Conflict of interest charged in golf commission change discussion

Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler told Alderman Ed Russo that he should rescind himself from voting on a proposed ordinance to restructure the Golf Commission because his daughter, Michelle Russo was chairman of the commission and would present a conflict of interest.

Russo responded to Hatzenbuhler saying she was “out of order.”

The exchange happened during the public hearing section of Tuesday’s Common Council meeting. Previously, Russo said he was voting against the ordinance because he thought it would be better to hold off for a year until the golf pro’s contract was up for renewal again.

Later in the discussion, Michelle Russo, while answering questions as to various golf course operations, said that she did not think there was a conflict of interest and pointed out the past issues of contention between the council and the commission. She said she was willing to listen to “both sides” in any disagreement.

Hatzenbuhler and Alderman Ron Barone argued in favor of the ordinance. Barone said that he felt it was fair that the common council should be able to select five of seven members on the commission, leaving two choices to the mayor. Currently the mayor selects all members.

Mayor Ann Thane said, “I think it’s regrettable that you would consider changing the commission at this time when things are finally settling down, the commission is getting a real handle on things up there.” She said the council should be concentrating on more important things and said the ordinance was “not at all fair” and was simply about taking away authority from the mayor’s office and giving it to the council.

Alderman Richard Leggerio also spoke in favor of waiting a year to revisit the ordinance. When it came time to vote on the ordinance, Barone made a motion to table the measure for further discussion in committee.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.