E-mails Sent to the State, City Council Discusses Issue

-By Seth Daniel

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Mayor Tom Ambrosino and City Solicitor Paul Capizzi indicated that Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) has requested information regarding the use of city computers for political purposes and will be requesting more information in regards to the e-mail situation – which allegedly featured several department heads actively using the City’s e-mail system to conduct campaign activities.

“An attorney for the office did contact us,” said Capizzi. “They requested copies of e-mails that Councillor [George] Rotondo had requested that they wanted to see copies of. We provided them with a sampling of the ones that raised concerns.”

In addition, Capizzi said he handed out informational sheets to department heads in City Hall about the issue – the sheets being provided to him by an attorney at OCPF.

“They (OCPF) haven’t shared their thinking with me,” said Capizzi. “It’s more of just confirming that they’ve received what we have sent.”

Mayor Tom Ambrosino said he has taken no action locally, and will wait to see what OCPF says about the matter.

“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” he said. “We’ve sent out the information to OCPF. Department heads know they’re at risk of getting sanctioned and we’ll see what the OCPF has to say about it.”

At the June 13 City Council meeting, Rotondo alleged that several department heads are campaigning for Rizzo on city time, and that they should stop.

“I have a real problem with certain department heads campaigning on city time, fundraising and planning campaign meetings,” he said. “This is not an example of an erroneous e-mail or two. This is a pattern that undermines the public trust. There is a great difference between sending off a few erroneous e-mails and a continuous pattern of abuse of city resources by city employees. It’s wrong…Some people might think it’s nothing, but as far as I’m concerned, I think it’s something.”

Meanwhile, several councillors jumped at the allegations made by Rotondo, saying that he was creating a stir without sharing any evidence.

Councillor Richard Penta said that the issue was negative and the Council needed to go more positive.

“To me it is a lot of ado about nothin’,” said Penta. “There is a lot of perception being thrown out there and, unfortunately, perception is worse than the truth…Allegations can hurt people and you should have facts.”

Rotondo produced a pile of e-mails during the discussion, many of which are the exact e-mails that have been requested by OCPF.

That elicited a skirmish between Councillor Tony Zambuto and Rotondo.

Zambuto said, “I’m not buying it until I see the evidence.”

However, when Rotondo presented him with the e-mails, he indicated that he didn’t want to see it.

“I don’t want to see it,” he said, then added, “There’s probably three e-mails in there that were probably sent by mistake.”

Mayor Tom Ambrosino said during the discussion that Rotondo’s e-mails had been forwarded to the state.

“Department heads know what the rules are,” he told the Council. “If it is determined that there is a violation, department heads will likely face a fine and further discipline from me.”

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