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Judge rules Colonie was within its rights to demote workers

A state Supreme Court justice said Colonie officials acted within their rights in demoting two town employees for their roles in the 2007 paving job at the West Albany Rod and Gun Club.

Supreme Court Justice John Egan Jr. ruled in favor of the Town of Colonie Wednesday, Jan. 28, in two identical lawsuits pending since September, at the same time renewing the ability of Town of Colonie Civil Service Officer Michael Foley to hear the cases of William Neeley and Thomas Romano.

In conclusion, and to put it simply, the law does not specify who can file disciplinary charges, and while the commissioner of the Department of Public Works could have done so in this case, his jurisdiction to do so is not exclusive, and the town supervisor was within her rights in proffering the charges, wrote Egan in his decision.

Town Attorney Michael Magguilli said town officials are pleased with the judge's decision

"It confirms our belief that Supervisor Mahan followed the letter of the law in seeking accountability in this unfortunate case," said Magguilli.

United Public Service Employees Union Regional Coordinator Kathy Wright said Neeley and Romano have taken "tremendous cuts of pay," and she was disappointed the judge did not reverse the demotions.

Neeley, formerly the town's public works operations supervisor, was demoted to senior civil engineering technician. With his demotion came a $13,176 pay cut. Romano, formerly a highway maintenance supervisor for the town, was demoted to civil engineering technician. With his demotion came a $9,804 pay cut.

"We're obviously very disappointed in his [Egan's] decision regarding the two lawsuits," she said.

Wright said the employees are now looking forward to Foley hearing their appeals.

Foley said he first began looking into Neeley's and Romano's cases in December, although his work was put on hold when the town filed a temporary restraining order that prevented him from seeing the appeals.

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