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Casey Croucher/Recorder Staff Charter Review Commission Chairman Robert Going talks to commission members Thursday night.

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City charter commission off and running

Friday, May 23, 2014 - Updated: 10:17 AM

By CASEY CROUCHER

casey.croucher@recordernews.com

Amsterdam's Charter Review Comm-ission met for the first time Thursday night in the city's annex building.

Commission members were appointed by the Common Council in April, and later that month Mayor Ann Thane issued a veto against the resolution that appointed them. The council then overrode her veto and the commission came to fruition.

During the hour-long meeting, commission members introduced themselves to each other and explained why they were there.

Former mayor Mario Villa said he has no desire to decrease the mayor's power written in the charter.

"I've been on both sides of the aisle and it's not my intent to diminish the powers of the mayor; that's not why I'm here," Villa said.

Lifelong resident Michael Sampone said he wants to leave politics out of the commission's work.

"I looked at the purpose of this charter and basically this is a legal framework for organizing and operating government in the city of Amsterdam," Sampone said. "My goal is not to re-write this thing, I think what's been going on on both sides of the aisle has been a disgrace to this city. I'm not blaming the mayor or the council, I think they're all at fault. My purpose is to keep politics out of this commission. If there's an area that needs improvement to help the city run smoothly, that's what I want to do."

Robert Discensa, chief operator at the city's water treatment plant, said he wants to review the charter's rules on purchasing for city departments.

"Looking through the charter I see some things in regards to purchasing that could be clarified to help the city run better," he said. "I'm a registered Democrat but I'm leaving the politics at the door."

Jeffrey Chase, a local nurse who serves on the Citizens Review Board, said his politics won't affect his opinions regarding the charter.

"I am a registered Democrat, I don't exactly follow that line; I vote for whatever I think is right," he said. "We've just got to get clearer language with this charter."

Jerry Skrocki, a local photographer and freelance graphic designer, said he wants to "iron out the differences" between the different forms of government.

"There are too many ambiguities between the charter, what the New York state law says, and what we actually do," he said. "There's a lot of areas in the charter that are outdated and it needs to be brought up to present, the sooner the better."

Marie Gavry, a lifelong local resident, former council member, and employee of Liberty, established that she doesn't have an agenda being on the commission.

"I think it's always a good thing to review," she said. "Every rinky-dink organization has to update their bylaws every three years. I think this needs to be done. There are probably practices that are no longer appropriate just based on age, they might be too old. There are things that might need to change because the law has changed."

Robert Going, the commission's chairman, said this is his sixth time chairing a charter review commission. He said changes in the charter should come slowly.

"I don't believe you should make major changes," he said. "Changes should come slowly and deliberately and only after careful consideration. And the very last thing you should do is make changes based on personalities."

The commission members agreed they don't have any hidden agendas working on the charter.

They decided to all do their homework and re-read the city's charter again, citing specific instances where something could be changed. They'll bring their ideas to the next commission meeting next Thursday at 5 p.m. in the city annex building.

     

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