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Council plans to 'kick the beehive' tonight

Tuesday, May 06, 2014 - Updated: 12:16 PM

By HEATHER NELLIS

heather.nellis@recordernews.com

The Amsterdam Common Council will reconsider an ordinance at a committee meeting tonight that would give the council appointment power over the city golf commission.

It also seeks to require the commission members to be dues-paying members of the course, and removes the recreation department director from the approval process of purchases related to the course.

If approved, the ordinance will increase the commission from six members, one of whom is a non-voting alderman, to seven plus a non-voting alderman.

"The seven members shall not be either a city employee or official, and shall be a city resident, and a dues-paying golf course member," the proposal reads.

The proposed ordinance again attempts to shift the alderman liaison appointment to the Common Council instead of the mayor.

It's a revival of an effort first launched in March to strip the mayor of power over the commission, except this time, the mayor would be allowed to pick two of seven appointments, pending council approval.

Third Ward Alderman Ronald J. Barone Sr. thinks it's a fairer way to go about appointments. Currently, the mayor chooses the liaison, and the commission members.

"We're taking it back off the table," Barone said of the ordinance, which was first proposed in March. "I think it's a good thing -- everybody gets a choice."

Mayor Ann Thane disagrees.

"I think it's really unfortunate that just as this commission is finding its legs, and things are calming down, that Mr. Barone feels the need to kick the beehive again. There are so many other things that should be capturing his interest besides the golf course," Thane said.

Aside from commission Chairwoman Michele Russo, the remaining four commission members are new. The council passed a resolution earlier this year that forced the commission's former chairman to step down because he is not a city resident.

Barone said the aldermen decided to bring the ordinance back to the table since a legal battle over contractual powers in the city charter was ruled upon in Supreme Court last month.

The issue stemmed from the Common Council's awarding a golf professional contract to Joseph Merendo.

Thane vetoed the resolution, but it was overridden by the Common Council. Thane refused to sign the contract, and sued the council when 4th Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler signed it in her stead.

In what originally started as a question of whether Thane was required to execute a vetoed resolution overridden by the council, Judge Joseph Sise instead ruled the council didn't have the authority to negotiate contracts.

When asked why he believes this is the right time for the council to reconsider the ordinance, Barone said, "any time is a good time to do anything."

He declined to comment on Thane's allegation of "kicking the beehive."

     

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