Schenectady Council moves to override mayor on judgeship fight

Legal opinion sought on override process
Mayor Gary R. McCarthy is pictured at Schenectady City Hall in 2015.
Mayor Gary R. McCarthy is pictured at Schenectady City Hall in 2015.

SCHENECTADY — City lawmakers are bucking the mayor again on the dispute over the number of city judges.

The City Council’s Government Operations Committee voted unanimously on Monday to override Mayor Gary McCarthy’s veto of its resolution from last month to keep four Schenectady City Court judges.

City Council President Ed Kosiur said he has the votes for the measure to pass the full council on March 11.

“We certainly have our five votes to proceed with that next Monday evening,” Kosiur said Tuesday in a telephone interview. 

Councilwomen Leesa Perazzo, Marion Porterfield and Vince Riggi voted for the measure on Monday.

McCarthy contends the city only needs three judges, citing decreasing crime paired with declining traffic tickets and civil cases. 

He also cited the expenses associated with constructing or leasing new court facilities recommended by the state Office of Court Administration if the city were to retain a fourth judge, an amount he estimated at $3 million.

McCarthy issued the veto about a week after the City Council passed a resolution Feb. 11 taking the side of the state Unified Court System, which has said all four judges are needed to handle the court’s workload. 

Specifically, the City Council voted to oppose any state legislation that would reduce the numbers of city court judges. 

Councilwoman Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas and Councilman John Polimeni have opposed the measure, citing the need for a comprehensive fiscal analysis.


McCarthy didn’t attend Monday’s meeting.

But he said he disagrees with the committee’s decision.

“I believe they’ve waived the right to veto that,” McCarthy said on Tuesday.

The committee should have taken the override up at their next meeting, which would have been Feb. 25.

“There’s no way a veto message goes back to committee for override,” McCarthy said. 

Kosiur contends the council has 30 days to act after the veto. 

The City Council previously voted to override McCarthy’s budget in 2012, he said, citing the 30-day window to make a decision.

He also pointed to a 1998 report from the state Division of Local Government Services that stated, “If the chief executive officer vetoes a proposed local law, the local legislative body may, within 30 days after receipt of the veto at a regular meeting thereof, reconsider the local law and override the veto by a two-thirds vote.”

City Attorney Carl Falotico, who ordinarily provides legal guidance to the mayor and the City Council, has recused himself from offering an opinion. 

He was nominated last month by the Schenectady Democratic Committee for the fourth judgeship position being vacated by Judge Guido Loyola at the end of the year. 

Falotico has contacted an independent law firm to render an advisory opinion on the timeframe for reconsideration of mayoral vetoes. 

He said he expected a decision within days.

Asked about the next steps, McCarthy said he’s also awaiting that opinion.

“We’ll see what happens,” he said.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

Leave a Reply