Legislature Votes Not to Intervene with Clarkstown Decision over Sullivan

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BY VICTORIA TANNER

Tensions rose and opinions heard during the Rockland County Legislature’s general body meeting on Tuesday Aug. 2, 2016 over suspended Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan.

Two Ramapo legislators, Ilan Schoenberger and Alden Wolfe, along with Harriet Cornell, proposed legislation in favor of re-instating the police chief. This proposal failed to gain enough support from the legislators to move forward during Tuesday night’s meeting.

The proposed resolution would have provided the Clarkstown board with an opinion from the legislature regarding Sullivan’s suspension and charges, and calling for him to be immediately reinstated as chief.

The legislators voiced their support for Sullivan, earning cheers from people wearing “We Support Chief Sullivan” t-shirts. While legislators supported Sullivan, some wondered if this issue was really a county one.

Legislator Lon Hofstein wanted to know how this was a county issue and stretched beyond their jurisdiction. He spoke highly of Sullivan but ultimately voted against the resolution. Hofstein also mentioned there were never any emergency resolutions regarding issues in Ramapo.

Throughout Hofstein’s turn on the floor, audience members reacted to his comments. Some booed while one man shouted, “this thing is rigged,” before walking out.

“This issue shouldn’t be coming before the legislature,” Hofstein said. “So why is it coming here? Is it to embarrass people…I’m not sure what the motivation is.”

Schoenberger started off his comments by stating, “this was not a grand plan by Ramapo to take over Clarkstown.” He focused his comments on why he views the resolution as an emergency, necessary to be discussed that night.

He praised Sullivan’s service, calling him “an honest decent man whose name and reputation is being smeared in politics.”

A vote to move the resolution forward failed with six voting against it, nine supporting it and one absent.

Prior to legislator discussion, Marge Hook, of New City, urged them to back Sullivan. Noting that Clarkstown, “now [has] as town board that has taken it upon themselves for no apparent reason to suspend a great chief of police.”

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