Tempers Erupt As Utica Term Limit Issue Remains ‘Unfinished Business’
An explosive and tense Utica Common Council meeting ended Wednesday night with the matter of the city's term limits officially considered 'unfinished business'.
A last ditch effort led by former longtime city councilman Lou Critelli to reduce the term limit from 12-years back to eight is still in limbo after a belabored meeting that had councilors shouting at one another, and a lingering question about the number of votes needed to move motions and legislation. The matter was further confused by the absence of two councilors - Maria McNeil and David Testa, who did not attend Wednesday. Because there is disagreement in the opinion of the Common Council's attorney, Judge Anthony Garramone, and Council President Michael Galime, the matter was labeled 'unfinished business' and could be considered again in the future by the council.
Or, possibly not.
Councilor Samantha Colosimo Testa had asked the council to reconsider its previous vote on a local law to reduce the term limits from 12 years to 8. A motion was made and the body voted 4-to-3 (with 2 absent) in favor of reconsidering a vote on issue. The opinion Judge Garramone gave to the council was that the motion failed, because - citing section 35 of the Second Class Cities Law - in order for the council to affirm any legislative action, he said, it would need a majority of the full nine member council, a minimum of five votes.
(Councilors Joe Marino, Samantha Colosimo Testa, Bob DeSanctis and Mark Williamson voted in favor - Bill Philips, Jack LoMedico and Frank Dibrango voted against.)
President Galime agreed a minimum of five was needed for a law, but also disagreed, saying a simple majority of the councilors present was enough to approve a motion.
Garramone was pressed by councilman Joe Marino, and shouting from members of the public in the gallery including Critelli, to 'prove' his opinion and asked for recess to allow the Judge time to retrieve his evidence. Garramone came back with a law book, and approached Critelli in the gallery to show him a particular section of the Second Class Cities Law. They spoke quietly for a few minutes, but began shouting at one another when Critelli apparently accused Garramone of 'colluding' with Mayor Robert Palmieri to halt the issue:
Regardless of whether it is determined that the motion failed or passed, it appears that those looking to reduce the limit of time in office to eight years, or two terms, will have wait until 2019, at least.
Even if the motion is allowed to stand, which would mean a fresh vote on the term limit issue, there doesn't appear to be enough votes to change it.
Council members McNeil and David Testa both voted for the law in 2017 that extended the limit from eight to 12. Unless they've changed their stance on the issue, the vote split appears to be 5-4 in favor of keeping the 12 year term limit.
Utica Council President Michael Galime is scheduled to join Keeler in the Morning at 6:40 on Thursday.
These are the final moments of a heated Utica Common Council meeting held on Wednesday Sept 19, 2018. In the video, councilwoman Samantha Colosimo Testa shouts at fellow councilor Frank Dibrango to change his vote on a motion that would allow the council to reconsider a reduction of term limits from 12 years to 8. The unresolved issue was labeled as 'unfinished business' by Common Council President Michael Galime, meaning it could be taken up again in the future.