Harry Tutunjian’s roster of political contributors reads like a who’s who of businesses and connected Republicans in Troy and Rensselaer County. There are a number of donations that seem exceptionally problematic. The fact that David Mitchell has made two sizable donations without listing an address is but a sideshow.
Where DOES Mitchell live, and is he in violation of the Public Officer’s Law? But I digress.
As Harry told us, he found extra money in this year’s budget to pave many of the streets in Troy. (Is this the same budget that needed a water rate increase or people would be laid off? But I digress, again.) Instead of bidding out the work, Harry claimed his administration used existing contract lists to hire Troy Sand and Gravel, thereby eliminating the need for the work to go to public bidding. Troy Sand and Gravel, however, can only provide the material and subcontracted with Best Paving and Sealcoating out of Albany to do the actual work. In the past four years under the Tutunjian administration, the City has contracted with Troy Sand and Gravel, and indirectly with Best Paving and Sealcoating, for over $1 million in paving work without the benefit of bidding.
Since February 2006, Troy Sand and Gravel have made seven donations to Friends of Harry Tutunjian totaling $5,500 and Best Paving and Sealcoating made another three donations in the last year totaling $2,500 while contracting with the City for over $1 million in work. At best this is ethically and morally suspect, at worst this is a violation of the City’s bidding and procurement ordinances.
Harry also received a $200 donation from the South Troy Dodgers Baseball Club. This donation presents a number of problems. First, the president of the South Troy Dodgers is George Rogers, none other than the City of Troy’s Recreation Director, a Tutunjian appointment. The ethical and conflict of interest issues appear to be immense in this case. Secondly, and more importantly, the South Troy Dodgers Baseball Club is registered with New York State as a not-for-profit corporation, which means they cannot legally donate to political campaigns. Violations like this can potentially result in the not-for-profit status being revoked. More importantly, however, is what parents and other board members think of this donation, especially those that work hard to fundraise to support their children playing baseball.
Another donation came from Kevin Vandenburgh, proprietor of Pips, who, as reported in Sunday Times Union, owes nearly $140,000 in back taxes to the federal government. Mr. Vandenburgh has worked with the City on a number of projects and made a $1,000 donation to the Tutunjian campaign in early October. While this is the least problematic of the donations discussed here, the money most likely would have been better spent applying it toward the tax lien against the business.
Individually, these donations may seem like a drop in the bucket. But collectively, they represent a trend. A trend indicates that the current City of Troy administration is being bought and paid for by special interests and friends. These types of donations only prove that public financing for all elections is necessary.
We thank Politicus Ebonus Abyssus for that contribution.
From a Conroy press release:
After more than two months and scores of spurned requests, Harry Tutunjian has finally agreed to debate the issues facing the City of Troy in a public forum.
The debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, will be held on October 16th at 7:00 pm at the Commission of Economic Opportunity, 2331 Fifth Avenue in Troy .
This should be action-packed. The League of Women Voters have a reputation for sponsoring knock-down, drag-out 'candidate forums' worthy of a Sam Peckinpaugh flick.
The Troy Polloi would like to extend well wishes to John and Meg Brown. Meg gave birth to the couple's third child, Adam, on Wednesday night.
And before the political attacks start....yes, Adam lives at home and is currently unemployed.