Jamestown City Councilmen Continue To Debate Mayoral Appointments

For the second time in as many weeks, two Jamestown City Councilmen debated mayoral appointments.

At a meeting last week, Andrew Liuzzo, At-Large councilman, said bylaw changes made in December for the Jamestown Local Development Corporation gives more appointment authority to the mayor of Jamestown, which diminishes the power of an organization that sits on the board.

In December, the JLDC board approved the bylaw changes, which included the new provision allowing the city’s mayor, who serves as the JLDC board president, the power of appointment if the organization’s president can not sit on the board. All JLDC board members must reside in the city of Jamestown.

In December following the changes, Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, said the new bylaws, as far as appointing members, was a practice that had been followed since the JLDC was formed in 1981. He said the prior bylaws had no formal rules on who was to serve on the board if the president of the organization couldn’t be a representative.

However, Todd Tranum, Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier executive director and Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce president, said in December the new bylaws provides more power to the mayor than the organizations on the JLDC board. Tranum, who lives in Bemus Point, cannot represent either MAST or the chamber on the JLDC board.

In May 2016 after JLDC MAST representative Justin Hanft, Chautauqua County Education Coalition director, had to resign because he moved out of the city of Jamestown, Tranum informed city officials that the MAST board had selected John Zabrodsky as their new representative on the JLDC board.

Zabrodsky, who previously had been the chairman of the BPU board, was one of three former BPU board members — along with Wayne Rishell and Carl Pillittieri — who weren’t reappointed by Teresi in 2016. All three former BPU board members were opponents of the profit sharing from the BPU’s electric and water divisions with the city’s general fund.

Liuzzo on Monday questioned Teresi’s selection of representatives to boards and commissions in the city. He said only volunteers who agree with the mayor are allowed to serve on city boards and commissions. He said people who just serve to agree with Teresi aren’t helpful to the city.

Last week, Liuzzo during a work session meeting of the council questioned Teresi’s appointment of Greg Rabb to the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities and the city Planning Commission.

Liuzzo said Rabb, who lost his re-election bid to the council in November, came in fifth out of six candidates. He said this was a mandate from the public that they did not want to see his continued involvement in city government.

During the same work session meeting, Doug Champ, city resident and retired BPU employee, also questioned why Teresi didn’t reappoint him to the city Riverfront Management Council. Champ said during his time on the Riverfront Management Council he assisted city officials in receiving three grants, including $313,890 for Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District for the Chadakoin River Watershed – Jamestown Riverwalk Restoration during the latest round of Regional Economic Development Council Consolidated Funding Application awards.

Champ said he wasn’t reappointed to the Riverfront Management Council because he had questioned decisions made by Teresi and the council.

Most recently, Champ has been outspoken against the proposal for the city to sell he wastewater treatment plant to the Jamestown Local Development Corporation.

On Monday, Anthony Dolce, Ward 2 councilman — like after Liuzzo’s comments on Jan. 22. — followed with his own comments, refuting what the newly elected At-Large councilman stated. Dolce said the JLDC has been working on changes to their bylaws since May 2016. The organization’s, which was established in 1981, bylaws hadn’t been updated since its incorporation. He said all discussions on the bylaw changes happened during open meetings and didn’t happen “behind closed doors.”

Dolce said the council’s only job is to approve or deny mayoral appointments to the JLDC, or for any board or commission. He said if a council member has a problem with a potential mayoral appointment, they can talk to the mayor prior to the voting session to discuss the candidate. He added that, before now, the council – of which he has served for more than 22 years — has never had a problem with mayoral appointments.