Board may take a stand

JOHNSTOWN – The Republican-controlled Fulton County Board of Supervisors will vote next month on whether to oppose two initiatives from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Both proposed county resolutions – to be voted on by the full board March 10 – were discussed by the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee earlier this week.

The committee voted to deny the state permission to use the Fulton County seal for enforcement of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013.

In addition, the committee formally opposed Cuomo’s proposal to provide free college education to state prison inmates at taxpayers’ expense.

According to Cuomo’s website, the SAFE Act “stops criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from buying a gun by requiring universal background checks on gun purchases, increases penalties for people who use illegal guns, mandates life in prison without parole for anyone who murders a first responder, and imposes the toughest assault weapons ban in the country.”

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead informed the committee state officials have indicated an interest in using Fulton County’s official seal or the seal of Sheriff Thomas Lorey during “state procedures” related to enforcement of the SAFE Act.

He said 35 out of 57 upstate counties have opposed the state’s use of their counties’ seals in enforcement of the act.

Lorey told supervisors that “as far as I was concerned,” Cuomo is trying to have people believe Fulton County is in favor of the act.

The proposed resolution says the SAFE Act was “ill-conceived by the governor and hurried through the state Legislature in questionable haste …”

Regarding Cuomo’s proposal to provide free college education to state prison inmates, Stead said the initiative is “something that’s garnered a lot of attention the last few weeks.”

Stead said the board can “basically send out a signal of opposition for this program, also.”

Cuomo on Feb. 16 announced a statewide initiative to give prison inmates an opportunity to earn a college degree by funding college classes. The proposal is intended to curtail recidivism by providing state inmates with a college degree at taxpayer expense to help avoid the costs of incarcerating inmates a second time.

“The proposal could also be interpreted as a reward for criminals who have committed serious crimes against victims in the community and may increase the incentive to commit a crime,” Fulton County’s proposed resolution says.

Northampton Supervisor James Groff said the fact the state considers cuts to public-school education funding while considering the inmate initiative is “ridiculous.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.