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Eidens to return as Schenectady public safety commissioner on part-time basis

Eidens to return as Schenectady public safety commissioner on part-time basis

Eidens to return as Schenectady public safety commissioner on part-time basis
City of Schenectady Public Safety Commissioner Michael C. Eidens takes the oath of office in City Hall in Oct. 2017.
Photographer: Marc Schultz/Gazette Photographer

SCHENECTADY — Public Safety Commissioner Michael Eidens will return to his old job — but on a part-time basis.

“He’s going to handle the exclusive role of discipline,” said Mayor Gary McCarthy, which he said has been a “historical problem” at the Schenectady Police Department.

“Part of his job is managing that,” McCarthy said.

But, according to McCarthy, Eidens will continue to formally oversee all three departments under the commissioner's oversight: police, fire and codes.

The commissioner’s return marks an about-face for Eidens, who abruptly announced his resignation on April 2 after just 16 months on the job without giving a specific reason.

“He was looking just to transition his life,” McCarthy said at the time.

Asked about rumors about a rift between the two men over codes enforcement, McCarthy said, “We have a lot of projects in the city and lots of enthusiasm and energy, and the workforce sometimes reflects that enthusiasm and energy."

Attempts to reach Eidens on Monday were unsuccessful.

The full-time job pays $130,002 annually. Eidens' revised salary will be $40,000, McCarthy said.

Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo said Eidens would be a “good person” to return to the job, but questioned the abrupt nature of his departure last month.

Councilman Vince Riggi said the mayor's muted announcement leaves several unanswered questions. 

“It sounds pretty vague," Riggi said. "What are his duties going to be? In what capacity will he be serving the city of Schenectady?”

McCarthy said he hasn’t decided if another person will be brought on board to fill the remainder of Eidens' workload and how such a scenario would be structured. 

“We will look at hiring someone else," he said. 

Eidens had been on the job until last week, he said, despite announcing his resignation in early-April and desire to use up sick days. 

As public safety commissioner, Eidens headed the Police and Fire departments, as well as the city’s Building Department.

The addition of the Building Department, which followed the 2015 Jay Street fire that killed four people, was made in an effort to improve coordination, McCarthy said, and was designed to fix issues within that department, which oversees code enforcement.

Eidens, a resident of Glenville, has previously served as Schenectady County Court judge, as a judge in Glenville and Scotia and as a prosecutor in the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office.

McCarthy appointed Eidens commissioner after the state’s highest court confirmed the city’s public safety commissioner as having sole discretion over police discipline in the city. The ruling followed the confirmation of Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett, who took over the restored commissioner's role after a spate of police officer discipline issues. 

City Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico said the part-time role is allowable under state law: "It can be one part-time person," Falotico said.

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