I didn’t think the expected rift on the Troy City Council would start until after Jan. 1 but five members sent a message last Thursday when they voted to not re-appoint Geri Fitzgerald to the Board of Assessment and Review.
To understand the significance, we need to back up a bit.
Fitzgerald lives with Michelle DeLair, the former deputy city clerk under then City Clerk Bill McInerney and who is one of the Rensselaer County Democratic Party Chairman Tom Wade’s most loyal supporters. Not allowing Fitzgerald’s appointment to a largely inconsequential position – as proposed by Council President Lynn Kopka at the request of the administration – to come out of the Finance Committee to the floor for a vote is a clear shot at Wade. And for that matter the administration.
The five who voted against her appointment were Council members Kevin McGrath, Bob Doughtery, Rodney Wiltshire, Dean Bodner and Ken Zalewski. Which, of course leave Council members Mark McGrath, Nina Nichols, Gary Galuski and Kopka voting to appoint Fitzgerald.
If you remember, Wiltshire, who will be president come Jan. 1, and Zalewski were in Bob “Rabbit” Riley’s corner in his failed bid to take Wade out as chair last year. Wade has a long memory and, evidently, so does Wiltshire and Zalewski, who will likely be the pro-temp after the organizational meeting. Doughtery and Kopka don’t get along that well so he’ll likely be in the W&Z corner and I’m told newly elected Anastasia Robertson, D-District 2, will likely side with them too.
On the other side are party (Wade) people: Kopka, Galuski, who works at the Board of Elections, and newly elected At Large Councilwoman Erin Teta-Sullivan.
That leaves the two Republicans: Bodner in District 3 and Jim Gordon, the newly elected representative in District 1. Bodner has proven himself to be non-political when it comes to policy (though he did vote against Fitzgerald and DeLair happened to run against him earlier this month) and Gordon is the former GOP city chair so he is political. My guess is they break with the W&Z team more often than not on anything controversial.
One may say the rift is just political shenanigans but it does mean real jobs for real people – and more importantly who will get those jobs. The Council controls who is city clerk ($54,800,) deputy city clerk ($40,000,) city auditor ($59,600) bingo inspector, a liason position ($10,000,) and the Council confirms all city marshal (various salaries) recommendations too.
Right now the majority are held by Wade people. Something tells me that won’t be the case come Jan. 1. But, Wade is a shrewd politician and he successfully fought off the coup last year. While some would just as soon he move on, I don’t see it happening unless he wants to.