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Judge blocks appeals in Gun Club demotions

Supreme Court Justice John Egan Jr. issued a preliminary injunction last week extending a restraining order that prevents the two demoted Colonie supervisors involved in the controversial paving of the West Albany Rod and Gun Club parking lot from appealing their demotions to the town's Personnel Officer Michael Foley.

Egan's decision extending the restraining order for an additional 30 days was announced Friday, Jan. 16.

The two men, William Neeley and Thomas Romano, have been under scrutiny by the town since August for their involvement in a 2007 paving job at the private West Albany Rod and Gun Club, on Willoughby Avenue, that New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli audited in June 2008 and determined to have not been completed in the best interest of the town's taxpayers.

Last month, 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, was demoted to civil engineering technician. With his demotion came a $9,804 pay cut.

In his audit, DiNapoli determined that there was nothing illegal about the paving job, but there were better ways it could have been handled. Still, the supervisor decided to pursue hearings of the two men who were in supervisory positions at the time of the paving job. The hearings were held in August and were heard by Bethlehem Justice Paul Dwyer.

Prior to the hearings, the men were suspended without pay for five weeks according to United Public Service Employees Union Regional Coordinator Kathy Wright.

Before Dwyer had the chance to pass on his recommendations to town officials, Neeley and Romano filed separate but similar lawsuits against the town for targeting them and suspending them, which they feel only their immediate supervisors should have had the authority to do.

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