Poughkeepsie Common Council Seeks Judgement on Separation of Powers Dispute
The City of Poughkeepsie’s Common Council took the first formal step towards resolving once and for all the Mayor’s claim that he has the right to violate the Constitutionally enshrined separation of powers doctrine by telling the Council whether, when and how to carry out its obligations as a co-equal branch of City government.
The Council has asked a Justice of the Supreme Court to confirm that the Mayor had no right to veto the Council’s Resolution retaining a consultant to assist in its review and consideration of proposed revisions to the City’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (“LWRP”). The Council has also asked the Judge to confirm that the Mayor has no authority to veto the Council’s decision to hire others whom the Council believes will provide independent and unbiased assistance in its consideration and enactment of legislation, review of the City budget and fiscal management, and oversight of the management of the City’s government, all consistent with the City’s Charter and Administrative Code, and within the adopted budget line for that expense.
The LWRP is a critical item on the City’s legislative agenda with long-lasting impact upon the City’s waterfront. The current LWRP does not adequately protect the City’s interests in regulating its coastal areas. The Council, which has been excluded from much revised LWRP drafting process, takes very seriously its responsibility to ensure that the new LWRP properly protects the City’s short and long-term interests.
As a result, the Council sought the advice of an independent consultant who could help the Council ensure that the revised LWRP serves its intended purpose. The Mayor’s veto prevented the Council from seeking this advice under the guise of “good governance and fiscal prudence.” Nothing, however, could better reflect “good governance” and “fiscal prudence” than taking an unbiased approach to ensuring the continued vitality and vibrancy of the City’s coastal region, including its last undeveloped parcel of land.
It is unfortunate that the Council had to take this step, but the Mayor’s repeated attempts to prevent the Council from performing its statutory duty have left the Council with no choice but to ask a neutral third party to resolve this dispute.