City of Poughkeepsie Common Council Files Petition Seeking Third Party Opinion to Clarify Separation of Powers Charter Change, as Adopted by City Of Poughkeepsie Voters, and Confirm Their Authority to Hire/Retain Professional Staff to Assist Them in Their Legislative Responsibilities.
On Monday, November 16, 2020, a Motion to accept an addendum to the retention of professional staff for the Common Council passed with a vote of the Common Council, with 7 votes in favor, 1 opposed (see Figure 1). This expansion of the scope of representation allowed for our contracted firm, Lamb & Barnosky, LLP, to represent the Common Council in a petition to be filed with a neutral third party to determine the disagreement between the Common Council and the Mayor on the Common Council’s authority to hire and/or retain its own professional staff, employees and/or consultants on the issues for which the firm was initially retained according to the September 16, 2020 retainer, as well as to represent the Council in any similar subsequent disagreements, including the filing of any petitions related to same as authorized by the Common Council. Additionally, this addendum allowed for the firm to serve as co-counsel for the Common Council in the matter of the application of Poughkeepsie Waterfront Development, LLC and JM Development Group, LLC.
Council members were briefed on this motion and this matter months in advance in meetings with our lawyers, and specifically on the filing of a petition, an article 78 if need be, against the Mayor to garner a neutral third party opinion to settle the disagreement arising from the Mayor’s veto of our Resolution retaining a consultant to assist in our review and consideration of proposed revisions to the City’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (“LWRP”). In the petition, 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 new Charter, as adopted by the voters and that created this current separation of powers form of government, with our Administrative Code, and within the adopted budget line for that expense.
Before the filing, the Council had made several attempts to reason with the Mayor and his use of veto against the legislature’s ability to best serve their community and to enhance their capacity as a body, to no avail and leaving them no other choice than to settle this disagreement in this manner.