The mayor of Lackawanna has made good on his threat to sue City Council members over their slashing of the public works commissioner’s salary.
In a complaint filed last week in State Supreme Court, Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski accused the Council of usurping his exclusive powers as mayor to hire and fire department heads when members voted in June to cut the annual salary of Public Works Commissioner Thomas N. Love to $10,000.
Love, 59, resigned in mid-November after 38 years as a city employee.
“The actions taken by the Council to force Mr. Love to resign his post as commissioner of public works are completely contrary to the City Charter and City Code and contrary to the City Code provisions pertaining to the hiring, firing and supervision of department heads,” the complaint states.
Szymanski asked the court to overturn the salary reduction and declare that he has the exclusive right under the city’s charter and code to allow Love to remain in his post at a salary of $30,000 – the amount Love was receiving prior to the Council’s budget change.
Szymanski hired the Bouvier Partnership law firm to represent his administration in the legal action.
Although appointed by the mayor, City Attorney Norman A. LeBlanc Jr. regularly attends City Council meetings and works closely with members of the Council.
“He felt that there was a conflict,” Szymanski said of LeBlanc.
Szymanski said he was forced to pursue legal action “to fight for the integrity of the administration.”
He declined to comment further.
Aside from acknowledging that he was served with court papers in the case, Council President Henry R. Pirowski also declined to comment. The four other members of the Council, Abdulsalam Noman, Rebecca Darch, Joseph Jerge and Keith E. Lewis, also were named in the complaint.
The Council has scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday.
In an interview prior to the mayor’s court filing, Pirowski stated that a lawsuit over the salary reduction would be frivolous and unsuccessful.
Szymanski appointed Tony DeSantis as temporary commissioner of public works for 10 days.
DeSantis, a Lackawanna public works employee for 26 years, has been a foreman for the past two years. DeSantis retains his union rank and pay.