Monday, December 17, 2007

East Rochester's Reign of Error

Quite a response in comments to our story on the new Mayor's attempted ouster of long-standing employees in East Rochester.

We considered it worthy of mention, and the wrong thing for the new Mayor to do, for several reasons.

First, despite what one anonymous commenter to our last post states, Hizzoner Baby Doc demanded the resignation of three civil service employees, among the others whose resignations he also demanded. He did this without consulting the Village Attorney. Since the story came out we've talked to two different lawyers who do labor law, including civil service. Both told us that merely demanding the resignations -- without doing anything more -- violates the state Civil Service law, and subjects East Rochester to potential lawsuits.

Second, it turns out that all of the employees hold positions that can only be filled by a process requiring (1) appointment by the Mayor and (2) approval by the Village Board. The Mayor can fire certain employees on his own (although not many of those on his purge list, because they serve for set terms, which are legally protected). But he can't hire anyone to replace any of them unless the Board of Trustees votes to approve. In other words, the Mayor acting by himself can create chaos, but not progress.

For all we know, dumping all of these people may be exactly the right thing to do.

Our point in criticizing the way the new Mayor has gone about it is that he can't accomplish his goal this way. Some of these people remain until the end of fixed terms that have a year or more to go. So if the goal is to "clean house," Baby Doc's blowing it totally by not cooperating with the majority-Republican Village Board. He should have approached them with what he wanted to do and worked out something they'd approve.

If it's in fact true that, as Koon told the press, the people of East Rochester voted for change and deserve to get it, then by approaching this matter as he has, Koon's guaranteeing that they won't get the change they voted for.

The fault lies with whoever is advising a new Mayor who still can't find the men's room in Village Hall. Whoever advised Hizzoner should have explained the Mayor's inability under law to act unilaterally to replace any of these employees, and should have helped him steer clear of the colossal embarrassment of treading on rights of civil service employees. If the Mayor's not willing to consult his own Village attorney, he at least should consult some trusted legal adviser, to avoid embarrassing himself. If, on the other hand, he did consult counsel, then the advice he received has a distinct odor about it -- an odor of comic incompetence.


Anonymous said...

For clarification purposes, and so the public is aware, could you list who the 3 civil service protected employees are? Thanks
Will W.

Philbrick said...

OK, readers -- is there anyone in East Rochester who can help us out with the information requested above?

pooch said...

One of them is Larry, the Building Inspector.

Allan said...

Larry has done an outstanding job for us over the last year, restoring respect to a position that has represented inefficiency and inactivity for decades here in ER. I personally as well as my girlfriend has delivered letters to both the mayors office and Larry's expressing our desire to see him retained. A friend went around yesterday collecting a dozen or so signatures on form letters supporting Larry which he also turned over to Larry and the mayors office. If Larry is not the holder of the job next month we'll know whats really going on here.

Anonymous said...

Larry Pierce who you will see again, Kim Duffy, and Dave B of the DPW..

MattFox said...

There is going to be an emergency board meeting tomorrow evening (Thursday) at 8 PM at ER Village Hall. Koon did manage to dismiss the village attorney (he was up for reappointment) and there is concern that the village is without legal representation at a time when its mayor may have violated civil service law. It should be on the news, but feel free to attend if you are in town, as it is open to the public.

bootay said...

the other civil service employees are Dave Bussey the public works director ans Kim Duffy the nutrition director. All are civil service.

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify as well. There are certain levels of civil service and you have to score within a certain range to qualify for protection. Having a civil service job does not always protect you. By the way Jason has spoken to David and Larry and they are both coming back. The attorney, admin and Deputy clerk are the real questions..

scape32 said...

The problem with most blogs, especially local ones, is that none of them amount to a pinchful-of-piss in the political arena. But here it goes, anyhoo.

Democrats in Monroe County are trying to gain in-roads into GOP strongholds. They captured Brighton early on and now are threatening inner-ring towns like Irondequoit, Henrietta and Gates.

Minor inroads are slowly being made into outer ring burbs using mostly progressive issues like environmentalism, open-government and development controls (which are form's of mandated wealth protection for landed interests.)

Due to a continuing and somewhat accelerated flight of middle class city residents of all races to inner-ring towns, those towns' political profiles are changing as folks bring their politics with them.

This trend is exacerbated by the aging of these towns' long time residents who, as senior citizens, are less concerned with classic GOP upper and middle-class values and more with reactions to fear mongering political rhetoric related to social security, health care and cheap housing, all classic mainstay issues of the Democrat Party.

Therefore, like Brighton long before them, there have coalesced in these towns new liberal Democrat voting blocks that can sway and / or capture elections at the town level.

The Koons devised a way to shake up one of the GOP's local bastions, good ol' ER. They did it by using the Koon political brand name, one which is the classic four letter, monosyllable brand that would sell anywhere and anytime it were seen on the same ballot regardless of the office or actual person behind the name.

Last Nov., it worked exactly as it should have. Those ER voters went in and pulled that Koon lever as though they were part of a Pavlovian experiment.

Now, why would a 30 year old gen-Xer want to take a paltry job in a somewhat dismal forgotten town like ER?

Well, you see, his dad, along with Morrelli and Frankel, have been waiting for years for Louise to throw in the towel so they might duke it out for her job in Congress. Problem is, like the Energizer Bunny, she just keeps drawling along more powerful than ever.

So, what's her hand-picked, fair-haired progeny in Fairport to do? How is he going to advance up the ladder when there's no immenent easy political path?

Maggie looks like a fixture at the old Court House on East Main, so much so that no one even wants to run against her.

Aha! The old man figured he'll take a shot at the near-by State Senate seat of Jim Alesi. What a great way to help the Dems get that 3 seats they need in the NY Senate to own both houses in the State Leg.

If he were to be successful, it would leave his Assembly seat open.

And, how do you assure that seat remains Dem in a normally GOP district?

You run the brand name in it, the son.

By then, with all the bru-ha-ha over the ER upset and firings, the Koon name will be even more imbeded in the mind of voters of the larger Assembly District.

Nothing new about this practice. Funny how the local press never takes this tact when editorializing on strange events like the ER firings. They actually play right into the hands of the manipulators by advertising the name and strengthening its brand.

Anonymous said...


Whether it's astute political insight, or inside knowlege, I feel your theory is spot on. Unfortunatly, it falls apart at the end, because having seen Jason Koon's performance at his first two board meetings, and having discussed him with those who have been employed with him, I will place odds that you would have a greater chance of teaching a pig quantum physics, than Jason Koon ever being intellectually capable of navigating the highly political world of Albany. His father has to be afraid of the hit that the brand has taken, particularly the way Channel 13 made him look after the emergency meeting. Having been at the meeting,they cut and pasted to make him come across even worse than he actually was, and unfortunatly he has difficulty formulating a sentence or conveying a clear thought. IMHO, the material is not there to work with to create the family machine.

scape32 said...

I don't know, anonymous.

Do you really think anyone actually remembers what they say?

Maybe how they looked, but not actually what they said.

All I know is that you really do need to get rid of appointed folks when there's a party change in administrations, especially the Muni counsel, Finance/Budget guy, Human Resource and policy staff and admin aides, if appointed.

As far as the tenured civil service management team, you need time to talk to them and give them direct ultimatums or hints that you'd really rather have your own person in there.

If resistance is met, you need to formulate a reorganization plan that eliminates their jobs without substituting another for the same duties, or demoting the position by taking away or consolidating responsibilities, or just freezing the guy out by putting folks around, under or above him with whom you deal on all important matters till he gets another job within his party's spoils system.

This is how the big boys do it, nor in a public snit like a rookie would.

What say?


PS: Remember, Ted Kennedy was part of that dynasty and made Senator of the U.S..