Friday, January 17, 2014

Warren's lesson in crisis management

Posted By on Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Oh, dear. 

All Mayor Lovely Warren had to do when asked if her driver had been stopped for speeding was say, "Yes. Actually, we were stopped twice." And then explain how her driver, in his previous job, had been used to exceeding the speed limit, that it was a mistake and it won't happen again. Why weren't they ticketed? Well, you'll have to ask the state police about that. 

If the Warren team had done that, the story probably would've ended there. 

Instead, they parsed — "Yes, we were going fast, but not that fast" — and then chummed the waters by only acknowledging a single stop in what at least seems to be a sin of omission. When the media got wind of a possible second stop, Warren clammed up, saying that she had "moved on." Well, I'm sorry, but she doesn't get to decide that. The public decides for itself when it's ready to move on. 

This whole thing has been handled poorly. Many politicians have drowned in a slow drip of bad news. What Warren has done is dragged out and increased the damage, ticked off the media, and raised questions about her truthfulness and her campaign promises of transparency. 

Hopefully, the Warren team has learned an important lesson. 

For the record, the person behind the wheel during the speeding stops was Reggie Hill, Warren's uncle and her head of security. Hill apologized for the transgressions in a letter to Deputy Mayor Leonard Redon released yesterday. The letter follows. 


Inter-Departmental Correspondence
EEO/ADA Employer

To: Leonard Redon, Deputy Mayor

From: Reggie Hill, Director of Executive Services

Date: January 16, 2014

Per our meeting, I would like to say first and foremost, that I want to apologize to the citizens
of Rochester, the New York State Police, Rochester City Council, the staff of City Hall and all
concerned parties regarding my lack of judgment. I have been a New York State police
officer for more than 30 years, and a member of the security detail for three previous
Governors of New York — and as such became accustomed to certain practices. Since
retiring from the New York State Police and accepting a temporary appointment as Director
of Executive Services for Mayor Lovely Warren, I have learned a great deal and am clear that
many previous practices that I carried over from my State Police days do not apply.

On my way to the State of the State address last week, the vehicle I was driving was pulled
over by a state trooper. As a member of the Governor’s security detail, it had been our
practice to travel at a rate above the prevailing speed of other travels for security reasons.
When I identified myself as driving a security detail, the trooper responded as I expected he
would, based on my past experience. On the return trip, the vehicle was stopped for a
second time. Again, I explained that I was driving a security detail – but this time the trooper
verbally reprimanded me and told me to abide by the speed limit, and I complied. When
asked, in response to an inquiry by the Albany Times-Union if I had been stopped on the
NYS Thruway, I responded simply and truthfully: yes.

I take full responsibility for this occurrence and regret any embarrassment that it has caused
to Mayor Warren. For weeks I have carefully monitored threats coming from many directions
as have been reported in recent days. As also discussed, in light of new issues being raised
on social media, I confirm that I purchased a child safety seat for the vehicle with my
personal funds (receipt available) since Mayor Warren’s daughter, Taylor, accompanies her
to community and other events from time to time – most recently to the YWCA for Governor
Cuomo’s holiday visit.

As a member of Mayor Warren’s security detail, I am very clear that I must abide by all the
rules and regulations as everyone else does. Per our meeting, I acknowledge a disciplinary
action of a week’s suspension without pay (January 19-January 24) and a $50 fine payable to
the City’s general fund for turning right on red without coming to a complete stop. Again, I
apologize for my actions and the subsequent disruption to City Hall business.

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