[Editors Note: This story was revised on Jan. 12, 2018 to correct the details regarding how a member of the JLDC board of directors can be appointed, both under the original bylaws and under the new bylaws. WRFA had incorrectly stated the rules regarding bylaws in the original version of this story. We apologize for the inaccuracy.]
JAMESTOWN – The head of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier (MAST) is offering his thoughts on the recent inaugural meeting of the Jamestown City Council.
The meeting on Monday night saw the election of a new council president in Marie Carrubba, (D-Ward 4) along with the appointment and reappointment of more than two dozen city residents to various city agencies, boards, and commissions.
Chamber president Todd Tranum told WRFA on Tuesday that it was truly an historic moment with the swearing in of the new council, which for the first time in the city’s 132 year history, is comprised of a female majority.
“This is certainly a major achievement and something we should celebrate. Hopefully this will be an inspiration for more women to enter leadership roles in our community. Certainly want to congratulate Marie Carrubba in being voted on as president of the city council,” Tranum said.
While offering his comments on the new city council, Tranum also acknowledged the actions of newly elected councilman Andrew Liuzzo (R-At Large), who voted against not only suspending the rules of order for voting on 27 different mayoral appointments, but also voted against the appointments themselves. Rather than voting for each appointment on its own as the city charter requires, a motion was made Monday night to block all the appointments into a single vote and it was approved 8 to 1, with Liuzzo casting the lone “no” vote.
Liuzzo also felt the election of the city council president should have been done by secret ballot rather than a public roll call vote. He told WRFA on Tuesday that he felt a ballot vote would encourage more honesty by each individual council member. No other council member supported his motion for a ballot vote and he was the only council member to not vote for Carrubba as council president.
“I want to acknowledge councilman Liuzzo’s efforts to challenge the status quo. We need more of that in the community,” Tranum said. “We are certainly glad he is in a position to be able to ask some of the important questions.”
Tranum wouldn’t comment on any specific appointments that were made Monday night, but did say that, generally speaking, some were not in line with the needs of the Chamber and MAST.
“This is certainly a continued effort to alienate the business community and our organization. We are used to it. The business community is used to it. I’m used to it,” Tranum said. “This has been going on for a long time. We and many others have tried to work collaboratively and proactively with this mayor for the past 17 years. He clearly does not value what we have to say and he thinks he has better ideas.”
Tranum has been critical of Jamestown mayor Sam Teresi for not appointing individuals who are recommended by the Chamber and MAST to agencies like the BPU and JLDC.
Under the current JLDC bylaws, the board must include the presidents of MAST, the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce, and the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation. When those individuals are unable or unwilling to serve, the mayor then has the power to “appoint an official from said organization, who resides in the City of Jamestown to serve on the [JLDC] Board of Directors.”
However, those bylaws were only recently changed midway through 2017. The original bylaws, enacted at the formation of the JLDC in 1981, stated that the president of each of the three organizations shall be the one who makes the appointment when he/she is unable to serve.
Prior to the updated bylaws being finalized, Tranum said he notified the JLDC that he wanted to appoint former BPU Chair and city resident John Zabrodsky the JLDC board of directors as a representative of MAST. The vacancy for the MAST representative opened up after the previous MAST representative, Justin Hanft, left the board in mid 2017 due to moving out of the city. Transum said that instead of honoring his appointment as laid out in the original bylaws, the JLDC opted to leave the seat vacant until after the new bylaws were in place, giving the power of appointment to the mayor, who then appointed Jamestown Community College Development Director and city resident Tim Smeal to fill the vacancy. That appointment was approved by the city council during Monday’s meeting.
According to the Post-Journal, the JLDC bylaws were recently revised to address filling a vacancy on the board, because the former bylaws didn’t address it. As a result in the changes, the bylaws state the mayor can appoint city resident to serve as the MAST representative when a vacancy occurs, so long as that resident is affiliated in some way with the agency. Because JCC is a member organization of MAST and Smeal is an employee of JCC, he qualifies as a representative for MAST.