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Orange County Partnership Back Under Court Scrutiny re Appellate Decision re Transparency Issue

BROOKLYN- It was back in 2019 when the state’s Authorities Budget Office (ABO) annual report on public authorities took issue with the Orange County Partnership’s financial operations. The ABO maintained that the agency is a public authority and must comply with statutory transparency requirements. The Partnership disputed that assertion and fought what they called agency overreach in the Supreme Court.

Later that year, the Supreme Court justice agreed with the Partnership, ruling that it is not a “local authority” and therefore does not fall under the oversight of the ABO. Officials at the ABO challenged this ruling, with oral arguments heard on Tuesday in the state Appellate Court’s Second Judicial Department.

Attorney Rick Golden presented the argument on behalf of the Partnership. Golden is the same attorney who represented the case in the Supreme Court in 2019.

Partnership President Maureen Halahan, Wednesday, noted her agency is private and accepts no public funding from the county, something the Supreme Court upheld last year.

The county Supreme Court decision was challenged leading to the appellate court case and “we await that ruling,” Halahan said.

State Senator James Skoufis (D, Cornwall) has long supported ABO oversight over the Partnership.

“Yesterday was a brutal day in court for the Orange County Partnership and a great day for Orange County taxpayers. Judges questioned whether the organization was ‘circumventing’ transparency requirements and, at one point, audibly laughed at a 2019 statement and subsequent backtracking by their CEO.

I trust the judges will see through the Partnership’s charade and issue a ruling that puts an end to their wheeling-and-dealing shell game,” Skoufis said.

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