Montgomery County

Amsterdam dispute over golf pro may head to court

A judge could wind up getting involved in a dispute between Amsterdam’s mayor and the city’s Common

A judge could wind up getting involved in a dispute between Amsterdam’s mayor and the city’s Common Council as neither appears willing to budge on the ongoing municipal golf course impasse.

Calling the Common Council’s attitude “irresponsible,” Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane vetoed a resolution calling for reinstatement of the golf course pro Joe Merendo, and the council promptly scheduled a meeting to override the veto.

And according to the city’s attorney, the council can’t wrest contract-signing powers from the mayor, leaving few options but court action.

The Common Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday to consider the override.

Despite how it looks, Fourth Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler said she doesn’t believe the city government’s continued battle should define the government responsible for the well-being of roughly 18,000 people.

“We can cooperate on everything; it’s just that we don’t agree with [Thane] on this and that’s the bottom line. We just don’t see eye-to-eye,” Hatzenbuhler said.

Thane and the former Common Council agreed last year to put out a call for proposals to run the city golf course, hoping to draw some interest and spark new energy at the recreational site.

Several proposals came back, and the new Common Council ignored them, opting instead to rehire Joe Merendo, the longtime golf pro who filed a lawsuit against the city after he was informed his contract had expired.

Hatzenbuhler said she doesn’t believe it will affect the golf course. Its maintenance is in the hands of a city employee who serves as groundskeeper.

“Muni will be up and operating, there is no issue about that and we’re going to move forward,” Hatzenbuhler said.

“He’s already on the job doing what he needs to do and ordering what he needs to order,” she said.

For Thane, the council’s resistance is a “defining moment for them.”

This year’s council introduced nine resolutions and two contracts Thane said she’d never seen nor discussed.

“There have always been differences of opinion. But this administration has really been able to forge significant positive change and I would expect that I will continue to work in that regard,” Thane said.

“Hopefully they will set their sights on problem-solving and accountability and oversight of all operations, not just pick and choose who they feel like holding accountable,” Thane said.

Thane said she won’t allow the Common Council to “usurp” the mayor’s power. That can only be done with a referendum — drawing city residents to the polls to iron out the city government’s inability to find consensus.

The entire matter could “definitely” end up in court, Thane said.

“I think that would be so unfortunate for this community,” Thane said.

The Common Council is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday to consider the golf course issue. Then, they’ll begin reviewing budget figures in anticipation of budget development for the 2014-15 year.

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