The Genesee Town Board, paralyzed by an internal feud since Nov. 5, has been ordered by a judge to hold a meeting Tuesday, but a flurry of resignations has left the board without a legal quorum.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Peter J. Sprague of Allegany County Thursday issued rulings designed to restore normal government business to the town of 2,000, which is along Route 417 between Wellsville and Olean.
Town business has been at a virtual standstill, and about $30,000 in bills have gone unpaid since the Town Board dismissed Town Clerk Carolyn Sherman on Nov. 5. Supervisor Curville Jordan declared a state of emergency and refused to call a Town Board meeting or conduct town business.
Before the judge signed his order Thursday, the town supervisor mailed in his resignation, along with those of Councilmen Robert Deschler and Jerald DeGroff, who had voted with him to fire Mrs. Sherman.
That leaves only two councilmen available for a meeting on Tuesday -- Clyde Youngs and Mrs. Sherman's husband, Edgar Sherman, who as deputy supervisor is likely to become acting town supervisor.
Charles L. Barrett, who was elected in November for a term beginning Jan. 1, said he is waiting for the resignations of Jordan and Deschler so he can be appointed to take his seat early. But without a third member, the two remaining councilmen cannot convene a meeting to appoint him.
Mrs. Sherman's term expires Dec. 31, and the new town clerk will be Youngs' daughter, Catherine Youngs.
In his ruling, Justice Sprague:
Nullified the Nov. 5 dismissal of Mrs. Sherman and ordered her restored to full pay.
Declared an end to the state of emergency and ordered the supervisor to open the Town Hall and provide the keys to Mrs. Sherman and return all records inhis possession to her.
Ordered the Town of Genesee to pay all court costs, including legal fees involved in the two court hearings he has held thus far.
The Shermans' lawyer, George C. Bradley of Bolivar, estimated these costs may reach several thousand dollars.
Bradley said that because the board has not met in a month, it has not paid union dues, state retirement funds, insurance premiums and other obligations that probably total $30,000. He declined to say what might happen if a meeting is not held Tuesday, but added that Justice Sprague retains jurisdiction over the town.
Jordan was not in court Thursday, nor was the Town Board represented by counsel.
"The town attorney was Michael Nenno, but he had resigned on Nov. 4," Jordan said Thursday evening. "The judge had said there would be no hearing that day because of the resignations of the councilmen and myself."
Jordan, who took office on e Town Board
Jan. 1, described his conflict with the clerk. "She was getting in the way of the bookkeeper," he said. "We couldn't get the vouchers done, the necessary information out to pay the bills.
"She held onto all the bills, made out all the vouchers, and when she was satisfied that the vouchers and bills matched she sent them on to me to sign the checks."
Reached at his home, Sherman defended his wife's actions.
"It was really more of a question of procedures," he said. "There is a proper procedure that has to be followed with vouchers. It was a discrepancy over how the vouchers were prepared. For example, some of them had no supporting documents. It wasn't a whole lot of money, but any discrepancy, if it's only $2, is wrong."
Asked whether the board will remain paralyzed until Barrett can be sworn in as a councilman on Jan. 1, Sherman said, "We'll have to get a ruling on that." Jordan said nothing can be done by only two board members.