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Amsterdam council holds illegal executive session

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - Updated: 10:18 AM

By ALISSA SCOTT

alissa.scott@recordernews.com

Prior to a scheduled committee meeting Wednesday night, the Amsterdam Common Council and Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis met for an illegal executive session to discuss contracts with Laura Elmendorf, the former concessionaire at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.

They’re not denying it.

“What do you want me to do?” Barone said. “Yes, it was illegal. Throw me in jail for it.”

Mayor Ann Thane said she had no knowledge of the meeting and called it “nonsense.”

When reporters attempted to enter the council chambers prior to the scheduled committee meeting, they were told to leave because the council and DeCusatis were in executive session. Also in the room was Golf Commission chairman Michael Bucciferro and Elmendorf.

Ronald J. Barone, Sr., 3rd Ward alderman, said the session, which lasted over an hour, was “contractual” before shooing reporters out. 

In order for the council to enter executive session, the meeting must be publicized for the public’s knowledge. The council can then briefly announce the reason for the closed meeting and enter the session.

Neither was done.

After the meeting finished, after spilling into the scheduled committee meeting, and the public was allowed to enter, 4th Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler took the fault.

“Earlier, there was a mistake made on my part,” Hatzenbuhler said. “I called for a contract discussion with Laura from the golf course. We opened the meeting and then went into discussion into executive session.”

However, when asked what committee the executive session was called under, she wasn’t able to answer.

“Well, uh, it wasn’t golf,” Hatzenbuhler said. “Well, we had set it up. I set it up with Ron and with Laura. No, there was no specific public notice other than the 7:00 meeting.”

Reporters asked if the council would admit the meeting was illegal.

“You can say that,” Hatzenbuhler said.

Reporters asked for notes from the meeting and for the councilmen to explain what was discussed.

“All contracts,” Barone said.

Hatzenbuhler said it was a miscommunication on her part and she “forgot” to send the meeting notice to city clerk Susan Alibozek.

“I take the responsibility for violating [the law] because I didn’t give it to Susan to put on the agenda for 6:00 

Hatzenbuhler said: “It won’t happen again. You know that I have been very open about posting all the meetings. Everybody got notice about this.”

Thane said, “I didn’t.”

Hatzenbuhler then moved on to a discussion of the Land Bank, the original reason the meeting was called.

Read more in tomorrow’s issue of The Recorder.

     

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