Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Common Council Meeting Short and Sweet

The regular Common Council meeting for the month of August lasted only a little more than half an hour and involved no dissension or raised voices--although there was a burst of applause from the audience, made up largely of immigrants and immigrant advocates, when the Council passed unanimously a resolution in support of issuing driver's licenses to New York residents regardless of immigration status.

Early in the meeting, the Council voted to receive the communications. Among them was a copy of a letter from the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the plans to replace the bulkhead and stabilize the shoreline at the dock used by A. Colarusso & Son. The letter contained the following information: "In accordance with General Condition Number 41 of the Nationwide Permits, since more than 45 days have passed since our receipt of the complete Nationwide Permit verification request without a response from this office, you may proceed with the proposed activities in waters of the United States as described in the above referenced submittals." The letter later cautions: "Please note that this determination does not eliminate the need to obtain any other Federal, State or local authorization required by law for the proposed work, including any required permit or Water Quality Certification from the New York State Department of Environment Conservation (NYSDEC)."

Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) asked Council president Claudia DeStefano, as he had at the informal meeting on August 8 when the Council first received the letter, what permits were required for the dock project. DeStefano told him she did not have that information. When asked when she would have it, she declined to state a time.

Also among the communications was an Opinion of Counsel from city attorney Ken Dow regarding the Council's custom of voting to put legislation on their desks. Dow questioned the legitimacy of a Council vote to consider legislation at the July meeting, when the Council voted 1,383 to 550 not to lay on their desks the proposed legislation to amend the ward boundaries and do away with the weighted vote. Addressing the Council on Tuesday, Dow explained it was a requirement of state law that members of the Council must have proposed laws for at least eight days before voting, but "there is no decision to be made to lay a proposed law on the desk." He went on to say, "A vote to deny the fact carries no weight."

At that point anyone on the Council could have brought the proposed legislation forward for a vote, but no one did. No one needed to. The Fair & Equal campaign had already gathered the additional petition signatures required to take the proposed amendment directly to the Board of Elections to be included as a referendum question on the November ballot.

To view Dan Udell's video of the entire meeting, click here.


  1. The "City" does not have a procedure to date stamp each and every communication that it receives? Not good! That is a good way to set the predicate to blow deadlines.

  2. Steve, the letter from the ACOE was stamped and the City Clerk stamps all communications in the same way.

    1. We can attribute the confusion to the challenge of Gossips' complex sentences. It was erroneously believed that "when the Council first received the letter" was the object of "asked" rather than "what permits were required for the dock project."

  3. OK, I plead guilty to not reading the text carefully. I intended to just delete my post to cover up my stupidity, but too late for that now. Anyway, thanks to all for helping me with my reading comprehension. :)