Thursday, August 28, 2008


The Mayor has negotiated a contract with the Kingston Police Benevolent Association.

In the contract, he has delegated his assumed authority of firing to an arbitrator that would be accredited and offered on a list with NY State.

This is only one of many actions that seem puzzling while he vacations in Florida this week. The Finance meeting, held with short notice, was scheduled to review and usher in the new contract, but it quickly became a verbal exchange regarding the duties of the Commission.

What is a Police Commission? A board of civilians who are given the power to review and decide the hiring and firing as well as any penalties and procedures involving police conduct. It places the final say in police matters, in the hands of a civilian group theoretically, outside of political ties.

According to our Charter, the Mayor appoints four citizens with himself as president of the commission. They review the actions of officers and evaluate their conduct in cases where anyone is accused of wrong doing.

What the Mayor has given away in this current contract is the right of the Commission to decide the penalty and/or firing of the officer, should it come to that.

If such an action reaches this point, an arbitrator would take the case and render a decision based on his/her findings and that decision would be final: No option for appeal.

The commission, feeling the officers deserve the right to an appeal, should a case reach this point, argued that the change in authority, should not happen trough a contract negotiation, but through a charter revision voted on by the public. They argue that the Charter modification for Strong Mayor dictated very clearly that the Mayor was the chief hire/fire exec in charge and that the abdication of this duty isn’t for him to decide.

I should note: The cases involved with police officers and conduct reach this point once every 10 years. As the Committee decided, we would pass this out to the floor with the understanding that this contract was negotiated in good faith, and the ramifications of stopping it, would place the city in financial harms way.

The detail around the firing of officers, as rare as it is, may become the focus of Tuesday’s Council meeting, or may not. Either way…the raises have been set and the give-backs have been settled with additional legislation to add three officers through the school security program.

Of course you realize that this is an added expense and we will see this reflected in the 2009 budget. I feel the 2009 taxation crisis is going to be painful. So, If I’m concerned, you should be too.


Anonymous said...

Correct me if i am wrong,but it will cost us tax payers alot of cash for this proposal but we can,t get more man power.

Anonymous said...

That is a huge victory for the union. Having an independent arbitrater decide police officers fate, instead of the kangaroo court appointed by the Mayor. That is a give back the city will regret. When CSEA ask for the same deal they offered to pay half the cost and were told no. Now tax payers have to pay the full cost. Strange

Anonymous said...

Its a great deal for the police and all of labor. How can anyone be against an independent arbitraitor deciding employee's fate. They will be fair and impartial. How can anyone argue with that.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that the Mayor negotiated a four year deal with his election worker fireman so now we have to cut back on Police?

Anonymous said...

New Paltz developer to pay for new sewer and water treatment - AVR and Sailor's Cove - pay nothing except donate to Sottile?

OK, so they'll pay commercial taxes and the park support fee.

Anonymous said...

If I were you, I would see that the "corporation counsels office" has increased funding in 2009.

You, your fellow council members and Mayor Sottile are all in for a zinger of a lawsuit by the people of Kingston for doing a back door amendment to the City Charter.