A Legislature committee rejected a proposal to create a committee to investigate remarks made by Bill Reilich, chair of the Monroe County Republican Committee, regarding the I-Square development in Irondequoit. The vote was split along party lines: the committee’s three Republicans voted against the measure while its two Democratic members supported it.
“Our goal has been, and remains, to find answers on behalf of county residents,” Democratic Legislator Mark Muoio, the measure’s sponsor, said in a statement released last night. “The County Executive’s Office was involved in using privileged information to cover up a botched political hit job and the citizens of this county deserve to know how high the involvement was. It seems rather transparent that this administration would prefer to only pay lip service to the most ethical and transparent government in the nation.”
The origin of the scandal includes the “botched political hit job” Muoio references. Former Irondequoit Supervisor Adam Bello had just been appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to fill the vacant county clerk seat. Reilich did what politicians do: he tried to take a swipe at Bello, saying that the town could benefit from better management, that Bello was leaving it at a time when it needs strong leadership, and so on.
But in that statement, he claimed that I-Square is struggling, and tried to pin it on Bello. I-Square’s owners, Mike and Wendy Nolan, publicly rebuked Reilich’s claim, but the GOP head dug in. He issued further statements saying that the project was in default on its tax incentive agreement with the Monroe County Industrial Development Agency, the West Irondequoit school district, and the Town of Irondequoit. COMIDA got dragged in and issued a statement backing up Reilich.
The Nolans, however, said that nobody told them about an alleged default, and they questioned why Reilich knew before they did.
Eventually, former Deputy County Executive Justin Roj resigned. In a statement, Reilich said that Roj told him about the alleged default. And County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo released a statement saying that Roj had reached out to COMIDA’s attorney to encourage the agency’s statements.
Legislature Democrats began asking for an investigation early in the controversy, but Republicans said that the matter is best handled by the county’s new Office of Public Integrity. But that office hasn’t been set up yet.
COMIDA says it's looking into Reilich/I-Square matter, but nobody knows what it's doing or what will come of it, if anything.
The Monroe County Legislature will not investigate the chain of events that led to one of the clumsiest political squabbles in recent local history.