– Elected Comptroller or Public Integrity Director needed
– Petitioning to get city charter revision on ballot an option
– OPI has ignored Rochester for All’s information about wrongdoing
– Peer reviews recommend OPI change structure or contract out investigations involving mayor
Following a Democrat and Chronicle article questioning the Office of Public Integrity’s commitment to its mission, Rochester for All renews our call to replace the office with an elected comptroller or public integrity director.
Earlier this year, OPI appears to have ignored evidence provided by RFA that showed:
- City resources have been repeatedly used on the mayor’s political campaign.
- The deputy mayor altered his time cards to cover up doing his personal business on city time and received vacation days he had not earned.
- Top city officials appear to have retaliated against a citizen for making an ethics complaint.
We’ve also more recently alerted OPI to the fact the deputy mayor required his secretary to do personal work.
Rochester for All has never been contacted by OPI. We’ve made similar complaints to the Board of Ethics. According to agendas and minutes, the board is still considering our complaints, but has never contacted our organization.
According to Peer Reviews posted to the OPI website, the office cannot legitimately investigate anything having to do with the mayor’s office. This work should be contracted out, per the recommendations.
OPI Director Timothy Weir is appointed by the mayor and donates to her campaign. These circumstances cripple his ability to make sure City Hall is adhering to the highest ethical standards.
“In any other city, the information Rochester for All uncovered would be a major scandal. In Rochester, these activities are swept under the rug by complicit elected officials and a severely compromised Office of Public Integrity,” said Rochester for All Director Rachel Barnhart.
The Democrat and Chronicle story showing Weir acts as an arm of the mayor’s office bolsters our position. Rochester for All has also previously posted the city checkbook online, which reinforces the need for more controls.
The city charter should be overhauled to reflect the need for better checks and balances at City Hall. Options include an elected comptroller or OPI director. The city abolished an elected comptroller in the 1980s, but most major cities or counties in New York State require this position. Creating an elected office would require a referendum. If City Council isn’t willing to place a referendum before voters, signatures could be gathered from voters to place the measure on the ballot.
“Sadly, the current situation shows the need for major ethics reforms,” Barnhart said.