No answers from Syracuse Common Council after Miner fires administrator

Members of the CRB attempt to speak with Common Councilors / February 23

A local citizens' group looking for answers after their leader was fired apparently didn't get any from the Syracuse Common Council.

At the end of Wednesday's Syracuse Common Council study session, a group of people from the Citizen Review Board converged on the councilors looking to ask questions about the firing of the group's administrator, Felicia Davis. The group included Davis' husband, former Syracuse mayoral candidate Alfonso Davis.

Mayor Stephanie Miner fired Felicia Davis earlier this month. The CRB is questioning whether Miner has the authority to make that move. Alfonso Davis says she doesn't and violated the law when she did so. He also says the Common Council refuses to publicly address the matter or deal with the problem.

The council sat back and did nothing. The question is: 'What are they going to do?' said Alfonso Davis.

Davis also says he is "Questioning the council TMs ability to deal with issues, knowing they have the law on their side."

Following the study session, the councilors immediately went into executive session. There was no public comment session available.

Read below for previous coverage of this story.

Original story from February 6:

Members of Syracuse's Citizen's Review Board are challenging Mayor Stephanie Miner's legal authority to fire the Citizen Review Board's full-time administrator. The head of the Syracuse CRB, Felicia Davis, was fired Friday.

In a news release issued prior to a news conference Monday morning the CRB reported it held a meeting to review the actions taken by the mayor. The CRB finds that "The mayor has exceeded her legal authority. The power to hire or fire the CRB administrator under local law rests exclusively with the board of directors. We have found Ms. (Felicia) Davis' performance over the years, to be exemplary. The time in question by the mayor Ms. Davis was out on maternity leave." the release stated.

The CRB urged reinstatement of Ms. Davis and urged the Syracuse Common Council to immediately reactivate any and all necessary budget items.

In light of the issues raised by the mayor the board has taken them under advisement and demand that Ms. Davis is place on administrative leave with pay until we complete our investigation.

The release was signed by David Baines Chairman of CRB and Janice Speights' vice chair.

In response, Syracuse Corporation Counsel Juanita Perez Williams says "the Mayor has the authority to remove a full time employee who is negligent in their duties. Williams also said the Mayor reached out to the CRB Board prior to the firing but received no response. "The failure of Felicia Davis is quite frankly the failure of the board." Williams said

The Syracuse Common Council may also investigate whether Mayor Miner has the authority to fire Davis.

We're concerned that the executive branch may be over stepping its authority," said Common Councilor Kathleen Joy in a statement released over the weekend.

The Citizen Review Board looks at complaints against the police department. Joy says Felicia Davis was appointed to her position by the CRB board. Joy said councilors were notified of Davis's firing after the fact. She said, "The Common Council wants to know under what authority the Mayor had acted in the termination."

Perez-Williams says Davis was terminated because she "failed to comply with procedures and responsibilities required of the program coordinator, specifically failing to provide documentation and testimony to a federal court in a case involving alleged police misconduct."

Perez-Williams say while the city was successful in trying the case, it was revealed during the trial was that Davis, "failed to comply with proper procedure when receiving a complaint from a citizen who alleged excessive force from law enforcement."

"Because she failed to adequately respond to this complaint, a federal court sanctioned the city for her misconduct," Perez-Williams said.

Perez-Williams said In 2010, Davis is reporting she received 13 complaints, nine of which she forwarded to Syracuse police after she learned the city was reviewing whether she was receiving her responsibilities.

It's a $62,000 a year position.

Davis had no comment when she showed up at her offices Monday morning to collect her belongings. She was accompanied by a throng of supporters and CRB Board members.