While you were away...

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the commissioner of the Department of Public Works job in Colonie, but none of it has come from the commissioner himself, Jack Cunningham.

I'm somewhat frustrated, Cunningham said. "You read the headlines, and it creates the appearance that I, as an individual, have done something wrong here."

For much of the debate over whether he could legally hold the commissioner's position, Cunningham was vacationing in Italy. During that time, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Court Division on March 31 ruled his appointment was invalid because he is not a resident of the Town of Colonie.

Following the decision, the town removed Cunningham from his post, but then passed a resolution on April 7 that changed the residency requirement to include all of Albany County and modified the job description to be primarily administrative as opposed to engineering. At that meeting, the town reappointed Cunningham as the commissioner of DPW.

"I was disappointed," Cunningham said of the Appellate Court decision. "I work hard at this job and the decision has nothing to do with the performance of the works, it only has to do with establishing my residency. So it was kind of disappointing that it becomes the issue."

Cunningham, former town supervisor of Bethlehem, said during that tenure, he hired a commissioner of Public Works who did not live within the town. He said he doesn't believe the residency of the commissioner's position has any real bearing on the taxpayers in the town.

"I think as long as the person you have in the job is dedicated to doing the work and is committed to serving the taxpayers in the community they're working in, then the residency is really not a major issue here," he said. "My commitment is to try and do the best job I can for the taxpayers of Colonie."

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