Saturday, April 21, 2007

Still Life, With Meltdown

The dancers have left the floor, the wait staff are clearing the plates from the tables, but the band plays on.

Common Council President Patrick Donovan on Friday called for the council to end its investigation of police Chief C. Allen Pylman, but an O-D poll of council members showed division over whether to shut down the inquiry.

Donovan, a Republican who's also chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said Pylman was an effective leader and the council needed to move on.

But three council members — two Democrats and one Republican — said it's inappropriate and poor timing for Donovan to be discussing the issue eight days after a Utica police officer was shot and killed.

Here's the reaction from council members reached Friday afternoon:

•Majority Leader Bill Phillips, D-5, Councilman Rocco Giruzzi, R-at-large, and Councilman James Zecca, D-2, said it's not the time to argue about the council investigation. City leaders need to focus on one goal: apprehending police Officer Thomas Lindsey's killer, they said.

Unless Mr. Phillips, Mr. Giruzzi, and Mr. Zecca are personally gathering evidence and working the phones it's hard to imagine what, exactly, they're doing to find Officer Lindsey's killer. Over a hundred officers from multiple law enforcement agencies have been doing the actual work of trying to capture a murderer. The Utica Common Council hasn't, and can't, do much more than offer their well-wishes to the investigation.

•But Councilman David Roefaro, D-at-large, and Councilman Frank Meola, D-4, want to complete what the council started. Transcripts of witness testimony need to be filed and forwarded to Mayor Tim Julian and possibly the Attorney General's Office, they said.

It's been two months since the last witness offered testimony before the council. Are they seriously suggesting there hasn't been enough time for the simple transcription of oral testimony? If that's the case, the Common Council needs to look into getting some new office staff.

"I think it is a political move and in light of what has happened to our community this week, I think his timing is deplorable," Roefaro said. "It is his opinion that the chief exhibits good leadership because there are many things in this investigation that will come to light. This will go to the Attorney General's Office."

Well, there you have it. Mr. Roefaro believes he's uncovered criminal actions that warrant action by the Attorney General. Charges so serious, so devastating, that the chief law enforcement officer of the state needs to be brought on board...but Mr. Roefaro can't really say what those charges are. Considering the dire nature of the situation isn't it vital that the transcripts be completed as soon as possible? From the inexplicable foot dragging of the council it would appear the real answer is somewhat in doubt.

Update: A kind bystander pointed out that criminal charges should have been filed for Officer Franco's assault on a suspect. While I'm not totally sure that's true, it's undeniable that the entire incident was covered up by Chief Pylman and then District Attorney Michael Arcuri. Oddly enough, while Mr. Roefaro has been questioning witnesses and gathering evidence during the investigation into the Franco incident he's also been serving as a member of now Congressman Arcuri's staff.