The Lackawanna City Council sidestepped discussion Monday about whether their newest member has a conflict of interest because she’s employed as the clerk for the School Board.
Annette Iafallo, who won election in November as 2nd Ward councilwoman, took her seat for the first time Monday, voting in unison with other members on all of the items presented.
During the meeting, none of the Council members made an issue of Iafallo’s full-time job as School Board clerk. But afterward, Council President Henry R. Pirowski said in an interview that the Council was still examining whether it’s all right for Iafallo to serve on the Council and be employed as School Board clerk.
Possible conflicts of interest could occur because the city and the school district deal with each other on various matters, Pirowski said.
Iafallo, 61, has maintained that holding both jobs isn’t a conflict.
After Monday’s meeting, she reiterated in an interview that the people of the 2nd Ward voted her into office by a large margin, while knowing she was employed as school clerk.
Nothing in the City Charter prohibits Iafallo from taking office.
However, a quirk in the New York State Education Law, applying to school districts in cities of fewer than 125,000 people, suggests that a member of the City Council can’t be appointed to the post of school district clerk or treasurer, unless the Council provides consent.
According to Section 2503 of the law: “No city officer shall be appointed to any such office, unless the common council or other legislative body of the city shall give its consent thereto in writing.”
The language doesn’t exactly apply to Iafallo’s situation, because she’s not asking to be appointed district clerk; she already has that post. But 4th Ward Councilman Keith E. Lewis said Iafallo must now seek permission from the rest of the Council to continue in her employment as district clerk.
“That’s my understanding of how the law is written,” Lewis said, adding that he anticipated Iafallo would be requesting authorization from the full Council. “We haven’t had any conversation about that, but that’s my expectation.”
Pirowski also said Iafallo’s situation will have to be addressed further.
“I do not believe it’s been resolved,” he said.
Iafallo served on the School Board until 2007, including a stint as president. In 2008, she was appointed by the board as school district clerk, a post that pays $42,205 plus benefits.
Her part-time Council post will pay $13,500 per year.
Rebecca L. Darch previously served as 2nd Ward councilwoman. She was appointed to the post by other Council members. But Iafallo, a former mayoral candidate with widespread name recognition in Lackawanna, defeated Darch in a Democratic primary and easily won the general election.