New public defender position nixed, for now

ELIZABETHTOWN-With six of the 18 Essex County supervisors either out of town or unable to make the meeting, any vote requiring 10 or more votes was going to be tough.

With only three dissenting votes, a proposal to hire a third position to the office of the public defender at the county (which needed 10 to pass) was defeated during the Ways and Means meeting Feb. 28.

"This can be re-introduced at the next meeting as long as either one of the people who voted against the measure moves it or if one of the supervisors who was not here today motions it," chairman Randy Douglas said after the vote.

However, Douglas, Schroon Lake supervisor Cathy Moses and Keene supervisor William Ferebee, who all voted for the resolution, will be in Washington, D.C. next Monday for meetings with federal officials.

Willsboro supervisor Ed Hatch, Crown Point supervisor Bethany Kosmider and Lewis supervisor David Blades voted against the new hire; they account for 420 votes under the weighted voting system used during monthly board meetings.

Douglas, Moses and Ferebee make up 414 votes that will not be present, while the others who voted for the proposal: Chesterfield's Gerald Morrow, Elizabethtown's Noel Merrihew, Minerva's Sue Montgomery-Corey, Moriah's Tom Scozzafava, North Elba's Robert Politi and Ticonderoga's Debra Malaney make up 1,583 votes.

Absent from the meeting were Westport's Dan Connell, St. Armand's Joyce Morency, Newcomb's George Canon, North Hudson's Robert Dobie, Essex's Sharon Boisen and Wilmington's Randy Preston, who account for 426 weighted votes.

The debate on whether or not to add a public defender position, under the recommendation of Public defender Brandon Boutelle, was centered on whether or not the county could afford to add a new position to the budget, one which county manager Daniel Palmer said could range from $75,000 to $82,000 per year, $55,000 of which would be in salary.

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