Updated, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 4:40 p.m.: City Council President Loretta Scott said in a press conference this afternoon that Council by mutual consent decided to pursue the ethics review because it is being inundated with calls from the media and from the public. The uproar is sucking the air out of the room, Scott said, and the ethics board review will hopefully allow the city to move on. The review should begin by the end of the month, she said.
The City of Rochester's ethics board will look into the flack surrounding Mayor Lovely Warren's security team. Citing threats and comments on social media, Warren has hired a two-man security detail, which will be on call 24/7. One of the members of the detail is Warren's uncle, Reggie Hill, a retiring state trooper. Combined, the two men will earn more than $140,000 a year.
Warren has said that the appointments are temporary until the jobs are posted and filled through Civil Service.
City Council announced in a statement released late last night that the ethics board would review whether the hirings meet Civil Service Commission requirements, and whether Hill's hiring violates the city's anti-nepotism policy.
The statement appears to have been drafted by City Hall staff with the approval of Council members. It's not clear, though, who actually called for the review.
A call to Council President Loretta Scott hasn't been returned yet.
I was unable to find anything called an "anti nepotism policy" on the city's website. The closest I came is a sentence in the city Code of Ethics
"No city officer or employee, acting in the performance of his official duties, shall treat, whether by action or omission to act, any person more favorably than it is the custom and practice to treat the general public."
The seven-member Board of Ethics is appointed by City Council. It consists of one City Council member, the city's director of the Office of Public Integrity, and five other members who cannot be officers or employees of the city. An interesting note: according to the code, no more than three of the final five members can be from the same political party. (The current board has two Republicans.)
The Warren case won't be reviewed until two vacancies on the ethics board are filled. One of those slots is expected to be filled by the reappointment of Calvin Lee, whose term expired at the end of last year. Council should vote on Lee's reappointment this month.
The second slot is the mayor's to fill.
In a statement released shortly after Council's announcement, Warren said she welcomes the review by the ethics board.
"I will be available to answer any and all questions, and supply any information requested by the board," she said.