Mount Vernon — While the mayor is claiming victory, the Residency Requirement Case may be far from over as the City Council plans to appeal Wednesday’s ruling.
“The City Charter does not give its legislative body, the City Council, the executive authority to terminate the employment of the Mayor’s appointees,” state Supreme Court Justice Joan Lefkowitz wrote Wednesday in blocking the council and city comptroller from “disrupting, obstructing or interfering with” the appointees’ work for the city.
“The Council will appeal since we feel the Judge did not make a decisive ruling,” former Council President Marcus A. Griffith tells BW. “The Judge simply restated what she told us at the beginning of the case.”
According to the Charter, the Council complained that the five appointees Corporation Counsel Lawrence Porcari, Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Spiezio, Public Works Commissioner Ralph Uzzi, Assistant Corporation Counsel La’Teea Goings and Maria Donovan, the mayor’s special assistant, could not hold their jobs because they did not live in Mount Vernon.
Jeffrey D. Buss of Smith, Buss & Jacobs LLP, attorney for Lawrence A. Porcari, Esq., Joseph Spiezio III, Ralph Uzzi, Maria Donovan, Esq., and La-Teea Going, Esq., known as the Residency 5 along with Richard Thomas as Mayor, listed as nominal plaintiff filed a Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI), Friday January 6th in Westchester Supreme Court.
The RJI is in response to the City Council passing an ordinance, Wednesday, December 14th at City Council Meeting, authorizing and directing the Office of the Comptroller to cease payment of salary and benefits to the vacant offices of DPW Commissioner Ralph Uzzi (who lives in Saddlebrook, New Jersey), Corporation Counsel Lawrence A. Porcari (who live in Yonkers), Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Spiezio III (who lives in Florida), Special Assistant to the Mayor Maria Donovan, Esq., (who lives in Queens), 3rd Assistant Corporation Counsel La-Teea Going, Esq., and others, who are in violation of the City Charter’s Residency Requirements.
The five appointees and Mayor Thomas sued. The appointees continued to receive salaries and benefits after a judge in January issued a temporary block of the council’s action pending Lefkowitz’s review of the case.
The ruling does not end the lawsuit and Lefkowitz scheduled a conference on the case for Aug. 7.
“The Council now expects the Judge to rule with finality if the Mayor can disobey the laws of the City Charter,” Councilman Griffith tells BW Friday night. “The public should be outraged that we have paid these potential violators for this many months.”
Stay tuned to more on this developing story. (See State Supreme Court Justice Joan Lefkowitz below)