SCHENECTADY — A pair of Schenectady City Council requests for state home rule legislation were never sent by the city clerk’s office to state representatives, with the measures unlikely to be approved by the council this year.
During the council’s Monday night meeting, City Councilman John Polimeni noted that a resolution passed by the board on Aug. 1 to request that the state pass home rule legislation allowing the city to install speed cameras and red light cameras to monitor traffic in the city was never sent to state reps.
Councilman Carl Williams and Polimeni recently followed up with state legislators to learn about the status of the traffic camera legislation and were informed that the documents were never received by state representatives from the city.
“The resolution was passed in August and it should have been sent to our state legislators at that time,” he said during the meeting. “Nothing was ever sent and no one knew. I got wind of it maybe two weeks ago and reached out to our legislators and none of them had received it.”
During Monday’s meeting, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy asked City Clerk Samanta Mykoo about the status of a home rule legislation request passed by the council on April 10 asking the state to require landlords to comply with the city’s rental certificate program before they could seek to evict tenants.
Mykoo replied that she would have to look into it.
McCarthy said on Thursday that he had not been provided any new information on the matter.
“I have not had any update on whether or not that’s been filed with the state in an appropriate manner or not,” he said.
Under the established process, a home rule legislation request passed by the council will be sent to the state legislature, with a bill introduced in the senate and the assembly and then sent back to the local municipality for approval.
City Council President Marion Porterfield said on Thursday that the home rule legislation requests would be dispatched to the state.
“They absolutely are being sent out,” she said. “The council member [Polimeni] presented it as if it’s been languishing, but this was just brought to our attention that it hadn’t gone out. Action was taken almost immediately.”
Polimeni said the two pieces of legislation are unlikely to be considered by state officials in time to be enacted by the city this year.
“It’s a level of incompetent that’s just remarkable,” he said following Monday’s meeting. “We have two very important pieces of legislation passed by this body that aren’t going to be considered by our state legislators and Ms. Porterfield and Ms. Mykoo are to blame.”
A letter signed by Polimeni, Williams and Councilwomen Doreen Ditoro and Carmel Patrick was prepared for the board’s May 15 committee meetings in order to be sent to state legislators asking for home rule legislation for the traffic cameras, but Porterfield noted that city correspondence must be funneled through the clerk’s office.
“If we’re moving forward and doing a letter it should come through the clerk’s office,” she said during Monday’s meeting. “Neither the clerk or our Corporation Counsel [Andrew Koldin] had any knowledge of that before we got to that meeting, so there are guidelines we need to go by and any legislation that goes through this council should be captured and recorded by the clerk’s office.”
Patrick said following Monday’s meeting that the delay in dispatching the home rule requests was unexpected.
“We wanted that so that we can move forward with the traffic violations and with the eviction legislation,” she said. “We can’t do this unless we go through the proper channel to get the paperwork back to the state that they asked for. So it just should have been done and it wasn’t and here we’ve been sitting here all of this time waiting to be able to move forward and now we’re going to be held out on that. It’s very frustrating.”
In the aftermath of Monday’s meeting, Republican mayoral candidate Matt Nelligan criticized McCarthy and the council.
“While Polemini wanted to blame the City Clerk [Mykoo] and to a lesser extent the Council President [Porterfield], the reality is that this situation demonstrates that the mayor and the council simply aren’t up to the job the people elected them to do,” he said. “If a resolution was passed a year ago, and no one had heard of or seen a bill draft, wouldn’t you think someone would have raised the issue again? I am a strong supporter of red light and speed cameras to make our city safer.”
Contact Ted Remsnyder at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @TedRemsnyder.