But, this is Troy and the electeds here tend to set the bar for everyone else.
Last week, Republican councilmen Dean Bodnar, District 3, and Jim Gordon, District 2, filed a notice of claim against Councilwoman Lynn Kopka, D-At Large, for allegedly libelous comments she made in an email.
What makes it even funnier, Kopka inadvertently sent the email where she allegedly slanders Bodnar and Gordon to Bodnar and Gordon – and who knows who else. Honestly, you just can’t make this stuff up.
The email in question was about a piece of legislation that would require any contractors doing a project for the city worth more than $250,000 to implement an apprenticeship program. The non-union shops are against it while the unions – and by extension the shops that hire union help – are in favor of it. The program would make projects more expensive for the city because the contractors would be required to hire the apprentices. On the flip side, it does provide young people an opportunity to learn a trade.
(It’s odd in that a liberal Democrat like Kopka would be staunchly against a piece of legislation favored by the unions and seemingly go out of her way to stop it while two Republicans voted for it. Again, you can’t make this stuff up.)
Kopka, in an email note, to Josh Reap, legislative representative to the Associated Builders and Contractors of New York State, said:
“I thought the 2 republicans - Dean Bodnar and Jim Gordon - were leaning toward a no vote. I think the unions bought them off somehow. They do not have any of the info you provided to me. If you approach them, please do not mention my involvement - just tell them that you represent various contractors, etc and are aware of the legislation.
Your info and a call from a Troy contractor may push them to call the mayor to veto. Time is ticking thought. Keep me posted.”
Bodnar was infuriated and sent this scathing email to Kopka:
“It's 7:50 am on Saturday, and I'm seeing this for the first time. When you phoned me yesterday you didn't mention exactly what you'd written in this email which you'd sent to Jim "by mistake". You just said you sent him something and that now Jim had probably sent it on to everybody in the world...
REALLY? You're accusing Jim and me of being "BOUGHT OFF" on this issue? Do you have any idea what you've said here? Damn it Lynn, I want you to march right over to your acting district attorney and insist he impanel a grand jury to look into this. How can you possibly assert something like this when all we did was disagree with you on a legislative issue. I'm shocked and disgusted--what the hell kind of person are you? I'm copying Kelly Cramer on this---Kelly, please inform us if we have legal grounds for a suit for slander.
Jim's right--the ABC and anyone else who opposed the apprenticeship resolution had every opportunity to speak to all councilmembers for weeks prior to the vote. Where the hell were they? In fact, Jim and I had many conversations during that period in which we actually solicited opinions from local contractors to get their input on this. We honestly studied the issue, presented concerns in public forums on two occasions, sought dissenting views, and ultimately voted in favor based on the information provided. Isn't that what legislators are supposed to do? And because our vote was at odds with yours, WE WERE BOUGHT OFF???
Lynn, I really don't get upset very easily, but if you smear my reputation, or try to hurt my family--that gets me upset. You've got some serious backtracking to do here. If Jim and I decide to go public with this, you've got one hell of a PR problem
. And maybe a legal one.”
. And maybe a legal one.”
Gordon too took exception. Here is his email to Kopka:
“This is an interesting thread. Interesting that you suggest that we were "bought off somehow". That's is a very serious accusation especially in the word of public service and ethics. I don't know who Joshua Reap is, but he along with anyone else had the opportunity to express their concerns during the two council meetings this was debated at for several hours. I did have a number of concerns with the original draft and those concerns were mitigated. Additionally, we were assured that any non-union contractor, through their association with the ABC had access to the AP and therefore would be a "qualified" contractor with the city.
I wonder how many other people may receive this email accidentally...”
The two Republicans, in turn, filed a notice of claim against Kopka. The opening paragraph of the draft notice of claim states: … “the claimants, Bodnar and Gordon, hereby claim and demand from respondents, Kopka and the City of Troy, monetary compensation for the compensatory and punitive damages sustained by reasons of respondent Kopka’s malicious composition and publication of an electronic email containing numerous libelous statements made of and concerning the claimants.”
In the end, at the July 10 meeting, the legislation passed by a vote of 6-2 with two other Democrats, Gary Galuski, District 6, and Erin Sullivan-Teta, At Large, voting no and Kopka being absent.
And finally, here are texts of the emails between Kopka and Reap prior to the one Kopka sent to Bodnar and Gordon where she is trying to steer Reap into the best way to get the mayor to veto.
Kopka to Reap on July 24:
“I have not spoken to the mayor yet. will do so later today.”
From Reap to Kopka later that day:
“It was a very good opportunity to voice some concerns and share with the mayor the potential legal problems this legislation may cause both for the city and the many contractors who currently do work for Troy but would no longer be able to do so, should this bill become signed into law.
I have reviewed the legislation you sent me last night and I'm drafting a letter which will highlight our position as well as some of our concerns with the legislation. I will be happy to share a copy with you once its complete. I also got to speak with Bill; it was productive.
I want to thank you for inviting me to that meeting.”
From Kopka back to Reap:
“Josh - get the letter to the mayor (and me) as soon as you can. He only has a day or so before he must act. Happy to include you. All the material presented prior to today's meeting was one-sided.”
Reap to Kopka:
“You got it; letter will be shared tomorrow.”
Kopka to Reap:
“I am not optimistic that the mayor will veto - he is concerned that the council will override (currently split 6 for; 3 against).”
Back to Kopka:
“Thanks. Are there members of the council who voted "yes" but were on the fence?”
And that’s when Kopka sent the email to the world – where she accuses Gordon and Bodnar of being bought off - she thought she was sending just to Reap.
And here is a draft of the notice of claim: