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Politicians for state and national office tour Slack Chemical in Carthage

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CARTHAGE — Matthew A. Doheny, Rob Astorino and Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, Republican candidates for U.S. Congress, New York Governor and New York Assembly, respectively, visited Slack Chemical Co., 465 South Clinton St., where they toured the facilities and discussed regulatory overhaul with owner Robert R. Sturtz.

Compliance officer Thomas Williams told the candidates that the business, which has 95 employees and distributes chemicals to businesses ranging from heavy industrial to pool supply companies, is subject to regulation from several state and federal agencies, including the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation and federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor, the Department of Transportation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“We have no quarrel with following the rules and regulations,” Mr. Sturtz said. “What we do ask for is some training, some idea of what to expect.”

Slack Chemical employs two full- and one part-time compliance officers who, according to Mr. Williams, struggle to keep up with the myriad regulatory changes that occur every year as well as the different agencies with which the company has to comply — agencies that often do not talk to each other, though they purport to enforce the same laws.

Mr. Williams cited as an example the state-run DEC and the EPA, which is a federal agency.

“Isn’t that spectacular, that they’re not even the same rules,” Mr. Doheny said.

Mr. Astorino, the Westchester County Executive, said that the number of regulations with which companies now have to comply is holding back business, turning the government into a “huge obstacle” and also “a majority partner” because it forces businesses to hire so many compliance officers — a measure that can force some small firms out of business, according to Mr. Williams.

Of all the regulatory agencies cited by Mr. Williams, only the DEC is a state agency and subject to influence from the governor.

Chief among Mr. Sturtz’s complaints was the sense that despite his company’s best efforts, regulatory agencies like to play “that gotcha thing” so that they can levy fines against the company for any violations they might find.

Mr. Williams said the perception is that these agencies are using fines as a way to make money to fund their operations.

Mr. Astorino said that he endeavored to change the regulatory environment in Westchester County by asking agencies to bring violations to the attention of business owners before granting them a grace period to fix the problem.

Following a tour of the facilities by sales representative Brad T. Gydesen, the candidates were off to visit Knowlton Technologies and Fort Drum before heading to Curran Renewable Energy in Massena and Sergi’s Italian Restaurant in Potsdam.

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