The City of Lockport through Corporation Counsel David Blackley issued letters to approximately 42 commissioner of deed appointees by the Roman administration from December of 2023, asking them to cease and desist from any and all activities as commissioners.
The action stemmed from findings of the Niagara County Attorney’s office that the Commissioner of Deeds lists submitted by the City are not considered valid. The Niagara County Clerk’s Office could not certify the commissions due to multiple problems and discrepancies with the appointments.
Discrepancies included violations of Executive Law Section 139; failure to follow the rulings issued from the recent May 2023 Supreme Court decision involving the City of Lockport (Cattanzio v Schulmeister, Jr. and Niagara County Board of Elections); incorrect names submitted to the County Clerk; and multiple other procedural problems that did not comply with the law.
The recent Supreme Court ruling required Lockport to follow Executive Law 139 when making Commissioner of Deed appointments which includes appointments by resolution and in November of even numbered years. The Niagara County Attorney’s office indicated in a letter to then Corporation Counsel Laura Miskell Benedict that it would require Lockport to follow the Court ruling. The City of Lockport never responded to the letter or contested the findings.
Blackley stated, “The City of Lockport is bound to follow the law in these matters as they affect our most basic rights in providing proper election procedures from the petitioning process to final elections”.
Mayor John Lombardi III and the City will be adopting a new list of Commissioner of Deeds in accordance with the law.