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

Friday, May 05, 2006


In keeping with the city's 'zero tolerance' for code violations Mayor Harry Tutunjian announced that the Corporation Counsel's Office will be demolished.

"They've had too many violations," said the Mayor. "First Bauer and now Spargo. We gave them twenty-four hours to remedy the situation and they failed to comply." Bauer (now President of the City Council) and Spargo are slated for demolition next Tuesday.

Don't worry, Bauer and Spargo will not be harmed. There's no actual zero tolerance for Judicial Ethics Code violations. Not in Troy.

What do you get a judge that has been de-benched for unethical conduct? Normally, that judge is ostracized. In Troy, they get put on the public dole.

There was Hank Bauer, booted off the bench for his unwillingness to follow the law. He took haven in Troy's Corporation Counsel's office before being elected to the City Counsel.

Now, disgraced judge Thomas Spargo joins the team.

Interestingly, Spargo's ethical lapses were not an impediment to public service in Troy. As mayor Harry said, in the afterglow of a Spargasm:

"To me, it doesn't mean anything," Tutunjian said. "We are searching for talented attorneys to help us run the city of Troy. To have someone of Mr. Spargo's caliber on our team is a bonus."

Really, Harry? Doesn't mean anything? Read the decision, Harry. Let's take a look at what Spargo did.

Essentially, Spargo shook down lawyers to contribute to his defense fund (ironically, this was much worse than the underlying allegation). Those lawyers had cases pending before Spargo. The findings of fact and the decision can be found here. * So, Harry, that doesn't mean anything to you? Well, now we know where you stand on ethics.

There's also a questions about whether hiring Spargo is legal. We could care less where Spargo lives, or anyone else that works for the city for that matter. But, to hire a shake-down artist and then say it "doesn't mean anything," abandons any pretense to ethics.

In another story, Harry compared Spargo to Derek Jeter, a completely ludicrous comparison. First, Jeter is a shortstop, Spargo an attorney. Even if he were a ball player, Spargo would not be a shortstop. More like a Gold Glove first baseman. Secondly, Jeter has not been forced from the lineup for throwing games. Jeter has a .315 lifetime average. Spargo only hit .274. The better comparison is to Black Sox star, Joe Jackson. Jackson was a talented, amiable man. He was also a crook.

At the very least, Harry could level with us. He's probably helping Spargo pad his pension. That's what politicians do, they help each other out. In this case, it's rewarding highly unethical behavior and Troy deserves better.

Interestingly, Corporation Counsel Dave Mitchell mysteriously resigned his judgeship up in Ballston Spa. Then, of course, he sued the village. Isn't that like suing the good people of Ballston Spa? There's nothing in the articles to say Mitchell did anything unethical. The resignation from the club however, is intriguing.

Zero Tolerance? Not for Judges that violate ethical standards. They're always welcome in the Home of Uncle Sam.

What do we tell the children?

* A close reading of the decision makes you wonder why some other people are not in hot water

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