Work for Us, Live With Us
Proposed legislation would require that Albany city department heads and their deputies live within city limits
Published on 6/6/2008 written by David King
Albany Common Councilman Corey Ellis (Ward 3) has voted against the confirmation of two men he thought were perfectly qualified for the jobs they were appointed to with the city, because they did not reside in the city limits. And Ellis does not want to have to vote against a qualified nominee again.
“I voted against Mike Yevoli because he lives in Amsterdam; that is 45 minutes outside of our city,” Ellis said. “I voiced my concern to the administration that hopefully the next appointee would have ties to the city of Albany, and when they proposed Troy Mackey as commissioner of personnel, I supported him when I thought his address was in Albany. But when I was informed at the council meeting that he did not live in city of Albany, I had to oppose his nomination.”
To remedy the situation, Ellis has proposed legislation that would require city of Albany department heads and their deputies to reside in the city of Albany. The legislation currently does not have a grandfather clause. The bill was introduced this Monday and will be reviewed in the Law Committee. Ellis said that he wants to ensure a nominee does not just own property in the city but actually resides there.
“If we want to send a message that our city is a growing, safe place to live, why wouldn’t a commissioner want to live here?” asked Ellis. “If they don’t want to live here then they are saying they don’t feel our city is good enough for them. This local law is a law I know that is well overdue.”
Ellis said he has been approached by citizens about the issue, and they want to see city jobs going to city residents. Ellis also thinks it would be hard for any councilperson to vote against the measure.
“People talk about how we have to confirm these nominees who don’t live in the city because we don’t want to lose them,” he said, “and we don’t have qualified people in the city. I know we do. I don’t think passing the legislation should be that tough. Are you saying we don’t have qualified people? I know we do. I feel more than comfortable because I know we have qualified people who do live in the city.”
Albany Common Councilman Dominick Calsolaro (Ward 1) said that, considering recent reports of police misconduct based on profiling, he thinks it is important that people who represent the city live in and know the city. “The woman who the police stopped and searched, their excuse was, ‘This neighborhood is unsafe.’ Maybe if all of the city employees lived here they would know the neighborhoods better. They would understand what is going on in each neighborhood.”
Calsolaro said he supports Ellis’ measure and would like to possibly add some complementing legislation.
“I think it’s a good piece of legislation, and I am hoping it goes through,” Calsolaro said. “It is going to committee, and we will work on it a little bit. I think it should go through. I may end up being a co-sponsor. I am looking at a companion piece to see if we can give city employees who live in the city preference when it comes to promotions.”
Calsolaro noted that he is still trying to ascertain the legality of his companion piece. Calsolaro said he would consider supporting the inclusion of a grandfather clause that would run out when the next mayoral term begins in 2010.
“There is no grandfather clause currently,” said Ellis. “If there needs to be one, we will do it. But right now, I don’t know how many commissioners and deputies live in city now and how many don’t. Hopefully we can soon get all that information soon.”
Mayor Jerry Jennings did not return calls to Metroland, but when quoted about the measure in other media outlets, he did not sound supportive of it. Capital News 9 quoted Jennings as saying, “High ranking city officials? Mr. Ellis should do a reality check when it comes to government and when it comes to paying salaries.”
Ellis responded: “If you want to talk about salaries—people who make the salary that comes along with commissioner jobs are more likely to be homeowners, and we do need more of those in the city of Albany.”