Kolb steps down as minority leader in the Assembly

Brian Kolb
Brian Kolb

Brian M. Kolb, R-Victor, is stepping down as state Assembly minority leader, following his arrest New Year’s Eve on a charge of driving while impaired.

“I will not allow my own personal challenges to distract from the goals, message, and mission of the Assembly Minority Conference. With a new year and new legislative session ahead, the work of our conference cannot be undermined or deterred in any way,” Kolb said in a statement released Friday. He has been the minority leader since 2009.

He steps down at a time when several fellow veteran Republican legislative members from the Upstate area have resigned or announced they will not run for re-election, citing the difficulty of doing business in a Democrat-dominated legislature.

Kolb, driving a state-owned SUV, crashed his vehicle in a ditch in Victor near his house about 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 31. He cooperated with the Ontario County sheriff’s deputies investigating the crash. The next day he issued a public apology for the incident.

On Friday, he said, “The events of December 31 are ones I will always deeply regret. On a personal level, I have begun the process of seeking professional help in order to heal, learn, and fully address the challenges that I, along with my family, currently face.”

Kolb had, ironically, recently urged constituents to be careful not to engage in drunk driving on the holiday. On Dec. 27 his weekly email said, “For those celebrating the holiday by gathering with family and friends, please do so safely. With the numerous ride-sharing apps available, as well as public transportation, drinking and driving simply isn’t an option. Think about the safety of yourself and others around you.”

He had also devoted his entire Dec. 20 email to the subject as part of National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, which is in December.

The incident garnered news coverage from outlets including the “New York Post” and “The Washington Post.” It also elicited calls for his resignation as an Assembly leader from some fellow Republicans.

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Lawmakers seek to block Romulus incinerator again

A group of state legislators has introduced bills again to prevent construction of trash incinerators anywhere in the Finger Lakes Watershed, in an attempt to halt Circular energG’s proposed incinerator at the former Seneca Army Deport in Romulus.

The legislators who proposed the new bills are state senators Rachel May (D-Syracuse) and Pamela Helming (R-Canandaigua,) and Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island,) with the support of Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R-Corning.) Both Helming’s and Palmesano’s districts include Romulus, and Kolb’s abuts it.

“We urge Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins to do everything in their power to pass this bill quickly, and for Governor Cuomo to sign it into law. The Finger Lakes deserves immediate protection from any corporation looking to exploit its land and natural resources,” said Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Seneca Lake Guardian, the group spearheading opposition to the incinerator. “This toxic incinerator could have devastating effects to our region’s economy, public health and quality of life, and we urge Albany to act immediately to get this bill passed.”

Some 39 groups and individuals have sent a letter in support of the bills, including an array of officials from towns, counties, and the school district closest to the proposed incinerator.

The Finger Lakes region already receives tons of trash from out of the area at the Seneca Meadows landfill, Ontario County Landfill and High Acres. Opponents to the incinerator insist that the incinerator would not divert waste currently going to those landfills and “and it is likely that the incinerator would accept waste from a large geographic area, not just the state of New York.”

The groups have opposed the incinerator on the basis of environmental, health and economic concerns, fearing a 250-foot tall smokestack’s emissions would endanger the local wine industry, among others.

“Trash incinerators are the costliest way to generate energy and the few jobs created will put a $2.8 billion wine and tourism industry that supports nearly 60,000 jobs at risk,” the group’s statement read.

A comment from the law firm representing the proposed incinerator project was not immediately obtainable.

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