• The Rochesterian in Your Inbox:

    Join 643 other subscribers


Adam McFadden Facebook Page


Adam McFadden wasn’t the only person to question whether Bob Duffy’s appointment to the CEO position at the Rochester Business Alliance would get as much scrutiny as McFadden’s appointment to the Rochester Housing Authority.

Supporters of McFadden and Mayor Lovely Warren have repeatedly said black politicians get more heat in the media than white politicians. I vehemently disagree. Ask Maggie Brooks, whose husband is under indictment, if the media has been soft. If you don’t want the media breathing down your neck, don’t do questionable things. Better yet, don’t run for public office.

But while there are many difference between the RHA and RBA sagas, McFadden is right that the Duffy appointment should raise our collective eyebrows.

First, let’s talk about the differences.

RHA is a government entity, thus the public has a huge right to dissect its dealings. RBA is not, though it has close ties to government. At the RHA, someone was fired before McFadden could get the job. RHA insists Alex Castro was terminated because of wrongdoing. Until they spell out Castro’s failings, it looks as though Castro was pushed aside so McFadden could step in. Castro’s firing could be very costly to taxpayers.

Now let’s talk about the similarities.

1. Both of the appointments raise ethical issues.

As lieutenant governor, Duffy was in charge of the economic development councils, which awarded grants to the very businesses for whom he will now lobby. Duffy tells Gannett he recused himself. There’s also the matter of the Public Officer’s Law, which has varying interpretations of whether Duffy can lobby for two years after leaving office. Duffy says he’s cleared by JCOPE, the state’s ethics commission. Duffy should release that JCOPE decision, and if one is not in writing, he should get one in writing.

The Rochester Board of Ethics is looking into whether McFadden can serve on City Council and run the RHA. Council has very little to do with RHA, as the ethics board is discovering.

2. People lied.

George Moses, the chairman of the RHA board, lied to the media the day after Castro was fired, saying the board still had to interview candidates for interim director. He did not disclose that McFadden was hired at the same meeting Castro was fired.

Sandra Parker, whom Duffy is replacing, told me last year she was delaying her retirement because there was more she wanted to get done at RBA. She said she wasn’t involved in the search for a new CEO and didn’t know if Duffy was in the running. But yesterday she admitted she delayed her retirement so Duffy could get the job. Her statement calls into question whether Duffy really withdrew his name from consideration, as he asserted last year.

3. McFadden and Duffy both got the jobs because they hold elected office and have friends in high places. Putting aside whether they’re qualified, they got these top jobs because of who they know.

There’s no way McFadden, the head of a $1 million nonprofit, a man with no experience working in housing, would have been appointed to lead a $62 million agency if he was not a councilman with close ties to the mayor.

There’s no way anyone would delay their retirement for a year for someone who was not a friend. There’s no way a search committee would decide not to do any interviews for anyone other than the lieutenant governor, a former mayor who decided he didn’t like state politics and needed a job.

This last point is why we should care about both of these stories. The media – and the public – is a check on power. You can decide how much you care, but you can’t decide if we don’t tell you what’s going on.

Update: I deliberately did not discuss the qualifications of McFadden and Duffy to perform these jobs. But someone pointed out to me that I’m implying McFadden cannot do the job. I do not want my statement interpreted that way. I was only saying he got the job because of his connections, not that he isn’t capable of performing well in the post. McFadden has as many – if not more – credentials as other people placed into city and county management jobs over the years.


Tweet of the Day:




Links of the Day:


– Remember when the state promised no one would ever be stranded on the Thruway again? Yeah…

– What it’s like to be stuck on the Thruway for 24 hours.

– Ban the Box law went into effect this week in Rochester, but many employers were not aware.

– Blacks are arrested at far higher rates than whites in Monroe County.

– Turning Stone plans $100 million expansion, including upscale stores, movie theater and dining.

– Boston’s charter schools have high suspension rates.

– There’s a growing movement to make sure students accused of sexual assault have due process and representation.

15 Responses to RHA v. RBA

  1. Just some facts –

    The RHA is funded by the taxpayers who MUST pay their taxes.
    RBA is funded by membership dues which are totally voluntary

    If the taxpayers are upset about RHA they can’t do anything.
    If members are upset with RBA they can stop paying dues.

    Elected officials have a duty to be sure taxpayers’ dollars are spent in the most effective way possible.

  2. November 20, 2014 at 10:02 am Tony Mittiga responds:

    I agree with you that McFadden should not be the head of the RHA, interim, or permanent. The first thing he is going to work for is a politically, and practically, fraught concept, to require Rochester landlords to accept Section 8 tenants. Aside from the policy as such, this is not something to be taken up by an “interim” director. How about taking care that the organization does the every day things well like plowing snow, keeping the heat on, and monitoring finances.

    If it is public knowledge, I’d be curious what his role, and accomplishments, are at the non-profit he heads. I think it has been referred to as Quad4 for Kids.

  3. Great piece, Rachael.

    I’d add a few other differences:
    1) The mayor doesn’t appoint the RBA board, she does at RHA. The misconduct (lies, etc.) of her appointments reflect on her. She hasn’t asked for Moses to resign after the RHA’s own minutes showed he lied about the hiring of McFadden and it was learned that his rash move to fire Castro will cost taxpayers dearly.

    2) The RHA is spending taxdollars on a forensic audit and a ton of legal advice to retroactively justify Castro’s firing. Back in May, Moses tried (via the mayor) to get HUD to investigate, they declined and have consistently given RHA high marks. So now, Moses is wasting more tax dollars to gin up “evidence” he was not acting in a politically craven, potentially illegal way.

    3) Sandy Parker’s contract and due process rights were not violated, Castro’s were. Most galling is that Moses and McFadden continue to try to paint themselves as civil rights martyrs. It’s clear with these two, that civil rights only apply to the Black community and not the Hispanic. Huge double-standard.

    Similarities: Both McFadden and Duffy are overpaid, underqualified wind bags.

  4. If Adam cared so much about “people of color” in this city, why has he exploited Rochester’s urban and poor population so much for his own, selfish political gains? Same with Lovely. There is incredible diversity on the city council – but you don’t hear about people like Dana Miller and Matt Hoag because unlike, McFadden, they are working hard to develop and nurture the city’s growth and aren’t trying to to get the spotlight.

    It’s so frustrating working in the city and watching many of its leader sell out and blame each other for the greed and corruption they cause. Maggie Brooks and her husband have been well known to be corrupt, but only now is action finally being taken. McFadden has been embarrassing this city for years with false promises and exploiting the grief of families who have been victims of horrible crimes. McFadden got Rochester famous, those families got NOTHING. Lovely… ugh…. and Duffy. Duffy is the biggest sellout of them all – false promises and a bunch of bs, all to get him to Albany.

  5. My thoughts…..two totally separate situations. The previous posts described the differences perfectly. Private business can hire whomever they want. Their business will either be better or worst, but it is their choice. Political appointments are different. The public has the right to comment. One would hope that the people we elect to represent us would be honest, decent, and act with integrity. I think it could be argued that many decisions made by our representatives in position of power in regards to appointees and lucrative jobs has been questionable. Why is that? We can point to Uncle Reggie, we can point to Joe Morelle’s son being appointed to a vacated legislator seat. We can point to McFadden. I’m sure there are others. I think this happens because there is no ramification for these acts. The Press is useless. The media is useless. Until we get honest reporting with integrity and no bias, until we get the media to simply REPORT without an agenda, the politicians will continue to do what benefits them and not the people they represent.

  6. November 20, 2014 at 10:03 pm Rick Hannon responds:

    Regarding the Public Officers Law – an admittedly quick reading of it DOES NOT support the charge that the Lt. Governor is barred for a two year period from lobbying the State. That prohibition DOES apply to state “officers and employees,” but that group is defined as being separate and distinct from that of “statewide elected officials” (a group that explicitly under the law includes the Lt. Governor). Make what you will of a opinion offered by someone whose formal legal training pretty much consists of having watched lots of Law and Order episodes …

  7. To think that we gave Mr. Duffy a discount on his haircut for years because he came every week for a trim!!! What’s wrong with this story?

  8. I can appreciate the frustration of Warren’s supporters on how the media reacts to her multiple missteps. But the lack of the so called “journalists” in this town to react to Saggy Brooks and Doofus’s screw ups, is not an indication of the wide spread love towards the 2. It would appear most of us hate the two. Brooks got destroyed by Slaughter in a congressional campaign, and Saggy in her last re-election to county executive did not fair all that well against a no name democrat opponent, so there’s not much love for her. Duffy only has support among AQ fanboys and some idiots in the ‘burbs who never come into the city.

    McFadden is an idiot who only knows to play the race card, his complaints I can’t take seriously. Warren, she seems like a good hearted person who may have risen very quickly and needs to find her sea legs, so I can understand her frustration with the lack of media attention on Brook’s and Duffy’s corruptions, but rest assured Mrs Warren, many of us hate those two idiots. Don’t blame us because local media is filled with hacks who can’t write a real news article or think on their own.

    Brass Tacks: I hate them all, except Warren. She is getting the benefit of the doubt, but after this first year, the mulligans will have run out.

    Footnote: This city lacks real journalists, all we have are communications majors who can barely form an independent thought. I’m sorry they haven’t had a field day with crooked Brooks and Duffy, I’d love to see the two ran out of town on a rail along with McFadden.

    • December 30, 2014 at 8:25 am Monkeytoe responds:

      It is really rich to claim that the media in this town takes it easy on Brooks and goes after Warren. That is just about as opposite a reading of reality as one can have.

  9. November 21, 2014 at 1:28 pm Steve Bathory responds:

    The bottom line is this: “Lying Through One’s Teeth” is an equal opportunity Olympic sport that doesn’t discriminate against age, sex color, creed, national origin or race. Duffy, Parker, McFadden and Moses are champions par excellence in that field.

  10. There is a difference.

    Parker and Duffy are not being paid for by our taxes. Whatever salary and benefits they draw will be paid by dues paying members of the RBA. Members that don’t like what the RBA does can drop their membership.

    On the other hand, the political characters are paid for by taxpayers and if they don’t agree with how the City government is run, well it’s just too bad; those taxes still have to be paid.

    Let’s not confuse the political with the private.

    • November 25, 2014 at 8:36 pm Steve Bathory responds:

      Tom: It is difficult not to confuse the political with the private in this case, since they are so completely intertwined. Especially when the RBA lobbies with the city, county and state which involves taxpayer dollars in the long run.

      • December 30, 2014 at 8:23 am Monkeytoe responds:

        Almost everything “involves taxpayer dollars in the long run”. The RBA is a private entity. RHA is not.

        RHA fired Castro improperly simply because they wanted to hire McFadden. It was the blacks sticking it to the Hispanics. Nothing more. RHA will likely have to pay several hundred thousands of dollars to settle with Castro, because he had a contract and they had no reason to fire him. Plus they slandered him in the process.

        And, at least Duffy has some qualifications for the role. He was police chief, Mayor, and Lt. Governor. McFadden has no qualifications for being named president of RHA. Somebody give me his resume. Someone investigate his “non profit”. The guy is a hack.

        This isn’t a black/white issue. It is gov’t doing something wrong to give a high-paying job to an unqualified person versus a private entity hiring a qualified person. Now, are there laws saying Duffy should not lobby for 2 years? Perhaps. I don’t know. If that is the case, then that breaks the law. But it wasn’t the gov’t doing it. However, I haven’t seen any evidence that any legitimate gov’t entity believes Duffy’s appointment will break the law.

        HUD has already said that federal law prohibits McFadden from both serving on City Council and as president of RHA.

        So, we have the following differences:

        1. Private entity versus gov’t entity.

        2. RHA improperly fired someone and will likely have to spend many $100k’s to settle in order to install McFadden (for no reason, there was no legitimate reason to fire Castro) versus RHA not firing anyone to install Duffy.

        3. Duffy is qualified for the position, McFadden is unqualified for the position.

        4. Legitimate authorities state McFadden’s appointment will violate federal law (if he continues to serve on City Council), no such finding yet regarding Duffy.

        To claim there is any similarity between the two things is ludicrous.

  11. December 30, 2014 at 8:33 am Monkeytoe responds:

    ——“McFadden has as many – if not more – credentials as other people placed into city and county management jobs over the years.”

    Rachel, I know you wrote this because you are afraid of being called a racist, but please cite some facts supporting this. Find me someone else placed in a position of as high a responsibility (responsible for multi-million dollar budgets, etc) with a total lack of qualifications such as McFadden.

    Sure, unqualified people get appointed to gov’t positions based on who they know – that is life. But not usually someone with such an obvious lack of qualifications in such a high position. That is unheard of. Let’s not let fear of the race card deprive us of common sense.

    If you truly believe McFadden is qualified for this position, list those qualifications versus other people’s qualifications in similar jobs. For instance, I have also never seen any kind of investigation of McFadden’s “non profit”, which I suspect spends 75% or more on “administration” (meaning McFadden’s income) than on actual charitable work. And the running “non profit” seems to be his sole qualification (outside of being on City Council – which in my mind is not a qualification to run what is essentially a large business).

    Let’s at least have some honesty here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *