Those who follow politics closely mostly concluded that County Executive Mike Hein was the new king of the hill. Following in second place was Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (no relation in blood or politics). Based upon recent developments, it appears that Kevin does not like the view as second fiddle and is trying to knock off the newly crowned king.
For those who do not know, Kevin decided to hold the 1% sales tax extension hostage to several conditions, all of which were costs passed down by the State of New York to Ulster County, who of course passed them down to the municipalities. Apparently, Kevin has no problem with the State passing on the costs, but objects to the county doing the same thing.
Now, despite his denials and claims to the contrary, Kevin used his Albany power (obtained almost entirely by sucking up to Shelly Silver) to stop passage of the sales tax extension. This means the County of Ulster either has to substantially cut spending or raise property taxes. The county will not cut spending by the amount needed and will do the usual dance of threatening to cut the Sheriff's patrol, SUNY Ulster, mental health, etc. In the end, we are looking at a large property tax increase which will really hurt the people of the county. For those of us who live in the City of Kingston, we will take an extra hit due to heavy reliance on that sales tax money. City residents will likely get socked with a city tax increase to add to the misery.
After being lambasted by Mike Hein, numerous Democrats, and numerous Republicans, Kevin held a press conference while one of his aides flooded the Daily Freeman comment boards with false praise for his boss.
At the press conference, Kevin had the nerve to not even mention the issue for 20 to 25 minutes. Only after people started asking questions did he address the elephant in the room. He made comments that the County Executive should have come to him to negotiate. Put another way, county leaders should come to him on their hands and knees to kiss his ring and perhaps something else. Quite frankly, the press conference was an essay in arrogance and being out of touch.
From my point of view, the actions of Kevin were a pure attempt at establishing himself as the political king of the hill. The victims of this were not Mike Hein, County Democrats, or County Republicans. The victims were the taxpayers and residents of Ulster County, who have become pawns sacrificed in a sick political gambit.
If Kevin wanted to have ANY credibility on this issue, he should have pushed the State of New York to absorb the costs and end the unfunded mandates. He did not do so because that would have been viewed negatively by Speaker Silver whom Kevin supports to the hilt. In fact, when the Vito Lopez scandals broke, Kevin spent copious amounts of time on Kingston Community Radio defending Silver and condemning those who dared to speak ill of the Speaker.
To go after the County of Ulster for unfunded mandates without going after the State of New York for doing the same thing, albeit on a much grander level, is prima facie proof of the political and insincere nature of the act.
The bottom line is that Kevin Cahill is making a political power move at the potential expense of the people of Ulster County. I have not always agreed with Mike Hein, but he is right on this one. I do take umbrage, however, at him calling this "The Cahill crisis". I would prefer "The Kevin Crisis". Please do not besmirch my family's name and honor because of Kevin's behavior. We are not related to him and should not bear his disgrace.
Finally, lets us look at some final questions. Is all the controversy just talk and fluff? Or will Mike Hein and other County Democrats try to do something about this and run a primary candidate against Kevin who can seek the Working Families and Green party lines? Will the County Republicans run someone against Kevin or give him another free ride? Will my phone stop ringing with people asking me for a Cahill vs. Cahill race in 2014? It is an interesting idea though.
Well, you just never know......