Monday, August 11, 2014

City Council Republicans Express Concern Over Council President's Requirement That New City Clerk Or Deputy Clerk Perform Political Activities & Gather "Political Intelligence"

- Candidate Also Required To Spy On Mayor, City Hall Employees & Council Republicans -

(CITY OF BINGHAMTON, N.Y.) Binghamton City Council members Joe Mihalko (R - District 2), Chris Papastrat (R - District 5) and John Matzo (R - District 6) expressed concern and disappointment over a recent e-mail sent to Broome County Democrats at the request of Council President Teri Rennia, advertising a vacancy in the City Clerk's Office. A copy of the e-mail is attached.

"We do not feel the function of the taxpayer-funded position of City Clerk and Deputy Clerk is to gather political intelligence to undercut the opposing party in power," said Council members Mihalko, Papastrat and Matzo. "We should be working with the new Mayor and his team on behalf of the residents, not trading public positions for political gain."

"What this e-mail reveals is a peek behind the curtain as to how the Council President and some members of Council's leadership view the City Clerk's Office," said the Council members. "What we're seeing here is not in the best interest of the taxpayers. We applaud one recipient of this e-mail for recognizing the job requirements were unethical and wrong, and exposing these activities to the public."

"We were elected to work on behalf of all City residents," said the Council Members. "We support the new administration's efforts to pave more roads, add police, attack blight, better manage City finances and address quality of life issues in our neighborhoods. We've had enough of the obstruction that's followed the change in administration. After reviewing this e-mail, what we thought was just resentment from losing the race for Mayor, is actually a more serious and organized effort to undercut Mayor David, City employees and Council Republicans."

"We feel this incident has compromised Councilwoman Rennia's ability to effectively represent this body as President," said the Council Members. "Not only has she failed to renounce this scheme, but she is identified in the e-mail as its architect — requesting it be sent and personally collecting resumes for review. At the next City Council meeting, we will call for a vote to select a new Council President. We urge our Democratic colleagues to support a change, and encourage them to think long and hard about the message they want to send to their constituents."

The author of the e-mail is Marty Doorey, Chair of the City of Binghamton Democratic Committee. Doorey is also Chairman of the Community Development Advisory Committee (CDAC), an official City committee responsible for coordinating citizen input regarding the $1.9 million Community Development Block Grant program and submitting recommendations to the Department of Planning Housing and Community Development and City Council. Doorey represents the 7th Council District on the committee — Councilman Bill Berg's district. CDAC members receive a $500 annual stipend.

"In light of Mr. Doorey's participation in these unethical political activities involving taxpayer-funded positions, we are calling for his resignation from the CDAC, effective immediately," said the Council Members.

The Council members will also consult with the City Attorney because they feel the public trust has been breached. The Council Members will explore next steps with the City Attorney to pursue an independent external review of the matter.

"Candidates should be selected based on experience and qualifications, not political affiliation or years of service to the party. We encourage the Council's Democratic majority to implement a transparent hiring process. The positions should be publicly advertised and any member of the public should have an opportunity to apply."

The source e-mail was supplied anonymously to the Republican Council members. Its legitimacy was then confirmed by a Democratic member of City Council.

For more information, contact Councilman Joe Mihalko, (607) 765-2352.

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