How Ugly Is Utica Politics? EXCLUSIVE [AUDIO]
How ugly is Utica politics? From the sound of it...pretty ugly. Regardless of where you stand, or do not stand, politically, one might think from the examples below that civility in politics is severely lacking. Fortunately, there exists other discourse to prove otherwise.
Nonetheless, the exchange denoted below, and the apparent threat voiced therein, may be viewed as disturbing and should not be listened to when small children are present.
The person who provided us with this audio, and one of the parties in the conversation, believes that by sharing it she is at less risk than if it was not shared.
On Friday, November 1, 2013 WIBX was contacted by Lori Washburn, a Utica Democratic Ward Chair and Executive Board Member of the city and county Democrats. Washburn claims that on October 23, 2013 she was contacted by a representative of the newly-created Utica United Party. Although the exact identity of the caller, and his formal affiliation with the Utica United Party is in question, the intent of his call is not.
One of the topics of discussion in the calls is the status of a Democratic party check to James Zecca, the Democratic candidate for Comptroller and the founding member of the Utica United Party. During the conversation Washburn says that she was unaware that the check was not sent and will inquire about it. There is much that is said in between. Zecca's opponent is fellow Councilman and Common Council President Bill Morehouse.
Washburn alleges that Utica United Party representative Robert "Bobby" Oliveira is the man making the calls. We contacted Oliveira who said that he was on his way to a rally and did not have time to speak with us. We also reached out via e-mail asking him to respond to confirm whether in fact he is behind the telephone calls and what his official capacity with the party is, as well as his relationship with the Zecca campaign. In an e-mail to WIBX Larry Tanoury, Jr., a spokesman for Zecca, says that Oliveira does not speak, or act, on behalf of James Zecca.
We have posted the recordings below as Washburn provided them to us. She claims that the calls are not edited except for the fact that they were cut into three separate files because as one file it was too large to send via electronic mail. When asked why she waited almost a week to release the recordings she responded that she attempted to send them soon after they took place, and had in fact thought that they were sent until a Council member to whom she had also sent them told her that the file could not be opened.
Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara says the calls between Oliveira and Washburn were brought to the attention of Utica Police, then the DA's office. However, McNamara said he and an assistant district attorney both agreed that the calls and the case were not criminal in nature, and amounted to a political phone argument.
Update: 9:37am 11/04/2013 Robert Oliveira called WIBX and said that he could not comment on the advice of his attorneys. He apologized for not being able to discuss the matter and said that he would be willing to talk when his attorneys wrapped things up.
Listen for yourself and let us know what you think. Has Utica politics gotten out of control?