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Sunday, May 19, 2024

McCarthy urged by League of Women Voters to nominate police review board candidate


SCHENECTADY — The League of Women ⁣Voters is urging Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy to ⁣take ⁣action on its nominee ‍for the city’s Civilian Police Review Board, a nomination ​that has⁣ been in limbo for the past six months.

The review board, composed of‍ nine members, includes one⁤ mayoral appointee and one city council selection, with the remaining members chosen by various community organizations. The League of Women Voters is one of seven community⁣ groups that each⁢ nominate a member to ⁣the board, which ‌is tasked ​with reviewing complaints against the city police department.

At the ‌City Council’s Monday night meeting, Ann⁢ Hatke, ‍President of‌ the⁤ League of Women Voters of Schenectady County,⁣ informed the council that the group had put forward the nomination ⁤of William Nechamen to Mayor⁤ McCarthy’s office in October. However, the mayor has ⁣yet ‌to⁤ forward the ‌nominee to the City Council for approval.

The⁤ League‍ of Women Voters board representative, Julia Holcomb, ⁣saw ⁢her two-year⁣ term expire in June. Despite this, Holcomb has agreed to​ remain ⁤on ‌the panel until a‍ successor is confirmed.

“We are eager to see our ⁢nominee appointed without further‌ delay,” Hatke addressed the board. “We take this ⁤matter very seriously. This is a crucial⁢ role in the⁤ community⁤ and we have selected our nominee with ‍great care.”

Nechamen submitted his resume to ​the mayor’s ⁣office in November upon the city’s request, but has not ⁢received any communication since then.

“The mayor has not forwarded my nomination to the council for approval, without providing any explanation to me ‌or⁣ the council,” Nechamen shared with the board during‌ Monday’s meeting.

Hatke ⁢mentioned that the ⁢organization had not previously encountered⁣ problems with getting nominees ⁤seated on the review ⁤board.

“This situation has been ongoing for several months, and‌ when‌ a seat remains vacant, the ⁤review ⁣board ​often struggles to reach quorum,” she stated ‍on Tuesday. “We’re trying to prevent that from happening and we⁤ also believe that​ this‍ is a very important ​role in the⁢ community and we have a dedicated seat on that board. It seems⁣ highly unprofessional to let ⁤this⁣ drag on⁢ for so‍ long.”

On March 25, the City Council ⁣implemented⁤ changes to the police review board nomination process, reducing the timeframe from 60 to 30 days for groups to submit their nominees to the mayor.

On Tuesday, McCarthy ⁤stated ‌that he is waiting for the League of Women Voters to provide a second potential nominee ⁢for the post.

“Groups ‍are expected to send me ‌two names for review and final decision,” he said. “So, they’re not complying when they’re only sending me one name. We just made changes to the entire nomination ⁢process, so that’s now in effect.”

According to the city code, ‌when a​ vacancy arises on the board,⁤ the community organization with an ​open seat must⁢ send the mayor “one or⁣ more names” for consideration.​ The mayor then appoints the nominees and the City Council confirms the selection.

The⁢ recent​ changes​ to the ⁢review board nomination process allow​ the mayor to select⁣ a ⁣member of ⁢the general public, representing ‌no specific organization, to ⁤the board if the nominating organization fails‌ to provide the mayor with a recommendation⁣ for‍ an appointee.

On Tuesday, Hatke stated that⁣ the organization had submitted an alternate⁣ nominee along with Nechamen’s candidacy last fall.

“Basically, we⁢ haven’t heard anything since ⁣then,” she said.‌ “I’ve been in touch with⁣ the mayor’s office⁤ and we’ve ⁢reached out to members‌ of the Civilian Police Review Board and we’ve exhausted all options in⁤ terms of‍ who we ​can ask about when we’re going to get a ⁣response⁤ on this.”

Nechamen, a resident of‌ Schenectady ⁣for 35 years who ⁢has not previously served on‌ any city ⁣boards, confirmed on Tuesday that he ⁤is⁣ still interested in serving on the review panel.

“The mayor does ⁢not have‌ discretion in this matter,” Nechamen stated. “This is not the mayor’s body, nor is it the council’s body.”

Nechamen was employed by the New York State Department of ⁤Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) from 1996 until 2017.

Following ​Monday’s meeting, City Council⁢ President Marion Porterfield ⁣revealed ‌that she had spoken with McCarthy⁤ in the past month regarding the League’s vacancy on the review board.

“I’ve discussed it with the ‌mayor and he said that ⁢he has his ‌reasons and he said ⁢he would speak directly with the​ League of Women⁤ Voters,” ‍Porterfield said.

Hatke explained that the time gap between the expiration ⁤of Holcomb’s term in June‌ and the group’s nomination in October was spent identifying the right candidate for⁣ the position.

“It’s quite challenging to find ‍someone who’s willing to take ‌on such ‍a‍ responsible position,” Hatke said.

Councilman Carl Williams, a former member of the police review board who led efforts to streamline the nomination process, expressed that the League‍ of Women Voters deserves a response regarding the ‍delayed nomination.

“I ​believe transparency is crucial ‍and I think they’re simply seeking clarification on some of⁤ the reasons behind their nomination not being ⁢presented to the council,” Williams said​ on Wednesday. “From my perspective, it’s ⁤definitely a positive⁣ to have individuals who are actively engaged and eager to become members⁤ of the review board. So, ⁤if⁣ the mayor has ‌any reservations, I think it⁤ would be more than appropriate​ to communicate ‍those to the respective organizations.”

Kiara Thomas
Kiara Thomas
I uncover quirky and compelling stories. Always on the lookout for the 'why' behind the 'what'.
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  1. I agree with the League of Women Voters’ recommendation for McCarthy to nominate a police review board candidate. It’s important to have diverse and unbiased perspectives in these roles to ensure accountability and transparency in law enforcement.

  2. Agree – It’s crucial for McCarthy to prioritize nominating a qualified candidate for the police review board to uphold accountability and fairness in law enforcement.


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