County Executive William R. Steinhaus said Legislature Chairman Roger Higgins skipped the most important financial meeting held this year – failing to attend a meeting he is required to attend as Chairman of the Legislative body.
Annually the Capital Projects meeting is held with the County Executive and the senior leadership of the county government. Steinhaus said. “I was here, the Sheriff was here, the College President was here, but as has become a familiar pattern, Chairman Higgins was nowhere to be found even though the meeting was set on his calendar weeks ago. The Chairman was included in the effort to schedule a mutually convenient date and had ample time to be sure he could attend this critically important meeting.”
The Executive noted, “At this meeting, 15 individual sessions were held where department staff, elected officials, and the Community College President attended to review their capital and equipment needs for the next five years. We were here for five hours from 9 am to 2 pm listening, asking questions and deciding the priorities of county services – but Chairman Higgins apparently wasn’t interested.”
Steinhaus said, “We rolled up our sleeves for the five hour meeting and were making critical financial decisions about the need for snow plows and paving equipment for county roads; ensuring we have modern 911 radio and computer equipment to save lives; projects to make county buildings green to save energy; provide adequate space for our growing enrollment at the Community College; and have enough safe buses for our Loop bus fleet among dozens of other projects. But Higgins went A.W.O.L. again abdicating his financial and stewardship responsibilities as Chairman.”
“Chairman Higgins’ absence at this annual senior leadership meeting disenfranchises him from the participation in development of one of the most important pieces of work county government does the entire year,” said the Executive.
Steinhaus emphasized, “Chairman Higgins frequently laments there should be an equal partnership between the Legislative and Executive branch, but there is no partnership when Higgins continues to choose to be absent from his legal obligations and responsibilities as Chairman of the Legislature.”
The County Executive pointed out, “When viewed in its entirety, Higgins’ tenure as Chairman of the Legislature can be highlighted by his continuing pattern of abandoning vitally important duties the Chairman is required to perform. Higgins has skipped every single Board of Directors’ meeting of the Economic Development Corp over the two years since he became Legislature Chairman proving his complete disregard for our job creation work. For Chairman Higgins, it continues to be rhetoric over action.”
The Capital Program Committee, a charter-defined committee requiring as its members the County Executive as Chairman, the Commissioner of Finance, the Commissioner of Planning and Development, the Commissioner of Public Works, the Chairman of the Legislature and the Chairman of the legislative committee designated to consider capital improvements, held its annual meeting Thursday, August 6, 2009.
“Others continue to work the long, hard hours, and attempt to work in a bipartisan partnership but when Chairman Higgins won’t even show up for a meeting he’s legally obligated to attend and vote at, it hurts the taxpayers,” concluded Steinhaus.