Clifton Park City Council votes against resolution to hire hearings officer – The Daily Gazette
CLIFTON PARK–Less than a month after Clifton Park City Council hired an outside lawyer to investigate what some council members described as “a toxic atmosphere” and the alleged mistreatment of employees inside At City Hall, those same council members on Monday rejected a resolution that would have appointed a different hearing officer to review disciplinary action taken against a city employee.
The same three board members – Amy Standaert, Lynda Walowit and Amy Flood – who voted against Monday’s resolution to appoint the hearing officer voted May 16 to hire an outside attorney to investigate the location. of allegedly hostile work of the town hall.
Monday’s resolution said the hearing officer – pursuant to Section 75 of the Civil Service – would have reviewed a notice of discipline that City of Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett served on an employee of the city on April 27. This discipline was the result of alleged incompetence resulting from negligence of professional duties.
The resolution also says the employee, through an attorney, notified the city on May 5 that he was requesting a disciplinary hearing.
Barrett and Councilman Anthony Morelli voted to appoint the hearing manager after voting against the May 16 resolution to hire outside counsel to examine the city’s allegedly troubling work environment.
Before the board hired an outside attorney last month, a city employee filed a complaint with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office alleging Supervisor Phil Barrett got hold of an employee.
No city official confirmed Monday whether the April 27 disciplinary action cited in the hearing officer’s resolution involved the same employee who filed the complaint with the sheriff’s office.
But after the May 16 meeting, Barrett said, “A report was filed referring to some sort of physical altercation. This followed a very serious adverse personal action that occurred. I had taken a very serious personal action against an employee, and apparently this is what followed.
A separate disciplinary notice would have been administered on May 3, Standaert said at Monday’s meeting. But notice of that action was not mentioned in Monday’s hearing officer’s resolution, which is part of why Standaert said she doesn’t support the measure.
“This omission is of great concern to me,” Standaert said. “My concern is that we need more information to move forward, hence the need for an independent investigation.”
City Attorney Thomas McCarthy said the board could deal with the April 27 disciplinary action and determine how to continue handling the May complaint later.
“After this matter is resolved, the board will be in a better position to know how to proceed with the second one,” McCarthy said.
Monday’s resolution would have hired Carolyn B. George of Cooper Erving to conduct a full hearing into the April 27 disciplinary charges, to establish a case and to make recommendations to the board on how to proceed.
The hourly rate would have been $250, according to McCarthy.
The May 16 resolution hired Hilary Moreira, of Bond, Schoeneck & King Attorneys, based in Garden City, New York. Moreira’s current hourly rate is $335, according to a letter Moreira wrote to city council that was included in the May resolution. The company’s hourly rate can range from $185 to $495, depending on the letter.
The board met virtually with Bond, Schoeneck & King in an executive session on Monday, prompting Morelli to leave the executive session early, alleging the virtual meeting was improperly organized by the three board members. administration who voted to hire the company.
“Do they work for three people on this council, or do they work with the whole city council?” Morelli said once the open session resumed.
Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Clifton Park and Halfmoon, News, Saratoga County