Turnbull, Brescia trade barbs over committee assignments

Orange County Legislature Chairman Steve Brescia and Democratic Leader Matt Turnbull had sour words for one another this week following Brescia’s decision to remove Turnbull and fellow Democrat Jeff Berkman from two of the Legislature’s more important committees.

Turnbull put out a press release announcing he would be the minority caucus leader again in 2017 and making a plea for bipartisan work. He went on to chide Brescia for removing him from the Ways and Means Committee and Berkman from the Rules Committee, calling it a “pretty partisan response” to remarks he made at the Legislature’s reorganization meeting the previous week.

Brescia, in an interview, explained that he had taken Berkman off Rules because he had prolonged meetings unnecessarily by asking too many questions, and that Turnbull was taken off Ways and Means because he had become “too partisan” in meetings. He argued that Republicans had been generally been conciliatory toward Democrats but would be less so now.

“We’re getting gogged down in delays and indecision, mostly because of the Democrats,” he said.

“They fired the first partisan salvo, and we’re firing back a little bit,” Brescia added. “I’ve turned the cheek too many times.”

Turnbull laughed when told Brescia had complained about too many questions, noting that Republicans recently agreed with a concern Berkman raised and tabled a proposal at a Rules meeting as a result of it. “He just wants us to rubber-stamp everything, because he has a schedule to pass these things, because he thinks we’re nitpicking,” Turnbull said of Brescia. “In other words, we’re just doing our jobs.”

Turnbull argued that Berkman is properly asking questions to safeguard taxpayers’ money, and that he has served the same role on Ways and Means, the committee that controls spending.

“I’ve been one of the loudest voices on that committee,” Turnbull said. “He takes me off Ways and Means just to spite me. To me, that’s a violation of his oath of office.”



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