Syracuse Common Councilors, and the Syracuse city clerk, have sued Mayor Stephanie Miner for blocking their access to city computers and email, after they failed to sign an employee computer use policy by July 1.
However, State Supreme Court Justice Hugh Gilbert postponed making a decision July 22, after a court hearing where councilors sought an injuction to force Miner to reinstate their computer access.
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.
Councilors Pamela Hunter, Bob Dougherty, and Jake Barrett signed the policy.
An official from Miner’s office said the document had been revised after the city received recommendations from the state comptroller’s office.
Councilors then submitted a signed, alternative policy to the city’s document, with changes to the sections with which they’d disagreed.
The city refused the policy.
However, in court Wednesday, the city did concede that councilors cannot be fired, as employees, and the administration said it would be willing to change that part of the document.
Lawyers for both sides said the parties will continue to discuss the matter outside of court, in an effort to resolve the issue.
Syracuse has had a computer use policy since 2003, which city officials said has been designed to protect its system from harm.