patty Hunt, of Granville was one of five county residents appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve on the Washington County Board of Ethics.

She was joined by Margaret Semanscin of Hartford; Leon Barkley of Cambridge; Adam Fish of Kingsbury; and Phil Spiezio of Greenwich.

Hunt was appointed to a two year term.