Thursday, January 30, 2014

Did police walk into an inferno or throw gas on a candle? (UPDATED)

I may as well head right into the “Questions” segment of the program because that’s all I have regarding the melee at Kokopellis Saturday morning. Let me first say, however, this isn't about supporting or not supporting the police ... it's getting to the bottom of what happened. If the police screwed up they should be held accountable  - just like anyone else. If they didn't, they didn't. It's really as simple as that and only an outside investigation will answer the question.
-On Wednesday, Troy police released radio transmissions from officers outside the bar calling for help in controlling an unruly and aggressive crowd, but they are not time stamped so when they were the calls made? The department also released transcripts of two 911 calls made at 2:37 a.m. One by the bartender and another by an unidentified caller, who claims there were 100 people fighting. Despite media reports, there was no audio of the 911 calls released to the public.

-There is 30 minutes of video, from four different angles, taken from inside the bar beginning at 2:47 a.m. which disputes the 911 transcript in that it looks like a pretty orderly crowd. On Thursday, on the Times Union website, bar owner Barry Glick said there was a disturbance but it was under control by the time police got there. We don’t know what happened prior to 2:37 a.m. outside of the 911 transcripts. Again, did the radio transmission occur before or after the video footage? Is there any footage of outside the bar?
-If there was chaos outside the bar at or before 2:47 a.m., however, why did half a dozen officers decide to come inside the bar? (photo to the left is of Roshowan Donley, who police arrested in the bar. It can be seen on the videos.) The question then becomes did police use excessive force when they arrested Donley or did they use only the force necessary to place him under arrest?
-Why is it the incident reports, also as reported by the Times Union, claim police showed up at the bar and were greeted with chaos when the Mobile Command Center was set up on Fourth Street at 10 p.m. Friday and were there until at least 3 a.m. Saturday? In other words: Police were already there, and there with an extra four officers on special duty in anticipation of problems. So when, and how, did everything get so out of hand?
-Where is Mayor Lou Rosamilia? I give him credit for backing up the police pending an investigation but he needs to make a public appearance and not just issue a statement. Obviously, there is a good chunk of the community who thinks police used excessive force and a good chunk who don't think they did. the mayor should be front and center to diffuse what is an already explosive situation.

-Why isn’t anyone in city government calling for an independent investigation outside of Chief John Tedesco. I find it kind of ironic that he and Rev. Willie Bacote are on the same side of anything, but they are on this one. Police Commissioner Anthony Magnetto, Rosamilia – as reported on Channel 13 – and Police Benevolent Association President Bob Fitzgerald all say the investigation should be done in house by Internal Affairs. Why, though, would they want to keep it in house?
-And the question everyone wants, and deserves, an answer to is: Did police throw gas on a candle or did they walk into an inferno?
I don’t know the answer to the last. I wasn’t there. And there is more to the story than just watching the video and/or listening to radio transmissions. What I do know is the only way to get an answer that satisfies everyone involved is if someone besides the Troy Police Department conducts a thorough investigation as the chief, Bacote and the Times Union are calling for.

-Two other questions readers came up with are: Does Donley have a criminal record and if Kokopellis had been issued nuisance abatement points in the past? Anyone know the answers?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More than 30 minutes of video from inside Kokopellis show scene different than incident reports indicate

After being up for a few days, someone took the video feed off YouTube which in turn made the videos private. Sorry you can't view them any longer and I'm trying to find another copy. When I do, I will post.

Here they are.

I have just received 31 minutes and 13 second of surveillance video from inside Kokopellis presumably by surveillance cameras showing four different angles. I don’t know who did the “narration” and I can't verify it's accuracy but it seems like an accurate portrayal of what transpired early Saturday morning. Segments of the videos have been out there already. However, unlike a two or three minute spot on television, these are as I got them.
The videos do seem to show a scene contrary to what is in the incident reports written by police officers on the scene as reported in the Times Union today. According to that story, the incident reports and 911 calls, which the paper did not hear, say police came upon chaos inside and outside the bar and had no choice but to use force.

Watch the videos and I’ll write more later on today.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tedesco scoffs at calls for his resignation; outside investigation needed

Police Chief John Tedesco on Monday scoffed at calls for his resignation - and rightly so.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Mayor Lou Rosamilia gave day-to-day command of the TPD to Commissioner Anthony Magnetto about a year ago and since Tedesco has been left out of the loop.

I suppose Rev. Willie Bacote, who is leading the charge, could call for Magnetto’s resignation but he was one of the ones who wanted Magnetto appointed in the first place. Plus, those calls would be moot since Magnetto is headed back into retirement in about a week. Appearing on Talk1300, Tedesco said he thinks Bacote might be in "somebody's pocket."

Meanwhile, Tedesco is also calling for an independent investigation into the melee at Kokopellis that ended with six patrons arrested and six officers in the hospital. At issue is whether or not cops used excessive force, which a 44-second clip of the chaotic scene seems to indicate, or whether they used only force enough to get control of the situation.
Set aside all the fringe concerns and that’s really the only question that needs answering. The bar’s tumultuous history, the fact police were expecting problems by setting up the MobileCommand Center at 10 p.m. Friday and putting four extra patrols on duty in that zone, the inevitable, if unwarranted, racial component and the turmoil among the TPD hierarchy are all irrelevant.
I don’t know the answer to that central question. I don’t think anyone does at this point in time.
And the answer can’t be had by an internal investigation. I agree with Tedesco in that an outside agency should investigate for two reasons: If the officers are exonerated it dispels the already loud cries of a cover up, and if they are found to have used excessive force then the city would have no choice but to take the appropriate course of action. 
If the officers did use excessive force, they should pay the penalty if they didn't they shouldn't. It's really as simple as that. 

In other developments:
-The Record finally caught up with the story four days after the fact - The Gazette, based in Schenectady, which hasn’t covered a Rensselaer county story in who knows how long, even beat The Record. The Times Union, also late to the game, has a strong editorial in Tuesday’s edition calling for an external investigation. Channel 13 has, in my opinion, been leading the pack.

- Bacote, at a well-attended community forum, made four other demands of the city in addition to Tedesco’s resignation and a call for an independent investigation. One of them is placing the officers involved on unpaid suspension pending investigation’s outcome. I don’t think the city can do that, but it can place them on paid leave for a month, which is not a bad idea for their own safety and to help diffuse an explosive environment.
-Again, I don't know if officers used excessive force or not but if they did I really don't think race was the motivating factor. Two of the four recent, high profile cases of abuse or alleged involve white suspects. That's 50 percent for anyone who doesn't have a calculator handy.

-Rosamilia is standing by his guys and for that I give him credit. Nobody knows what happened and until we do the officers are, like anyone else, presumed innocent. I think he should have held the press conference initially slated for Monday but later cancelled. If I were him, though, I wouldn’t want to answer questions either but then again, I’m not the mayor and that’s what mayors are supposed to do.

-City Councilman Bob Doherty, D-District 4, and Council President Rodney Wiltshire have vowed to get to the bottom of what happened. If they were smart, though, they will stay out of it and wait for an investigation, be it internal or external, and not fan the flames by trying to score political points.

-I hope both sides, the police and the black community, show some restraint in the coming days. Police were ready for a fight – evidenced by setting up the Mobile Command Center hours before the melee and putting on extra patrols – and six ended up in the hospital. I don’t think cops have short memories. Some in the black community, judging by a slew of derogatory and threatening comments on social media directed at the police, also need to sit back and let the process play out. I’m sure there will be civil suits filed regardless of if there is an investigation or not and more violence will only make matters worse.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Police were prepared for problems at Kokopellis

On Friday night, hours before the riot broke out at Kokopellis, police had its Mobile Command Center set up on Fourth Street and had four extra patrolmen on duty, according to two sources whose information was confirmed by Capt. John Cooney.

The precautions, in place at 10 p.m. Friday, were on the count of police expecting a "large gathering" at the bar," said Cooney, the department spokesman. 
The question then becomes, if police were expecting problems, how did the situation deteriorate to the point where six officers ended up in Samaritan Hospital?
Cooney said the command center and additional officers were outside when the call came in at approximately 2:45 a.m. Saturday about one of the bar’s employees being assaulted - but not inside the establishment. More than 200 people, and some say upwards towards 350, were attending a memorial service for Darzee Reid, a Troy man who was shot to death in Albany on April 18, 2013 by Leonard Spencer.
According to police, some officers went inside where they were punched, jumped on, had bottles thrown at them, sprayed with pepper spray and at one point a patron sprayed a fire extinguisher. Outside, someone threw a garbage can through the window of a police cruiser and other police agencies were called in to assist.
According to Channel 13, the bar’s owner, Dr. Barry Glick, claims the crowd was civil until police entered and tried to arrest 25-year-old Roshawon Donley for assaulting the employee. A video taken from surveillance cameras inside the bar, and televised by Channel 13, seems to back up Glick’s claim that all hell broke loose after the officers entered and the fire extinguisher was sprayed into the crowd.
It’s shortly after that, according to Channel 13’s account of what transpired, the explosive video shot by someone using a cell phone picks up the action. That 44-second clip can be seen below.

In all, five other people were placed under arrest but at the time of this writing none of them were charged with assault – which is why the police were initially called - or any drug related offense. The alleged assault on the employee reportedly occurred when he tried to stop patrons from smoking pot.
Other questions that no one seems to have an answer to:
-Again, how did police allow the situation get so far out of control if they were expecting problems? Was it the commanding officer at the time or the guys in the field who screwed up? I don’t say that lightly, but when six officers end up in the hospital, someone screwed something up.
-Cooney is quoted as saying police used appropriate force while arresting Donley, but how do they explain the 44-second video clip? Also, how did Donely get the black eyes if appropriate force allows officers to hit a suspect in the body’s larger muscles but not the head? I’m told the injuries seen in the video came during the alleged fight with the employee but who knows?
-Why isn’t the fact everyone carries a cell phone, and every cell phone can take a video taught at the police academy?
-Will the administration and/or Council, stand by the cops involved or throw them to the wolves? At this point in time I would be surprised, and disappointed, if they didn’t back up the officers pending a thorough investigation.  
-I did reach out to Donley’s cousin in the hopes of talking to him and the cousin, who goes by the Facebook name of Quanto Quanloo, told me Donley isn’t talking until he confers with an attorney. The next logical question is how much is the civil suit going to be worth?
-How bad will race relations get in Troy? There are already a number of inflammatory comments on Facebook, some of which have been taken down? I don’t think race had anything to do with it but anyone want in on a pool guessing when Rev. Willie Bacote will hold a “march for peace?” There is a rally slated for 6 p.m. Monday in front of the Missing Link Zion Church at 101st Street and Fifth Avenue.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Melee at Kokopellis; video disappears (UPDATED with VIDEO)

The explosive video from the melee inside Kokopellis bar in downtown Troy showing a cop using a Billy club on an unarmed man has disappeared.
I watched it on Facebook at about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, and while it was shared by a number of people - nearly 300 if I remember including Council President Rodney Wiltshire - I can’t find it anymore anywhere on Facebook.

You can, however, now see the video on YouTube: 
The 44-second video does only show what I hear is a fraction of what actually transpired at the bar known for problems. The most damaging segment, if you’re a Troy cop, shows an officer beating an already beat up black man with a night stick. Two other officers join in and appear to kneel on him to hold him down while a woman is screaming “stop it, stop it.” Other officers are either watching the thrashing or standing guard apparently making sure nobody interferes.

From Facebook
It’s a brutal scene, and I’m not sure how the police can justify it, regardless of what happened before or after. At the time of the beating, it does actually appear the police have the situation under control too.

There is also a photo of a man on Facebook who claims his cousin was beaten up by cops but it doesn’t appear to be the one in the video. It’s posted by a guy going by the name of Quanlo Quanloo.
As I've said before, I’m glad I’m not a cop because I’m sure they get amped up just like every other person on the planet would if in a similar situation. The difference is police are trained to not give into their emotions and beat people up for what appears to be no other reason except it was, by all accounts, a pretty ugly scene.
Here is what we know so far, according to a number of media reports and people I have talked to:
-Police were called to the Fourth Street bar by the owners because a fight had gotten out of control.
-Ten Troy officers showed up and were not warmly welcomed by the unruly crowd that some say was in excess of 300.
-After the melee six Troy cops were taken to the hospital with a number of injuries consistent with having been on the bad end of a fight, bottles were thrown at them, some were pepper sprayed and one had a fire extinguisher sprayed at him. Someone tossed a garbage can through the back window of a cruiser. A number of other agencies were called into assist.
-Six patrons were arrested for crimes including disorderly conduct, harassment and resisting arrest.
-Rev. Willie Bacote (pictured above right) is already front and center on social media rallying the masses and screaming racism. If he hasn’t already, I’m guessing he will organize another march in protest of police brutality in the very near future. I know of no one who is in favor of police brutality – black or white – and somehow I don’t think police were thinking about the person’s color when they were spraying pepper spray or throwing bottles.
-There are video cameras in the bar so hopefully we will see the entire scene and not just a 44 second snippet.
-This comes on the heels of two higher profile beatings by Troy police as well as another on Christmas Day. In the first Officer Kyle Jones was cleared of using excessive force while arresting Brian Houle in June 2012 after the two got into an argument on Facebook over the definition of a hero. Houle now has a $3 million lawsuit pending. In the second, Internal Affairs confirmed Jones used excessive force while arresting Frank Fogarty in December, 2012. That one is still causing a ruckus. The third, a police officer allegedly beat a man already under arrest in the Police Department and it’s captured on video tape. Fogarty and Houle are white, by the way.
-It comes at a time when there is chaos in the TPD hierarchy with Police Commissioner Anthony Magnetto is going back into retirement and Police Chief John Tedesco is threatening a lawsuit if he doesn’t get back control of the department’s day-to-day operations.
In the end, there is no way this one goes away anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Chief Tedesco: Investigation was quashed

Appearing on Talk1300 Sunday, Troy Police Chief John Tedesco said the investigation into his release of a letter confirming that excessive force was used during a 2012 arrest has been quashed.

He did go before Internal Affairs and said he was asked to answer three questions: “Did you release the letter,” “have you released such letters before” and “have you released such letters since.” The answers to all three were a simple “yes.”
But, he said, at the direction of Police Commissioner Anthony Magnetto, that’s as far as it went and is now over.

I suppose you could look at it two ways: IA determined Tedesco acted appropriately and therefore no further action is necessary; or calling Tedesco in for questioning by those with less rank was just a way to embarrass the chief and, with that objective accomplished, there is no need to proceed. If it’s the first, there should be a written determination and it should be public. If it’s the latter, then Tedesco and his attorney Brian Premo certainly have a gripe.

Just some quick background: FrankFogarty was arrested by Officer Kyle Jones for disorderly conduct in December of 2012. Fogarty claimed Jones used excessive force, an IA investigation found it a valid complaint and told Tedesco as much. Tedesco, in turn, released a letter outlining the IA findings to Jones. Here is where it gets kind of sticky. The Police Benevolent Association filed a complaint against Tedesco for releasing the letter too soon. But, there is a question whether Jones knew about the complaint or if it was filed on his behalf by the PBA. I don’t really understand the significance of that because the PBA represents Jones but the chief – and Premo (pictured right), who is expected to file another letter this week – thinks it’s a pretty big deal.
In other news involving the chaos that is the Troy Police Department hierarchy:
-The Times Union is reporting that the chief wants to retain his own lawyer in a civil suit brought by Brian Houle against the city, the TPD and Tedesco. Houle alleges Jones used excessive while placing him under arrest in 2012. That arrest followed an argument Jones and Houle got into on Facebook about, of all things, the definition of a hero. The Council will have to determine whether or not it will pay for a separate attorney for the chief.
-The chief said he still just wants to be chief. With Police Commissioner Anthony Magnetto heading back into retirement, Mayor Lou Rosamilia (pictured left) could opt to not appoint either a police or public safety commissioner and work with Tedesco towards the common objective of safety. Given the mudslinging back and forth, however, it will take a lot of work on both their parts. Not impossible, and it means most of the crap will likely go away, but it won’t be easy for either one of them to man up and meet somewhere in the middle.
-Tedesco, also on Talk1300, said he hopes the Council votes down the PBA contract that was recently ratified by union members.
-Magnetto is looking forward to doing some fishing. I’d say he wins.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Troy PBA ratifies contract for 2011 and 2012

Members of the Troy Police Benevolent Association ratified a contract that includes a 2 percent retroactive raise for 2011 and a 0 percent raise in 2012, according to President Bob Fitzgerald.

Other major provisions in the contract, that now has to be approved by the city Council, include:
-An addition week of vacation time for junior members, which equals about half the police force.
-A $300, one-time bonus for any officer working in 2012.
-$300 off the premium for anyone opting to use the dental insurance after retirement
-And rank-for-rank substitution for patrolmen and sergeants when there is a vacancy on any given shift.
“He truly respects the membership and that came through in the negotiating process,” Fitzgerald said of Mayor Lou Rosamilia. “But he made clear the city didn’t have the means to offer anything more than the 2 percent, and that he was not going to put it on the taxpayers’ backs.”

Fitzgerald said the contract was ratified by some 80 percent of the membership.
As with any contract, raises are a sticking point and one way the two sides agreed upon the 0 percent in 2012 was with the $300 bonus for all officers working during that year. Fitzgerald it is not unlike the city’s deal with the Uniformed Firefighters Association and the Command Officer’s Associations of Troy, the union representing police department captains.
The added week vacation, Fitzgerald said, is a partial give back from some 15 years ago when the city was in such financial distress that it was almost forced to declare bankruptcy. At that time, the vacation time for new hires was set at five weeks but was reduced to two during negotiations. While the out of pocket cost for the city didn’t change, it did save money by not having to fill the vacancies created by vacationing officers with others on overtime.

The rank-to-rank provision requires that a sergeant be called in or assigned should there be a vacancy on any shift that requires a sergeant. Under the current agreement, a patrolman could act as a sergeant making sergeant’s wages - plus any applicable overtime based on those wages - for that particular shit. Similarly, if a there is a slot for a patrolman vacant, it can only be filled by another patrolman and not a sergeant making patrolman’s wages and any overtime.
Chief John Tedesco said he was left out of the negotiations and the city was instead represented by Police Commissioner Tony Magnetto and Deputy Mayor Pete Ryan. The chief said, without seeing the actual document, the contract sounded like a “giveaway to the PBA.” In particular, he said the rank-to-rank substitution and an additional week vacation for such a large block of officers will cause an undue increase in overtime. 
Fitzgerald said he would still be the point man in future negotiations even though he announced he would retire sometime this year.
The Council could address the contract as early as next month’s regular meeting.

Magnetto stepping down; now what?

As widely expected, Police Commissioner Anthony Magnetto is stepping down next month. And what happens next is anyone’s guess.

If I had to wager, I’d bet Mayor Lou Rosamilia just gives Police Chief John Tedesco his powers and duties back and everyone goes on their merry way. It would be the easiest way out, and according to the charter Rosamilia, or any mayor, as chief executive officer, can already tell the chief what he wants done anyway.
The Charter defines part of the mayor’s duties as: “To exercise supervision and control over all executive departments of city government, such departments comprising a Department of Finance, a Department of Law, A Department of Public Safety, a Department of Public Works, a Department of Public utilities and a Department of Parks and Recreation.”
Now, I may not be an attorney, but that tells me that if the mayor wants police officers to dress in clown suits and blow whistles at bad guys, he has that right. Or, more practically speaking, he could order the chief to reinstate the SOS, the ERT or any other program he sees fit.
As I’ve mentioned, the chief is Civil Service protected so the mayor can’t unilaterally fire him but he can dismiss him for cause. For example, if the chief ignores the mayor’s abovementioned fictional directive and orders officers to dress in blue and carry guns rather than clown outfits and whistles, it’s insubordination and that’s grounds for dismissal.
Rather than exercise that basic tenet of the charter, the mayor brought in Magnetto as a $30,000 buffer between himself and the chief. (As an aside, since I’ve mentioned it before, former Mayor Mark Pattison did the same thing when he appointed Mark Whitman over Chief Bill Miller but I understand there was some pretty deep politics behind that appointment. Also, the mayor may not have any experience in running a police department, but that’s why you have a chief.)
Anyway, the legal crux of Tedesco’s threatened lawsuit against the city is the appointment of a Magnetto because the charter indicates that in order for the city to hire a police commissioner it must first hire a public safety commissioner to oversee the police and fire departments as well as the Bureau of Weights and Measures and the Bureau of Emergency Communications. Obviously there isn’t a public safety commissioner so the appointment of only a police commissioner is suspect. Also, while there is $30,000 in the budget for a police commissioner, it's unclear where the city would find much more - like in the $100,000 range - to hire a public safety commissioner and then get the Council to approve the expenditure.
While that may be the legal thrust of the lawsuit nothing is that clear cut in Troy and this is no exception. On the periphery, as outlined in a number of scathing letters by Tedesco’s attorney Brian Premo, is a brutality claim substantiated by Internal Affairs, a letter released by the chief to the victim of the excessive force, underlings investigating the chief for releasing the letter, a visit by the FBI to the TPD and the politics behind Magnetto’s appointment.
All that is at least two or three posts in and of themselves but in the end, practically speaking, the driving forces behind Magnetto’s appoint to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Police Department – namely Councilwoman Nina Nichols, Councilman Kevin McGrath and Police Benevolent Association President Bob Fitzgerald – are all gone or on their way out. Because of that, and I would assume the desire to avoid escalating the chaos, my money is on Rosamilia allowing the chief to do his job, albeit at his direction, which is how it should have been from the get go.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Troy Council minority will likely get its counsel

It doesn’t appear hiring a lawyer for the two minority Troy Council members is dead yet.
Councilman Jim Gordon, R-District 1, said he and Councilman Dean Bodnar, R-District 3, will discuss the matter with Mayor Lou Rosamilia in an effort to find the $15,000 necessary to pay attorney Kelly Cramer.
There was some confusion at the first Council meeting earlier this month as to how to pay the salary. It is, after all, the first time the minority opted to take advantage of a section of the Charter that was changed to allow the hire in 2009. But, it’s also the first time members of the minority were given committees to chair so the need for an attorney to draw up legislation is there, Gordon said.
While the Times Union indicated the matter never came up for a vote, it said President Rodney Wiltshire did not have the majority five votes necessary to allocate the money. Two members – Lynn Kopka, D-At Large, and Gary Galuski, D- District 6 - asked where the money would come from. A legitimate question, it appears nobody really had the answer to.
I don’t see how Rosamilia can do anything but find the money somewhere since the position is in the Charter so the minority will likely get its counsel. But, since there was not a line item allocating the salary in this year’s budget, the mayor will have to find the money and then ask the Council to formally transfer it. The amount, according to the Charter, is the same as the majority counsel, $15,000, who is now Joe Liccardi.
I’ve gone back and forth on the need for the minority attorney since I first heard it discussed back in the 90s when Republican Carmella Mantello was the vocal opposition. On the one hand, the minority should have legal expertise in the spirit of a true two-party system. On the other, the corporation counsel is supposed to work for the entire Council so, in a perfect world, the minority has access to that office. It’s hardly ever a perfect world, however, and the corporation counsel is hired by the mayor and knows who to thank for a paycheck.
While it was nothing more than a discussion for years, by a local law that largely flew under the radar then President Clement “Chappy” Campana, a Democrat, successfully steered through an amendment to the charter allowing the appointment in 2009. It was vetoed by then Republican Mayor Harry Tutunjian, and the Council eventually overrode. Tutunjian and Campana, in an odd spirit of bipartisanship since they’ve never had that great of a relationship, both spoke against the hire and/or procedure at the meeting earlier this month.
The fact the salary was questioned, however legitimate, is another indication of the divide between the majority caucus. Whiltshire (pictured above) should have known about the transfer of funds but there is a learning curve with any new president. I also suppose the Council could have just OKed the salary and put the onus on Rosamilia to find the money and then formally transfer it later but that didn’t happen. While it wasn’t all out animosity, it was a sign that people of both parties are going to be watching every move Wiltshire makes.



Sunday, January 5, 2014

The correct agenda, email fun and the minority gets an attorney (UPDATED)

It has come to my attention the wrong agenda was actually sent to City Clerk Karla Guererri by Council President Rodney Wiltshire so she went ahead and sent it to the entire Council, as is part of her job. (I initially blamed Guererri for sending out the wrong agenda and then was told it should have been sent to Wiltshire for approval before the entire Council. Then I was told Wiltshire sent it to her with the expectation of sending it to the Council. I'm not sure where the wires got crossed but the fact remains the Council got the wrong agenda.)

This morning, while trying to correct the post I wrote last night on the wrong agenda, I inadvertently deleted it in Blogger and did not have time to go back and modify the original in Word before going on the radio. Anyway, more on that later since the committee chairs really did not change at all. 

 A couple things stand out in the correct agenda: One is the Council is poised to hire an attorney for the two-member minority at a cost of $15,000; the second is the appointment of Lucille Taylor as deputy city clerk, which has at least one member projecting possible ulterior motives.
I’m not sure who Taylor is, but Councilwoman Lynn Kopka, D-At Large, who used to be president, sent an email to former Councilman Mark McGrath, R-District 2, stating that she is a friend of Councilwoman Anastasia Robertson, D-District 2, and the appointment was a way for Council President Rodney Wiltshire to buy her off.
“I think a friend of Anastasia – bought off with the appointment??,” Kopka (pictured right) wrote in an email that can be seen below. She then wrote to someone, likely Guererri, that Taylor’s voting records should be checked and gave her address. Kopka and McGrath - or at least McGrath - also had a laugh over Taylor’s resume, which can also be seen below. Others on the Council who got the wrong agenda reached out to Wiltshire too with a sense of bewilderment.
Also, the deputy city clerk position and its $40,000 salary were initially supposed to go to Lou Schneider, the assistant city clerk who makes $27,835. Schneider, who was recruited by county Democrats to run for Legislature, will remain in his current position at his current pay.
One last thing on Guererri, she had a rough start but things have been going pretty smooth of late and her not getting re-appointed has nothing to do with job performance and everything to do with politics since she is Kopka’s girl, and Kopka is Rensselaer County Chairman Tom Wade’s girl. Council President Rodney Wiltshire, however, isn’t anyone’s house … .
Politics also brings us to hiring an attorney, Kelly Cramer, for the two-member minority caucus at the same $15,000 rate as that of the attorney for the seven-member caucus, Joe Laccardi. The idea has been talked about every two years since Republican Carmella Mantello was the vocal opposition representing District 3 some dozen years ago but the majority of either party never granted the request.
It was never granted for two reasons: one, politics 101 dictates the object of the majority is to keep the minority in the minority; and two because the charter had said the Council’s attorney represents the entire body and not just members of one party. Of course, the attorney was invariably a friend of the majority so it never worked out all that well and I can see the rationale.
The differences now in Troy are twofold: The minority and majority don’t fight with each other but members of the majority are waging war amongst themselves; and the charter was changed in 2009 calling for the hire. Though, this is the first year it followed through.
In other words, it’s $15,000 of your tax money to hire an attorney for two members of the panel Councilmen Jim Gordon, R-District 1, and Dean Bodnar, R-District 3, who seem to be getting along just fine with the other seven and even got committee chairmanships. In the end, Robertson is the only one who opted not to take a chairmanship. 
Also, according to the correct agenda, Matthew Waite will replace Lucy Larner as legislative assistant at a salary of $10,000.
Back to the top, according to the wrong agenda, Councilwoman Erin Sullivan-Teta, D-At Large, (pictured right) did not head up the Human Resources Committee. Rather, it went to Councilman Ken Zalewski, D-District 5 (pictured above.) In fact, Sullivan-Teta did not chair any committee.
That, of course, in my conspiracy theory driven brain, led me to believe that Wiltshire was “punishing” her for siding with Kopka. While it may have been wrong, it would have been a whole lot more fun if it were the right one.
The Council meets Thursday for its organizational meeting and then its first regular meeting with Wiltshire as president.  
Below is the email between Kopka and McGrath as well as Taylor’s resume
On Friday, January 3, 2014 10:53 PM, lynn kopka <> wrote:

you got that right

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark McGrath
Sent: Jan 3, 2014 9:25 PM
To: lynn kopka
Subject: Re: question

Haaaa, she evidently has a hard time keeping a job!  Look at the dates. Haaa


Troy, NY


To embark on a career that will combine my educational knowledge and work experience in a way
that will provide me with the opportunity to commence working in the public or legal administration


Legal Assistant

Persing & O'Leary, LLP


Latham, NY


September 2013 to December 2013

Maintained all client case files using tickler.
Managed and maintain attorney’s calendar
Scheduled, set up and notify clients and opposing counsel of upcoming EBT’s
Notarized in house staff Affidavit of Services when necessary
Finalized documents for mailing to opposing counsel for service and court for filing
Communicated with clients and court personnel with regard to upcoming court appearances

Skills Used
Notary Public
Machine Transcription
Calendaring, scheduling,
File and case management

Administrative Assistant

NYS Dept. of Health


Albany, NY


July 2011 to August 2013

• Managed the daily operations of grant contract processing from input to approval process
• Corresponded and speak to different program representatives regarding contract information
• Maintained all incoming grant contracts and renewals for different state and municipal entities
• Managed and train incoming staff either state workers or temps with regard to Contract Management and Audit
• Audited all grant contracts to process in SFS system after full review and documentation is received
• Requested Charities Registration for all non-profit organizations, except exempt organizations
• Input multi-million dollar grant contract information into Access database, creating purchase orders,
headers & denoting encumbrance amounts for AG and OSC processing
• Followed up with program department to gather missing information to complete contract package using Lotus Notes

Legal Secretary Assistant

Friedman & Molinsek, P.C


June 2011 to June 2011

Transcribed legal documents using electronic Dictaphone using two monitors
• Transcribed testimony and information for use in child custody cases
• Prepared all legal documents and case files for upcoming trials
• Maintained correspondence, scanned and emailed copied documents to clients

Cashier/Sales Associate

Sears Corporation


September 2010 to February 2011

Greeted customers and offered credit offers, SYWR, Kid Advantage program and Sears Purchase Protection plans
• Handled cash and credit cards for purchases, payments and layaway transactions,
• Performed MMR transactions for stolen property, reporting to Loss Prevention manager

Legal Secretary/Keyboard Specialist

NYS Division of Parole


September 2007 to July 2010

Maintained Inmate Appeals in the legal office of the NYS Division of Parole by comparing the • information received to the information in the system using FPMS and PARMIS, Access and Excel;
• Requested and maintained inmate records for upcoming inmate appeals, or forwarded to
DCJS/AG's office or representing attorney's office as requested
• Checked parole hearing dates and input the new data to start the appeal process;
• Sent correspondence to inmates/attorneys regarding upcoming appeal deadlines;
• Opened and input briefs received as approved by either attorneys or inmates (pro se);
• Pulled files to complete appeal process, placed appropriately to be reviewed by the
Board Members for decision making; answered incoming calls accordingly and/or relayed to proper attorney

Information Tech Assistant

NYS Dept. of Corrections/Attentive


January 2007 to August 2007

Handled individual user access forms (IUA's) for all correctional facilities via mainframe
• and deleted and changed user access for facility users
• Answered emails to grant access needed for users who changed positions and/or facilities
• Installed Lotus Notes enabling user access, utilized Bluezone and Console to add
fileshare access; utilized a ghost program such as Citrix Applications along with Microsoft Word and Excel

Legal Secretary

Assaf & Mackenzie, LLP


August 2006 to December 2006

Legal Ease
• Assisted with editing all documents relative to matrimonial law, i.e., actions for divorce, agreements
• for separation/custody; asset division;
• Opened files in TIPS and maintained calendar schedules for attorneys
• Prepared welcome packets and retainer agreements as well as prepared SNW
• Prepared affidavits of service, and filed papers at several area courts
• Greeted visitors and directed them to conference room for EBT's and other client conferences
• Prepared and organized file folders for trial preparation; opened mail and directed to paralegals handling case, and handled the checks and bank deposits when necessary

Administrative Assistant

Value Options/Linium Staffing


April 2006 to August 2006

Filed, copied and scanned customer and client related documents into CSR folders on database
• Gathered EOB's as needed and forwarded them to correct representatives
• Assisted with the call line with overflow calls and merged client information as needed
• Ordered supplies and assisted the medical records department with overflow maintaining the files in Excel

Legal Secretary

Thuillez, Ford, Gold


September 2005 to February 2006

Johnson & Butler
• Transcribed, edited and finalized motions and pleadings relative to civil litigation and medical malpractice issues;
• Composed and mailed correspondence; scheduled depositions with plaintiff's attorneys, doctors, hospital personnel, correctional facilities
• Maintained contact with plaintiff's attorneys to verify requested records via subpoena duces tecum, filed motions with court via mail and calendared upcoming conferences and set up reservations for hotel stays
• Opened new files using TABS III, finalized and filed stipulation of discontinuances with court
• Maintained and pulled files for incoming mail and backup reception area when needed


Masters of Public Administration in Government & Policy

Grand Canyon University

August 2012

Bachelors of Science in Business Organizational Management

The Kings College

May 2005

Associates in Administrative Occupational Studies

Olean Business Institute


On Friday, January 3, 2014 9:19 PM, lynn kopka <> wrote:

as discussed. check to see if she is a registered voter. 78 6th ave

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark McGrath
Sent: Jan 3, 2014 9:10 PM
To: lynn kopka
Subject: Re: question

What? Who is she?


On Friday, January 3, 2014 8:57 PM, lynn kopka <> wrote:

yes. i think a friend of anatashia - bought her off with the appointment???

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark McGrath
Sent: Jan 3, 2014 8:24 PM
To: Lynn Kopka
Subject: question

Who's Lucy Taylor? Deputy clerk?