April 13, 2018
HORNELL, NY – Hornell Mayor John Buckley sent out a statement that says that Joe Liberto and Scott Richardson are both stepping down from being commissioners: Liberto from the Board of Public Works, Richardson from the Board of Public Safety. The reason: a technicality in the rules that are in the Hornell City Charter about having two commissioners from the same political party. Mayor Buckley explained that both Richardson and Liberto had changed their political affiliation but that did not go into effect with the board of elections fast enough, so both Liberto and Richardson are stepping down. Buckley noted that it’s unfortunate to lose Joe Liberto and Scott Richardson from the two posts, but says it’s vital to follow the charter rules.
See full statement from Mayor John Buckley:
Internal auditing and checks and balances have prompted the City to seek further review of its boards and committees and their agreement with the City Charter. In the interest of transparency and responsibility to the people it serves, I would like to provide the community with the background of the issues we became aware of and our plans to resolve them.
Following the results of the election in November, in December of 2017 the Council received and approved the resignation of Richard Argentieri from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) as he was newly elected as Alderman of the 4th ward. At that time, it was noted that the ZBA held 6 members, whereas the Charter indicates that Board only holds 5 members. My office sought the counsel of the City Attorney, as well as the New York State Conference of Mayors regarding this discrepancy. With the acceptance of Mr. Argentieri’s resignation, the ZBA resumed its compliance with the Charter with a 5 member board and Mr. Argentieri’s vacated seat was not filled once I took office.
This prompted my office to review all of the boards for their compliance with the City Charter. Upon that review, we found a conflict with newly appointed Commissioner Scott Richardson to the Board of Public Safety and Joseph Liberto to the Board of Public Works. I was approached by Mr. Richardson and Mr. Liberto, who expressed a desire to serve their community. This community is fortunate to have such qualified members who volunteer their time to serve on its various boards. The past experiences and backgrounds of both Mr. Richardson and Mr. Liberto made them both ideal candidates as Commissioners. However, we did recognize the Charter indicates that each board has 2 Commissioners and they cannot be from the same political party as they shared the same party affiliation as the sitting Commissioners. In an effort to comply with the Charter to allow the City to benefit from their expertise, Mr. Richardson and Mr. Liberto changed their political affiliation, however we recently learned that although both Commissioners filed the appropriate changes with the Board of Elections, those changes will not go into effect until after the general election. In response to the conflict with the Charter, both Mr. Richardson and Mr. Liberto have submitted their resignations from their respective boards.
I would like to note these three conflicts with the City Charter are unfortunate as at all times the best interests of the City were always considered. However, it is vital our community follow its Charter. I am pleased and proud to identify that our internal checks and balances were effective. I am continuing to work to ensure compliance with the Charter and all laws and regulations. I have formed the Policies and Procedures Committee to assist with this and continue to look at ways to improve performance and transparency.