Council Says No to Rodriguez
by Geoff Kelly - posted 4:20 pm, July 20, 2010
Today’s Common Council session opened, as it always does, with a prayer. (Does anyone pray publicly so often and so audibly as the elected official?) The University District’s Bonnie Russell’s message in a nutshell: Please, God, save us from being political.
Fat chance. The Council voted five to four to deny David Rodriguez the post of corporation counsel, to which Mayor Byron Brown had nominated him two weeks earlier. (Lovejoy’s Rich Fontana jumped the majority coalition;s ship and joined Russell, the North’s Joe Golombek, and Masten’s Demone Smith in supporting Rodriguez.) The rationale: Rodriguez is running against Niagara District Councilman David Rivera for a Democratic Party committee seat. In today’s session, Delaware’s Mike LoCurto argued that in doing so Rodriguez showed poor judgment—he is the city’s lawyer, and is supposed to represent all branches of government, not just the mayor who appoints him. LoCurto said the race against Rivera, who Rodriguez theoretically represents, coupled with his failure to deliver any timely or helpful opinions during the Brian Davis meltdown last fall, had convinced him that Rodriguez was incapable of acting independently of the mayor’s office. And that, LoCurto said, made him incapable of representing the entire city.
One might have expected fireworks. There were none. Maybe the room will light up tomorrow, when the appointment of Dan Derenda to police commissioner may be the cause of a special session. Last week, Derenda’s nomination was tabled in the Legislation Committee, seemingly dooming Derenda to purgatory until after the Council’s August recess. Today Brown threatened to resubmit Derenda’s name, but then pulled that punch at the last minute. Now we hear that a special session will be called tomorrow, and the mayor will likely have the votes to discharge Derenda’s nomination from committee and confirm him. The only stalwarts against the appointment are LoCurto, Rivera, and the South’s Mickey Kearns. Ellicott’s Curtis Haynes is a cipher, though he voted to table the matter last week. Fontana will vote to confirm.
If Haynes sticks to his guns, then Council President Dave Franczyk is the swing vote here. Franczyk voted to table last week, but he is inclined to confirm Derenda unless given a powerful reason not to. Will he help to pull the appointment out of committee or will he allow the others to continue to scrutinize the clearly flawed and opaque process by which Derenda was nominated?
And when will mayoral spokesman Peter Cutler call me back to tell me if the mayor’s human resources ace, Karla “TMI” Thomas, lied to councilmembers yesterday about where and when she’d posted the opening for a police commissioner to online job sites?
Kevin Helfer was approved unanimously as the city’s new parking czar.