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Colonie changes course in paving case

As the hearings concluded in August, Bethlehem Judge Paul Dwyer recommended in November that the men receive a 60-day suspension without pay. The recommendations found the men at fault for some aspects of what town officials considered to be inappropriate decisions regarding the paving job, but stated that Neeley and Romano did not act illegally in the incident.

A few weeks later, on Thursday, Dec. 4, the Town Board decided to reject the recommendation that said Neeley and Romano did not act illegally, as well as the recommendation for a 60-day suspension, and voted in favor of demoting both the two to positions with significant pay cuts.

Neeley was demoted to senior civil engineering technician, with a $13,176 pay cut. Romano was demoted to civil engineering technician, with a $9,804 pay cut.

The men have been working in their new positions since early December, but filed an appeal three weeks ago against the findings and actions that left them demoted.

According to Magguilli, all proceedings regarding the case are adjourned until Friday, Jan. 16, when the town and Neeley and Romano's lawyer return to court.

According to United Public Service Employees Union Regional Coordinator Kathy Wright, the decision that will come from the Jan. 16 proceedings on the original September lawsuits could reverse all that has been done to the employees already. Wright said that if a judge decides in favor of Neeley and Romano that the town supervisor did not have the authority to discipline the employees, they will be able to return to their original positions.

It could take months for a decision," she added.

Still, Wright said, it is Neeley and Romano's belief that the town is trying to deliberately complicate the situation.

"The town is trying to muddy the waters as much as possible," she said.

Neeley and Romano are also awaiting a decision to be made on the appeals that were filed this month, which Wright said will also be pushed back until after the Jan. 16 court proceedings.

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