Concerned about what they see as a revolving door of criminals passing through city jail, Falls City Council members voted unanimously Thursday night to "implore the state of New York to immediately repeal" large portions of its new criminal justice reform law.
Specifically, the council resolution asks that the state legislature "repeal bail and discovery reform laws that are endangering the people of New York and revers(ing) decades of bipartisan progress in reducing crime."
"It needs to be repealed," Council Member William Kennedy said. "When you're taking handcuffs off of (criminals) and putting them on police and judges, something is wrong."
The resolution acknowledges a "need for statewide bail and discovery reform," but then takes issue with new criminal justice reforms that eliminated cash bail for misdemeanor and some felony crimes. The council members expressed frustration that, under he new reform law, judges in many cases are stripped of the ability to jail suspects who may have committed multiple crimes in a short period of time.
"We need something in place for repeat offenders," Kennedy said.
The resolution asks that discretion in setting bail be returned to judges. It also calls for increasing discovery deadlines from 15 to 45 days after arraignment.
Copies of the resolution will be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as well as members of the state legislature.
The council also approved Patrick Brown, a Falls accountant, to replace Nicholas Forester as its representative on the Niagara Falls Water Board. Forester's term on the board had expired.
"He had a good resume and good experience. The fact that he's a CPA (certified public accountant)," Council Chair Chris Voccio said," and he has a really good reputation."
Council member Kenny Tompkins said he felt Brown would be a "fiscal watchdog" on the water board.
"I think he's a very strong fiscal accountability guy," Tompkins said. "He's a finance guy. He'll understand the money. I think that's what we want, a fiscal watchdog."
Council Member Andrew Touma also supported Brown's appointment, though he had originally backed Forester for a second term.
"I made the case for Nick Forester," Touma said. "I think he did a good job for the public, but my colleagues didn't agree."
Touma said he thought that Brown, who has previously served on the Niagara Falls Water Authority board of directors, will "do a good job."
But that view was not shared by Touma's fellow Democrat on the council, Kennedy.
"I will not vote for this guy," Kennedy said to his fellow council members. "He's politically toxic. We all know the corruption over there and this guy won't help it."
The final vote to approve Brown was 4-1.