POUGHKEEPSIE – The agenda for the August 23 meeting of the Poughkeepsie Common Council has been prepared and includes a section titled “Mayor’s Comments.” Council Chairperson Sarah Salem had eliminated the mayor’s comments from the agenda in September of 2020.
Salem had refused to allow the mayor to speak at council meetings last year and was met with sharp criticism from fellow council members. Salem had sent an email to Mayor Rob Rolison informing him of the change, saying, “The lines and between the Executive and Legislative branches of our City Government seem to be muddled and confused. For that reason, and in an attempt to bring clarity to each of our functionalities, I am removing Mayor’s comments from the agenda.”
Rolison was not notified of the reinstatement and only learned of the change when the agenda was published. “I was not aware of this and saw it on the agenda. I think it is a good step in the right direction to keep the public and the council informed.”
When asked about the policy reversal, Salem told Mid-Hudson News, “My intent in taking the Mayor’s comments off the legislative agenda was to follow through on the charter changes made to the structure of our government more than three years ago now and empower the legislature by keeping the executive branch separate. At the time I made this decision, I had the support of the majority of my colleagues, however, that support is no longer present. I’m listening to where my colleagues are at now, and my response is to bring the mayor’s comments back.”
When the mayor’s updates were barred from meetings, Councilman Chris Petsas called the decision “petty politics” on Salem’s part. “For as long as I can remember, the council has afforded time for the mayor to give us and the public an update on city business.” Petsas did not respond to a request seeking comment about the return of the mayor’s comments to the agenda.