Davis and the Public Officers Law
by Geoff Kelly - posted 8:23 pm, November 13, 2009
I’m told the Common Council President Dave Franczyk has asked city attorneys for a ruling on whether the guilty plea offered in court today by Ellicott District Councilmember Brian Davis vacates his office.
As you may recall, former Erie County Legislator Butch Holt lost his seat upon pleading guilty to misdemeanor tax evasion charges in 2006, because his offense violated his oath of office. That interpretation of New York State Public Officers Law was made by Erie County Attorney Lawrence Rubin and upheld by the State Appellate Court.
So how will the Mayor Byron Brown’s Corporation Council respond? Do they tell the Common Council that Davis should be removed according to state law? Or do they disagree with the state courts on interpretation of state law and say Davis can hold on to his office, or somehow duck the question entirely, risking the appearance that they are substituting political obedience to Brown, who is Davis’s sponsor, for legal integrity?
The decision is made trickier by the fact that inquiries continue into the One Sunset affair and the city’s use of anti-poverty funds; there is overlap between those two matters, and Davis plays a part in both. Giving Davis a pass now could look even worse a few months down the road.
No wonder Alisa Lukasiewicz resigned as Brown’s Corporation Counsel. Who’d want that job? Too many shoes waiting to drop.