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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Williams lodges ethics complaint against Polimeni regarding Schenectady residency

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SCHENECTADY — A political storm is brewing in Schenectady as City Councilman Carl Williams filed an ‌ethics complaint against fellow Councilman John Polimeni. Williams alleges that ​Polimeni has⁣ not resided‍ in⁢ Schenectady since purchasing a home in Rotterdam in the spring.

Williams has submitted⁤ a signed​ mortgage deed with⁤ the Homestead Funding⁣ Corp. from the county clerk’s office dated ⁤March 9, wherein Polimeni⁤ pledges to occupy his⁣ newly purchased property at 1029 Gates Drive in ‍Rotterdam within 60 days of the filing, with Polimeni required to use the property as his ‍principal⁤ residence for⁣ at least one year.

“This revelation raises‌ serious‍ questions⁤ about his [Polimeni] eligibility to have served on the city council ‌and to receive a paycheck from the city, potentially constituting⁣ both fraud against the bank ⁢and the citizens he‌ is supposed to represent,” Williams writes⁤ in the ‌complaint.⁢ “It is essential to highlight the gravity ‌of ⁢these allegations, as Councilman Polimeni may be ‍engaged in ‍both‌ unethical and illegal activities by holding a position within the city⁣ council while ⁣not⁣ residing within the city.”

Polimeni chose not to run for ‍a third term ⁤on⁢ the council this fall, with​ Democratic newcomer Joseph Mancini elected ‌to take Polimeni’s seat in November. Polimeni has ⁣one more meeting⁣ with the council on Tuesday before​ Mancini is ​sworn in⁢ on Jan. 1.

Williams said on Friday night that when he received the information regarding Polimeni’s residency that he determined that ⁤it plainly outlined that Polimeni’s primary⁤ residence is⁢ no longer in ⁢Schenectady.

“It was alarming to the point ‌that I felt the need to ‌respond, regardless of the timeline in which I received it,” Williams said. “I was presented with the choice of whether to proceed with it‌ or not and I ⁣think given⁣ the fact that John Polimeni has been receiving a salary ‍to ⁤function in this role, but also the⁣ manner that he’s been‌ advocating for certain positions in⁤ the⁢ city, I think it’s important for‍ us to uphold‌ the⁢ elements⁤ of our ‌city code.”

Polimeni also⁣ owns property ⁤at 2019 Guilderland Ave. that⁢ he contends continues to ​be his primary​ residence.

Polimeni said on Friday‍ that his Guilderland Avenue home is still his primary ⁣residence,‌ and dismissed the mortgage evidence ⁤that Williams provided to the city clerk.

“Honestly, it’s legal paperwork and ‌it is what‌ it​ is,” Polimeni said of the mortgage deed. “My legal residence is Guilderland Avenue.”

Polimeni purchased⁤ the single-family residence ​at 1029 Gates Drive in Rotterdam on Feb. 13 for ⁢$370,000,⁣ according to ⁤county property records.

The same day⁢ that Polimeni filed ‍the ‌mortgage paperwork with the​ county clerk, he also filed an ethics complaint⁣ with the ⁢city against Councilman ⁢Damonni Farley requesting the ethics board investigate Farley’s consulting contracts with the Schenectady City ⁤School District ⁤and unpaid state income taxes.

The ‍ethics board subsequently cleared Farley⁢ of the conflict of interest charges ‌made in Polimeni’s complaint.

There⁢ is an⁤ outstanding⁣ ethics complaint against ‌Farley in front of the board‍ made by Schenectady Police⁤ Department Lt. Mike Dalton,‍ who contends ⁤that Farley used his office to pressure him while calling the ⁣officer to resolve a towed car belonging to a friend.

Polimeni said ⁢on Friday night that Williams’ ethics ‍complaint was political retribution for his own Farley⁤ complaint from ⁢earlier in the year.

“It’s political payback,” Polimeni⁣ said. “No one should ever question ⁣my commitment to the City of Schenectady.”

Polimeni, who is set to‌ leave‍ office at the end of the year, questioned the timing⁤ of Williams’ ethics complaint.

“Obviously they’re very worried or scared about ⁤something,” Polimeni⁣ said.⁤ “I don’t know what that is, that’s for them to determine. There’s a ⁤few days left [in my term], so it’s silly.”

Williams’ complaint contends that Polimeni should be held liable for any city paychecks received during the timeframe that he was allegedly not residing within the city.

“I’m not on the​ ethics board, but I think for myself, ​if you’re not ‌able to fulfill​ or‍ uphold‍ a certain ⁣seat, you should be responsible for returning any funds given to ‌you to⁢ conduct ⁤those​ services,” Williams said on Friday.

The ⁣council members receive an annual stipend⁤ of $14,100 to serve on the board, a salary⁤ that the board has increased to $16,356⁣ in the ‌2024 budget.

City Council President Marion‍ Porterfield ‍raised the issue of⁤ Polimeni’s residence ​during a November budget meeting, ​with Polimeni ⁣responding that he is in ⁣fact a⁤ resident of Schenectady.

The city council concluded its bruising three-month 2024 budget process⁣ on Thursday, with‌ Mayor ⁢Gary ‍McCarthy signing the council’s third approved plan of the budget cycle.

Polimeni voted against all three council ⁣budgets, with the final plan passing by‍ a slim 4-3 margin.

Williams said on Friday⁤ that if⁤ Polimeni was not residing in Schenectady since March that he should not have been participating in the budget process.

“If John Polimeni is no⁢ longer⁣ a ​resident of the City of Schenectady,” Williams said, “there’s ‌no reason for him ​to be included in a budget for ‌a city that ⁤he’s no ⁣longer a member⁢ of.”

Polimeni said on Friday that if the Schenectady⁤ Board⁣ of​ Ethics takes up ⁢Williams’ complaint, that he would be willing​ to testify in front⁣ of the⁣ ethics panel ⁤if⁢ requested.

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Rafael Torres
Rafael Torres
Rafael Torres, a native of Schenectady, has returned to his hometown after several years of reporting in the Midwest. A graduate of Missouri School of Journalism, Alex is known for his empathetic approach to local news, covering everything from community events to local governance, always with an aim to bridge diverse perspectives.
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