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April 27, 2009 - 7:41pm

Rosemary Christian casts lone vote against Masse Gateway Project funding

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Rosemary Christian, Masse Gateway Project.

Rose Mary Christian.jpgAt tonight's special council meeting, there wasn't too much debate about the three resolutions authorizing the city to apply for RestoreNY funding to spur development of the Masse Gateway Project, but there was tussle over individual council members should be contacting state agencies and possibly subverting the will of the council.

Prior to the vote, council member Rosemary Christian asked a series of questions and made statements that indicated she had been in contact with RestoreNY officials, possibly suggesting the city should not pursue the grant.

Marianne Clattenburg raised a point of order, asking whether it was appropriate for individual council members to contact state agencies about pending council business.

City Attorney George Van Nest said such conduct was inconsistent with City Council rules and the city charter.

When Clattenburg raised an objection to council members making such contact, Christian interrupted and said that she would make such contact if she thought it was necessary.

At that point, City Council President Charlie Mallow handed out a copy the council rules.

"It says council members can't act as individual members," Mallow said.

Council member Kathy Briggs asked a clarifying question: Can a council member ask purely information questions of another agency, without expressing any views? Van Nest said yes.

It's unclear whether Christian contacted RestoreNY on a purely information basis or conveyed information that could run counter to the council vote.

Speaking of the vote, all three resolutions passed with only Christian voting no and Council member Bob Bialkowski abstaining because of a potential conflict of interest.

After the meeting, property owner Tom Mancuso said: "I"m very grateful that the council saw this as a worthwhile project support and now I hope the state will agree."

Previously:

UPDATE: Joanne Beck posted her coverage tonight, as well.

UPDATE: Dan Fischer at WBTA posted a bit of the conflict on audio. Listen here.

Mark Potwora
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Joined: May 14 2008 - 6:42pm
This is someone who has the taxpayers in mind when she looks at a issue..Thank You Rosemary....Why are they so worried that she took the time to call RestoreNY,and get the facts on the issue..Maybe because we might learn what a sham this whole thing is....I'm still waiting on this stimulus to fix our sidewalks and streets.We were told our sewer systems all needed to be replaced and that we would get it done with all this money we were going to get.....Wheres all these jobs the asst city manager claims this is going to create...$450,000 for shovel ready projects...Keep up the good work Rosemary Christian.........
John Roach
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Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am
I don't see where she did anything wrong. Anything she did was done before the Council took its vote. Only now, after the vote, is there a Council decision. Before the vote, she had every right to ask and call anyone she wanted. She did not violate any Charter rule. Chapter 4 of the Charter, section 4.1 states all "administrative" matters will be done soley through the City Manager. This was not an "administrative" matter. It also states no Council member will "deal individually" with the Manager or with any Department Head, "regarding any administrative matter for which the Council as a whole is responsible". She did not contact a Department Head or deal with the Manager. Again, prior to the vote, she did not violate any part of the City Charter. She had every right to do what she did.

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