The Council is making this a whole lot more complicated than it has to be.
According to the Times Union, Mayor Lou Rosamilia vetoed an ordinance authorizing the Council to issue subpoenas in its ongoing investigation into two controversial demolition projects and other things.
For starters, I don’t get why the Council sent the legislation to Rosamilia for his approval. The Charter clearly gives the Council the authority to conduct an investigation into any city activity and/or department. The mayor has no say in the matter because the Council is a separate and distinct branch of government with rights and duties exclusive to that branch.
It would be similar to the mayor vetoing the Council’s pick for City Clerk. He can’t. It’s a Council appointment.
That said, if he did have the authority to veto, it’s pretty apparent he has a valid reason. The process the Council approved to issue individuals subpoenas is either do it at a public meeting by majority vote or by five member signing a document.
The first makes perfect sense and is the process that should be followed. I’ve never heard of the second and nobody I talked to has either.
It’s unclear why Wiltshire doesn’t just ask each member of the Council who they want to question, put it all on a big list and then pass the entire list. It doesn’t mean everyone on the list has to get called to testify but that is by far the simplest way to go about it and one that has the best chance of withstanding any legal challenge.
Then again, Rosamilia said subpoenas are not necessary should the Council want to question anyone in his administration. If that’s the case, why issue the veto? Obvious employees include Bill Dunne, commissioner of planning, his assistant, Andrew Kreshick, Fire Chief Tom Garrett and Deputy Mayor Pete Ryan.
I’m a big fan of the acronym KISS, or Keep It Simple Stupid. And that’s from a guy who can complicate tying a shoe – even if it comes with Velcro. Wiltshire and some of his colleagues on the Council have thus far done an admirable job in trying to find out what happened at demolitions on King Street and at the King Fuels site.
The first two hearings went off without a hitch and some good information was gathered. Now, though, it's getting down to the bottom of things and while the Council conducts its investigation there are no less than three federal agencies and a state agency looking into things too.
There might not be any easy answers to the questions, but it doesn’t mean the process has to get bogged down.
Just remember: KISS.