September 13, 2012

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Ulster lawmakers call for law to prevent pay-to-play

KINGSTON – The Ulster County Legislature is being asked to approve a $900,000 contract with an Albany law firm to provide legal services regarding labor relations, contracts and negotiations.

The non-competitive contract was proposed by the administration of Democratic County Executive Michael Hein, whose election committee has received over $3,000 in campaign contributions from its principals.

Republican Legislature Chairwoman Terry Bernardo said that while she is not pointing fingers or accusing Hein of any wrongdoing, she believes a pay-to-play law, preventing large campaign contributors from gaining county contracts, should be put in place.

“Here we have a $900,000 contract that is a no-bid contract awarded to a company who has made several thousand dollars of campaign donations to an elected official,” Bernardo said.

Hein, meanwhile, said he runs “the highest level of ethics and the highest level of integrity” in his administration, he looks forward to any conversation about doing things in good government.”

“I also encourage the [Ulster County Industrial Development Agency] to move forward quickly with the investigation in which Miss Bernardo’s business over-promised jobs and under-delivered jobs but still took well over $100,000 of taxpayer benefits,” the county executive said.

In a 2008 letter from the attorney representing Len Bernardo, Terry Bernardo's husband, in their businessTLB Management Corp., he said the company "borrowed no funds through the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency or any other lender to build Skate Time 209." Attorney Mitchell Jaiven also told the IDA there was no contractual obligation between TLB Management and the Ulster IDA on a number of "promised" or "guaranteed" jobs.

Hein, though,said he would be willing to listen to a proposal outlawing pay-to-play deals.


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