Ithaca, N.Y. — Tompkins County Legislator Jim Dennis addressed the controversial exchange between the county’s sheriff and its former undersheriff in a short speech in the county’s chambers Tuesday night.

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Derek Osborne, who stepped down as undersheriff in February 2015, wrote a 9-page letter to county lawmakers criticizing current Sheriff Ken Lansing earlier this week.

See related: Ex-Tompkins undersheriff blasts Sheriff Lansing in 9-page letter

Osborne called Lansing a “complete embarrassment” and said he had been unavailable during major incidents, including the Hornbrook Road standoff.

In an interview with the Ithaca Voice, Sheriff Lansing defended his record and portrayed Osborne as a disgruntled former employee “on an ego trip.”

Dennis, the Tompkins County legislator, weighed in on this argument Tuesday night.

“I was entertained by it and pretty concerned,” Dennis said, citing articles in the Ithaca Voice and Ithaca Times about the disagreement between Lansing and Osborne.

“Derek (Osborne) is gone and I understand that I think the man worked very hard for the county for many years and maybe deserves a little bit better.”

Dennis addressed Sheriff Lansing’s responses to the Osborne’s criticism.

“I thought they were at best unkind to what the former undersheriff had written. Politically, really awful,” Dennis said.

Dennis suggested that the responses to Osborne’s criticisms may have been best said during private executive session.

“There was an opportunity for the sheriff to take the high ground and I think you missed that opportunity, and that troubles me.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.