The new policy contains an addendum which says council members, and the city clerk, as elected officials, cannot be fired by the city, although city officials still have the right to suspend anyone’s computer use for violations of the contract.
Common Councilors filed a lawsuit against the city over the new computer policy in July; Supreme Court Judge Hugh Gilbert dismissed the lawsuit earlier this month.
Supreme Court Judge Hugh Gilbert has dismissed a lawsuit Syracuse’s Common Council filed against the city over its computer use policy in July.
Common Councilors, along with the Syracuse city clerk, sued Mayor Stephanie Miner’s administration for blocking their access to city computers and email, after they failed to sign an employee computer use policy by July 1.
Councilors objected to the city’s wording in the new computer use document, which said the city’s information technology department would have full access to confidential correspondence, keystrokes, and users’ Internet activity. They also said the policy identified them as “employees,” rather than as “elected officials.”
Every councilor but three, and city clerk John Copanas, refused to sign the document.
Previously, Judge Gilbert had denied a request from the council, and Copanas, for an injunction against Mayor Miner, which would have required the city to restore the councilors’ email access.
“The doctrine of Separation of Powers does not exist within municipal governments,” Gilbert said in his final decision, citing two other cases.
The mayor has released the following statement regarding Gilbert’s ruling:
“Today the judge sided with the administration in this important decision. The city’s computer network is a multi-million dollar asset which stores the personal, and confidential information of our employees, residents, and taxpayers. We have always maintained that our information security is a top priority in today’s era of continuous cyber threats. This decision allows the administration to continue to strengthen our cyber security initiatives to ensure our network is appropriately secured, as we were asked to do in an audit from the New York State Comptroller. This brings this matter to a close, and I look forward to working with the council on addressing the serious matters before the city, including modernizing our infrastructure, alleviating poverty, and keeping our community safe.”
As a result of the court’s decision, councilors will now have to sign the administration’s computer use policy in order to regain access to the city’s computers.
The lawsuit reportedly cost over $28,000 in legal fees.