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January 8, 2021 - 12:23pm

Legislative committee gives power to Stein to act quickly on COVID-19 matters

The Genesee County Legislature’s Ways & Means Committee has agreed to give Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein the authority to sign documents related to the COVID-19 pandemic that need prompt attention without prior formal consent of the full board.

At a meeting via Zoom videoconferencing on Wednesday, Stein referred to a memorandum of understanding from the New York State Health Department that “came very quickly (this week) and in order for Genesee County to receive COVID vaccine this had to be turned around immediately,” she said.

“This is actually on our agenda today as a ratification of my prior signature. This really helps the public health department to keep the process rolling so that Genesee County has the opportunity for that vaccine to be delivered here locally.”

Stein reasoned that while in the pandemic, the county must act quickly and prudently to support the health department.

“So, in consultation with our public health department and our county manager and the county attorney – once having all of their approvals to sign this MOU – I did provide my signature,” she said. “If there are other COVID-related agreements that need to be signed very quickly, such as this, I think that I would feel better as the chair having the weight of the rest of the legislature with me as I take that on.”

Therefore, she asked for the committee’s approval to sign these types of documents, only as they relate to COVID-19.

Committee members were in full agreement, with Ways & Means Chair Marianne Clattenburg noting that she believed Stein already had this authority during emergency situations.

“And she’s not going to sign anything where any funds are expended or anything like that,” Clattenburg added.

The recent MOU with the state DOH to ensure distribution and administration of the vaccine by the Genesee County Health Department was time sensitive, prompting County Attorney Kevin Earl to render an opinion “that under these exigent circumstances to obtain vaccine that is crucial to the health and welfare of Genesee County residents, the Chair could sign the MOU, subject to ratification and approval of the terms and conditions by the full Legislature.”

Legislators Gary Maha, Christian Yunker, John Deleo and Gregg Torrey spoke in favor of the request, with Torrey asking if a formal resolution was needed to put this plan into action.

At that point, Earl said he was first looking for a consensus and then will draft a resolution to be considered at the next full legislature meeting (on Jan. 13).

Legislator Gordon Dibble said he wanted to make sure that the legislature was informed in a “timely fashion” when these situations arise and Stein assured him that would be the case.

Clattenburg, speaking directly to Stein, said lawmakers have “total confidence in you and you’re doing a great job.”

“We want to thank you on behalf of all our citizens for the work that you are doing as the chair. This is something that I know you didn’t anticipate last January,” Clattenburg added.

Stein thanked legislators and county employees for pulling together during some trying times.

“We could not do this without a full team effort and everyone working on behalf of the citizens of Genesee County,” she said. “It really is amazing what you can do when you decide to work together.”

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