Newly appointed court clerk quits

Although the board voted 'yes' down the line at Parsons' appointment, Councilman Sam Messina, an Independence Party member who has been openly critical of the town appointment process, said he wanted to make appointments "more competitive."

He did, however, support Parsons' appointment. He also pointed out at that meeting that neither judge, nor Parsons, was there to answer questions about the appointment.

With news that Parsons left the post, Messina is once again calling for a more open appointment process at Town Hall.

"When we appointed Patricia Parsons, I told the Town Board that the judges should open up the process, provide notice about jobs and interview several candidates," Messina said when asked about Parsons' leaving. "They did not. However, they have another chance to make things right and I hope they take the professional route in this decision."

Messina said he was unsure of the conditions surrounding Parsons' departure as court clerk, but had heard, simply, that "it wasn't a good fit."

The councilman put forth a defeated proposal in early March to create guidelines for the way the town advertises and appoints people who are non-civil service to various boards and committees not deemed competitive by the state.

The proposal was voted down 4-to-1 at a March 26 board meeting, with Messina casting the only vote in favor. Other members of the board, including Cunningham, said they felt the proposal was unnecessary.

State Town Law, section 20, provides that local justices appoint their own clerk, not the Town Board. So in essence, a town board "acknowledges" an appointment of a court clerk by the justices, according to Bethlehem's town attorney James Potter.

The court clerk is responsible for over $1 million in receipts annually.""

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