Village votes down Codes changes


By Patsy Nicosia

Motions from Bob LaPietra, the man who’s been on the wrong end of more than one codes violation, to charge $25 for every complaint and to replace Village of Cobleskill Codes employee Nellie Mooney with two part-timers, went down in 3-2 votes last Tuesday.
Both times, it was Mr. LaPietra and Trustee Mark Galasso voting yes and Mayor Mike Sellers, Sandy Mackay, and Linda Holmes, no.
Mr. LaPietra, who was elected in November, is still awaiting trial on 30 charges of perjury and offering a false instrument in his nominating petition in connection with his apartments at 784 East Main Street.
That arrest came in September, when Mr. LaPietra was also ordered by Judge Eugene Devine to move out, evict tenants from three apartments there, remove kitchen equipment, and paying a $2,000, all because the apartments were illegal.
Tuesday, Mr. LaPietra said the $25 filing fee for anyone making a complaint with Codes Enforcement Officer Mike Piccolo would eliminate “busy-body and nasty-neighbor complaints” cutting Mr. Piccolo’s workload and increasing his efficiency.
He also called for requiring all complaints to be made in writing; Mr. Galasso seconded the motion.
Mr. Mackay said he agrees with the written requirement, pointing out that the way the zoning code is written, all written complaints have to be investigated and responded to within seven days.
But Mr. Piccolo said he thinks Mr. LaPietra’s proposal will make a lot of tenants afraid to file complaints against their landlords, pointing to a Main Street building that was so bad he had to close it down and almost condemn it—and the tenants were still afraid to come forward.
Mr. LaPietra had little sympathy for those tenants.
“I’ve seen tenants being evicted many times, going after the landlord for revenge,” he said.
“There’s a lot of bad landlords, too,” said Mayor Mike Sellers.
And then:
“What should we start charging for police calls? How about $500 every time we get a complaint? We’ll get a lot of revenue that way.”
That was a joke, even though Mayor Sellers wasn’t laughing.
Answering a question from Ms. Holmes, Mr. Piccolo said he doesn’t have a problem with either the workload or the complaints.
“It’s what I was hired to do,” he said.
After that motion failed, Mr. LaPietra moved on to the idea of replacing Ms. Mooney with two part-time employees, estimating the savings, because of benefits, to be about $32,000 a year.
Ms. Mooney, who had been office manager for Codes, now divides her time between that office and the village clerk’s, after trustees decided not to replace Deputy Clerk Darlene Angle when she resigned in December.
Again, Mr. Galasso seconded Mr. LaPietra’s motion.
“We have to find a way to save money,” he said.
“By putting the shaft to one of the best employees we have?” said Mr. Mackay.
There was some question over whether the matter should even be discussed in open session; attorney Ed Wildove said because the talk was about abolishing a position and not a person, it was okay.
The motion failed 3-2, but Mr. LaPietra promised there would be more to follow.
“We’re going bring ideas for saving money every month,” he said.