The Amsterdam Common Council voted unanimously Tuesday to rescind a previous resolution which authorized 4th Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler to sign a contract for golf pro Joe Merendo if Mayor Ann Thane refused to do so. Hatzenbuhler read a statement explaining the action as it related to a lawsuit filed last Thursday by Thane in Montgomery County Supreme Court.
In regards to the reasons for rescinding the previous resolution, she said:
I believe we should reduce the issues and get to the fundamental question – who has the right to award a municipal contract for professional golf services in the city of Amsterdam. Therefore we propose that the council rescind a recent resolution which escalated the conflict by designating someone other than the mayor to sign the contract. The disagreement about whether another person can be authorized to sign a contract just clouds and obscures the central issue which is whether the mayor should sign what the council has awarded.
In regards to a proposed amendment to the city code regarding the Golf Commission:
I also recommend the council should not pass at this time a proposed amendment to the golf commission ordinance since a disagreement about the power to enact or the consequence of it’s passage also obscures the central question of whether it is the council or the mayor who has the power to award a contract for professional golf services.
She also stated a desire to keep the amount of time involved with the proceeding to a minimum so that the actions cost the taxpayers as little as possible.
The proposed changes to the golf commission are temporarily blocked by a restraining order as requested by Thane’s lawsuit which was granted by Judge Joseph M. Sise.
Earlier in the meeting, the council voted on a resolution to use city funds to hire attorney Michael Brockbank to represent the common council in the lawsuit. Thane had previously stated she would use funds already allocated in the budget specifically for outside counsel to hire attorney Paul J. Goldman.
After the meeting, Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis reiterated his stance that as the city’s attorney, he could not represent either the mayor or common council in a dispute between them.
A resolution sponsored by Hatzenbuhler that appeared on an earlier version of the agenda which would have denied payment to the mayor’s attorney was left off the meeting’s final agenda.
The first court appearance related to the case is scheduled for Thursday morning.