On Thursday the Troy City Council passed new rules for sidewalk memorials. This issue hit the news following the August 2015 shooting of Thaddeus Faison. Faison had shot two police officers before being taken down. Faison's friends set-up a sidewalk memorial, an act that did not sit well with police and many others. The vote was 7-2, with District 2 Councilwoman Robertson and At-Large Councilwoman Sullivan-Teta opposing the new regulations.
The new regulation would allow for the memorials to stand for thirty days, with five days notice before the memorial is removed. Any item of a 'sacramental'* nature will be held for thirty days, allowing the owner to retrieve the item at a later date.
This is certainly not a huge piece of legislation but it was handled well by this Council. They focused on a time limitation that is content-neutral rather than constitutionally suspect speech regulation. A mature, well thought-out action by the Council. They should be commended.
The Troy Police should be commended as well. After the issue arose, the Troy Police Department reached out to some major metropolitan departments to get their advice on the issue (in particular, memorials to those killed in confrontations with the police). The response: do nothing. The cities that deal with street memorials on a more frequent basis than Troy know that time takes care of the issue and removal may only pour oil on a potential fire.
Not a big deal but well handled.
The other, more encouraging news, is that the incoming City Council majority plans on eliminating three Council positions: auditor as well as minority and majority counsel.
We could care less about the auditor position. However, elimination of Council Counsel is overdo. These positions are vestigial leftovers from the previous administration and hopefully no longer necessary.
When former mayor Tutunjian first came in to office his Corporation Council was John Hicks. Hicks also maintained a private practice. One of Hicks' clients was the City of Rensselaer. Hicks was an acceptable Corporation Counsel but when a conflict arose between Troy and Rensselaer Hicks chose his practice and the City of Rensselaer.
Hicks' resignation ushered in the David B. Mitchell era. Mitchell was hostile to the Council minority (at that time Democrats). When the Democrats took control of the Council things became worse. Mitchell acted like the Mayor's counsel rather than the city's council. Things were bad and ultimately, Mitchell even sued the man that had hired him, Mayor Tutunjian. During this time period the Council did need counsel. When Mitchell left, Council Counsel was not really required. The Mitchell years were, hopefully, an aberration. Although only part-time positions, they should not be required.
So look at that. Two positive stories.
We apologize for the flat, uninspired prose. The recent murder of Bill Chamberlain has made much of the petty squabbles and, frankly, non-petty squabbles, seem small. It goes without saying (but we'll say it anyway) that Bill's murder has dampened the season and knocked the wind out of many people. We hope his family can somehow, someday, move beyond this tragedy to whatever extent that is even possible.
* Sacramental items include bit are not limited to crosses, Stars of David and skull bongs.