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

Monday, October 02, 2006


Corporation Counsel David B. Mitchell has been asked to investigate another instance of computer abuse. His own. Fortunately, though he's abused his computer, he hasn't sprouted hair on his palms or gone blind.

Last week, Mitchell e-mailed a City Councilman after the Councilman made a legitimate inquiry of the Comptroller's Office. Mitchell's response fairly bristles with uncontrolled anger:

Councilman Dunne,

"In your eyes,..."

Therein lies the answer to the continued problem within the culture for which you desire to maintain in this City. Rather than focusing your efforts in assisting to make this City a better place to live, work and visit for all, your mindset is centered solely on a world as seen in "your eyes." You are foreclosed to others view points and perspectives.

You are- unfortunately - trapped within a venomous culture of obstruction, controversy and partisanship that has for far too long been part of this climate. I will not participate in that culture and will continue too try to change that mindset in an effort to re-focus your efforts on optimism and a positive future.

I have now know you as a Councilman for almost three years and I know you are committed in what you believe. Unfortunately, your beliefs are flawed and they are counterproductive to making this City a better place to live, work and visit. Great things are happening in this City and you are invited to participate in an era that historians will most certainly regard as significant in the rebirth and renaissance of the City of Troy.

Additionally, I will assume you intended to say "opinion" not "option" and certainly, I would expect you to contact me with any question regarding a legal "opinion" that involves the City of Troy. However, you will contact me with any question regarding the entirety of Law Department, for if you do not, your question will not be answered.

Finally, as a City employee, and given my exemplary performance record as the Corporation Counsel, I expect a modicum of appreciation from you- but once again- you disappoint.

You now have some juicy rhetoric for your website, have fun.
Should you have any further questions, please stop by anytime.

Thank you,

David B. Mitchell
Corporation Counsel
City of Troy

The e-mail was sent on the afternoon of September 21st, from City property. And yes, reading between the lines one does sense a certain Helter-Skelter tone (not unlike Paul's letter to the Corinthians).

Franco did an outstanding job of pimp-slapping Mitchell in last Monday's Talespin. But, lets give credit where credit is due. So, what's wrong with this picture?

Dunne requested information from Comptroller Witkowski. Dunne asked a simple question: Was Thomas Spargo being paid as an employee or consultant? A question most people would consider a payroll/human resources question. Witkowski violated the charter by not responding to Dunne. Instead, she forwarded the request to Mitchell. Why?

Mitchell responded with the answer and then told Dunne to refer all legal questions to him (Mitchell). Then, we have the emotional breakdown, by e-mail, set forth above.

Mr. Mitchell, we would suggest that any exemplary Corporation Counsel should really read the City Charter.

§ C-22. Requests for reports, information or estimates. [Amended by L.L. No. 6-1979, § 1]

Any officer of the City is required to furnish reports, information or estimates to any Councilor of the City of Troy.

§ C-60. Office of City Comptroller.

A. There shall be in the Office of Management and Budget, the office of the City Comptroller. The office of the City Comptroller shall be responsible for the overall financial administration and operations of the City and be organized into such offices and bureaus as determined by the City Comptroller.

B. In addition, the office of the City Comptroller shall:

(9) Prepare and administer the payroll of the City.

Pursuant to the Charter, Witkowski must provide the information to any council member. Mitchell cannot serve as a gatekeeper. That's if you follow the law. We know they don't.

Also, we suggest Mitchell read up on his job description.

§ C-76. Department of Law.

C. Duties of Corporation Counsel. The Corporation Counsel shall act as legal advisor to the City Council and to the Mayor...

Sending warped e-mails to council members is noticeably absent from the job description.

Any exemplary corporation council should be aware of his duties and responsibilitiesties. They should also be aware that there are certain things they cannot legally control. Council members, pursuant to The Charter (the law) have certain privileges that cannot be legally diminished. An exemplary corporation counsel understands this and follows the law.

Mitchell has repeatedly demonstrated contempt for the residents of Troy by failing to abide by the law. He refuses to answer questions posed by council members, he obstructs access to information and he has directed department heads and other officers to do the same. The system cannot work to the advantage of the citizens if the opposition does not have access to information.

Mitchell works for the Council and the Mayor (according to the Charter, in that order). It's time that Council President Bauer stand-up for the Council as a sovereign entity and demand that Mitchell perform his legally assigned role and conduct himself as an employee of the Council. The Mayor should warn Mitchell against using the city's e-mail system for personal attacks against council members.

The Charter exists for a reason. It must be followed. The failure to follow the law leads to lawsuits. You can blame the Plaintiff's for bringing suit against the city, but that doesn't alter the reality: public officials that abuse the law are the one's that cost us money.

Drozd resigned, before being fired, for misusing city property. Another employee was fired for the same offense. They looked at porn. Mitchell represents a greater danger than Drozd ever did. Mitchell obstructs the opposition from it's proper function, that is, acting the part of the watch-dog.

Later this week, we'll look at more abuse of government property and we'll try to figure out where Mr. Mitchell resides.

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