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Colonie workers face 60-day suspension

A Bethlehem judge recommended Tuesday, Nov. 11, that two Town of Colonie employees accused of misconduct in the paving of the parking lot at the West Albany Rod and Gun Club be suspended for 60 days without pay.

A report completed in June by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found that town employees and town materials were used to pave the club's parking lot with spoils, a composite material of wood, dirt and debris, in a manner that was not in the best interest of town taxpayers. The comptroller found that the administrators -- Public Works Operations Supervisor William Neeley and Highway Maintenance Supervisor Thomas Romano -- who allowed the paving project to go on were responsible for the significantly higher costs, which were found to be $48,000 more than alternative options.

The town hired Judge Paul Dwyer of Bethlehem as the disciplinary hearing officer when the hearings on Neeley and Romano were conducted in late August, and his findings were just recently issued.

Kathy Wright, United Public Service Employees Union regional coordinator, who is defending the employees, said that if the town went through with Dwyer's recommendations, Neeley and Romano would appeal the decision.

Director of Town Operations Peter Gannon said he could not comment on whether the town would carry out the recommendations, however, he said, "I anticipate the board will consider it in an executive session before the Nov. 20 Town Board meeting."

Neeley and Romano were suspended without pay for about five weeks, according to Wright, ending in August. The employees were put back on the payroll, where they remain today. Should the town decide to abide by the recommendations, Wright said the more than 30 days they were already suspended without pay would be deducted from the 60-day suspension.

Wright has said in the past that Neeley and Romano are, "long-term employees with spotless records," and that she and her clients feel that their disciplinary proceedings are a result of political maneuvering by Supervisor Paula Mahan.

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