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Lej fights intensify 

The relationship between Republicans and Democrats in the Monroe County Legislature was strained before, but now the two sides are engaged in open warfare.

The latest salvo was fired by the GOP, which wants to chop funding for the Democratic office by 10 percent. By Republicans' logic, the funding should reflect the makeup of the Legislature, where the GOP has a 19 to 10 majority.

But Democrats say the proposal is retaliation for several perceived acts of impertinence.

The evidence: the legislation came out just after an acrimonious May 14 Legislature meeting. Barbs were traded and, at one point, a piece of pending Democratic legislation was suddenly brought up by Republicans and passed. The Republican majority then hijacked the legislation by ramming through their preferred appointments.

Some sort of conflict was inevitable since it was the first time the Legislature met since County Executive Maggie Brooks fired Todd Spring as executive health director at Monroe Community Hospital. A state report said Spring mistreated a patient.

During the May 14 meeting, legislators unanimously confirmed appointments to a newly reconstituted oversight board for the hospital — something Democrats have been wanting for years. Democratic Legislator Justin Wilcox asked Lej President Jeff Adair, a Republican, why it didn't happen sooner. Adair replied simply that now is a good time and that he's "not going to dwell."

Also during the meeting, Republicans voted to appoint Republican Legislator Fred Ancello to the county's fire advisory board, replacing Democratic Legislator Willie Joe Lightfoot. Lightfoot's term expired in 2009, but it's not unusual for the county to keep people on boards after their terms expire.

Republicans also voted against re-appointing Lightfoot to the Monroe County Airport Authority board. He could remain on the board, however, due to technicalities in the state law establishing the authority.

Lightfoot has questioned the authority board's independence and recently criticized two other proposed appointments to the board; he said the candidates are too close to the county government

"This is all just retaliation," Lightfoot said after the May 14 meeting.

Barbs were traded and, at one point, a piece of pending Democratic legislation was suddenly brought up by Republicans and passed. The Republican majority then hijacked the legislation by ramming through their preferred appointments.

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