Councilor-At-Large Opposes Use of Bonds to Offset Costs from Discrimination Lawsuits
By Brian Cheung
Originally Reported on February 27, 2012
Syracuse (NCC News) — The Syracuse Common Council voted Monday to sell up to $605,000 in bonds to pay a lawsuit award over a discrimination and sexual harassment case brought by a policewoman against the police department. Councilor-At-Large Lance Denno voted against the proposal and said misbehaving officers should be responsible for paying awards.
“The City of Syracuse has made no attempt to put the liability where it belongs: those few individual officers whose malicious acts have caused harm,” Denno said.
The bonds will be used to pay a $400,000 award given to Officer Katherine Lee in a lawsuit she filed against the city of Syracuse. Lee claimed she was sexually discriminated against, accused of misconduct, and denied pay and promotions after she complained to the police department. A district court found in Lee’s favor on the grounds of retaliation in March, 2010.
In a Common Council regular meeting today, Denno said it is unfair to indebt the future with bonds and added that officers should be held accountable for paying awards.
“It is fundamentally wrong and a monstrous injustice to burden our children with the costs of our failings,” he said. He vowed to vote against other proposals to pay misconduct lawsuit awards with bond sales.
The proposal passed by a 7-1 vote. Councilor-At-Large Kathleen Joy voted for the proposal and said the community has taken the right steps to avoid future misconduct.
The city is dealing with three additional lawsuit awards involving retaliation against policewomen, Denno said. The suits have a combined potential liability of around $1 million.