Democratic Monroe County Legislator James Sheppard has called for the new Monroe County Office of Public Integrity to investigate Republican Party Chairman Bill Reilich’s access to the County of Monroe Industrial Development Authority’s (COMIDA) documents and staff, following recent statements Reilich made regarding Irondequoit’s I-Square Project.
“Public institutions charged with developing local businesses, and creating jobs cannot and should not be used for personal gain, yet the chairman’s statements indicate that he used this independent authority as a tool to further his political agenda,” Sheppard stated. “The community of Monroe has paid a steep price for lapses of integrity, and unethical behavior relative to the operation of the county’s Local Development Corporations (LDC), and we are now compelled to explore whether COMIDA, another extension of county government, lacks integrity as well.”
In a political game of back and forth last week, Reilich accused former Irondequoit Town Supervisor Adam Bello of abandoning the unstable project, while I-Sqaure developers Mike and Wendy Nolan were in default on their payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement with COMIDA. Bello, a Democrat, had recently been appointed as the new Monroe County clerk by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
And, although the Nolans refuted the claim; COMIDA also released a statement Monday confirming the developers had indeed defaulted on their PILOT agreement with the agency.
“County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo pledged to create an Office of Public Integrity whose mission it is to safeguard the public’s trust by ensuring that all public institutions, and staff, conduct their business in a manner that conforms to the highest ethical and legal standards,” Sheppard stated. “Although I was not satisfied that final legislation met the standards outlined by the Association of Inspectors General, the legislature passed a bill creating such an office. I believe its first order of business should be to investigate COMIDA, to ensure that this vital public agency does not serve as a mechanism to further the agenda of political parties. …I call on Monroe County Executive Dinolfo to appoint an independent Director to the Office of Public Integrity as soon as possible. In light of current events, I believe it is imperative that the appointee be truly impartial, and free of internal, and external, influences.”
The county legislature had approved legislation proposed by Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo last month, in order to create the office for examining county operations and reviewing government functions.
Sheppard had been the only lawmaker to oppose the legislation, due to a lack of independent oversight of the office.
Dinolfo wished the developers well with the project earlier this week.
“All involved should be focused on ensuring the project’s success, and that they meet their goals and obligations,” she stated.
The county executive has not yet responded to Sheppard’s statements.