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What you need to know for 08/23/2017

Vacant Schenectady ethics board puts decision on hold for home rehab grant

Vacant Schenectady ethics board puts decision on hold for home rehab grant

A home-improvement grant that has been languishing for nearly two years because Schenectady does not

A home-improvement grant that has been languishing for nearly two years because Schenectady does not have an ethics board may soon finally be considered.

The ethics board needs to rule on whether Councilwoman Marion Porterfield’s mother can have a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant. The only problem: no one has been appointed to sit on the board.

After much delay, the board may finally be filled later this month.

The grant is in question because Porterfield is on the council that approves the grants, and lives in the home in question.

The situation began in 2011, when Diana Fletcher applied for a grant for up to $60,000 in work on her Strong Street house. The HUD grant is administered by the Community Land Trust and is only available to low and moderate-income homeowners with a significant need.

The City Council approved the HUD grant. But because of the connection to Porterfield, it has not been paid out.

Porterfield said she was barred from speaking on the issue — or even pushing for the formation of the ethics board — because the case involved her mother.

But Councilman Vince Riggi has questioned the delay, arguing that the ethics board should be put into place quickly so that it can make a decision on the case.

For months, the mayor and the council president disagreed on who was responsible for setting up the ethics board.

Mayor Gary McCarthy said it was up to the council to appoint members. Council President Denise Brucker said she was waiting for the mayor to make appointments. According to the legislation, either side can propose appointments to the board.

Finally, new Council President Margaret King is taking action.

She said she will present appointment candidates to the council in two weeks.

McCarthy said the delay was over one candidate. He and Brucker agreed on four, but could not find a fifth. He wanted a clergy member, but the people suggested did not live in the city.

“We haven’t had any disagreements, it’s really just getting the last member,” he said.

King told him she would make phone calls and find a fifth member immediately, resolving the solution.

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