At last Thursday's City Council meeting the Council voted to override the Mayor's veto of an Ordinance that rescinded pay hikes for eight city officials including the Deputy Mayor, DPW Commissioner and the Corporation Counsel.
After the Council meeting, Deputy Mayor Crawley informed residents that:
"....the eight employees whose salaries were lowered by the City Council will now sue the six-member majority for violating the law."
Crawley noted that council was violating the employees’ civil rights and that they would submit the matter as an Article 78 case to the Rensselaer County Supreme Court next week.
While no one is stating what Civil Rights were violated we suspect this entire thing is racial. All of the Plaintiffs are various shades of Caucasian. It's also rumored that one of the eight employees will not be petitioning the Court for relief.
Crawley states (and based on his legal education and training we have no reason to doubt him) that the action will be an Article 78 proceeding. This is much better than an Article 77 but not quite as good as an Article 79.
In essence, an Article 78* will ask the Court to determine whether the Council had the authority to revoke the ordinance that awarded the raises. Unfortunately, it is not a long, drawn out procedure. Article 78 proceedings do not, typically, include discovery or depositions. It's kind of like going to Wisconsin...you zip in and you zip out.
-The median household income in Troy, NY, according to the latest Census Bureau information is under $30,000.
-The median income of those suing the City Council and taxpayers? We're not sure because math is involved. We do know that public servant Mirch makes $100,000 more than that median household income. The Deputy Mayor makes $50,000 more and the Corporation Counsel will make over $100,000 this year.
- For those interested in the Judge that may get the Article 78, here's the breakdown of case assignments in Rensselaer County (before Judge Stein was appointed to the Appellate Division).
- § C-76. Department of Law.
Duties of Corporation Counsel.
The Corporation Counsel shall act as legal advisor to the City Council and to the Mayor. He/She shall appear for and protect the rights and interests of the City in all actions, suits or proceedings brought by it or against it or against any City officer, department, board or commission in connection with municipal business.....
If Mitchell is a Plaintiff in the action, and we're told he is, he'll have a conflict that prevents him from doing his job. The Council will be able to hire their own legal counsel.
- What if they lose? A lawsuit can sometimes have unintended consequences. Here, if the Plaintiff's lose, they lose more than a few dollars. The Court will have said, in essence, that the Council did have the authority to amend the budget. At any time. Since there's no word yet on whether the action has been filed or served we wonder if the Plaintiff's are reconsidering their course of action.
Next week we'll feature a week-long celebration of the First Amendment.
* Our legal analyst tells us it's more nuanced than that but our description is good enough.