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Councilor Joy says unresolved issues remain in Miner's new computer use proposal, but she's hopeful

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
Syracuse Councilor-At-Large Kathleen Joy (center), at a committee meeting in July.

Syracuse Common Councilor-at-Large Kathleen Joy is negotiating with Mayor Stephanie Miner’s chief of staff Bill Ryan, to settle a lawsuit brought by a majority of common councilors who refused to sign a computer use policy. Those councilors have been without computer access since the beginning of July. A judge rejected a petition from Syracuse councilors to make city officials restore their computer access while the two sides negotiate a new computer use policy.

The mayor's office proposed changes to some of the language to acknowledge the mayor’s administration cannot terminate an elected official for violating the policy. Also, the proposal allows the Common Council to contract their network to an outside service provider. What still needs to be determined is whether the city’s Information Technology department, under Miner’s administration, can monitor common councilors’ emails and Internet usage.

“If they don’t want us to have access to their emails than they should have a private email, which many of them candidly use right now, whether Gmail, Yahoo or other things,” Miner said.

But the Common Councilor’s lawsuit is still pending and a court date is set for August 25. Miner said she believes the lawsuit will be dismissed.

“We should be focusing on more important issues," Miner said. "So, we’ve said to the councilors as an offer of good faith, these are the ways we can compromise and let’s move forward.”    

Joy said contracting the network to an outside service provider would be too expensive.

“Separate servers really are going to take money away from public DPW or public safety, we can’t afford that,” Joy said.

Joy suggested Internet monitoring could be done by an employee of the Common Council or some other elected official.

"If I wanted to draft up some legislation, that maybe the mayor didn’t like, she’s asking us to grant permission to her and her staff to look at that information,” Joy said.   

Miner said if councilors don’t want their emails monitored, than they should use private emails. Joy said she believes a deal can be reached with the administration. She is talking to other councilors about the new proposal but they all agree on one thing: they would like their computer use restored as they hammer out the details.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.