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City clerk's role reviewed by charter group

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - Updated: 10:18 AM

By CASEY CROUCHER

casey.croucher@recordernews.com

The role of the Amsterdam city clerk is the latest item of discussion by the Charter Review Commission appointed by Mayor Ann Thane.

The city clerk, a position currently held by Susan Alibozek, has two major duties -- acting as a record keeper for the city, and being the clerk for the Common Council, commission chairman Peter Califano said.

However, the commission is considering the idea of having one clerk solely for the council, and a second clerk performing the position's traditional duties.

All nine members of the commission do not agree with the idea, however.

"I thought about the idea for a while," commission member Michael Chiara said. "I tried to listen to the [proposal] but the setup we have now seems to be working, so why, if it's working, should we fix it?"

Commission member Gina DeRossi, a former alderwoman, on the other hand, had a different idea.

"I don't necessarily disagree [with Chiara], but the one thing I do know that becomes an issue is when the mayor needs something, and she can't necessarily get it because the [city clerk] doesn't answer to her," DeRossi said. "Is there any way to allow for the city clerk to serve the mayor and the Common Council?"

"The mayor is the chief executive officer," said Chiara, a former city assessor and county supervisor. "If the mayor wants a piece of paper in the city clerk's office, then the mayor can just get it. It's ridiculous."

Former 4th Ward Alderman David Dybas said the concept of a city clerk should be simple, but, "the city is screwed up because we don't know what we have."

Dybas said there were times he went to city hall for contracts to file.

"If you read the charter, all contracts are to be filed with the city clerk," Dybas said. "Good luck. If the city clerk did the city clerk's business, I don't care who it is."

Chiara argued that Dybas was involving personalities in the argument. Dybas denied the charge.

"Regardless of personalities, it doesn't matter who it was, if it was a past clerk or current clerk, it's irrelevant," Califano said. "The fact of the matter is somebody went to the clerk and the clerk didn't have something the clerk was supposed to have. That needs to be fixed."

Fourth Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler told the commission that when the current council took office in January ,the mayor told the council that they had a city clerk, and she had her own secretary, and so far everything has run smoothly.

DeRossi told Hatzenbuhler that the problem is the "reverse."

"Your clerk serves at your pleasure," she said, "but if the mayor needs something that her secretary can't get, and she would need it from the city clerk, she doesn't get it because that clerk doesn't serve at her pleasure."

The commission agreed the "current system is not working like clockwork."

They also agreed to table all discussion on the topic until the entire commission is present; three members were not in attendance during the meeting.

     

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