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Oct 22 2012

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Candidate urges investigation into possible cover-up linked to Avella

 

Joseph Concannon pictured with Rep. Bob Turner

Eyebrows are being raised as Joseph Concannon, a former NYPD Captain running for state senate against Tony Avella, is questioning his opponent’s role in regards to the recent firing of a staff member involved in a sexual harrassment claim.

Press Release:  CALL FOR ALLEGED AVELLA HARRASSMENT VICTIM TO COME FORWARD

Last month State Sen. Tony Avella made headlines once again by breaking with his colleagues when he called for Speaker Silver to step down in the face of an apparent cover up of sexual harassment charges involving Assembly Member Vito Lopez.

No stranger to capturing media attention with gimmicks and protest, Avella seems to have gotten this one right when he stated, “The culture in Albany of ‘What happens in Albany stays in Albany’ has to stop… Assembly Member Silver… is now seen as the classic example of the dysfunction and back room deals that has plagued Albany for decades. If ever that was a time for change – it is now.”

However, as with many of Avella’s calls for action there is no follow through.

Avella’s own office was the subject of sexual harassment and discrimination claims with expense records that indicate the state Senate paid a Manhattan law firm $22,444 in taxpayer funds earlier this year to investigate allegations of harassment made by a female member of Avella’s district office staff.

Apparently Avella has provided enough information to satisfy the journalistic concerns of the Daily News who to their credit broke this story. However, had they not unearthed it even what little we know would never have been disclosed and even now we only have Avella’s side of the story.

Accordingly, we are calling on the staffer in question to contact us and tell us her side if the story. Too often Albany politicians use their power and influence to advance their careers at the expense of those without such resources and it would not be the first time the pot called the kettle black.

News reports indicate that the staffer was eventually fired for so-called performance issues and that supposedly the allegations did not involve Avella directly but rather “management staff” but given Avella’s own claims regarding Albany’s culture of corruption and predilection to cover things up can we really rely on this? How do we know this staffer did not get a raw deal when by Avella’s own admission Albany has a corrupting “circle the wagons” culture?

A spokesman for Concannon stated,

We are not alleging any wrong doing on behalf of Senator Avella. However Joseph Concannon is a former NYPD Police Captain and highly trained investigator with over 25 years in law enforcement. We would therefore welcome speaking to the young lady affected by these allegations and providing her with an opportunity to share her side of the story. Even if Senator Avella has no personal culpability and did nothing wrong as an employer and supervisor he has a legal and moral obligation to ensure his office is not a hostile work environment. This can’t be taken lightly or just papered over. One has to ask when did he personally first become aware of the allegations? What actions did he take to correct the situation? Where any similar allegations made by or against him or his “management staff.” Also was the law firm hired by the Senate really hired to investigate or was it hired to defend?
Concannon stated,
As a husband and as a father of daughters I am appalled when I hear about allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace but doubly so when it is alleged to have happened in the offices of one of our elected representatives. I applaud the Daily News for having unearthed this but gather that the Daily News did not have the opportunity to interview this young lady and obviously Newspapers do not have subpoena powers. This warrants another look and I just want this young woman to know she has a place to turn for help and a place to share her side of the story. If these allegations prove unfounded or overstated so be it but I am committed to running an office that I would be comfortable having my daughters work in.  
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Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/10/concannon-questions-possible-avella-cover-up/


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