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Syracuse common councilors' case against mayor's office heard in court

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo
Wednesday morning's court hearing regarding common councilors' complaints about the city's computer use policy.

A New York State Supreme Court judge today reserved judgment in the case of Syracuse Common Councilors versus Mayor Stephanie Miner’s administration over a computer use policy.  

A majority of the councilors are suing the mayor’s office over requests to sign the agreement, which the lawmakers say allows the administration access their confidential communication and research.  

Private attorney Paul Curtin represented the councilors in court, and is hopeful this conflict can be solved without Judge Hugh Gilbert getting involved.

“The attorney representing the city did indicate that the city now recognizes that some of the language imposed on my clients is not acceptable,” said Curtin.

Councilor Kathleen Joy, the lead plaintiff in the case, says the changes council wants amount to a couple of paragraphs.

“We would change the word ‘employee’ to ‘elected official.’ We would take out the two or three provisions that talk about the administration’s ability to monitor,” said Joy.

Joy said she is hopeful the dispute can be resolved before the judge renders a decision.

"I was encouraged to hear that the administration would be willing to look at the language that we had proposed back in the early part of July, and hopefully that will come to some conclusion,” she said.

Joy and a majority of lawmakers lost computer privileges July 1 after they refused to sign the computer use policy. Miner has repeatedly said the agreement is standard operating procedure, and the policy is there to safeguard for the city’s computer system. Her office wouldn’t comment on today’s court action, but did call the lawsuit is a “colossal waste of taxpayer funds.” 

The city clerk has also joined lawmakers in the suit.

In the meantime lawmakers involved in the suit are dealing with constituents the old fashioned way, by phone or the U.S. Postal Service.        

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.