WEST SENECA, N.Y. -- A state Supreme Court justice in Erie County has signed a temporary restraining order to halt the state from moving forward with plans to relocate the Western New York Children's Psychiatric Center. Part of the injunction prohibits the governor from vetoing a bill that would permanently stop the merger.
While the governor of New York has the constitutional authority to veto legislation passed by the state legislature, this shows that power isn't absolute. It's unusual, as attorney Steve Cohen admits, but he says in this case, it's warranted.
"Each co-equal branch of government is there to appropriately check the other branch if it runs amok. Governor (Andrew) Cuomo has run amok," said Cohen, of HoganWillig.
The injunction stops all progress to move the children's center in West Seneca to the same campus where adults are treated in Buffalo. The coalition of parents, patients and staff leading the charge believe if construction hadn't already started, it was imminent.
"We didn't want to get to this point. We've been doing it very reluctantly," said Dave Chudy, Save Our WNYCPC co-chair. "We were hoping that with the announcement of the lawsuit that the governor would reconsider and would just sign that bill."
When asked about the lawsuit on Thursday, the governor noted the state Senate hadn't sent him the legislation yet, which passed unanimously in both houses. His indication he would consider the bill when it was in front of him was enough for the coalition to put off serving him the restraining order, which the judge signed last week. They decided to move forward Monday morning after the bill's sponsors said they weren't making progress with Cuomo's office.
"They're not looking for expensive litigation," Cohen said. "They want this to resolve fairly and properly."
The judge scheduled a hearing on July 27. Cohen cautioned, her decision to grant the injunction doesn't mean she's made her decision about the case.
"I think that this was simply a practical decision that says, you know, before we allow more money to get pumped into renovations, before we allow more work to be done and these kids to be upset, let me see all the facts," he said.
Advocates though believe they've already won in the court of public opinion and believe they'll have the same result in actual court.
"We feel if we can present that objectively, then we're going to win the day," Chudy said,