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

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Round two in the pay hike wars goes to the Republicans. On Monday, Judge Egan granted a Temporary Restraining Order that keeps the pay hikes in place for some of Troy's highest paid public servants.

A temporary restraining order is only supposed to be granted when the petitioner can show irreparable harm. Clearly, that is not the case here. Any harm is easily reparable. Egan is probably wrong on the law. Yet, in practical terms, it was probably the right decision. If Tutunjian loses, those employees will have their wages garnished until the taxpayers get their money back. If Tutunjian wins, no adjustment is necessary.

As the official charged with enforcing the law, Tutunjian is actually seeking to restrain himself from enforcing the law, something he typically does on his own. If he keeps it up, he may go blind.

Good times in Troy continue.

The Record had a semi-reasonable editorial on Saturday.

The council and the mayor are stuck with each other for nearly another 21 months, when a new, duly elected City Council takes office. They don’t need to like it, or like each other, but for the good of the city they should learn to work together.

Nice sentiments, in the abstract. With all due respect, The Record should cut the crap, analyze the situation and inform the public about what is really going on. That is their duty to the public. If that means taking off the editorial gloves, then do it.

We understand that The Record has to appear unbiased in this matter, scolding both sides in this war of attrition. The only reasonable interpretation of events is that the impasse is primarily the fault of the Mayor and his under bosses.

The Council has shown great restraint these past few months. The fact is, Tutunjian has said that the Council cannot amend the budget, except during the budget process. That issue has been raised in connection with certain pay raises. The Council says that they can amend the budget at any time. Under the Council's theory, they could slash Mr. Crawley's budget or Mr. Mirch's budget or Mr. Mitchell's budget by 5%...10%....50% They could amend the budget and triple the Council's own budget. That hasn't happened.

Conversely, while the Mayor (occasionally) pleads to put politics aside, his actions prove otherwise. The Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Mr. Mirch have consistently bombarded The Record with letters that contain personal attacks and demonstrate, at best, a stunning flexibility with the truth.

- The Deputy Mayor has refused to pay overtime to his staff videotape council meeting. This began in January, when the new Council was sworn in.

- The Administration is not posting Council agenda or meeting minutes on the City's website. That practice stopped in....January.

- The Deputy Mayor informed the Council that no member of his staff would be allowed to attend a committee meeting without a written request and his permission. This, despite the fact that some of his staff are actual members of those same committees. Again, this practice began in January '08.

-Corporation Counsel, David Mitchell, the person whom the Council is supposed to rely upon for legal advice, has used his City e-mail to personally attack elected officials and even referred a matter to the then District Attorney Patricia DeAngelis. That matter went nowhere.

Shall we go on?

We're not talking about policy differences. We're talking about continuous, systematic, infantile games that belie the Mayor's call to put politics aside.

The Record editorial staff is smart enough to know that the Mayor and his unelected staff have to respect, if not the actual council members, then at least the legislative branch. When the Council was in GOP hands, there was talk of Tutunjian's leadership. A one-man show, with a rubber stamp Council does not demonstrate leadership. Now is the time to demonstrate real leadership. Both sides could give a little and take a little, accomplishing portions of their agendas and make each other look good. There would be disagreements along the way, situations where no compromise can be reached. That's not necessarily a negative.

The problem is that the Mayor has never had to work with a City Council. The Mayor has never had to demonstrate leadership. In fact, it has become increasingly clear that this Administration resents the very idea of a legislative branch of government.

Does the Council play politics? Absolutely. The fact remains that most of the items the Mayor requests go onto the Council agenda. Those items are passed and usually pass unanimously. It is a small percentage that actually cause heated debate.

Play all the games you want. This is politics in the City of Troy, after all. Talespin, this blog and others would be shut down if Tutunjian demonstrated a willingness to compromise. The circus has always been popular entertainment.

Tutunjian would earn the respect of many, us included, if he dropped this suit. And believe it or not, the Council would have our respect if they revisited cost of living increases for these employees at budget time and granted those increases.

But, while The Record must appear unbiased, they should lay the blame for most of these battles where that blame belongs: squarely on the shoulders of the Mayor.

Now, unless something big happens, we'll probably take a few days off to enjoy the weather.

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