The city clerk’s office released two veto statements from Mayor Ann Thane yesterday. The vetoes were for two resolutions passed at the last common council meeting on September 15.
The first veto was for a resolution passed unanimously by the council which requested that Police Chief Greg Culick stop allowing the partial closure of Main Street from 10am to 2pm on Saturdays for the Amsterdam Farmers’ Market. The resolution claims that “businesses are being negatively impacted by the partial closure of Main Street on Saturday mornings by the Farmers’ Market.”
In her veto statement, Thane wrote, “This is an anecdotal accounting that has no empirical evidence provided.”
“Direction of staff is an executive function,” wrote Thane. “I will not direct the Chief to disallow this partial closure.”
Thane cited other Capital District cities such as Troy and Schenectady as examples of communities that have closed off streets to entice new pedestrian traffic.
“The Farmers’ Market is welcome to continue until it’s planned conclusion in October,” concluded Thane.
At last week’s meeting, Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler said, “The problem has become you have three businesses that are being impacted by their customers not being able to get to them, for various reasons, because the street is closed.”
When reached for comment last week, the three businesses who are located on the section of Main Street that is closed, and who have hours that significantly overlap the Farmers’ Market, gave varying reactions on the impact the market has had on their businesses. Tony Vellano, president of the Professional Wrestlers Hall of Fame, provided a written statement enthusiastically supporting the market and said that it had resulted in increased traffic and sales. Tammy Bedell, owner of Main Attraction Salon and Spa, said the market had neither helped or hurt her business and said she had no problem with the event. Dan Weaver of the Book Hound gave one example of losing a customer due to the street closure, but also said he had gained a small amount of business due to the event.
Thane’s second veto was on a unanimously adopted resolution transferring $44,564 budgeted for a codes department position to the contingency fund. At last week’s meeting, Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler said the move was designed to postpone the hiring of a codes department employee until next year “to be dealt with by the new administration.” Hatzenbuhler claimed the current candidate for the job lacked adequate experience.
“The individual that they are looking at has no training, he can only do grass and weeds, he has to go through school next year at the city’s expense,” said Hatzenbuhler.
Reached for comment later, Thane said that all city codes officers are required by law to take annual training classes. She said that although her chosen candidate will require certification from NY State as well as some on-the-job training, he would still be able to begin work immediately, taking care of “common complaint issues.”*
“The candidates were interviewed by a small team composed of [City Engineer Rich Miller], [Corporation Counsel Gerard DeCusatis], and myself,” said Thane. “The decision to hire was unanimous. We weighed educational background, experience, and performance during the interview. We were all impressed with the chosen young man and I am confident that he will be a valuable addition to our staff.”
She also added, “per the charter, these are executive decisions and it is improper for the legislative body to second guess this process.”
Thane cited chapter 122 of the city charter as the grounds for her veto.
The Common Council, on recommendation of the Mayor, may authorize the Controller to transfer part or all of any unencumbered appropriation balance to another appropriation budget line; the transfer may be between or within any department or agency provided that no funds may be transferred in violation of any restrictions on use contained in this charter or any other applicable law…
Thane wrote, “As I have not recommended this modification, a resolution approving a modification is not effective to modify a duly adopted budget without my recommendation. I point this out because an override of this veto will not cause this transfer to comply with the City Charter.”
* A previous version of this article did not include “will require certification from NY State”