Schenectady County

Rotterdam board at odds over senior center post

Supervisor Frank Del Gallo declined to reconsider his dismissal of project coordinator Diane Marco f

Supervisor Frank Del Gallo declined to reconsider his dismissal of project coordinator Diane Marco from the Rotterdam Senior Center, despite hearing a number of impassioned pleas from residents on Wednesday.

Del Gallo said that Marco will finish work with the town at the end of February. But a resolution to tap Marco’s predecessor, John DeGeorgio, as her replacement failed Wednesday, meaning there will be no one to oversee the senior center as of next week.

Councilwoman Nicola DiLeva accused Del Gallo of threatening to shut down the senior center next week if members of the Town Board didn’t approve DeGeorgio’s hire. During the meeting, she placed Del Gallo on the spot in front of a standing-room-only crowd.

“I ask you to promise that you won’t lock the doors to the senior center like you told us you would if we voted no,” she said.

Del Gallo didn’t respond to the accusation during the meeting. But afterward, he said he has no intention of closing the senior center even if a new replacement can’t be found in short order.

“We’ll have to put somebody in there to run it,” he said following the board’s business meeting.

Marco, a part-time worker who earns an annual salary of $15,000, last week was given two weeks’ notice that she’s being dismissed, sparking outrage among a number of the town residents. She was first appointed in January 2010 and then reappointed last month.

Marco spoke out against Del Gallo Wednesday, claiming he never gave her a clear reason why she was being fired. She said the supervisor sent her a succinct letter simply stating that she failed to complete her probation period satisfactorily.

“Areas of concerns were never addressed with me,” she said during the meeting. “I was performing my duties in a satisfactory fashion, and had concerns been discussed with me, they could have been addressed.”

Marco said she tried to meet with Del Gallo to discuss the matter, but he refused to elaborate. Instead, she said the supervisor told her that he did not have to give a reason why she was being fired.

“I would have thought that after my tenure on the Town Board and the year and a half of my faithful service I would have been professionally given the reasons for my termination,” she said.

Marco was supported by a large number of people in the crowd, who clapped loudly as she spoke to the board. Others decried Del Gallo’s actions on her behalf.

Ron Severson, the chairman of the town’s Parks and Recreation Commission, blasted the dismissal as “uncalled for.” He also questioned whether Del Gallo had the authority to dismiss Marco.

“She was appointed by the full Town Board,” he said. “She wasn’t appointed just by you.”

John Paolino, a former Rotterdam supervisor, was equally unforgiving of the move. He pledged to raise a legal fund aimed at overturning Del Gallo’s decision.

“Look at the people out here,” he said, gesturing to the crowd. “They’re here to tell you one thing — they don’t want her to go.”

Jack Shiely, the president of the Rotterdam Senior Association, presented the Town Board with a petition signed by roughly 200 people. He lauded Marco for working “well over 40 hours a week” and asked why she had such a long probationary period.

“Why after 14 months?” he asked. “She didn’t pass her probationary period by then?”

DeGeorgio, who retired in 2009, said he wasn’t aware of the situation before being offered the job. He said he never asked any of the board members for the position but indicated he would return if called upon.

“If there was an opening, I’d come back to the senior center,” he said.

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