Here’s another in our continuing series of new posts featuring a look at news happening around Rochester.
Mayor Lovely Warren’s Director of Security, and uncle, Reggie Hill, resigned on January 24, 2014, on the final day of his week-long suspension following at least one traffic stop. Hill was suspended without pay for “speeding on the New York State Thruway and running a red light,” The Democrat & Chronicle reports.
The mayor remained tight-lipped about Hill’s traffic violations, bluntly telling Rochester’s City Newspaper, “I’m not talking about that anymore.” Some state that Hill was going well over 90; others maintain that the former Director of Security was exceeding 80 mph. The exact speeds remain unconfirmed. Although speeding and resulting car accidents are the top reasons to file personal injury lawsuits, the controversy surrounding Hill did not start with his driving record.
The public was, in fact, most concerned about Hill’s appointment in the first place, owing to his personal relationship to the major. Many question the ethics of Warren hiring her uncle, citing possible nepotism. The Rochester City Council announced an ongoing investigation of Hill’s appointment, starting in mid-January.
“Specifically, the Board will be asked to determine if the hiring was done in accordance with Civil Service Commission requirements and whether the hiring of Reggie Hill, the Mayor’s uncle, violates the city’s Anti-Nepotism Policy,” the City Council said, in an official statement.
Mayor Warren attributed the relatively fast hiring process to an immediate and pressing need for security, not personal bias. The Democrat & Chronicle reports that Warren has received several threats since taking office. Some anonymous commenters on social media even threatened to hurt her daughter, City Newspaper adds.
Hill’s resignation does not prevent him from re-applying for the position. Hill would be required to take a civil exam and go through the formal application process. Chris Christopher, a spokeswoman for Mayor Warren, assured the public that — if Hill were to reapply — he “would be considered just like any other applicant.”
Hill’s speeding and Warren’s alleged nepotism only add to the list of other, similarly controversial appointments by the new mayor. Warren chose Spencer Ash to head the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development; it later came to light that Ash was charged with a DUI just last year. Moreover, T. Andrew Brown, the mayor’s top pick for city corporation counsel, announced his controversial intentions to continue his private legal practice. Brown is well-known for representing clients who sue the city; many speculate this is a direct conflict of interests, City Newspaper reports.
Warren responded to the scandal in an interview with City Newspaper: “I think there’s something else going on here. All these things are not about me. They’re not about my leadership. Spencer [Ash], at the time, was a city attorney. So why wouldn’t it come out, ‘City attorney charged with a DWI?’ But it’s attributed to me. In the paper, it’s ‘Lovely Warren’s appointee…’ Even when it comes down to the security detail: you look at people wanting me to die. Wishing that I was poisoned. It has become such a racial barrier, and a distraction. I have moved on. I’ve got other business to talk about.”