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Saturday, April 13, 2024

City Council Halts Nomination for Schenectady Ethics Board


SCHENECTADY — The city council’s recent meeting saw a surprising turn of events when the proposed appointment of Christopher Marney, former Deputy Corporation Counsel of Schenectady, to the city’s ethics board was stalled. The council chose not to vote on his nomination, leaving the matter unresolved.

Marion Porterfield, the Council President, put forward Marney’s name for consideration during the Government Operations Committee meeting on Feb. 5. The committee then forwarded the nomination to the full council for a vote on Monday evening.

During the council meeting, Councilwoman Doreen Ditoro proposed a roll call vote on the resolution to appoint Marney to the ethics board, aiming to record her planned vote against the measure. The rest of the night’s consent agenda moved forward without the council voting on each individual resolution. However, when it came to the Marney resolution, no other council member supported Ditoro’s motion for a roll call vote.

Mayor Gary McCarthy of Schenectady clarified on Tuesday that since no vote was held on the resolution, the appointment did not progress.

“The resolution was not included in the consent agenda, hence it was not acted upon,” he explained.

Porterfield, on Wednesday, expressed her initial belief that since Ditoro’s motion for a roll call vote had failed, the Marney resolution was part of the consent agenda and had been approved by the council.

She mentioned the possibility of reintroducing the resolution to appoint Marney to the ethics board at the next council meeting on Feb. 26.

“Absolutely,” she affirmed when asked about the prospect of renominating Marney.

However, McCarthy indicated on Tuesday that he would likely veto the measure if the council passes a resolution appointing Marney to the ethics board.

“We’re not quite at that point, but I would articulate some clear and forceful reasons,” McCarthy said of a prospective veto.

Marney left the city’s corporation counsel office at the end of 2023 along with former Corporation Counsel Andrew Koldin. This was part of a staff changeover that saw McCarthy replace Koldin with new Corporation Counsel Maxine Barasch.

Despite the potential veto, Porterfield expressed her belief that Marney, currently an attorney with Brick Law Firm in Albany, would be a valuable addition to the ethics board, especially given the current absence of chair Fr. Dominic Isopo, who is recovering from knee surgery.

“He’s an attorney and he’s familiar with the city, so he would make a good fit,” Porterfield said.

However, Ditoro stated that she would oppose Marney’s nomination if it comes before the council again.

“The application was put in by one individual member [Porterfield] of the City Council and no one else was asked about it prior to the application being submitted,” Ditoro said on Tuesday, of the original nomination. “Secondly, Mr. Marney was a former assistant corporation counsel and he was working [for the city] when the ethics complaints were put in against these council members and I don’t want there to be any type of conflict.”

The ethics board is currently set to examine a complaint filed in December by City Councilman Carl Williams against former council member John Polimeni alleging that Polimeni resided in Rotterdam during his last nine months on the council.

The ethics board ruled in January that City Councilman Damonni Farley did not abuse the power of his office during a pair of September phone calls with a county dispatcher and Schenectady Police Lt. Mike Dalton in which Farley sought the return of a towed vehicle belonging to a friend.

The complaint against Farley was brought by Schenectady Republican Party Chair Tom Kennedy and was later adopted by Dalton, who himself is a member of the ethics board.

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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  1. Disagree with the City Council’s decision. The Ethics Board nomination should be allowed to proceed for the betterment of Schenectady.

  2. Disagree. City Council made a shortsighted decision that hinders progress towards a more ethical Schenectady. #LetTheNominationProceed


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