Thane issues warning on contract signing

At last night’s common council meeting, council members voted 4-1 (with 2nd Ward Alderwoman Valerie Beekman casting the lone no vote) to override Mayor Ann Thane’s veto of a resolution authorizing 4th Ward Alderwoman and Deputy Mayor Diane Hatzenbuhler to sign a contract for golf pro Joe Merendo if the mayor refuses.

Before the vote, Thane referred to a letter from her attorney Paul J. Goldman of Goldman Attorneys PLLC of Albany which was delivered to council members earlier in the day.

Thane said to the Hatzenbuhler, “If you attempt to sign the lease agreement, it is an illegal act and you open yourself up to legal action. And I would caution that we are having a meeting with the golf pro later this week, so I would not be precipitous in your actions.”

The letter from Goldman advised that the common council could not “circumvent the Mayor’s express statutory authority to negotiate and approve a contract” for Merendo.

The letter went on to say:

Quite simply, the Common Council has no power to independently negotiate or enter into a contract on behalf of the City of Amsterdam without the express approval of the Mayor. The subject contract states that the Common Council seeks to lease property at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course, specifically the Pro Shop and storage sheds. The Common Council had no power to negotiate any contract with Mr. Merendo and the Mayor’s approval is specifically required for such lease or use of the City’s real property under GCL §23(2)(b). The veto by the Mayor cannot be undone by further action of the Common Council in violation of GCL §23(2)(b). Accordingly, the current attempt, and any future attempts, of the Common Council to override the Mayor’s veto constitute illegal and ultra vires actions. Therefore, the execution and delivery of the subject agreement by the Deputy Mayor is a nullity. Please take this letter as notice that the Mayor will exercise those statutory powers expressly reserved to the Mayor under both the Charter and applicable law.

When asked by 1st Ward Alderman Ed Russo if the mayor made use of city funds allowed for under the budget in order to obtain the opinion, Thane said yes and countered that she is trying to save the taxpayers money.

Members of the common council have contended that the signing of the contract constitutes a “ministerial duty” of the mayor and that any city official could be authorized to sign it. Members have cited the legal advisement of former corporation council Robert Going as the basis for their actions.

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6 Responses to Thane issues warning on contract signing

  1. Avatarrogo says:

    I guess the court battle is coming after I assume, the council (just as mayor did) uses taxpayer money and hires their own attorney. Where is the accountability about this? The mayor talks about accountability, may I say the golf course is accountable as it has its own budget, with its own expenses and revenues. Can shuttleworth say the same or is it paid with taxpayer dollars

    • AvatarRob Millan says:

      There is a line item in the budget specifically for this service. And it obviously was approved by the Common Council. The aldermen may also draw from the same line item for the same reasons if they need to.

      • Avatarrogo says:

        I think we may actually agree on something.

      • AvatarRob Millan says:

        Thanks, but I don’t think there’s anything to ‘agree’ on here; it is a matter of fact that there is a line item from which funds for this purpose can be drawn.

        What I don’t agree with, however, is that people only take issue when the mayor or corporation counsel draw from that line, but no issue when the Common Council do it for the same reasons.

  2. AvatarMichael says:

    The council can use Jerry Now…Great!

  3. AvatarHenry says:

    After moving to the area just a couple of years ago and going to the golf course for the first time and meeting Mr. Merendo . All I can say is he made both my wife and myself feel very welcome. Taking the time to not only explain the course layout but also attempting to get to knows us as well. After playing there the first season as guests we decided to join as members last year mostly because of the treatment of Mr. Merendo. On one particular occasion; he actually called our house on a Saturday morning to see if we were planning on playing that day so he could save a golf cart for us because of a tournament that was being played and the lack of available carts. This in my opinion is rare treatment these days. One final comment I have is that should Mr. Merendo not be returning to the course neither will we. There are other option in the area.