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What you need to know for 07/27/2017

Tempers high at Schenectady City Council meeting

Tempers high at Schenectady City Council meeting

Insults flew fast at Monday evening’s City Council meeting as members argued over how to spend feder

Insults flew fast at Monday evening’s City Council meeting as members argued over how to spend federal grants.

City Councilman Ed Kosiur was called a “political hack” who was talking “nonsense.”

Councilman Vince Riggi was accused of “sitting silent” during last week’s discussion of how to divvy up the Community Development Block Grant.

Councilman Carl Erikson was taken to task for describing why the Habitat for Humanity director was dismissed last week.

It made for a highly charged meeting, but little of substance was discussed.

The council had to decide how to spend $3.3 million in federal funds, known as the Consolidated Plan. Last week, council members carved out a shaky compromise in which about $60,000 would be redistributed — from the Minority Contractors Training Assistance Program and Habitat — and given to Hamilton Hill Arts Center, Schenectady Neighborhood Assistance Program and a security deposit program to prevent homelessness.

Those details went largely unmentioned this week, with council members focusing on why Habitat was valuable while mostly arguing with one another.

It started when Kosiur took two of his colleagues to task.

He first aimed at Riggi, saying he should have spoken up during last week’s discussion of the topic.

Riggi responded by saying he couldn’t listen to any more “political hack nonsense.”

He also accused the Democrats of having an “illegal meeting” to secretly discuss the spending plan.

The six Democrats on the council met privately in what is legally called a “caucus” meeting. In practice, since they hold a significant majority on the council, debate and compromise occurs during those caucus meetings rather than in public.

Riggi also accused Kosiur of a conflict of interest because he signed one of the applications being funded by federal grants.

Kosiur said he’d applied before becoming a council member and that the application was recently changed. Now, DSS Commissioner Dennis Packard is the applicant, he said.

Years ago, when Councilwoman Barbara Blanchard won election after signing an application for Jay Street to become a historic district, she was not allowed to vote on the issue because of her signature on the application.

Kosiur said he’d been assured by legal staff that he could vote.

Next, he took on Erikson, who had described briefly what he believed to be the reason the Habitat for Humanity director was dismissed last week.

Kosiur said Erikson could not “accuse” the former director of anything.

Erikson tried to shout over him. When he later was given the mic, he explained he’d gotten the information from a Habitat board member who called him directly.

The council eventually voted 4-3 in favor of the spending plan. Voting against were Erikson, Riggi and Councilman John Mootooveren.

The council also voted unanimously in favor of a moratorium on convenience stores. The moratorium is expected to last four months and would conclude when the council approves restrictions or regulations for new stores. The council passed the measure without any discussion.

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