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Some Herkimer County Legislators want more fair process of committee assignments

By MEGAN KOSKOVICH

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - Three democratic legislators in Herkimer County are saying an act of political revenge is keeping them off key government committees. Now they say they want a resolution to make the process more fair.

The three legislators held a news conference Tuesday to announce an amendment to the way legislators are assigned committees. They want to make it necessary for a minority member to be assigned to each of the 10 committees.

Right now, there is no rule saying that minority members must sit on each government committee. Assignments are delegated by the chairman, who is Republican Vincent Bono.

Helen Rose, a legislator for District 2, says she and her colleagues were only assigned to one committee each. She says this was done because they voted against Bono for the chairman position. She says Republican Robert Schrader was also assigned to just one committee because he too voted against Bono.

"Mr. Bono, in his attempt to punish those who dissent, has attempted by his misuse of his authority, to exclude these citizens from their county government," Rose said. "It is not ethical, it is not productive, and it is not wise."

But Bono says there is no political revenge on his part. He says that he has the responsibility to select which committee members he thinks would serve the committee the best.

"I am sorry that they feel this way," Bono said.

Rose, along with Minority Leader John Brezinski and Gary Hartman, have drafted a resolution that they want to bring to the entire committee for vote at Wednesday night's meeting.

"The appointment of one minority does not jeopardize the vote of the majority," said Rose. "It just provides room at the table for a minority opinion."

Bono says he assigned Rose and Brezinski to committees that they served on last year. He says because Hartman is new to the legislature, he wasn't sure what his strengths and areas of expertise were.

If the resolution is brought to the committee as a whole, only 9 votes are needed for the amendment to pass.

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