By Jessica Cohen
For the Gazette
PORT JERVIS - Mayor Kelly Decker’s new choice for corporation counsel, Glen Plotsky, was voted down by the Common Council on Monday, as conflict continues over the appointment.
The council had also voted down Decker’s choice of David Bavoso, with his father, Bill Bavoso, as deputy counsel, at previous council meetings. All three are from the same law firm that opposing council members contended has conflicts of interest, although additional concerns arose about the Bavosos.
Decker said that seven attorneys sent letters of interest in the position, and four were interviewed. He had a list of 31 questions that he asked each of them at their interview and a rubric to grade them on a scale of one to four, although not all answers were included in the grade, if they were not directly relevant, he said.
“For me what was most important was length of time in municipal law, how responsive they were, how they handled certain issues, their scope of work and, of course, being local,” Decker said.
Assisting in the search were Police Chief William Worden and three council members. Two, Councilwoman-at-large Lisa Randazzo and Third Ward Councilwoman Kristin Trovei, had supported Decker’s first choice for the position. The third, Tim Simmons, had been adamantly opposed. He and the same four other council members who had opposed the Bavoso appointment also voted against appointing Plotsky. The others in opposition were Fourth Ward Councilman Stan Siegel, Second Ward Councilwomen Maria Mann and Chandler Campbell, and First Ward Councilman Regis Foster.
“Glen Plotsky is from the same firm as the Bavosos, where we felt there was conflict,” said Siegel. “Only Kelly knows why he made that choice.”
Foster too said he wanted to look elsewhere for a corporation counsel.
“The city needs a corporation counsel with diverse skills since so many different issues are brought to the council's attention,” he said. “There are other law firms, in my opinion, that the committee interviewed that will best suit our needs.”
“The city has the opportunity to hire larger firms with broader diversity in their practices, which typically means greater resources in manpower to research cases and craft strategy,” she said. “Corporation counsel can profoundly affect city residents for some time to come. I want to make my selection very, very carefully.”
Trovei said, “I just hope that city business and the budget are not negatively impacted by the lack of full-time legal representation for an extended period of time.”
Randazzo expressed similar concerns. “Due to a lack of collaboration on this matter, the city will spend above the amount budgeted for this line in 2020,” she said. “I have still not been presented with any facts to support why the council should not support the appointments put forth by Mayor Decker. This is information I requested and would have willingly reviewed if anything of substance was brought forth. I have to believe that the lack of collaboration is politically driven.”
Decker said the argument that Plotsky’s firm is in a conflicted position has no merit.
“These are only perceived conflicts in the minds of those that think they may exist when they actually might not or don’t. Ask one person who is telling you there is a conflict and have them recite the conflict and the law. They can’t and they know it. It’s simply a power play and a power play only.”
“All other firms that we interviewed also represent other municipalities that are next to each other, just like us and Deerpark. They too have run into conflicts. The same attorney can work with both municipalities but must reveal any conflict or perceived conflict that may exist at the time. Then the municipalities decide whether they want to continue to move forward or get a separate counsel. It doesn’t happen frequently.”
Asked what he will do now to fill the position, Decker said, “I will review my notes. I have input from the council and will propose again on Monday, March 9, and we will go from there.”