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

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Requesting the appointment of a Special Prosecutor must be the new black.

Republicans requested that the District Attorneys Office seek the appointment of a special prosecutor for three would-be scandals, or scandalettes. The request was made via robo-call by "Dolores" who claims to work at both HVCC and the County.

Besides smacking of 'me-to-ism', requesting a special prosecutor now is, like - so three weeks ago. Kind of like wearing legwarmers, joining EST or using a Walkman.

What has the GOP more excited than Bob Mirch at a Public Employment Job Fair?

First, City Councilman Clem Campana may have used his phone at HVCC to call City Hall.

Second, County Legislator Ginny O'Brien asked DPW Commissioner Bob Mirch to pick up some garbage.

Third, Legislative Minority operative Sue Steele snapped a photo of Rich Crist that went out in a mailer. The mailer juxtaposed Crist's $80,000 salary with Sheriff Mahar's $70,000. We have not seen the mailer.

Each of these scandalettes upset us so much we couldn't eat a second helping of waffles.

Lets take a brief look at each act.

Using an HVCC phone to call City Hall. That could violate some internal HVCC policy. Perhaps HVCC allows it's employees limited, personel use of phones. We simply do not know. It is not known if Campana read from a script, disguised his voice or pretended to be a fictitious person.

We do know it's not a crime. It's not even a violation.

The next two are more fun. We never really understood the O'Brien incident. Apparently, she's the listing agent for a house former Democratic Chair Rob Gregor is trying to sell. Perfectly legal. Now, there was garbage in, or outside of, a neighboring home. We're not sure which but outside makes more sense. Since a messy yard may make the Gregor property more difficult to sell, O'Brien called the DPW to ask them to remove the garbage.

Presumably, the neighboring property is abandoned. Correct? Who knows. Which is precisely the problem with this would-be scandal. It's too difficult to explain. O'Brien doesn't represent Troy and can exercise no official or unofficial authority over Troy's DPW. Also, where's the benefit? The commission remains the same whether the property sells next week or three months from now.

Besides, isn't picking up trash Mirch's forte?

Where's the crime?

Finally, the most disturbing event. Photographing Richard Crist. This is not a crime. It may be a violation of County Ethics rules. We don't know if the County has ethics rules or just a series of suggestions that are honored more in the breach. The idea that the photo was taken "on County time" is problematic. Is handing a birthday gift to a co-worker, which probably takes longer than snapping a photo, done on "County time?" Is a three minute chat about American Idol done "on County time?" Aaahhh! But that time isn't "political time" is it?

The idea that the mailer that utilized the photograph was "informational" and not "political" doesn't pass the smell test but we haven't seen the mailer.

Crime? Doesn't seem to come anywhere close to any crime in the Penal Code.

The key in equesting a Special Prosecutor is giving him or her a potential crime to prosecute.

Helpful Hint #1

If you're requesting a Special Prosecutor, try and find a crime that fits or may fit the alleged act. Ask yourself, who writes the Penal Code? Anyone? Anyone? You in the back. Right! Politicians. Don't be surprised if certain acts that sound unethical have not been criminalized.

Helpful Hint #2

Be the first to request the Special Prosecutor. If you're making a request after the opposition has made a request, you come off like an angry, sad, desperate kid who can't get a date to the prom.

Helpful Hint #3

Make sure the person who speaks for you at City Council meetings isn't 1) violating ethical rules 2) making light of ethical rules 3) admitting that political appointees always do political work on public time because that's their job.

Helpful Hint #4

Wake up your boss and ask him to collect all available records that will prove you did nothing wrong. Ask him to provide those records to the newspaper so reporters stop writing "baseless" stories about you. No boss wants to see his underlings subject to such attacks if it's in his power to stop them.

And that's one to grow on.

Speaking of crimes, here's a crime:

NY CLS Penal § 165.05 (2007)

§ 165.05. Unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree A person is guilty of unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree when:1. Knowing that he does not have the consent of the owner, he takes, operates, exercises control over, rides in or otherwise uses a vehicle. A person who engages in any such conduct without the consent of the owner is presumed to know that he does not have such consent

Ethical rules should be enforced. The residents of the city and county deserve no less. But, if you're the party in power, be careful. The party in power makes all the appointments and has far more computer records, e-mails and phone records subject to a FOIL request. Perhaps that's why we don't see too many elected Republicans who have simultaneous public sector employment rushing to the DA's office with various requests.

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