In The News

Anthony Pucci has recently been featured in local conversations, sharing thoughts and ideas and being part of the overall conversation in Chemung County. Read more using the links below:

From the Elmira Star Gazette

February 1, 2018

"On Dec. 11, I attended a meeting of the Chemung County Legislature during which Resolution No. 17-636 passed by a vote of 12-3. With this vote, the legislators gave themselves a pay raise effective Jan. 1.

Members of our Legislature will now earn $15,790 per year plus benefits, all for what is only a part-time job. Even more troubling is the fact that the chairperson of the legislature will receive $37, 895.

The recent proposal to increase salaries for legislators in St. Lawrence County provides some thought-provoking comparisons. According to figures from 2015, Chemung County had a population of 87,071; St. Lawrence County had a population of 111,007. Yet, St. Lawrence County legislators receive a salary of $9,000 that has not been raised in 18 years."

[Click here to read the full article]

December 6, 2017

"It should not come as a surprise to anyone that our area — located in the middle of upstate New York’s struggling economy — has fiscal problems. What is surprising, however, is their depth. Chemung County’s General Fund Deficit is projected to be $1.5 million in 2019, another $2.7 million in 2020, and an additional $3.8 million in 2021. Furthermore, according to the Schedule of Indebtedness included in County Executive Tom Santulli’s budget, the level of debt as of Dec. 31, 2017, stands at $53.7 million."

[Click here to read the full article]


December 17, 2017

"At their meeting [on] December 11th, members of the Legislature voted 12 – 3 to give themselves and other County officials a salary increase to take effect as of the first of the new year. If our legislators are so diligently working to address the County’s fiscal challenges, does a salary increase seem justified? I think not."

[Click here to read the full article]

Star-Gazette "Your Turn" May 6th

Another Look at the “Facts”

In his Your Turn piece of April 22nd, Chemung County Treasurer Joseph Sartori began by quoting Mark Twain who wrote, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” He then attempted to deflect all of the legitimate questions and concerns raised by Christina Sonsire in her Your Turn piece of April 15th regarding County Executive Tom Santulli’s proposed Council of Governments.

There is another Mark Twain quote that seems to be quite relevant here: “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Freedom of Information Request Raises Concerns

Recently, I exercised the right of every citizen to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I requested a record of the most recent activity logs completed by members of the Chemung County Legislature. The staff was very accommodating, and I received the information in a timely manner. As I sat in a conference room in the Hazlitt Building in Elmira and inspected more than one hundred pages of documentation, I came to some startling conclusions.

I learned that the legislators self-report the number of hours spent in the performance of their duties including attending meetings, reading documents, answering emails, talking to constituents, and yes, for one legislator, even driving around in the district. I have no problem in assuming that the legislators faithfully, fully, and accurately reported their hours.

It is worth noting that legislators are only required to submit a record of activity log for the first 3 months in which they are in office. Legislators who are already in the New York State Retirement system or who choose not to participate are not required to complete such logs at all. One would assume that those first 3 months would be especially busy as they begin to assume their duties.

I examined all of the documentation on 12 of the 15 legislators. Since the Chairman of the Legislature has additional duties and receives approximately twice the compensations as the others, I did not include those numbers in my calculations. Three other legislators did not submit any logs.

Here are the facts: The 11 legislators self-reported an average of 10.5 hours of work-related activity per week for their first three months in office. The current annual salary for a legislator is $15,790 (not including health and retirement benefits). Assuming that the legislators have continued to work the same number of hours as initially reported, they each would be earning a tidy $28.91 per hour.

Of course, not all legislators reported working the same number of hours. At the high end of hours reported, one legislator’s work equated to a rate of $14.25 per hour. Conversely, another legislator’s efforts equated to a mind-boggling rate of $93.43 per hour.

Even if the average wage of $28.91 were projected to a 40-hour work week, each legislator would receive $1,156 per week. By contrast, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly wage for a worker in Chemung County in the 2nd quarter of 2017 was a mere $872. Of those wage earners, many undoubtedly lack health insurance or retirement benefits.

A couple of months ago, I wrote in a Your Turn piece for the Star-Gazette that our Chemung County legislators were wrong to vote themselves a salary increase given today’s numerous fiscal challenges. After reviewing the results of my Freedom of Information request, I urge the taxpayers of Chemung County to draw their own conclusions.

"Your Turn" of Oct. 21, 2018 co-authored with Christina Sonsire

Since the Star-Gazette link to this article does not exist, I have made a copy of the print version.

%22Your Turn%22 Oct. 21, 2018 co-authored with Christina Sonsire