Niskayuna– The State Department of Labor is examining claims that Niskayuna Supervisor Joe Landry struck back versus Town Court workers after the notary submitted a safety-related problem.
According to the town’s assistant lawyer, Alaina Finan, the Department of Labor has not provided its findings, so the town thinks about the matter continuous and will not comment. Landry did not return call but, through Finan, suggested he would not comment.
Landry is up for re-election in November. He is also a lawyer for Schenectady County and the chairman of the Schenectady County Democratic Party.
The Town Court is not a part of the town the way the highway or neighborhood programs departments are. Rather, it is governed by the state Office of Court Administration (OCA). The courtroom and supplementary centers are housed within Town Hall, but court workers are not worked with or fired by Landry.
Town Justice Steve Swinton’s notary is Barbara Pidgeon, and she has been a court worker for 21 years.
At the heart of the dispute is an entryway on the north side of Town Hall. The door has long been comprehended to be an entryway for use by court workers and a fire escape for the court.
In 2008, his very first year as a judge, Swinton asked the OCA to carry out a security evaluation. According to Swinton and Pidgeon, the evaluation results revealed the court required security updates, consisting of much better outdoor lighting over the staff members’ entryway.
” We concurred with the evaluation,” Pidgeon stated. “We come out of court at 10 or 11 in the evening, and it would be pitch dark. It’s not unreasonable to think dissatisfied offenders or their households might be waiting in the car park.”.
Landry got a copy of the evaluation, and Swinton raised the issue of setting up the door light at the town’s regular monthly Public Safety Committee Meetings. For 4 years, Swinton stated he raised the issue of lighting for the back entrance but got no reaction.
” I was never ever provided a reason they would not do it, so I stopped putting it on the program,” Swinton stated.
Getting no outcomes, he stopped going to the conferences. The other town judge, Peter Scagnelli, began representing the courts on the town’s Public Safety Committee.
In the fall of 2016, though there had been no direct risks towards judges or court workers, Pidgeon was still worried about the security of court staff members following court procedures.
She was sharing her issues about the security and security of court staff members with a buddy, who was also a labor lawyer, and the pal informed Pidgeon that if she did not feel safe in the work environment, she might submit a grievance with Public Employee Safety and Health, a department within the state Department of Labor. Authorities would then need to come out and examine the work environment for security offenses.
Pidgeon, in assessment with Swinton, made a protest to the PESH workplace on Sept. 12, 2016, and state agents checked the court centers.
PESH rapidly advised that a light is set up above the workers’ entryway which the town conduct obligatory yearly work environment violence training. The company provided a citation, needing the problems be resolved.
Pidgeon stated that, soon afterward, the light was set up above the staff members’ entryway.
In March, Landry sent out an e-mail to court staff members informing them that, efficient right away, they were to go into and leave the building through the primary entryway, like the remainder of the town staff members.
Quickly afterward, a part-time court staff member tried to use her type in the court workers’ entryway and found that the lock had been handicapped.
Pidgeon and Swinton say that requiring everybody to use the primary entryway forces judges and court workers to pass offenders and relatives who have not gone through security searches, like the metal detector used before people are confessed to the courtroom. That might expose them to unsafe, unstable individuals, they stated.
In between mid-March and completion of April, Swinton fulfilled at least two times with Landry, consisting of when with Scagnelli as a neutral celebration, with the objective of restoring access to the court staff members’ entryway.
Swinton reported that Landry firmly insisted the door was never ever indicated to be a worker entryway. When the conversation intensified, with Landry and Swinton trading observations and allegations, Swinton left the meeting.
Swinton stated that, when he remained in the Town Hall lobby, Landry stood at the top of the stairs, pointed his finger at Swinton and screamed an obscenity-laced caution that Swinton would not get what he was searching for in the way of a concession over the entryway.
” We tried numerous times to solve this without there being this sort of brouhaha,” Swinton stated.
Suspicious that Landry rejected gain access to in response to Pidgeon’s filing of the September 2016 grievance, Pidgeon submitted the 2nd grievance, this time declaring retaliation. It is that problem that the Labor Department is now examining.
Pidgeon stated she simply desires access to the staff member entryway she’s used for more than 20 years.
” I simply want the door back,” Pidgeon stated. “I want judges and court staff members to enter and out securely.”.
Details concerning the grievances versus Landry appear to have been avoided Niskayuna Town Board members. Denise Murphy McGraw reported that she– and she thinks the remainder of the board– very first discovered the examination Tuesday.
” I was informed of it last night when it broke,” Murphy McGraw stated on Wednesday. She went on to say that she thinks about Swinton to be a pal, is extremely worried about the circumstance and is wanting to get to the bottom of what took place.
” I care deeply for every single person who operates in Town Hall,” she stated. “If people are feeling hazardous, I want them to inform me.”.
She stated she had not talked with Landry since the news came out.
When the Department of Labor has settled its examination, it might refer its findings to the New York Attorney General’s Office, which would consider what, if any, action must be taken.
The Niskayuna Republican Committee released the following declaration in response to the story Wednesday afternoon:
” This issue of Mr. Landry’s retaliation versus Judge Swinton and Chief Clerk Barb Pidgeon is a disgrace to the Town of Niskayuna. This is an outright disrespect and issue for staff member security, the whistle-blower law and an unfortunate example of Mr. Landry’s less than professional habits and absence of management. It is an additional insult to our locals that the Town Board rejects any understanding of this issue; they are either not being genuine or not doing their job.”.