City leaders clash over appointment of new codes commissioner


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica Mayor David Roefaro on Wednesday reversed the move he heralded back in January as a bold step toward consolidation, and pulled the codes department back out of the fire department.

Not all city department heads agree with the move to make former Weed and Seed Coordinator and former Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Robert Palmieri the Codes Commissioner. In January, Roefaro did away with the position, placing it in the hands of the fire department.

"Ray Beck is highly qualified, he knows codes issues, he's a fireman; and here after doing such a tremendous job, we're taking him out, just like that, because of a complaint from a council person that had their lots inspected that didn't pass codes inspection. Now, a political move taking Ray out bringing someone else in that is really not as codes certified as Mr. Beck is," says City Comptroller Michael Cerminaro.

The mayor says sheer call volume in the codes department calls for an a commissioner to oversee the department and its staff.

"Codes is probably one of our biggest volume departments in city government," Mayor Roefaro said. "We get so many calls everyday, so we need more attention to that and we need more one on one with the inspectors that are out in the field," says Roefaro.

Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks says the codes department never ran as efficiently as it did under the guidance of the fire department - Chief Fire Marshall Ray Beck, in particular.

"Rob Palmieri is a very dedicated public servant; very capable," Chief Brooks said. "He would make an excellent mayor or public safety commissioner, ok, but he's not qualified to be a codes commissioner and that's my opinion and I think Rob knows that also."

As for the new commissioner himself, Robert Palmieri says he did not seek out the codes commissioner position, but that he will do the job to the best of his ability.

"I would say the mayor made a decision, and I serve at the pleasure of the mayor to serve the people of Utica," Palmieri said. "So he's given me a directive and that's what I'll do."

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