Oneida County Legislature No Longer ‘Speciale’
One Oneida County legislator no longer has to attend legislative meetings.
Now former Oneida County Legislator Harmony Speciale has lost her seat because she allegedly forgot to sign her oath card.
The information was confirmed by Gerald Fiorini, Chairman of the Oneida County Legislative Board of Legislators. The county's website lists the 21st legislative position as "Vacant."
Fiorini says he received a letter from the county clerk stating that there was a vacancy after Speciale "failed to file her official oath within the 30-day limit of her term as required by Public Offices Law." He said it is her obligation to sign it and, not having done so, she loses her position.
The next step is for the Chairman of the Democratic Committee, Mitchell Ford, to screen interested candidates for the position. Although the candidates must be registered Democrats, the position is open to anyone in Oneida County's 21st Legislative District to apply.
The final appointment will be made by Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente. The appointee will then have to run in November's election to serve in 2017, and then run again, Fiorini says, with the other legislators next year.
Fiorini, who has been in office for about thirty years, says that although public servants have lost their seats before, to his knowledge, a legislator in Oneida County has never lost his seat because of failure to sign the Oath of Office card.
Speciale tells WIBX not signing the oath of office card was unintentional. She says did not attend the board's organizational meeting on January 4th or the regular meeting on January 12th.
Speciale says she was hospitalized during that period and after being released, her focus was on recovery and her family.
She's also questioning why Fiorini or the Board Clerk failed to inform her of the deadline.
Speciale calls it an "orchestrated event" to remove her from the board and says it's an example of "backroom politics at its worst."
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that while it may appear that failure to sign the oath card is a "mere technicality," it actually represents an official's formal statement that he or she will uphold the oath of office and the Constitution. It is, the official said, the first important duty that every elected official has.
Another legislator, sharp in his criticism of Speciale and who also asked not to be identified, said, "This is the political equivalent of the Darwin Awards."
(Story by: Kristine Bellino with additional reporting by Jim Rondenelli)