Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Oh, thanks for helping my campaign, now let's look at your raise again

Quiz time:

Question: Who are the following people?

Cynthia A. DelPiano of Beech St, Rome
Pietra Yozzo  of Evalon Rd, New Hartford
Genevieve D. Messa of Maynard Dr, Marcy
Mikale D. Billard of Imperial Dr, New Hartford

Answer: They are all people who have taxpayer-funded jobs at Oneida County. Taxpayer, as in both you and I fund their salary via the taxes we pay. As easily found on Google all four of them work in the same arena: They work for the Legislative Board. Ms. DelPiano appears as the deputy clerk of the Board, Ms. Yozzo is an analyst, Ms. Messa is the secretary and Mr. Billard is the clerk. Notice only 2 of them reside in New Hartford; and of the 2 only one (Billard) resides in District 16 where the race for the Legislative seat is really heating up. Mr. Billard is also a member of the New Hartford Republican Committee and as such, gets a pass because he is supposed to carry the petition of the endorsed candidate - Mrs. Pratt. As I told him during the screening process for the endorsement, I did not expect him to vote for me because if he did, it would cost him his job and he would be the next Brian Scala (see the other question below in the quiz for details).

I don't normally put the names or area locations of people in my blog, but since they voluntarily put their names and signatures to public documents (Mrs. Pratt's political petitions as filed at the Board of Elections), now the airing of their names is fair use and legal. I'll also add that I presume they are all good and decent citizens.

Oh, the other answer you are looking for: All of them also either carried political petitions for Mrs. Pratt or in the case of Ms. DelPiano, as a Notary Public put her signature to some of her petitions as a witness. Witnessing a petition means you were present when every citizen's signature was put on each page. This process takes considerable time; usually it means driving to each person's house and asking them to sign. And they're not the only politically-connected names that appear as witnesses on Mrs. Pratt's petitions, but since the others are not paid by Oneida County taxpayers, I won't bother to list their names. One works for a neighboring county and others are related to Mrs. Pratt, which is fine and dandy with me.

I'm going to guess they did this on their own personal time, a fair assumption. But the bigger question looms: Why did people from Marcy and Rome sign or carry Mrs. Pratt's petitions? And what burning political issues are so important in District 16 to these people that they will drive 20, 30 or 40 miles to help her gather signatures on her petitions?

Perhaps they got some other form of encouragement. Maybe somebody asked them to do it. Maybe they volunteered. Or use your imagination as to why, an answer will come to you sooner or later.

In either event, a question of ethics has now surfaced: At budget time when salaries and raises are discussed by the Legislature, how will Mrs. Pratt view their "job" performance? Is she going to recommend that they get raises because they actually earned them, or has her vote now been influenced because they went outside of the scope of their job duties to help her get elected?

I don't know the answer to that question, but it needs to be asked. While it's nice to have friends in politics, and it's nice to do favors for people who seem to need help, sometimes doing something to help one of your bosses can lead to a conflict. About now, the conflict is beginning to smell pretty tangy.

In any event, if Mr.s Pratt now votes on their salaries or raises before her appointment expires at the end of this year, she has put herself in a position where her vote can be ethically questioned. And as any Legislator knows, you should never allow yourself to be put in a compromising position. No matter what you say after the fact, it does nothing to erase the blot.

Next question: (Multiple choice)

Who are the following people:

Pamela Mandryck
Vernon Grey
Brian Scala

1: Members of the "We Love Tony Picente" fan club
2: Have-been forgotten members of defunct 1980s rock band "Devo"
3: Famous authors who co-wrote "Sheisse Eins Zwei Drei"
4: Millionaire Bruce Wayne's gardeners

The answer is,of course, none of the above. They are all former Oneida County employees who found themselves out of a job due to ... unusual circumstances. No, they did not break any law or do anything dishonest. They fell out of favor of the County Executive. In Ms. Mandrycks case, she was the Republican Election Commissioner. In Mr. Grey's case, he was the former Airport Commissioner and in Mr. Scala's case, he was the deputy highway commissioner. In the interest of finishing this blog post, if you really want the juicy details, I encourage you to look up each individual and ask them to tell you their particular story. But as the stories were told to me, each one is ... very interesting, to say the least.

The point of this quiz is, of course to point out how heavy handed the County Executive runs the insane asylum on Park Avenue from the 10th floor. He demands loyalty, which is not usually a bad thing, but if in any way, shape or form look like you disagree with him, it's Sayonara baby. You're history.

So when people with political jobs on the 10th floor of the Oneida County Office Building suddenly take an interest in carrying petitions for Mr. Picente's candidate of choice, you get the idea. I promise you if elected, I will not ask Oneida County employees for any favors outside the official scope of their daily job duties. Nor will I accept any favors if offered so as to keep clean hands when it comes to fairly evaluating their salaries and raises.

As always, I respectfully ask for your vote on both Primary Day (Sept 12) and in the general election on November 7. Thank you.

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