Binghamton City Council Business Meeting Report – 6/5/24

This is a summary of public comment and legislation voted on at the 6/5/24 Binghamton City Council Business Meeting. Reminder: next meeting is June 24th because of the Juneteenth holiday.





1. The City of Binghamton will hold a Public Hearing regarding RL 24-116: A Resolution authorizing the City to apply for and accept entitlement grants from HUD in the amount of $2,872,045

Summary: Small changes suggested by the mayor to the CDAC budget. 

2. The City of Binghamton will hold a Public Hearing regarding RL 24-91 A Local Law to amend Charter Chapter 45 to include unhoused status as a protected class

Summary: Resolution designed to prevent discrimination against unhoused people based on their status as an unhoused person. Submitted by Rebecca Rathmell.

Update: The mayor has come out against this resolution, saying that it will “ruin downtown and could ruin neighborhoods all across the city” by allowing homeless encampments to proliferate. In the WIVT article and on WNBF with Bob Joseph this morning, Rathmell argued that the resolution does not give unhoused people the right to violate the law, private property rights, or park ordinances. She says it is designed to prevent discrimination, to protect their 4th Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure, and to acknowledge their humanity. Rathmell says that local homelessness has increased 70% since Kraham took office three years ago and that emergency shelter services cost the county $7.5 million per year.

My Take: Large investments in affordable housing and tenant protections can fight homelessness and save public money in the long-term. Unfortunately, a politician’s brain can only operate in intervals of 2-4 years. Why would they stick their neck out for an investment that might pay off during their successor’s term? That’s just bad business. $7.5 million per year could be better spent on long-term solutions, but city and county elites would rather demonize unhoused people and panic about an imagined plague of tents spreading like locusts around the city. The mayor is taking credit for an affordable housing development at 200 Court St that he seems to have had no involvement with: “We should be focusing all of our efforts on finding solutions for unhoused individuals, finding solutions to expand affordable housing in the City of Binghamton. I’ve done just that. There’s a project that’s underway right now at 200 Court Street to provide services for substance use disorder or unhoused individuals.” Protecting unhoused people and building affordable housing are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both.

These Public Hearings will take place at 6PM during the June 26, 2024 regular City Council Business Meeting in City Council Chambers, 38 Hawley Street, Binghamton NY. Residents wishing to participate in Public Hearings may do so electronically by emailing their comments prior to 1:00PM on the day of the meeting to or in-person during the meeting.


1. Public Hearing regarding RL24-86 An Ordinance to amend the official zoning map to rezone a portion of Clinton Street and Mygatt Street. No comments made.

2. Public Hearing regarding RL 24-96 An Ordinance to amend the Code of the City of Binghamton, Chapter 410, Zoning, Article VII, Section 410. No comments made.


Residents wishing to submit public comment may do so electronically by emailing their comments prior to 1:00PM on the day of the meeting to or in-person during the meeting.

Councilmember Mativetsky began the public comment session by apologizing to a speaker at the last meeting, whom she interrupted and accused of defamation for claiming BPD officer Brad Kaczynski committed brutality against his father. She said she would reach out to the Crime Victims Assistance Center to learn more about dealing with commenters who are discussing trauma. 

Many commenters spoke against RL24-85, which would accept $66k in funding from the District Attorney for security cameras:

Tina Chronopoulos said surveillance systems often have their data stolen or misused. She said the city’s surveillance tech provider, FLOCK, is a private company with no accountability to the public. She also pointed out that this data is shared with other municipalities and often used to persecute specific religions and ideologies, e.g. Muslim people after 9/11 and Free Palestine encampments.

Bill Martin talked about the $127 million in funding for surveillance that was included in the NY State budget that recently passed. He said surveillance systems don’t prevent crime and actually lead to civil rights abuses such as criminalizing people based on mistaken identity, stalking of romantic partners by law enforcement, and the prosecution of people traveling to obtain an abortion.

Taj Robinson talked about how surveillance systems don’t actually keep people safe and that we’re already over-surveilled. Robinson cited slumlords like Isaac Anzaroot as one of the many present dangers to public safety that can’t be addressed via surveillance.

K Vogel said the public already spends too much money on surveillance and thinks we should finally draw a line in the sand. “It costs nothing to say no to this.”

Via Email:

Nathan Vanderberg said that a lot of sensitive data ends up being stolen and sold and that we’re effectively outsourcing our safety to private companies. He pointed out that machine learning and Artificial Intelligence can not be held accountable. 

Michael Best pointed out that surveillance companies provide no transparency as to what is done with the data they collect. He said surveillance is wrong even when the intentions are good and pointed to a report by the ACLU stating that social media profiles in Boston were being targeted by police for protected speech. He also mentioned facial recognition technology and its documented inability to accurately detect dark-skinned faces, which leads to false incrimination.

Andy Pragacz talked about the information being collected as “total and detailed.” He cited the effects of surveillance as a “digital dragnet” that leads to “selective persecution” that has a chilling effect on political engagement. 

Many more commenters spoke in favor of Local Law LL24-03: A Local Law to establish Responsible Bidder requirements on Public Works projects.

Frank Stento, Director Of Business Development at IUPAT District Council 4 (Local 178) said this law would address issues like labor trafficking and wage theft.

Six other local union members spoke in support of the Responsible Bidder Ordinance (RBO). They said it would increase wages, reduce out-of-town labor for Binghamton workers, protect public money from being wasted, and hold “bad actors” accountable. 

Jeff, an unhoused person, claimed he was assaulted by a Broome County Security Officer named Skinner, after he went to the officer to discuss a separate assault against two unhoused men by a “roving band of kids.” You can see the video of the alleged assault here. The officer is seen removing unhoused people from the area around the bus station, can be heard saying that the men deserved to be attacked because they were near the bus station, and then clearly tries to smack Jeff’s phone out of his hand.

Via Email:

Kenneth Brown wrote in about the attack by Officer Skinner and chastised the city council for not speaking about it publicly after twenty-one days. He singled out Councilman Hotchkiss as being particularly disappointing for his lack of response.

REVIEW OF MAYORAL VETO: Introductory Ordinance O24-38. An Ordinance to amend the Code Chapter 307 vending hours. Overridden 7-0

  • Summary: Ordinance would allow food carts to operate downtown from 6 am to 3 am on Friday and Saturday. Current regulations allow operation 9 am until 9 pm. The mayor’s statement is focused on potential “public safety challenges” that increased vending hours might create with bar patrons taking longer to disperse from downtown after the bars close. He claims that any changes to vending hours should be done in coordination with BPD.
  • My Take: The city council laughed off these claims, mostly because the vending hours would end at the same time the bars close, meaning that anyone vending when the cops are dispersing crowds would be operating illegally. Kraham’s statement is a great example of the reactionary conception of police as both The Big Macho Immovable Blue Line Between Us and Them and the smol bean who needs an assault rifle, 4 inches of Kevlar, a license to kill, and $20k in overtime pay just to safely wander around State Street telling people to “move along.”


Introductory Ordinance O24-33. An Ordinance to amend Charter Section 26-9 to clarify legislative sign out process. Passed 4-3 (Mativetsky, Cavanaugh, Kosty dissenting)

  • Summary: When legislation is approved in committee, it must currently be discussed at the next City Council work session. This would stipulate that it must be discussed at one of the next two work sessions to give the clerks more time to process them.

Introductory Resolution R24-39. A Resolution to accept funding from the District Attorney for the installation of cameras. Not voted on (did not have the requisite number of “sign outs” by Council Members). Will presumably be voted on at the next business meeting.

  • Summary: Funding would be coming from the District Attorney’s traffic diversion program. BPD said there are currently twenty active cameras in the city and these new ones will mostly be placed in the North Street corridor and the North Side. The DA wanted the cameras in these areas based on crime stats.


Local Law LL24-03. A Local Law to establish Responsible Bidder requirements on Public Works projects. Unanimously held over for further consultation with Corporation Counsel. Councilman Dundon seemed confident that the legislation will be voted on at the next business meeting.

  • Summary:  This law would be using Erie County’s framework, which Councilman Dundon said has stood up in court. No bidder would be turned away. Could be constructed to privilege local contractors. Violations could cause contractors to be banned 6 months to indefinitely. Examples given by councilmembers: Collier Street garage and Rec Park tennis courts were full of setbacks and cost overruns. According to Dundon, business as usual for the city is to always accept the lowest bidder. City could collect damages from contractors who do shoddy work and start a database to track repeat offenders and inform future contract decisions in our community and others.
  • My Take: This looks like a great piece of legislation. Hopefully it can stand up to legal challenges. One example of a disaster that this legislation may prevent is the botched rehab of the Rec Park tennis courts. The work was contracted out to Broome Bituminous, whose CFO Tom Scanlon was president of the Republican majority on city council at the time. The courts closed in 2019, work began in the spring of 2021 and seemed to be completed that fall but Broome Bituminous screwed up the court surface and it had to be redone. It finally reopened in 2024. According to WNBF, “When Mayor David proposed replacing tennis courts at Recreation Park and MacArthur Park, he estimated the total cost of both projects at $600,000. That figure eventually soared to $1.5 million just for the work at Rec Park.”

Introductory Ordinance 24-43. An Ordinance to amend the City of Binghamton Charter § 26-3. Inspection of City departments, bureaus and institutions. Passed 6-1 (Kosty dissenting)

  • Summary: This ordinance would be intended to make more information available to the city council. Corporation counsel said this might potentially violate privacy laws. Councilmembers suggested this concern could be mitigated by confidentiality training. Example from Mativetsky: Dundon wanted info on snow removal to respond to constituents and was told to redirect constituents to DPW instead. Example from Cavanaugh: Climate Action Plan only presented to city council at the very end of the process with no input from the city council.

Introductory Ordinance 24-44. An Ordinance to modify 2024 Finance budget for payout of an employee in the Finance department. Passed 6-1 (Porter dissenting)

  • Summary: Shager is leaving his position so he’s asking for his $45k in payout to be expedited. Money is being transferred from vacant positions in the fire dept.

Introductory Resolution 24-44. A Resolution authorizing 6th Ward Sewer Interceptor Amendment 3 to Barton Loguidice Engineering agreement. Passed 7-0

  • Summary: Environmental Facilities Control is demanding this change. 

Also in the news this week:

Mark Yonaty (who recently convinced the mayor and city council to apply for $2 million from the state so he could redevelop the building he lives in) is launching yet another downtown business.  

There are no meetings next week because of the Juneteenth holiday so happy Juneteenth! See you all June 24th for the next city council work session.

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