The last time the Troy Council used subpoena power was in 1978. Steve Dworsky was mayor under a city manager form of government and the legislative body was looking into a concept of team policing.
A host of people were compelled to testify including Dorothy Guiot of New Jersey. I won’t go into what it was all about because I was 12 at the time and dare say the only Troy I knew of at that time had to do with a horse. The Council also exercised its investigatory powers in about 2001 when, under President Frank LaPosta, it hired attorney Richard Hanft to look into a questionable federal grant funneled through the office of then Deputy Mayor Jim Conroy to his brother to buy a house part owned by the deputy mayor.
Now the Council, under President Rodney Wiltshire, issued subpoenas to soon to be former City Engineer Russ Reeves and his assistant Barbara Tozzi, to find out what went down on King Street and King Fuels other than the buildings.
I’m not sure how the subpoenas were actually issued since I don’t think the Council voted to issue them at a properly called meeting as is required, but odds are Reeves and Tozzi just agreed to testify and the subpoenas were a formality.
While Reeves and Tozzi are more than likely willing participants, you can bet Planning Commissioner Bill Dunne, Deputy Mayor Pete Ryan, Fire Chief Tom Garrett and even Mayor Lou Rosamilia – should any or all of them get called – won’t come without a properly issued subpoena. And even then they could fight it in court, which won’t look good, or they could plead the fifth on some of the more poignant questions the Council will, or should, ask. That won’t look good either. Or they could get up on the stand and tell the truth whatever it may be.
Either way, just by kicking off the investigation, Wiltshire comes out on top politically speaking.
Anyway, Reeves and Tozzi probably won’t tell the Council anything new. Here is a rundown of what they will say and here’s what should be asked about each property:
What they will say:
-Reeves denied an emergency demolition permit, went on vacation and the building was declared a threat to public safety and ordered taken down by Fire Chief Tom Garrett when Reeves was on vacation.
-Despite knowing there was asbestos in the building, people were allowed to stay in Bomber’s located next door.
Questions to ask:
-Did the building’s owner, Don Boyajian, pay the demolition company, M. Cristo Inc. of East Greenbush?
-Why was the emergency demolition permit denied?
-Who directed Garrett to take the building down?
-Why was it taken down in front of other derelict, vacant buildings in the city?
-Did someone make a 911 call regarding the building and its condition just prior to the demolition?
This project is a little lessstraight forward in that it was run through the Local Development Corporation, a quasi-governmental body headed up by Dunne.
Here are some questions:
-Why was the initial June, 2013 request for bids withdrawn?
-Why and how, after the initial RFB was withdrawn, were two buildings condemned and taken down under an emergency declaration?
-Why was such short notice given for the submission of a second round of bids – RFB issued on March 1, a Saturday, and bids were due on March 6.
-According to the LDC minutes, Reeves knew of the demolition and the gas line. Did the demolition company, J.R. Casale, just screw up by putting debris on top of the main line that could have caused some serious damage if it was compromised?
-When did Reeves know of the demolition and how involved was he in carrying it out? If not Reeves, did another engineer consult on the demolition as indicated in the minutes and if so let’s see the reports?
-The relationship between Code Enforcement, the Engineering Department, and the Fire Department is a question that has only one answer … there really isn’t one - or not a good one anyway. Everyone is just doing their own thing and it seems that includes stabbing each other in the back. There is only one person to blame for that and it’s Rosamilia. He is the mayor after all, and a strong mayor keeps the troops in line and makes them play nice ... at least in the public eye.