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Amsterdam, NY ,



Council's resolutions are not getting passed

Saturday, January 11, 2014 - Updated: 4:08 AM


The Amsterdam Common Council started the new year with a plethora of consent resolutions that the Republican aldermen had worked on in caucus before they were sworn in.

However, none of them have come to fruition.

Though Mayor Ann Thane has said this is, so far, the most proactive council she's worked with during the time she's been mayor, she also said the group is overly concerned with the wrong things.

"I think that the sooner the council gets down to real business, rather than just dealing with issues of executive and legislative power," Thane said, "and the sooner that we get away from catering to special interests, the better off we'll be."

The council came to the Jan. 1 organizational meeting prepared with eight consent resolutions, five of which were sponsored by 4th Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler. As of today, none of them have been officially passed.

Two consent resolutions authorizing the mayor to sign contracts with the former golf professional and concessionaire at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course were not returned by Thane, though unanimously passed by the council.

During the meeting, Thane said she was taken off guard by the resolutions and that she plans to veto them.

Still, those were the only two consent resolutions the council voted on beside organizational resolutions like appointing the aldermen to committees, appointing a deputy mayor and city clerk, and approving the monthly audit.

One resolution sponsored by Hatzenbuhler requested Employee Relations Director Robert Reidy have a sign on his office door each Friday that notifies all employees of his weekly schedule for the following week; Thane said that is something that can just be asked of Reidy and a resolution isn't required. Hatzenbuhler withdrew the resolution.

Another resolution, also sponsored by Hatzenbuhler, requested Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis submit what law provides him authority regarding his rulings, opinions and statements on city issues. Ronald J. Barone Sr., 3rd Ward alderman, said he "doesn't trust" DeCusatis, but after he said he would provide the information if given the opportunity, Hatzenbuhler also withdrew this resolution.

The rest of the consent resolutions were tabled by members of the council, including one appointing members of the Health Insurance Trust, one that requested all department heads complete a list of purchases made and the description and quantity of the item, and one requesting all employees of the Codes Department and the plumbing inspector directly report to city engineer Richard Miller.

Another tabled resolution called for a change within the various boards and commissions in the city. It says the volunteers involved must "immediately and retroactively" meet the following criteria: they must be a city resident, serve on only one board or commission at a time, and be approved by the Common Council.

Hatzenbuhler and 1st Ward Alderman Edward Russo said they want to get more people involved in the boards and commissions.

Thane said she already has a tough time making appointments because there are so few volunteers, so if the person is on multiple boards and doing a good job, there should be no reason to remove them. She also said the reason many serve on several boards is because they are linked in some way.

"It's very difficult to get people to come forward to volunteer on these boards and commissions," Thane said. "It's really hard. So I would appreciate you bringing names to appoint to boards. The more the better, I agree. The more people who are engaged in the governmental process, the healthier it will be."

Thane said the requirement that appointments be approved by the council may infringe on her powers.

"It's the mayor's appointment, as the charter is written," Thane said. "If you go and change that, you are changing the power structure and so that would require a referendum. ... I think who's appointing who is not the issue; I think the outreach is the issue, and accountability is the issue."

As far as being a city resident, Hatzenbuhler nodded to the Golf Commission, which currently has two members that are residents of the town of Amsterdam, including chairman Michael Bucciferro.

"Handling these via resolution, I don't know if that's the way to go, Diane," Thane said. "Honestly. I think that really talking about this in committee and trying to work with the chairpeople. I don't know that you need this. That's just my opinion."

The group again discussed the four tabled resolutions at a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday and will vote on them at the next scheduled Common Council meeting Jan. 21.


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