© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Under indictment and facing calls to resign, Rensselaer County Executive delivers State of the County address

McLaughlin, who was arrested late last year on campaign finance fraud charges, appeared unfazed in his opening remarks.
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin, who was arrested late last year on campaign finance fraud charges, appeared unfazed in his opening remarks.

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin gave his fifth State of the County address Tuesday night, but his future is unclear.

McLaughlin, who was arrested late last year on campaign finance fraud charges, appeared unfazed in his opening remarks.

"Tonight, I will speak of reduced taxes, improved services, better quality of life, and historic investment, McLaughlin said. "Tonight, we will also look ahead to a county government that will continue to take impressive action and be reshaped to be more modern, effective and accessible to the people we are proud to serve. We have dared to do more and to think bigger, and we are winning on every level."

Quoting Abraham Lincoln, the second-term Republican said, "the best way to predict the future is to create it." McLaughlin pointed to increased sales tax revenue, earning a zero fiscal stress rating from the State Comptroller, and getting budgets approved by lawmakers.

"Despite challenges and complications, a very long and difficult pandemic and constant economic uncertainty on the national level, our county has seen significant success and important accomplishments," said McLaughlin. "Some of these victories have been unprecedented and historic and show our county is reaching new heights. In fact, Rensselaer County continues to emerge as a leader in the state in key economic and financial accomplishments."

The Republican, who was elected to a second four-year term in 2021, pledged Rensselaer County's assistance to Ukraine, noting it’s already collecting clothing, medicine and other materials to be shipped to the war-torn nation.

"As a country founded on the principles of justice, equality and freedom," McLaughlin said. "We must oppose Putin's invasion. Rensselaer county stands with the people of Ukraine and joins with those around the world who have condemned this attack and who stand united in calling for an end to the invasion."

McLaughlin introduced what he called the reimagine Rensselaer County facilities effort:

"A plan that will place the majority of county services on county owned property and expand access, convenience and service for the residents we serve and the employees who assist in that mission." McLaughlin said "the plan can be achieved at a lower cost, especially in light of other long standing rental agreements and given the county's strong financial position. I am tonight announcing our intent to purchase the Rose & Kiernan and building on Route 4. Purchasing the R&K building will allow the county to relocate a number of offices now based in the county office building and the former health building and allow for services to be situated in a modern and accessible location. The county will then be able to relocate offices and functions for our county department of social services based now at Flanagan Square to here, in the county office building."

McLaughlin didn't mention his December indictment on campaign finance violations, charges he has pleaded not guilty to. Other Republican leaders in the county have also reportedly been issued subpoenas over their roles in November’s elections. While he applauded the county’s economic growth, the county legislature’s Democratic Minority Leader Peter Grimm has reservations about the county government’s future.

"Ongoing state and federal investigations related to criminal misconduct continue to fester and plague the administration," Grimm said. "You know, we can only hope that, you know, these are also things that we address. I mean, these are very important things that matter to the people of Rensselaer County So, going forward. I hope they will be able to address these as well and keep our head above water financially and enjoy the success that we've been having fiscally in the county."

The state attorney general’s office said if McLaughlin is convicted, he would be removed from office.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
Related Content