Liuzzo’s Shoot First, Ask Questions Later, Approach Won’t Get Him Support
Andrew Liuzzo, R-At Large, has certainly brought a new dynamic to the Jamestown City Council in the month he has officially been on the job.
In his first meeting, Liuzzo was the lone dissenting vote against the appointment of Marie Carrubba, D-Ward 4, to serve as council president; Liuzzo favored Maria Jones, D-Ward 5, based on her business background. Liuzzo vigorously voiced his disapproval of the way mayoral appointments are handled during that inaugural meeting, asking for more time to review the list of appointees to boards and commissions and then trying to have the council vote on each appointment separately rather than in bulk, as has been past practice.
Most recently, he questioned changes to the bylaws of the Jamestown Local Development Corp. that gave the mayor final say on appointments to the corporation’s board.
Liuzzo comes to the council with little background in city government and politics, so it stands to reason that some of his questions are the types of questions many have about the way city government operates. And Liuzzo should certainly continue to ask questions about the reasons some actions are taken. It is easy for those who have been around City Hall for years to take for granted that the way things have always been done is the way things should be done.
While Liuzzo’s approach may be popular with some city residents, we fear it will also marginalize Liuzzo in the future.
Take Liuzzo’s three-week tirade over appointments as an example. The councilman had two arguments — one against bulk approval of the appointments and another about more time to review the list.
While Liuzzo makes it seem as if the list of appointments were distributed in the work session before the council’s organizational meeting on Jan. 8, all council members — including Liuzzo and Vanessa Weinert, D-At Large — received the list on Jan. 6 in an email from Mayor Sam Teresi.
The Post-Journal has obtained the email. Not only does the email include a list of all of the appointees, it also includes a brief description of the approval process, stating that the council has the option of approving the appointments collectively or individually, though past practice has been to approve the list collectively.
None of what happened on Jan. 8 should have come as a shock. But, during the council’s work session on Jan. 24 Liuzzo went on the attack again regarding appointments, this time saying people who lost an election shouldn’t be appointed to boards and commissions and that more time should be spent discussing people’s qualifications to sit on boards than their willingness to serve; though Liuzzo was specifically against the appointment of Greg Rabb to the Planning Commission and Board of Public Utilities board.
On Monday, Liuzzo continued pushing on appointments, this time over the Manufacturer’s Association of the Southern Tier’s request to have John Zabrodsky seated on the JLDC board. Liuzzo questioned Teresi’s selection of appointees, saying only volunteers who agree with the mayor are allowed to serve on city boards and commissions. He said people who just serve to agree with Teresi aren’t helpful to the city.
People may like what Liuzzo is doing, but it comes at a cost. To get anything done on the council, Liuzzo will need support. How will he get support when he antagonizes everyone else on the council over what is, frankly, a non-issue? Given his attacks on Teresi and Rabb, we wonder why any Democrat would work with him.
Antagonizing the opposing party is one thing, but Liuzzo’s shoot first, ask questions later approach is hitting members of his own party, too. Anthony Dolce, R-Ward 2 and the third longest-serving member of the council in the council’s history, has spent the last two weeks defending the appointment process. Dolce and Brent Sheldon, R-Ward 1, were appointed to boards and commissions by former mayor Richard Kimball in the exact same fashion as Rabb was appointed by Teresi. By Liuzzo’s logic, neither should have served.
Liuzzo had an opportunity to be a true breath of fresh air on the council. Unless he shows more professionalism and ability to work with others, it will be an opportunity wasted. And that’s too bad.