“Why shouldn’t we demand from our government what we demand from our businesses and ourselves?”
-Elliott Auerbach, Ulster County Comptroller
FROM THE RECORD:
KINGSTON — County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach defended some of his most controversial audits to a packed room of businessmen Wednesday morning.
“Why shouldn’t we demand from our government what we demand from our businesses and ourselves?” Auerbach asked at a gathering of about 200 Ulster County Chamber of Commerce members.
Auerbach used the forum to highlight watchdog efforts during his first year as comptroller, but he also used it to defend some audits that garnered public attention and criticism.
The most recent was a report on Ulster legislators’ attendance of regular meetings, committee meetings and public hearings. The report showed less-than-stellar attendance for some lawmakers, several of whom were upset that Auerbach publicized their attendance without any context.
“How effective would your business be if five of your 33 employees only showed up 75 percent of the time,” Auerbach asked the businessmen, pointing to stats from his report. And when one audience member asked how to hold lawmakers accountable, Auerbach said, “Make sure they’re showing up to meetings.”
He defended his audit of the Ulster County Health Department and former director Dean Palen in the same manner. The audit found vast examples of mismanagement and poor financial controls.
“What impact would that have on your bottom line?” Auerback said.
The talk came five days before Auerbach planned to launch his re-election campaign. A formal announcement is planned for Jan. 25. An opponent has not yet emerged. Auerbach said an important part of the campaign will be reminding voters that he is not beholden to lawmakers or the county executive.
“We are the people’s independent watchdog of Ulster County government,” he said.