The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006



One of our favorite parts of the Troy City Code (or any municipal code for that matter) is the Ethics provisions.

Here's a hypothetical. Get out your pencils and paper.

Lets say a business, X, is working with the city to eventually purchase several lots of property. The property is not in the best of neighborhoods. The city wants X to buy the properties and get up and running.

Lets say an employee or employees of the city approach a lot owner. They offer the owner a fair price for the property. The employee(s) then sell the property to X at a better than 100% profit.*

Is there an ethics problem?

Lets take a look at that code.

§ 43-1. Code of Ethics for officers and employees.**

A. General prohibition.

An officer or employee of the City of Troy shall not use his or her official position or office, or take or fail to take any action, or use City employees or City property in a manner in which he or she knows will result in a financial benefit of any kind for any of the following:

(1) The officer or employee;

(2) His or her outside employer or business;

(3) A member of his or her family or household;

(4) A customer or client;

(5) A business, firm, company, corporation, partnership, unincorporated association or other entity in which he or she has a proprietary interest in excess of 5% ownership; or

(6) A person from whom the officer or employee has received election campaign contributions of more than $1,000 in the aggregate during the past 12 months.

Now, we have no idea what all that means. We're just simple folk, here at the Troy Polloi. Sometimes, all that fancy legal talk confuses us, scares us.

We suppose it would be difficult to establish directly that the employee(s) knew about X's project. However, what are the odds that out of all the properties for sale, the employee(s) just happen to purchase the one lot that can be sold for a huge profit?

If the employee(s) commenced the deal based upon information they received as municipal employee(s), have they violated the ethics code? What should happen to the employee(s)?

You have 45 minutes, starting now! Don't forget to show your work.

We doubt any such thing could ever happen. We're just curious.


Also, our source in the Mayor's Office tells us that Councilwoman Carolin Collier will be taking Mahoney's old job at the Troy Housing Authority. The appointment should come in April. Congrats. The new gig pays $2,000 and will be placed in trust and used to renovate Ms. Collier's hair. Demolition is et to begin in early summer.


We'd also like to wish a fond farewell to Mr. Armet, Ms. Messick, Mr. Judge and Mr. Mahoney. We wish them well in their return to private life. We wonder, when all is said and done, if it's a relief to be out of the public sector.

*This fact pattern is entirely the creation of the author and any resemblance to any similar fact pattern, whether living or dead, is purely intentional.

** One school of thought suggests that the Ethics portion of the Code is not actual law but merely a collection of suggestions.

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