Council must obey the law

Sometimes, internal political conflict turns Gloversville Common Council meetings into a circus sideshow. As an example, look what happened at the Common Council meeting Tuesday.

The council and Mayor Dayton King spent nearly 90 minutes behind closed doors in a meeting that was intended to be a Republican caucus.

However, the meeting included all members of the council – Republicans and Democrats. The vote to have the meeting was passed by the Republican council members 3-2, with Councilman Arthur Simonds and Councilman-At-Large James Robinson voting against the presence of the Democrats – council members Robin Wentworth and Stephen Mahoney. Councilman Jay Zarrelli, Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski and Councilwoman Ellen Anadio voted in favor of the Democrats attending the meeting.

Robert Freeman, executive director of the Committee on Open Government, said the caucus violated the state Open Meetings Law once the Democratic members of the council were invited.

After the closed meeting, there was even disagreement about the results. King said he thought the discussions were positive and will improve the relationship among the city officials. However, some of the council members said the meeting divided council members more – particularly the relationship between a bipartisan majority that includes three Republicans and two Democrats on one side, and two Republicans on the other side.

Neither the mayor nor members of the council would comment specifically on what was discussed. Shame on them. City officials were wrong to conduct the meeting behind closed doors, and just as wrong to refuse to reveal what they talked about.

There are legitimate reasons for city officials to meet in executive session or hold a legal caucus, but they must abide by the rules. We expect city officials to discuss public issues in open meetings.