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Princetown sued over appointments

Princetown sued over appointments

Dispute centers on supervisor appointment procedure

PRINCETOWN -- A state Supreme Court judge is considering the merits of a lawsuit filed last month over the board's appointment of a new town supervisor in December.

The lawsuit was brought against the town by board member Sue Shafer and former town supervisor Michael Joyce. It concerns the Dec. 22 meeting at which then-supervisor Robert Myers resigned and was replaced by Louis Esposito, who had resigned from a seat on the Town Board the day before the meeting.

The lawsuit questions whether Esposito's resignation was properly done, or whether he was still actually a member of the Town Board at the time James Pavoldi was appointed to be his replacement. The letter he filed with the town clerk on Dec. 21 states he resigned as of Dec. 22, the day of the special meeting.

Immediately after Pavoldi was appointed, Myers announced his resignation, handing the letter to the town clerk. Next,  Pavoldi voted with board members Douglas Gray and Thomas LaBelle to appoint Esposito supervisor. If Pavoldi wasn't properly appointed when he voted, the lawsuit argues, then Esposito's appointment was invalid. It also argues that Esposito hadn't properly resigned from the Town Board and was therefore legally prohibited from being appointed supervisor.

"If Pavoldi was not properly appointed, then he would have no vote," said Michael Cuevas, of Schenectady, the attorney representing Shafer and former town Supervisor Michael Joyce.

Shafer voted against both appointments that night. The lawsuit also notes there was no advance public notice of the actions, which took place at a public meeting in Princetown Town Hall.

Shafer and Joyce are on one side of a deep political rift on the Town Board. Esposito and Pavoldi are on the other side of that rift.

Andrew Brick, of Albany, the attorney retained by the Town Board to defend the case, said all actions taken at the meeting were legal. In court papers, he is seeking to have the case dismissed and attorney's costs covered, terming the lawsuit "frivolous."

"In a nutshell, the town's position is that all the positions and procedures were proper as they occurred," Brick said in an interview. "We think the law is clear in the town's favor."

The case is being heard by state Supreme Court Justice Vincent Reilly of Schenectady.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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