A resolution committing Tompkins County to reimburse up to 20% of the funds of local share for municipal bridge infrastructure projects under the state’s BridgeNY grant program was discussed and passed. Moved by Legislator Anne Koreman, the resolution passed 12-2 with legislators Mike Lane and Dan Klein in opposition.

Klein proposed an amendment to include a requirement that design standards approved by the county are met. Klein shared a plea that the county have oversight in grants that it is involved in. The amendment failed, 3-11 with legislators Klein, Lane and Rich John in favor.

The legislature also passed a resolution that approves the Centralized Arraignment Plan. John shared that in passing this resolution, “this is a big deal,” adding that this plan allows for virtual arraignment and other, different ways for the process to be accomplished. John spoke of his experience as a private attorney with arraignments previously happening in a highly inefficient way that would call lawyers, judges, and officers to a location at any given hour. If this plan is approved by the Office of Court Administration, arraignments will be centralized in time and location with shared responsibility between the judges, so schedules and logistics are easier to manage and anticipate. An arraignment is a hearing where an individual is formally charged of a crime by a court and occurs after an arrest and the filing of a criminal complaint by the District Attorney.

Among Other Business

A resolution honoring Veteran’s Week (a local extension of Veteran’s Day, November 6-13, 2021) was read by Legislature Chairwoman Leslyn McBean-Clairborne. The resolution remembers and honors the courage and honor of service veterans. The resolution highlighted that a large portion of veterans experience stress in transitioning to civilian life, and are at high risk of suicide upon return. The county is participating in “Operation Green Light” to publicly acknowledge and shine a light on the service and experience of veterans and offer support to veterans in need. The Legislature encourages residents to display a green light during this week in a public facing window or place of businesses to “green light veterans forward as valuable members of our community.”

A resolution recognizing Indigenous People’s Month was also read by McBean-Clairborne. The resolution acknowledged the area’s Indigenous heritage and “periods of pain, tragedy, inequities, and bigotry” while remarking on the county’s commitment to make changes for the better, including its diversity and non-discrimination policies. Tompkins County celebrates the second Monday of each October as Indigenous People’s Day. The resolution calls on Tompkins County residents and organizations to recognize the month of November with appropriate celebrations and events. The Community Arts Partnership (located in the Tompkins Center for History and Culture) is hosting a November exhibit honoring Native American Heritage Month, featuring “The Art of Wampum,” a traditional regional Native American storytelling, treaty, ceremonial, and art form.

A presentation was given by the county attorney and chief sustainability officer on the county’s participation in a hydroelectric facility in Waterloo, N.Y. The County receives credit on its energy bill by supporting this renewable energy source and also gets Renewable Energy Certificates acknowledging its renewable energy use (from July 2020-June 2021 the estimated total value of the certificates to Tompkins County has been $29,394).

Sheriff Derek Osborne and Undersheriff Jennifer Olin were commended by John for their participation in a conference called Race and Justice; Finding Fair and Impartial Policing, held by the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers. Osborne shared that he gained perspective and met great instructors at the training and are looking to expand local training options in this area.

Tompkins County Chief Equity and Diversity Officer Deanna Carrithers presented an update on the Reimagining Public Safety Collaborative. The Collaborative is preparing to kick off plans for community input and implementation including the plan to support officer wellness and the plan to release data from the District Attorney & Office of the Assigned Counsel. There will be print updates about the Reimagining process weekly in the free Tompkins Weekly newspaper for those who cannot access the website. Carrithers outlined that the Community Justice Center Project Director search is underway and that the collaborative has identified space at the Mental Health building on Green Street in Ithaca to house the center.

(1) comment

Eddie Coyle

Virtual arraignment is a good start and an excellent way to cut costs. Consider the transport of prisoners to court from the County Jail each day, the guards, the security, the fuel. However do not stop there. Certainly other proceedings could be done remotely. Further, perhaps a court room at the facility would be the most efficient location. Go where the business is.

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