Village Manager’s Contract Re-Voted
By Cindy Goldstein -
In an abrupt about-face the Village Board of Trustees (BOT) voted 4:1 at the July 10 Regular Meeting reauthorizing the Village Manager’s Contract. The contract, initially voted at an emergency meeting in Executive Session on March 3 was the subject of an Article 78 lawsuit brought by resident Suzanne McCrory. Trustee Nora Lucas voted no at both the March 3 and July 10th meetings when the vote was called.
Why a Re-Vote was Taken
Mayor Murphy outlined the reason for the re-vote. He stated that in the past the BOT had voted in executive session on similar contracts and there was “no hullabaloo” about it. Although the Mayor and Village Attorney do not believe that anything was done improperly the re-vote would limit any possibility of liability to the Village. Murphy also cited his “fiduciary responsibility”, and it was not a risk worth taking. See Resolution HERE.
Murphy was adamant that if the same situation occurred today he would handle it the same way. He went on to laud the Village Manager’s performance and described the difficult situations (flooding and Covid) where Barberio showed great leadership skills and hired staff who are successful in their jobs.
Trustee Young stated he would have voted publicly on March 3 if that was prior practice, but he was happy to re-vote in public. He praised the Village Manager as a “remarkable employee.” Trustee Lucas said she did bring up the Open Meetings Law violation of voting in secret at the time, but Trustee Young sharply contradicted her and said, “no one else remembered that.”
Sue McCrory, a retired federal government auditor, brought the lawsuit in June to invalidate Barberio’s $1 million contract extension because it was voted on behind closed doors in violation of the Open Meetings Law. McCrory addressed the BOT before their vote and urged them to terminate Barberio for a serious ethics violation.
In both her lawsuit and her statement McCrory, in addition to the violation of the Open Meetings Law, alleged that the emergency meeting and vote to extend the Manager’s contract (which wasn’t expiring for another year) and additional pay raise gives the appearance of impropriety in violation of the Village’s Code of Ethics anti-nepotism provisions when Barberio hired a relative of a current Trustee shortly thereafter. See HERE for McCrory’s full statement at the BOT meeting.
After McCrory made her statement the Mayor went on to say that there was no finding of an ethical violation and scolded McCrory that “she was not the arbiter.” He claimed her attack on Barberio was unfair. Murphy went on to say that, in a different case, the judge decided contrary to what McCrory described and “because you believe it is illegal doesn’t mean it is. That’s why people become lawyers – to learn the nuances.”
For more information see David McKay Wilson’s LoHud article HERE.