Barmore Goes Political In Letter To Legislators

Shortly after his departure from the Chautauqua County Legislature, new County Clerk Larry Barmore put his political hat back on in an attempt to persuade new legislators when voting for a new public defender.

Barmore sent a letter to the newly seated representatives just days before last month’s legislature meeting, when the vote took place and put Ned Barone in the public defender’s seat.

“I am no longer a legislator and as such I have vowed not to interfere in legislative business,” Barmore said in the letter, further explaining that he was discarding his vow in order to give legislators “the facts and not rumors.”

The act seemed contradictory to a statement made by Barmore prior to Election Day.

“I don’t believe politics have any place in the County Clerk’s Office,” he said in an Oct. 21 interview. “The work is far too important to every resident of Chautauqua County.”

Despite the letter, Barone was appointed to the position with a unanimous vote from county legislators in January for a second, consecutive two-year term.

Tom Rankin served prior to Barone.

According to Barmore, Rankin made personnel changes and rearranged workloads, which made him unpopular with those in the public defender’s office.

“Two years ago, the Democrats were able to remove Mr. Rankin as the public defender and replace him with Ned Barone,” Barmore said. “This was a move made mostly for political reasons. Mr. Barone is a capable attorney, but he was appointed because this is a political appointment.”

George Borrello, R-Irving, said his concern was a lack of consistency.

“Being a politically appointed position, we were changing leadership too often,” Borrello said. “I think problems occur when there is a lack of continuity.”

Of Barmore’s letter, Borrello said he was trying to make a plea for a man (Rankin) he thought would do well in the position of public defender.

“(Rankin) did a good job,” Borrello said of the predecessor. “I felt that Ned was doing a good job and I don’t want to play this partisan game that often happens.”

Barmore’s letter went on to state that, during the election, the conservative party endorsement of himself and County Executive Vince Horrigan was challenged in court.

“We all know that this was nothing more than a contrived diversion by (Norman P.) Green (Democratic commissioner of elections) to direct our attentions and finances away from the campaign,” Barmore said, further noting that attorney Jeffrey Shevlin was chosen to represent the plaintiff. “Due to his inexperience, (Shevlin) lost in both Judge Dillon’s court and in Appellate Court. In all my time here, all you have to do to lose an election law case in Judge Dillon’s court is to be a Republican.”

Lastly, Barmore said he would call it a “slap in the face” if Shevlin were to receive the position of public defender.

“I felt Barone was doing a good job, and deserved to be reappointed and that’s why I voted for him,” said Terry Niebel, R-Dunkirk. “At the end of the day, it is a legislative matter. Barmore was a legislator and he has the right to express his concern about people in public office, but at the end of the day it’s up to legislators to decide, which we did.”