Friday, December 20, 2013

On LDC's, county says it's conducting a review, not an investigation

Posted By on Fri, Dec 20, 2013 at 12:47 PM

One of the central issues in an ongoing County Legislature skirmish is the county administration's internal review related to local development corporations. The administration has hired former state Attorney General Dennis Vacco to lead that review.

Legislature Democrats say that the Legislature should be in charge of the internal probe, not the administration. Between this week and last, the Dems have twice blocked a large capital project borrowing plan in hopes of flexing a little political muscle and getting Republican legislators to go along with their probe plan. They say that County Executive Maggie Brooks shouldn't lead an investigation into her own administration. 

But earlier this week, Republicans shot down a referral that would have established a committee of legislators to lead an internal LDC probe. 

Democrats have other complaints about the county's contract with Vacco's law firm. Chiefly, they say they haven't received any details about what he's looking into, who he's talking to, or what he's finding. They say they've asked asked repeatedly to be filled in. 

During this morning's special meeting of the Legislature, Deputy County Attorney Dan DeLaus said that Vacco was hired to help the county review its LDC-related processes. The county executive is not investigating herself, he said. Republican Majority Leader Steve Tucciarello said that Vacco's review has centered on helping the county answer questions that have come up in the course of the state Attorney General's Office and FBI reviews.

"That's the most explanation I've heard to date," said Democratic Minority Leader Carrie Andrews.

Andrews tried to get more details out of administration officials, and said that if she could better understand the nature of Vacco's review, she might be persuaded to reconsider her vote on the borrowing measure. But Legislature President Jeff Adair wouldn't permit her to pursue that line of questioning. Andrews ultimately voted against the borrowing, as did the other eight Democrat in the Legislature. (The caucus has a vacant seat since Michael Patterson resigned for a spot on City Council.)

After the meeting, County Executive Brooks offered her own explanation of Vacco's work, echoing what DeLaus and Tucciarello said. Vacco was retained to do an internal review of policies and procedures, Brooks said.

"There is no county investigation," she said.


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