BY MICHAEL RICONDA
MONTICELLO – The Village of Monticello in Sullivan County is currently embroiled in debate over whether Allan Thompson, a former mayor of Spring Valley and 2013 mayoral candidate, should be allowed on as the village manager, a position which will net him $78,000 annually.
The decision is not without its share of controversey. Before Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins can hire Thompson, a Spring Valley resident, he must first pass a new law allowing the appointment of managers who do not live in Sullivan County.
Even if Jenkins does not succeed, Thompson might be paid regardless. A measure passed on March 14 by an outgoing, Jenkins-led board approved a two-year contract with Thompson, guaranteeing payment even if he is fired.
Jenkins will attempt to push the appointment law through after a public hearing on April 3, a few days after incumbent trustees and Jenkins opponents Doug Solomon and Jill Weyer begin their terms. Speaking to the Rockland County Times, Jenkins defended the appointment and maintained the push to prevent his appointment was an obstructive political maneuver.
“Sometimes it appears to me that they just want a puppet to do what certain members of the board want them to do,” Jenkins said.
The movement against the appointment reflects less on Thompson and more on growing voter frustration with Jenkins’ troubled tenure as mayor. Solomon and Weyer, who ran on a platform highly critical of Jenkins, easily defeated Rochelle Massey and Oswald Allen, who ran on Jenkins’ affiliated G-man line.
Jenkins’ opponents, who now hold a majority on the board, are waging a legal battle as well. Solomon, Weyer, and Trustee Carmen Rue filed suit on March 24 to stop the public hearing and subequent hiring. A decision on whether or not the public hearing will commence is expected on Friday.
Rue explained in a press release sent out shortly after the March 14 contract discussion, that the hiring process was largely devoid of board involvement. She claimed the decision to hire Thompson reflected a desire for Jenkins and Massey, who is also Jenkins’ girlfriend, to stave off investigations into their own fiscal mismanagement of the village.
“This hiring process stinks of corruption,” Rue stateed. “Jenkins and Massey are desperate to hold onto control of the public’s finances and the flow of information at Village Hall. They have spent many thousands of dollars on private attorneys to pay their own criminal defense bills. Many thousands of taxpayer dollars are missing and can not be accounted for, according to the NYS Comptroller’s Office.”
Jenkins has seen no shortage of controversey since he took office. Aside from allegations of fiscal mismanagement, he was caught on a police station tape throwing a wall clock and threatening police officers with reprisal while in custody for a drunk driving charge in 2013. He also was caught on the tape hurling racial slurs for whites toward the police officers.