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June 27, 2021 - 11:44am

City manager drafts letter from Council asking New York State lawmakers to 'revisit' bail reform laws

posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, New York State Legislature.

Pending the expected approval by her colleagues Monday night, Batavia City Council Member Rose Mary Christian will get her wish: A letter to New York State legislative leaders asking them to “revisit” the bail reform laws currently on the books.

At Council’s previous meeting on June 14, Christian expressed – in no uncertain terms – her dismay with recent legislation that limits the use of cash bail and pretrial detention.

“This law harms police, public safety and it’s up to the judges to eliminate these laws,” Christian said at the time. “These laws need to be changed and revised. I’m asking us to send a letter to the governor, state legislators and the judges to repeal this law.”

She was supported by Police Chief Shawn Heubusch and, after some discussion, by the other Council members, who came to a consensus to have City Manager Rachael Tabelski draft a letter to send to representatives in Albany.

Tabelski did just that, and presentation of the letter to Council is on tomorrow’s agenda of the Conference Meeting at 7 p.m. at City Centre Council Chambers. A Special Business Meeting will follow.

The letter from all nine Council members, addressed to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate President Pro Tempore and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples Stokes, reads as follows:

“On behalf of the City of Batavia, we are very concerned about the recent impacts of bail reforms passed by the New York State Legislature. While well intentioned, these reforms are having serious consequences regarding public safety across New York State, including smaller urban areas such as Batavia. In fact, criminal elements from both Rochester and Buffalo have an even more visible presence in Batavia.

“If criminals know there are no consequences for their actions because they will be right back out on the street, then it is only logical that crime is going to increase. That is what is occurring across New York, including Batavia.

“We commend the Legislature’s efforts to roll back some of the original reforms that were passed last year, such as allowing judges to set bail for more criminal charges that had eliminated bail. We respectfully request that the Legislature consider adding more crimes in which judges have discretion to set bail, including restoring bail for any crime involving a gun.

“At the end of the day, judges should be able to determine whether a violent criminal poses a dangerous threat to the community and can be held without bail.

“As representatives of the residents and taxpayers of the City of Batavia, we respectfully request that in your significant role in leadership in the New York State Assembly (and Senate), that bail reform be revisited by the New York State Legislature in due haste.”

Copies are to be sent to Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, Senator Edward Rath, Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay and Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt.

Also on the Conference Meeting agenda:

Tabelski will be forwarding a resolution to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to help fund an estimated $1.36 million project to replace 4- and 6-inch water lines on Jackson Street with 2,250 linear feet of 8-inch water main.

In a memo dated June 21, Tabelski wrote that work would entail replacing a 4-inch line from Ellicott to South Jackson on the western side of Jackson Street and a 6-inch line under the sidewalk between Watson and South Jackson on the west side of the road. A 6-inch line also runs from Central Avenue to Ellicott Street.

She wrote that the commercial section of Jackson, north of Ellicott, will be a separate project.

The project will include 58 service connections, 10 interconnections, installation of six fire hydrants and new valves at each interconnection plus two 8-inch line valves. It also will address elimination of lead water services if encountered, and set the stage for application of another grant for road rehabilitation, she wrote.

If approved, a public hearing will be scheduled for 7 p.m. July 12.

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