Thursday, March 31, 2016

Top county official resigns over I-Square flap

Posted By on Thu, Mar 31, 2016 at 9:11 PM

Justin Roj, assistant Monroe County executive, has resigned at the request of his boss, County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. The reason? I-Square. 

In a statement sent to media tonight, Dinolfo admitted that Roj contacted the county Industrial Development Agency's counsel over the Irondequoit project. That's not what Dinolfo told reporters earlier this week, when she said that it was COMIDA that contacted Roj. In tonight's statement, she said she thought she was telling the truth when she spoke to reporters the first time and has since learned that she was wrong. 

The whole I-Square mess started when Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed former Irondequoit Supervisor Adam Bello, a Democrat, to the county clerk job. County GOP boss Bill Reilich took a swipe at Bello, but in the process said that I-Square was struggling, and tried to pin it on Bello. Over the next few days, he also claimed that I-Square was in default on a COMIDA-administered tax incentive agreement. COMIDA sent out a press release, backing him up.

However, I-Square owners Mike and Wendy Nolan said that COMIDA never contacted them about any problems with the agreement, and denied Reilich's characterization of the state of their business. They also questioned how Reilich knew about an alleged default before they did. County Legislature Democrats have called for an investigation into possible collusion between Reilich and COMIDA officials.

Bottom line: A top county official acted to provide political cover for the GOP boss, unfairly damaging the reputation of a local business. 

Here's the statement that Dinolfo sent out tonight:

"This past Monday, I addressed the media regarding COMIDA and I-Square. I stated that Assistant County Executive Justin Roj had told COMIDA Chair Theresa Mazzullo to contact counsel, follow their advice and respond to the media inquires. I reported that information with confidence in its accuracy. I have since come to learn that the information I relied upon was untrue. I have learned that, in fact, it was Mr. Roj who, on Sunday, contacted COMIDA counsel.

"COMIDA Chair Theresa Mazzullo, the Board members and staff work diligently in our community. I must apologize to Ms. Mazzullo, the Board and its staff.

"Today, at my request, Justin Roj submitted his resignation."

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