By Rebecca Martin
At last night’s Common Council Caucus, Council members discussed Resolution #134 to “Amend Charter to Authorize Public Referendum re: Water Powers”. Alderman-at-Large James Noble and Corporation Council Andrew Zweben were in attendance.
It appears to have been determined that the Charter amendment of Water Powers would be a local law change, which would require two readings and a public hearing to be set by the Mayor within 10 days after the first reading. The first reading would take place tomorrow night if the Council votes to approve the referendum. A public hearing would occur sometime in or around June 12th. The second reading would then be read at the July 7th Common Council meeting with a full council vote to follow to pass (or not) the referendum through to the November ballot.
On May 28th, the Water Department Board of Commission Chair Joe DeCicco issued a press release cautioning the public to ‘think carefully before you agree to change the governance (of water sales outside the city of Kingston)’ The press release was issued on Kingston Water Department letterhead, that included all the names of the Water Board of Commissioners, Superintendent Judith Hansen and Mayor Shayne Gallo.
At last evening’s meeting, Corporation Council Andy Zweben clarified that “The press release that was issued by the Water Department was not authorized by the Mayor, or the other members of the Water Department to the best of his knowledge and does not represent how he feels on this issue.” Andy Zweeben also relayed that speaking to the Mayor today, he stated that “…if the local law is passed, he will sign it. They’ll be a referendum and the voters will decide.”
Zweeben also expressed his discomfort with “the speed in which the referendum was moving” (* Please see below). But the Public Safety/General Government Committee has been working on this since March of this year where his office has been in attendance. That’s three months of discussion and it being on the Corporation Council’s radar. Regardless, we appreciate Corporation Council’s efforts here. Whether willingly or not, they provided the council with the information that they needed to move this ahead.
In order now for the referendum to be placed on the ballot, the council will need to pass through the resolution for referendum tomorrow, and a public process as described above must take place. All of which needs to be accomplished by the end of August in order for it to be submitted to the Board of Elections.
* Clarification: Watching for many months in this case, we have seen the Water Powers change go from a local law change, to a referendum to a combination of the two. As citizens, we depend on the good advice of our elected and appointed officials to understand the proper process.
We received a communication from Corporation Council Andrew Zweeben who said that we had misrepresented what he said at the last Public Safety/General Government committee meeting (see above and below). On the subject of the speed of the referendum, what he was referring to was that it was quick to draft an amended local law in just one week (5 days) which is true and he would have preferred more time to do so. Given the tight deadline to get this passed and onto the ballot in November, it is the case. We apologize for the misunderstanding.
You can view video from last evening’s meeting:
11:16 – 17:08 Resolution 134
“Amend charter to authorize public referendum re: Water Powers”
Tonight (June 2nd), the Common Council will vote on whether or not to pass a resolution for a referendum. If it does, the first reading of the proposed amendment will take place for the clock to start ticking.
Citizens are encouraged to speak tonight to support (or not) of a referendum for the November ballot. Public Comment will begin tonight at 7:30pm. Please arrive 10 minutes early to secure a seat and to sign-up. This event will be filmed thanks to Kingston News.