MAYOR PALMIERI CALLS FOR ETHICS BOARD
Mayor Robert Palmieri today directed First Assistant Corporation Counsel Charles Brown to determine the legal steps necessary to reconstitute the City of Utica Board of Ethics.
"The Board of Ethics was established by local Ordinance in 1993 but has since been ignored. The board has not met in years and all initial appointments have lapsed. It’s time to breathe life back into a process designed to build public trust and bring integrity back to City Hall," Palmieri said.
The Board of Ethics has five members, two appointed by the mayor and three by the Common Council. No member of the Board may be an officer or employee of the City of Utica and none may hold an officer’s position on any political party committee. No more than three members of the Ethics Board can be affiliated with the same political party. Members serve staggered five-year terms without compensation.
State law requires all policy makers to complete annual financial disclosure statements, a process already administered by the Corporation Counsel’s office. A rejuvenated Ethics Board would be empowered to hear complaints regarding conflicts of interest by employees, elected office holders and appointed officials, as the original ordinance intended. The board is also obligated to provide a yearly report to the Mayor and Common Council summarizing its activities and recommending changes in local ethics laws.
PALMIERI BEGINS URBAN RENEWAL REFORM
Mayor Robert Palmieri today began rebuilding Utica’s Urban Renewal Agency.
"The Urban Renewal Agency has a mission to literally rebuild Utica’s quality of life by redeveloping Utica’s distressed properties. It’s imperative that all Urban Renewal job titles are respected and all positions are filled with qualified and proven professionals," Palmieri said.
Palmieri announced the appointments of Gene Allen as Marketing Director and Andrew Brindisi as Sales Coordinator.
"Gene Allen is a Cornhill resident who possesses a rare combination of technical know-how, marketing experience and a deep sense of personal commitment to preserving Utica’s neighborhoods," Palmieri said. "Andrew Brindisi is an accomplished entrepreneur with practical real estate sales experience," Palmieri said. "He built a successful business and thrived in one of the most economically challenging environments in Upstate New York."
Allen has a degree in Business Administration from SUNY-Morrisville and a Marketing degree from Utica College. He was principal in his own consulting firm and has held management positions with numerous not-for-profit agencies and neighborhood groups. Allen is also an EPA certified Risk Assessor, Lead Abatement Supervisor, and HUD Renovator. He currently trains home remodelers and renovators in Lead Safety.
Brindisi graduated from Utica College where he majored in Political Science. He returns to Utica after a more than a decade of achievement and civic involvement in Saratoga Springs. He was President and Vice-President of the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association and served on several city improvement committees. Prior to moving to Saratoga Springs, Brindisi was a realtor in Virginia. He attended the Graduate Realtor Institute at the University of Virginia.
CITY SUES HSBC OWNER:
PALMIERI TO HOLD PRINCE "PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE"
Mayor Robert Palmieri has directed the Corporation Counsel to commence immediate court action against Ron Prince, the California-based owner of one of Downtown Utica’s landmark buildings.
"Ron Prince is the owner of the HSBC building and he alone is culpable for its inexcusable decline. I have ordered our Corporation Counsel to begin action in State Supreme Court to hold Prince personally responsible for the wrong he has committed against the City of Utica," Palmieri said.
The former Marine Midland Bank has been steadily allowed to deteriorate since Prince purchased the structure in 2009. A Codes Enforcement Department inspection of the HSBC building in May of 2011 resulted in a notice ordering Prince to correct, among other problems, the building’s roof, exterior drainage fixtures, windows, and sanitary conditions. Prince responded by letter, indicating his intention to hire design professionals and contractors to correct the codes violations. To the City’s knowledge, no designer or contractor was ever hired. The HSBC building continued to deteriorate and Prince failed to respond to any inquiry made by City of Utica authorities.
"One of my first directives as Mayor was to get an Administrative Search Warrant. If the owner was not going to cooperate, we would force our way into the HSBC building for a re-inspection and continue to call Ron Prince into account," Palmieri stated. Prince relented once the existence of a Search Warrant was publicized by local media.
On January 11, Palmieri and other city officials conducted an interior examination of the HSBC building wearing protective masks and suits. The walls and ceilings were covered with mold and anything of value removed or destroyed. Palmieri called the building ‘an absolute disgrace."