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Test of leadership

When Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo submitted her proposal to establish an Office of Public Integrity only weeks after being sworn in, she said “one of my top priorities … is upholding the faith and trust of the community.” Over the last two months, this goal has been a particular challenge for her.

The I-Square mess never should have occurred. But it did, and addressing the controversy has been Ms. Dinolfo’s first major leadership test.

Her grade at this point: Incomplete.

At her Tuesday morning news conference, the county executive went much further than she had before to confront the issues raised by the I-Square debacle. She provided much-needed detail and stated clearly that former Assistant County Executive Justin Roj acted improperly—and not merely because he lied to her about his actions.

As she has stated in the past, Ms. Dinolfo said Mr. Roj acted without her knowledge when he provided information on I-Square and its agreement with the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency to Monroe County Republican Chairman William Reilich. But she took responsibility for it.

“It happened on my watch,” she said, “and I am the county executive. The buck stops here.”

Ms. Dinolfo also did something many politicians and elected officials are loath to do: She apologized. She apologized to I-Square developers Michael and Wendy Nolan, current and past COMIDA board members—including former chairman Theresa Mazzullo and three others who have resigned as a result of the controversy—and the community at large.

These steps were right and necessary. Her final grade in this matter, however, will not be determined until Ms. Dinolfo puts in place safeguards to prevent a similar occurrence in the future. She intends to announce these changes by July 1.

Politics and governing each have their place. By attempting to use the I-Square project to attack a political rival, people close to the county executive wrongly crossed the line.

The community’s faith and trust will be with Ms. Dinolfo if she delivers the promised safeguards.

5/27/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

One comment

  1. Leonard Van Wyk

    Hopefully, Ms Dinolfo will follow through effectively in July. It would really validate her stated goals to change the “business as usual” approach of the previous county executive. It is obvious both locally and nationally that term limits are necessary for all political offices to assure against corruption both of power and financial gain. Remember, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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