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After Vote, Troy Remains Divided Over Sanctuary Status

Troy City Council members hear public comments during Thursday night's session in City Hall.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Troy City Council members hear public comments during Thursday night's session in City Hall.

The debate over whether Troy should become a Sanctuary City has gone into overtime following Thursday night's Common Council meeting. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was there.

The months of debate over whether to declare Troy a Sanctuary City apparently will continue. Near the end of a chaotic four-hour meeting attended by about a hundred local residents, there were calls for order and requests that certain individuals be removed from the Common Council chambers.

Common councilor Coleen Paratore, Council President Carmella Mantello, Council Pro Tem Anasha Cummings.
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Common councilor Coleen Paratore, Council President Carmella Mantello, Council Pro Tem Anasha Cummings.

The issue was taken up after an easier vote; the council approved a measure striking fees for kids under 18 who want to go swimming at the yet-to-be-finished South Troy Poll.  The smiles quickly turned to frowns.

A public comment period illustrated how divided attendees are over Sanctuary.  At one point, Council President Carmella Mantello, a Republican, tried to invalidate the measure by invoking "Robert's Rules of Order," a standard the Council previously embraced to run meetings with maximum fairness to all members. Anger and argument followed.

The marathon meeting took its toll — GOP Councilmember Jim Gulli reached a breaking point.  "For six months I've listened to the same story four different times. There are a lot of people being affected emotionally, passionately and angrily over this issue. We've done this many times. I just drove three hours away to come down here tonight and settle this issue and to get it off the floor one way or another. If it passes tonight it's going next year, if it doesn't pass tonight it's done. I just don't wanna deal with this anymore." [crowd shouts VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!]

Residents packed Common Council chambers in Troy City Hall.
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Residents packed Common Council chambers in Troy City Hall.

In the end the council did vote - 4 to 3 - to pass the FACT act, formerly known as Sanctuary City Resolution 113. 

Councilor Debra Garrett, a Democrat, appointed to fill the vacancy in District 2 after Mark McGrath stepped down, left immediately afterward as the remaining councilors voted on other items of city business.

The measure now goes to Democratic Mayor Patrick Madden, who can sign it, veto it or do nothing. He told reporters after the meeting that there is no meaning to the term Sanctuary City and he doesn't consider Troy to be a Sanctuary City under the resolution. And then there was the matter of "Robert's Rules."   "What's next is I think we need to sit down and look at what happened in the un-tabling efforts and understand if that was done properly or improperly and try to ascertain whether what occurred tonight was legal or extralegal."

Credit twitter
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WAMC asked Madden about a tweet Republican Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin posted moments after the meeting, urging Madden to veto the measure.   "I haven't made a determination on that. I'll sit down, I'll look at what they passed. The final version of what was passed. I'll sit with our police chiefs, I'll sit with our Corporation Counsel. We'll make that determination over the course of the next couple days."

Mantello summed up her version of the evening:   "There is no resolution because they needed to un-table it back in January... but on a different track, as you know, I'm introducing a local law, it was officially introduced tonight, as council members are stating, we passed a resolution on early voting because we wanna see everybody vote. Well my local law puts the Sanctuary City resolution before the voters in November. So what I'm saying to all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle: put your money where your mouth is. Stop talkin' the talk. Walk the walk and let the voters decide on this issue."

Observers say it is unlikely the Republican minority will be able to sway their Democratic associates to vote in favor of a public referendum. 

  • Mantello dispatched a letter to officials this morning:

Subject: Follow up to last evening's Sanctuary City Vote

Dear Council Members, Mayor Madden, County Executive McLaughlin, Sheriff Russo, County Clerk Merola, and all,

The action of the Troy City Council last evening, July 11th, 2019, regarding Resolution #113, Sanctuary City, is a nullity and without effect in law or fact.

The City Council is governed by its Rules of Order adopted in January 2018. These Rules incorporate Roberts Rules, Section 2-37. Roberts Rules state without equivocation a resolution tabled must be moved from the table at the same or next regular meeting , Section 33. A resolution regarding Sanctuary City was tabled in December 2018 and pursuant to Roberts Rules it ceased to legally exist after January 2019. Therefore, there was no resolution to move from the table and amend on July 11, 2019 as was done by a majority of the Troy City Council.

In my capacity as Presiding Officer of the Council and under my Charter powers, C-14 (1), I have determined that Resolution #113 is a nullity and without effect in law or fact.

I must point out the motion made by Council Member Cummings at the meeting on July 11th in no way affects the requirements of Roberts Rules, and therefore was not germane to the question at hand regarding Resolution #113.

I will add that any attempt to enforce this resolution, if it is not vetoed by the Mayor, could subject the city to expensive and unnecessary litigation.

I would hope that this issue could be resolved pursuant to the requirement of the Council Rules and the Troy City Charter. As Presiding Officer of the Council,  I would encourage all parties to recognize that Resolution #113 is without any legal standing, and therefore should be treated as such.

Thank you.

Carmella R. Mantello
City Council President
City of Troy

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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