At tonight's special council meeting, there wasn't too much debate about the three resolutions authorizing the city to apply for RestoreNY funding to spur development of the Masse Gateway Project, but there was tussle over individual council members should be contacting state agencies and possibly subverting the will of the council.
Prior to the vote, council member Rosemary Christian asked a series of questions and made statements that indicated she had been in contact with RestoreNY officials, possibly suggesting the city should not pursue the grant.
Marianne Clattenburg raised a point of order, asking whether it was appropriate for individual council members to contact state agencies about pending council business.
City Attorney George Van Nest said such conduct was inconsistent with City Council rules and the city charter.
When Clattenburg raised an objection to council members making such contact, Christian interrupted and said that she would make such contact if she thought it was necessary.
At that point, City Council President Charlie Mallow handed out a copy the council rules.
"It says council members can't act as individual members," Mallow said.
Council member Kathy Briggs asked a clarifying question: Can a council member ask purely information questions of another agency, without expressing any views? Van Nest said yes.
It's unclear whether Christian contacted RestoreNY on a purely information basis or conveyed information that could run counter to the council vote.
Speaking of the vote, all three resolutions passed with only Christian voting no and Council member Bob Bialkowski abstaining because of a potential conflict of interest.
After the meeting, property owner Tom Mancuso said: "I"m very grateful that the council saw this as a worthwhile project support and now I hope the state will agree."
UPDATE: Joanne Beck posted her coverage tonight, as well.
UPDATE: Dan Fischer at WBTA posted a bit of the conflict on audio. Listen here.