FORT EDWARD -- Greenwich Supervisor Sara Idleman wished her peers cared as much about the poor and needy as they do about the state’s recent crackdown on guns.
Idleman and Fort Edward Supervisor Mitch Suprenant — the only two Democrats on the Washington County Board of Supervisors — were the only dissenting votes Friday on a ceremonial resolution opposing the NY Safe Act and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “message of necessity” that circumvented the bill’s traditional three-day cooling-off period in the Legislature.
“I wish there was this much passion by this board for programs for the elderly, underprivileged children, victims of domestic violence and maintaining our infrastructure,” Idleman said.
The county resolution in opposition the NY Safe Act and Cuomo’s message of necessity passed by a 14-2 vote, with Putnam Supervisor John LaPointe absent.
The Warren County Board of Supervisors passed similar legislation on Friday by 16-3 vote, with supervisors Dan Girard, Bill Loeb and William Kenny, all Democrats from Glens Falls, voting against the local criticism.
Stony Creek Supervisor Frank Thomas said the law infringed on residents’ ability to protect their families. He described it as an act by “an increasingly tyrannical government.”
“This is about taking our right to own firearms,” Horicon Supervisor Ralph Bentley said. “This is just the beginning, not the end.”
Idleman said the almost nonstop criticism of Cuomo’s message of necessity is nothing more than a back-door way of opposing the gun crackdown, the first in the wake of December’s shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Many of the same state lawmakers who are now up in arms about Cuomo’s move supported legislation during last March’s “Big Ugly,” the several days of frantic late-session bill voting that included the controversial gay marriage bill, as well as GOP-backed legalization of casino gambling, both of which also relied on a message of necessity to avoid public vetting, Idleman said.
“There was no outrage then,” said Idleman, the most liberal voice on the Washington County board, adding that she finds any attempt to avoid public input undemocratic. “To me, there’s a lack of integrity to bring this issue up now.”
Idleman’s argument is gaining traction among other NY Safe Act supporters at the state level and in local governments across New York.
Assemblyman Tony Jordan, R-Jackson, a NY Safe Act critic and co-author of legislation to severely limit a governor’s ability to use messages of necessity, countered arguments like Idleman’s on Thursday.
Jordan said the bill to limit the message of necessity and ban overnight legislating was first introduced after the “Big Ugly” and is not a result of the pro-gun fallout of the NY Safe Act.
Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff, one of the county board’s most conservative members, countered that the NY Safe Act, and its limitations on gun ownership are a different animal than other recent examples of fast-tracked legislation because it is only the beginning of further assaults on the U.S. Constitution.
“The NY Safe Act is the edge of the wedge,” Haff said. “Confiscation is next.”
Members of the Washington County tea party asked on Friday for Washington County supervisors to reschedule committee meetings slated for Feb. 28 so supervisors could attend another pro-gun rally in Albany that day.
Government Operations Committee Chairman Matt Hicks soon after rescheduled his committee for Feb. 25, and Idleman, chairwoman of the Agriculture, Planning and Tourism Committee, said she, too, would adjust her committee calendar.
“I would hope for the same courtesy when I have such a request,” she said to her peers.
Post-Star reporter Don Lehman contributed to this report.