Should our tax dollars be spent defending the town for the supervisor’s and board’s failure to comply with the law?

To the Editor:

I am writing this as an open letter to the Knox Town Board.

At the town board meeting on Wednesday evening, Jan. 9 [“Town board fires three transfer-station workers, hires three new ones,” The Altamont Enterprise, Jan. 10, 2019], the issue about replacement of the transfer-station employees was discussed by many concerned citizens from the town of Knox.

I asked if the vote taken on New Year’s Day concerning the replacement was a legal vote because of the wording in Section 75 of the New York State Civil Service Law. The town supervisor answered me with a dismissive, “That’s for a judge to decide.”

During the whole time the issue was being discussed we barely heard a single peep from Gary Salisbury, Ken Saddlemire, or Karl Pritchard.

And as the town supervisor was seemingly dismissive of most of comments made that evening, I submit the following:

Section 75 of the New York State Civil Service Law states, in part, as follows:

“1. Removal and other disciplinary action. A person described in paragraph … (c) … of this subdivision shall not be removed or otherwise subjected to any disciplinary penalty provided in this section except for incompetency or misconduct shown after a hearing upon stated charges pursuant to this section.

“(c) an employee holding a position in the non-competitive or labor class … who since his or her last entry service has completed at least five years of continuous service in the  … labor class … .”

The Albany County Department of Civil Service classifies the transfer-station positions as “labor.” The Albany County Civil Service Rule V 2. States in part: “A position in the labor class may be filled … where a vacancy exists….”

As none of the jobs at the transfer station had been vacated as of Dec. 31, 2018, it appears that the town supervisor erred when advertising those jobs as open for approximately the three months prior to Dec. 31, 2018 and the town board also erred in voting to appoint replacements to those positions. Your response?

Further, as the vote taken on New Year’s Day to replace the transfer-station employees appears to be in violation of both Section 75 1. (c) of the New York State Civil Service Law and Albany County Civil Service Rule V 2., how can that vote be construed as either legal or legitimate?

Please explain your legal basis for holding that vote, as it appears to have been taken merely on the basis of someone’s whim to replace those workers and for no other reason.

If the vote was not legal, how can the individuals currently working at Knox transfer station legitimately be considered as employees of the town of Knox? Should they be paid with Knox taxpayers’ monies? Likewise, if they are injured at the transfer station, will the town be liable for those injuries?

Assuming that Section 75 1. (c) of the New York State Civil Service Law and Albany County Civil Service Rule V 2. are applicable in this instance, should the dismissed employees be reinstated with back pay for time lost? Or, do the dismissed employees have to bring a lawsuit against the town for a matter which seemingly should not have occurred?

If so, should our tax dollars be spent defending the town for what may amount to the town supervisor’s and town board’s failure to comply with existing law? Further, if the town loses, will the town possibly be liable for punitive damages due to bringing a frivolous suit before the court?

Ed Nicholson

Knox

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