Common Council Issues Controversial Bonds

Denno Only No Vote

By Mark Hazlett

Originally Reported February 27, 2012


The Syracuse Common Council voted Monday to issue more than $600,000 in bonds to pay a female police officer who won a federal court case over mistreatment by the police department. Councilor-At-Large Lance Dennovoted against the ordinance, saying the police should be responsible for paying for it.

Councilor-At-Large Lance Denno. Photo from


“It is fundamentally wrong and a monstrous injustice to burden our children with the costs of our failings,” Denno said. “Therefore I will vote no on this and any other attempt to absolve the city officials of their moral responsibilities by mortgaging our future and indebting our children.”

In 2006, Officer Kathy Lee claimed the police retaliated against her after she complained about sexual discrimination. Lee said she was sexually harassed and denied pay and promotion equal to male counterparts and was accused of misconduct when she complained about it.

A district court jury ruled in favor of Lee in March, 2010. A federal appeals court upheld the ruling in October, 2011.

The appeals court agreed with the district court and awarded Lee $400,000. The city must also pay the attorney’s fee of $203,000.

Denno said he is concerned about not just the financial impact of the ordinance, but also the actions of the police department.

“The public behavior that has been the basis of these liabilities cannot be undone,” Denno said.

Councilor-At-Large Kathleen Joy was one of seven yes votes and said the issues have stopped since Frank Fowler became the Syracuse Police Chief.  

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