A councilwoman’s effort to remove the City Council president with a vote of no confidence failed Monday night.
For the second time in as many meetings, Councilwoman Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas again sought to have President John Mootooveren removed from his position. But in the end, the 3-2 vote meant the president keeps his job.
The last time Zalewski-Wildzunas tried to remove the president on April 12, the panel’s presiding official did not act.
The same matter two weeks ago ended in a 3-2 vote in which Zalewski-Wildzunas, Councilwoman Carmel Patrick and Councilman John Polimeni voted yes, while Mootooveren and Councilwoman Marion Porterfield voted no.
The motion, taken up under miscellaneous council business, alleged Mootooveren led the council in an “unprofessional and unethical manner.” It was seconded by Patrick.
At issue was Mootooveren’s removal of Zalewski-Wildzunas as chairwoman of city Development and Planning, and his removal and eventual reinstatement of her as a member of the Finance Committee.
Mootooveren has said he initially removed Zalewski-Wildzunas from the two committees – replacing her with Porterfield – to align the nine committees with five council members, while striving to achieve diversity on the panel. Porterfield is Black and Mootooveren is of Guyanese descent.
The council is down two members after Leesa Perazzo and Ed Kosiur resigned from the council in January, leaving the council with five members.
Since the two resignations, Zalewski-Wildzunas suggested that Mootooveren wanted her removed because he objected to the council’s failure to fill two of its own vacancies. Mootooveren has refuted that claim.
On Monday, Zalewski-Wildzunas said Mootooveren’s public comments for removing her stung of “corruption and human rights violations.”
Patrick said she regretted the strong display against Mootooveeren.
“I want to tell Mr. Mootooveren that I’m disappointed to come to this point – I definitely supported you as president, and was looking forward very much to your leadership – and I regret that the events of the last several weeks have brought us to this point.”
In other business, the council approved a yearly program that waives the $56 permit fee for exterior building repairs and the comparable $100 fee for roof repairs from May 1 to June 30.
Mootooveren encouraged residents to take advantage of the grace period, and for neighborhood associations and council members to spread the word.
The council president said the city waived a cumulative $35,000 on application fees and roofing permits during the grace period last year, and that “Once again, it shows our commitment to neighborhood revitalization.”
Mayor Gary McCarthy spoke of the wide availability of COVID-19 vaccines for residents of the city and county.
Vaccines in the region are available “almost on a demand basis at several locations,” McCarthy said.
He urged residents to take advantage.
Suggesting that an uptick in vaccinations was benefitting local commerce, McCarthy said city sales tax numbers released Monday showed a dramatic increase in Schenectady County during March.
“We want to build on that going forward,” he said. He encouraged residents to continue hand-washing and wearing face masks and to practice social distancing.