Montgomery Reveals Ouster from Committee

Putnam legislator also outlines her goals for 2021

Nancy Montgomery, who represents Philipstown and part of Putnam Valley on the Putnam County Legislature, expressed surprise during its monthly meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 2) that she had been removed from one of her two committee assignments.

Montgomery, the sole Democrat on the nine-member panel, described the change as unexpected. She commented at the Legislature’s formal monthly meeting, held by audio connection because of the pandemic shutdown. 

She did not identify the committee but the legislative roster lists her only as a member of the Economic Development and Energy Committee. Previously, she had also been a member of the Personnel Committee. Other legislators sit on two or three committees each, and Montgomery is the only legislator not to chair a committee. 

Nancy Montgomery (File photo by Ross Corsair)

On Thursday, Montgomery told The Current that she had received no explanation of her ouster, which she attributed to a decision either by Legislator Toni Addonizio of Kent, who chairs the Legislature, or to a party caucus of the eight Republican legislators. In fact, she said, she strongly suspects the latter, because such moves are “always so well-orchestrated” and “there is never any discussion” openly. She was replaced on the Personnel Committee by Legislator Neal Sullivan.

In her remarks on Tuesday and in her follow-up Thursday, she explained that her requests to the legislative chair to be assigned to the Health Committee, Protective Services Committee and Rules Committee had been ignored for three years. 

In letters she sent to Addonizio on Jan. 6 and Jan. 13, shared with The Current, Montgomery cited her background in health care, including her roles as an emergency medical technician, dispatcher and an officer in the Philipstown Volunteer Ambulance Corps; experience in managing group homes for the developmentally disabled; work on health care issues for three years as an aide to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, whose House district includes the Highlands; involvement with the Hub, the Philipstown behavioral health assistance agency; and activities as a Philipstown Town Board member, such as establishing Philipstown’s emergency operations center during Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, “when it was geographically impossible for the Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services to respond.”  

Where They Sit

Toni Addonizio (R)1

Budget & Finance (chair)2
Health, Social, Educational & Environmental

Carl Albano (R)

Audit & Administration
Physical Services (chair)
Rules, Enactments & Intergovernmental Relations

Joseph Castellano (R)

Audit & Administration (chair)
Physical Services
Rules, Enactments & Intergovernmental Relations

William Gouldman (R)

Audit & Administration
Economic Development & Energy (chair)
Physical Services

Paul Jonke (R)

Economic Development & Energy
Personnel (chair)

Nancy Montgomery (D)

Economic Development & Energy

Ginny Nacerino (R)

Health, Social, Educational & Environmental
Protective Services (chair)

Amy Sayegh (R)

Health, Social, Educational & Environmental (chair)
Protective Services

Neal Sullivan (R)

Protective Services
Rules, Enactments & Intergovernmental Relations (chair)

Addonizio also chairs the Legislature.
All legislators serve on the Budget & Finance Committee.

On Tuesday, in a five-minute statement at the end of the Legislature’s meeting, Montgomery also outlined a half-dozen goals for 2021, including getting the county government “to help Cold Spring and Philipstown, the very heart of our tourism industry, to deal with the health and safety issues” that arise from visits by large crowds to a village of about 2,000 residents, adjacent hamlet of Nelsonville and town of fewer than 10,000.

“We share the benefits of tourism,” she told fellow legislators. “We need to share the responsibility as well.” Putnam recently withdrew $7,500 in annual funding provided to help Cold Spring handle tourism-related trash.

Because at the legislators’ yearly reorganization meeting in January they “set out to work closely and work harder,” Montgomery admitted that she “was surprised that I had been removed from a committee. That kind of went against what I thought we had set out to do: work together.” 

Nonetheless, she added, “I am undeterred.”

On Tuesday, Montgomery both chided her Republican counterparts and urged them to join in improving county government.

During her tenure, “we’ve not worked well together,” she said. “And we lost so many opportunities to provide better services to all our constituents. I don’t want to waste any more precious time like that. We’re not enemies here. We’re here in service” to residents, “who deserve our best every day, our honest best, our best driven not by any ambition other than to run the county government efficiently, effectively and transparently.”

Along with tourism-related support, her goals include:

■ Meetings held by video connection, instead of the radio-like audio link the county utilizes, to help the public “see and participate.”

■ Limits on restaurant delivery fees charged by online companies, similar to what was done by executive order recently in Dutchess County. “Our local businesses are really fragile” and would benefit from a fee-cap, she said. She said she has encouraged County Executive MaryEllen Odell to take up the issue, but if Odell demurs, “we need to do it ourselves, passing a law.” 

■ Health Department mobile units to bring COVID-19 vaccinations “to communities where direct care is needed most”; similar innovations so all residents, especially senior citizens, can get vaccinated; and diversion of funds “from non-essential programs” to provide relief to exhausted Health Department employees.

■ Renewed efforts to establish a county human rights commission, because, since a failed attempt in 2020, “we’ve seen no slowing of the incidents and tensions that such a commission could help address.”

■ Reviving “our dormant Climate Smart Initiative,” and learning from other municipalities that have implemented the program to mitigate effects of global warming and reduce pollution. 

She urged her colleagues to share ideas for meeting the goals. “I’m not asking you to get behind me,” she said. “Do it for your constituents.”

In other business Tuesday, the Legislature unanimously approved a transfer of $15,000 for the purchase of a license-plate reader. Questions about the use of license plate readers by sheriff’s deputies and the Cold Spring Police Department, which Putnam recently equipped, consumed long legislative hours in 2020 after the Odell administration rewrote the Sheriff’s Department LPR policy.

3 thoughts on “Montgomery Reveals Ouster from Committee

  1. No matter the party affiliation, the status quo, no accountability, authoritarian arm of the Republican party punishes those public servants who question the dogma. Though a Republican, Dini LoBue received the same contemptible treatment during her tenure, being gradually removed from one committee, then chairmanship of the Rules Committee and then from all committees until relegated to that of an annoying fixture on the sidelines during meetings.

  2. Nancy Montgomery, who was removed from one of her two committees by her colleagues, is being marginalized. Could it be that she is being discriminated against as the only Democrat on the Legislature?

    When a person has been elected from their district to represent them, that person has the right to be treated equally and fairly by their fellow legislators, regardless of party affiliations. It is time for the Legislature to reset its thinking.