Friday, May 20, 2016

[UPDATED] Mazzullo out as COMIDA chair

Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 1:21 PM

UPDATE (May 23, 9:00 a.m.): COMIDA board members Clint Campbell and Eugene Caccamise have also resigned, according to media reports.

The I-Square body count continues to rise. Today, Theresa Mazzullo resigned as chair of the Monroe County Industrial Development Agency board.

In a resignation letter released to local media, Mazzullo said that the controversy over the I-Square project has undermined public confidence in COMIDA and her reputation.  But she said that neither she nor any of COMIDA's board members had any direct or indirect involvement with "the exposure of the I-Square project."

Mark Siwiec, a Democrat, resigned from the COMIDA board earlier this week over I-Square, similarly saying that the matter had called into question his personal integrity and the board's integrity.

The backstory here is convoluted. It all started when Monroe County Republican Committee chair Bill Reilich took a swing at recently-appointed County Clerk Adam Bello, a Democrat. He implied that I-Square, a popular development in Irondequoit, is struggling financially. In a subsequent statement, he backed up the claim by saying that the project's developers, Mike and Wendy Nolan, were in default of a tax incentive agreement administered by COMIDA.

The Nolans were angered by the claim, and said that it was the first time they'd heard anything about a compliance issue. At this point, COMIDA had been dragged into the feud, and an attorney for the body issued a hastily prepared memo saying that she'd visited the I-Square site and the project did appear to be in default of the agreement. That memo was accompanied by a statement from Mazzullo, which said that the agency looked forward to working with the Nolans to resolve any issues.

Earlier this week, however, COMIDA officials sent the Nolans a letter saying that the project is, in fact, in compliance with the incentive agreement.

The way that the I-Square information came out is still a question. The official account is that Reilich got the info from former Deputy County Executive Justin Roj.  Roj eventually resigned over I-Square.

County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo at first said that Mazzullo had reached out to Roj for guidance on the Reilich comments, and that Roj advised her to contact COMIDA's attorney. But Dinolfo later backtracked, saying that she subsequently learned that the information was untrue and that Roj had contacted COMIDA's attorney. She also apologized to Mazzullo.

Mazzullo, who is CEO of the venture capital firm Excell Partners and vice chair of the Monroe County Conservative Party, was reportedly furious that she and the COMIDA board were pulled into the mess. 

"I want to see the integrity of COMIDA restored," Mazzullo said in her letter, which has been posted in full by several media outlets. "For this reason, I call upon the County and everyone else involved in this process to bring all the facts forward so that COMIDA can continue to its job of supporting businesses and creating new jobs in our County."

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