Rochester, New York – Members of the Democratic Caucus of the County Legislature have proposed creating a temporary legislative committee to investigate whether the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency (COMIDA), the economic development arm of the county, improperly provided confidential information to and acted at the direction of the Monroe County Republican Party in relation to politically-motivated attacks upon the private I-Square LLC development in Irondequoit.
“As public concerns over this apparent collusion have mounted, I along with my colleagues believe it is time to determine whether any improper actions were committed by county employees in an effort to help a political party’s chairman save face and attempt to salvage his political attacks,” said County Legislator Mark S. Muoio (D – Rochester), the measure’s sponsor. “Government employees releasing confidential and possibly damaging information related to a development contract suggest serious ethical concerns. The possible direction of these public employees by a party leader escalates the potentially inappropriate nature of what happened. There are many unanswered questions, and our goal is to find answers on behalf of county residents.”
Pursuant to Section C2-6 (C)(5) of the Monroe County Charter and Section 209 of New York State County Law, the County Legislature has the ability to create temporary committees to investigate the activities of county employees. These committees have the power to subpoena witnesses, compel testimony under oath, and require the production of documents. The proposed committee structure is bipartisan, featuring three members from each caucus of the Legislature. It would also incorporate input from private citizens, potentially including law enforcement and legal experts and representatives of good government groups, to ensure its work is conducted at a high standard.
“It is the County Legislature’s duty to use its powers to promote the goal of creating the most transparent and ethical county government in the nation,” said Assistant Minority Leader John Lightfoot (D – Rochester).
“My colleague’s proposal should be taken up by the legislature without delay to show how serious we are about restoring public trust in government, and ensuring that vital governmental agencies and operations are not being suborned to support political goals,” said Minority Leader Cynthia W. Kaleh. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature to pass it.”
The legislation enacting the investigatory committee will be submitted to the President of the Legislature, who will be asked to use his power to introduce it as a Matter of Urgency between committee meetings, allowing the Legislature to consider it at its meeting on April 12. If the President decides not to introduce it, it will be introduced by Legislator Muoio for consideration during legislative committees on April 25 and 26 and by the full Legislature on May 12. To express support for the legislation, concerned individuals can contact the President of the Legislature’s office at (585) 753-1953.