Friday, April 13, 2012
And Then There Were Three: Council Members' Recusal Shuts Down McMahon Appeal
McMahon was suspended by former Mayor Giuliano, after McMahon was accused of drinking while in uniform and deceiving the mayor. The City hired Eric Daigle to investigate the accusations while McMahon was on paid administrative leave. McMahon disputed all of the allegations (McMahon's response to the Daigle report), however, Mayor Drew terminated McMahon's employment on February 23rd (Termination Letter).
The termination appeal hearing was opened by Deputy Mayor Bob Santangelo, who was serving in place of Mayor Drew, who recused himself because he had made the original decision. Santangelo recognized Daniel Ryan, the Attorney who serves as Corporation Counsel for the Common Council. Ryan said that the Council should first address McMahon's motion that four Council members also recuse themselves from hearing the appeal (McMahon's recuse motion).
Tom Serra, Ron Klattenberg, and Mary Bartolotta, each in turn announced they would accede to McMahon's request for their recusal. They were followed by Todd Berch, Gerry Daley, and Grady Faulkner, who had not been requested by McMahon to recuse themselves, and finally Santangelo, also requested by McMahon. Serra said that he would step aside in deference to McMahon's request, but not for the reasons McMahon had given. Bartolotta and Daley said that the McMahon's motion to recuse was false and so offensive that they could no longer have an open mind about his case. Daley said, "The motion to recuse was full of what I know to be inaccurate information, yet I also viewed it as an attack on anyone associated with Xavier High School, as I was. ... I no longer feel that I can assure Mr. McMahon a fairness and impartiality, and I will therefore be recusing myself from this hearing."
After each of the Council members stood up and walked out, Attorney Ryan was left in the center of an expanse of empty seats, with just three Republican Council members remaining. After looking around, he said that in the absence of a quorum, the meeting could not proceed.
McMahon had come to the appeal hearing prepared to speak (McMahon's statement). He said after the meeting that the mass recusal was a "stunt" done to prevent him from speaking publicly about his dismissal, "This was a way to silence me." Leon Rosenblatt, McMahon's lawyer, said "This is a pretty flagrant absence of due process."
Rosenblatt said that McMahon's appeal of his dismissal would continue "very soon" in in Superior Court.