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.