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Friday, May 6, 2011

More about Pirro, Zalewski and the TWC working group

In this article published today about the Time Warner Cable working group, I mention a series of e-mails between city spokesman Jeff Pirro and Councilman Ken Zalewski, D-District 5, regarding Pirro's inclusion in the working group. In the article, we wrote that Pirro emailed Zalewski "asking to be added to the list," something Zalewski said is not true.

It may be splitting hairs, but at one point in the e-mail exchange Pirro does write "Ken - you have left me off the list below. Please add my email address as I will be taking Vic's place. Thank you!", which could, in some definitions, constitute asking.

However, here are all the e-mails in their entirety, so you can judge for yourself:

To interested citizens:

At this evening's Finance Committee meeting, the Council withdrew legislation that would have moved forward with the proposed Time Warner franchise agreement (available at

We instead passed a resolution that creates a Cable Television Franchise Working Group and appoints several initial members: Three Council members (myself, Bill Dunne, and Dean Bodnar), along with Vic Christopher (Economic Development Coordinator for the City) and Amy Williams (President of the Arts Center).

The legislation will appear on the May 5 Council agenda. By that time, I would like to have the full list of working group members.

Those who have indicated an interest or have been recommended to me so far are:
Naomi Bustamante
Andrew Lynn
Regina Keenan
Jason Martin
Jim Welch

I am sending this e-mail to everyone who attended (and signed in at) the March 21st Public Hearing, plus a few others. The current group tally is 10 (5 named in the resolution, plus the 5 listed above). I don't think the group should grow much larger than this, but I also want to make sure that I try to accommodate everyone who is interested in participating.

If you want to be a part of the working group, please let me know ASAP. If the number of interested persons becomes too large, I'll work with my colleagues to trim it down. The public will be invited to all meetings of the working group, so everyone will be able to participate at some level.

I will also be posting relevant information to the City Council's Facebook page ( I have received a number of documents from Sue Buske - the consultant who worked on this back in 2003/2004. Those documents will be posted soon.

Thank you to everyone for your interest in this important issue for our city.

-- Ken Zalewski

Good morning –

It is my pleasure to inform you that since Vic wants to remain focused on developing projects full time, I am going to take his place on this committee. I look forward to working with all of you to try and find a workable solution to any perceived inadequacies. Thank you.


Jeffrey J. Pirro

Good morning Ken –

Any updates on the working group membership? Did you publish a notice soliciting members or do anything to expand inclusion? A response before Thursday's meeting would be appreciated, thanks!

-- Jeff Pirro

The working group already has ten members based on the responses that I have received from interested citizens.

I also have the pleasure to inform you that you are not automatically on the group just because you sent me an e-mail stating that you are replacing Vic Christopher.

The legislation passed out of committee contained Vic's name, not yours. If Vic decides not to serve on the group, that is his choice.

For you to write to me to "inform" me that you are his replacement indicates that you do not understand your own role in city government. This is a Council-sponsored initiative. You do not have the standing to insert yourself onto a Council-created committee without the Council voting on it.

On a personal note, I'm a bit bewildered that you would have the audacity to write to me with such a demand, after months of ignoring me and showing outward disrespect toward me.

The proper way to approach this would have been to request membership on the working group, maybe stating some of your credentials for participation; maybe display a modicum of respect for the members of the Council; maybe show some of the humility that public service demands.

-- Ken Zalewski

Ken - I'm sorry. I thought we put all the partisan nonsense behind us. I certainly don't hold any grudges against you for calling me "shill" (among other things) and think its regrettable you "[had] the pleasure to inform" me I'm not automatically a member of the group, since individual exclusion from a public process shouldn't bring anyone joy.

I am the Mayor's representative since this affects legislation and information. I am able to include myself because this is a publicly created entity. Certainly, I don't need to be formally recognized since I'm doing this to garner attention or make the headlines. I just want to be part of a group that helps move Troy forward.

Thus, let me put your bewilderment to rest: I wanted to reach out to you because progress requires trust, bridges and communication, none of which existed.

My reaching out to you is an olive branch, a bridge building moment, and I hope you accept it.

-- Jeff Pirro

Thank you all for your interest in the Time Warner franchise agreement. Based on your responses, we will add the following six individuals to the Working Group on Thursday evening:

Jim de Seve
Regina Keenan
Andrew Lynn
Jason Martin
Steve Pierce
Jim Welch

They will join the already-appointed members, who include:

Dean Bodnar
Bill Dunne
Amy Williams
Ken Zalewski

Vic Christopher wishes to focus on economic development projects in the city, and has declined his membership.

If I am missing anyone, please let me know immediately.


-- Ken Zalewski

Ken - you have left me off the list below. Please add my email address as I will be taking Vic's place. Thank you!

-- Jeff Pirro

If you don't hold grudges, I'm wondering why you still can barely let a "hello" escape from your mouth when you see me. You have vilified me in your own mind, and it clearly shows. If you are trying to make amends, I'm ready and willing. I am just not certain your "olive branch" is genuine.

My use of the quote, "It is my pleasure to inform you," was a turn of your own phrase when you "informed" the Council that you were now on the committee. In case you forgot:

It is my pleasure to inform you that since Vic wants to remain focused on developing projects full time, I am going to take his place on this committee.

I figured that you would get the reference. Even your own statements below are tongue-in-cheek to anyone that knows you and how you treat people.

If you were genuinely concerned about building bridges, you would not lead off with your "informing" the Council - you would respectfully request that your name replace Vic's on the working group, and allow the Council to decide.

Oh, and regarding me calling you a "shill" for the Mayor, the definition of "shill" is:
a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty.

You are paid to make Harry look good (and ostensibly, to make the Council look bad), which is evidenced by your voluminous press releases for every little thing that the guy does, and the biased nature of your Facebook postings.

You already know that the Working Group meetings are public, and as a citizen you are more than welcome to attend. This was about membership on the group, not your participation as a citizen.

-- Ken Zalewski

Ken - the personal attacks are not going to help us move the group forward. Please include my email address on future communications. Thanks!

-- Jeff Pirro

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mayor: no towing for street cleaning

UPDATE: Just to clarify, the city still has the legal right to tow cars for street cleaning, and will continue to tow for special street cleaning taking place throughout the city (wherever you see the big red and white 'No Parking' posters). City spokesman Jeff Pirro said that, as an administrative policy, the city is not towing cars for regular nightly street cleaning.

A few weeks ago we wrote that, at the direction of the Council, Mayor Harry Tutunjian had resumed the towing of cars for street cleaning. This was after the Council sent a proposed ordinance to double the fine for parking in a no-parking zone back to committee.

However, the Mayor told us this weekend that is not the case. Tutunjian said the city did NOT resume the towing of cars for street cleaning, so downtown residents can rest assured they won't wake up in the morning to a missing car if they park on the wrong side of the street. (The city does still have the right to tow cars for safety/traffic reasons, like if you're parked in a tow-away zone or in an unsafe manner.)

You will, however, still get a $35 ticket, and possibly dirty looks from neighbors who don't appreciate the car-length section of un-swept street, so fair warning. The $35 ticket doubles after 14 days.

If you've been towed in the past few weeks, let us know in the comments. Also, how do you feel about the Mayor's decision to not tow? Do you think he should have followed the Council's direction?

Full disclosure: I live downtown and have been towed for street cleaning more times than I can remember.

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