Farley calls for Schenectady mental health town hall meeting in wake of Nashville shooting

Man speaking into microphone

Schenectady Councilman Damonni Farley speaks at a City Council meeting  on Feb. 13.

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SCHENECTADY — In the aftermath of the Monday shooting at a Nashville elementary school that claimed six lives, including three children, Schenectady City Councilman Damonni Farley is calling for local action to address mental health concerns in the city.

During an address to the City Council during the council’s Monday night meeting, Farley noted that his mind had wandered during the meeting to thoughts of the victims of the Nashville shooting earlier that day and the lockdown that took place at Albany Medical Center the same afternoon.

During the Albany incident, Colonie man Dino Savoca brought a shotgun and BB handgun into the hospital and barricaded himself in a room, police said.

Savoca, 61, was arraigned Tuesday and faces felony charges of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree kidnapping, as well as a misdemeanor count of second-degree menacing.

Farley explained during the council meeting that he had family and friends in the hospital at the time of the lockdown on Monday, driving home the urgency of the situation.

“I really think this is an opportunity for us to maybe look at our own mental health in our community,” Farley told the council. “I’m suggesting that we put together a town hall event where we can hear from people who are impacted by mental health issues and mental hygiene issues and load up a room with service providers. We can talk about the gaps to fill in those gaps where gaps in accessibility to services exist.”

In December, the council hosted a town hall event addressing rising rent costs in the city, with a capacity crowd packing the Schenectady Boys & Girls Club for the meeting. The council has not subsequently presented comprehensive legislation to address the housing issue.

“Though we haven’t had a tragedy like that happen here, we have experienced some recent tragedies and we really need to make sure that we’re creating the conditions where those things are less likely to occur,” Farley said of the Nashville shooting. “I feel like that is one of our strongest obligations and this is just another compelling reason as a city that we get involved.”

Farley is currently facing a potential investigation from the Schenectady City Board of Ethics related to his consulting contracts with the Schenectady City School District and unpaid state income taxes.

Councilman John Polimeni filed a complaint with the Ethics Board on March 9 regarding Farley. The board, which currently consists of three members, must be expanded to at least five members to form a quorum before a potential investigation.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said on Monday that he expects to present candidates for the Ethics Board for council consideration in time for its next meeting.

“The process is that I submit the names to council for confirmation,” McCarthy said. “I anticipate having the names ready for next Monday [April 3] night for the council committee cycle to submit it to them.”

Following Monday evening’s meeting City Council President Marion Porterfield said she supported the idea of addressing mental health concerns in the community either through a town hall meeting or other avenues.

“I’m not sure what the exact venue would be, but I think we should really do something,” she said. “I think we should really have some serious discussion and I would probably defer to those who work in the mental health field within our county to help us decide how to best approach this.”

Contact Ted Remsnyder at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @TedRemsnyder.

Categories: News, News, Schenectady, Schenectady County

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