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Colonie changes course in paving case

Town officials withdrew a motion to dismiss lawsuits filed by the employees who were disciplined for their involvement in a controversial paving job at the West Albany Rod and Gun Club in the spring of 2007.

By reversing the motion to dismiss, town officials now have 10 days to convince a judge that they did have the authority to discipline William Neeley, the town's former public works operations supervisor, and Thomas Romano, formerly a highway maintenance supervisor.

Also during the 10-day period, the town has extended a restraining order against the town's Civil Service Officer Michael Foley, barring him from conducting his own hearings or writing a decision before a judge has heard the case.

According to Town Attorney Michael Magguilli, We just want the status quo to stay the same until the court can decide.

Neeley and Romano filed a lawsuit in September saying that only their immediate supervisors, not Town Supervisor Paula Mahan or the town board, had the authority to discipline them. At that time, the two had been suspended without pay from July to August for their involvement in paving the Rod and Gun Club parking lot using town materials and personnel in 2007. An audit in mid-June by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found that paving the lot was not in the best interest of the taxpayers. The comptroller determined that town officials could have opted for cheaper options that could have saved as much as $48,000.

The town began hearings about Neeley's and Romano's involvement shortly after suspending the men without pay in July. Neeley and Romano returned to work in August because town could no longer legally suspend them without pay. Their lawsuit claims that only the highway superintendent or commissioner of the department of public works has the authority to discipline them.

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