Calling longtime Utica Fire Chief Russ Brooks a 'community hero' and a 'great guy', city Council President Michael Galime shared his thoughts on Brooks' recent forced leave from the department.

''The whole situation is unfortunate, and part of the reason I've been rather silent on it is that, the most unfortunate situation out of all of the is [Brooks] has become a political football. This is just a ridiculous situation,'' Galime said Thursday on WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning.

Asked if the decision to remove Brooks was political, he said: ''When you're in politics, I think it's very difficult for anything not be political.''

And, advice for Mayor Robert Palmieri? Galime urged him to somehow bring the situation to a close, but also acknowledged that it maybe difficult to do now because it's become a legal matter.

Can the council do anything to rectify the matter?

Galime said, not really.

''The council can ask about process, we can ask for a report from the department heads,'' adding that councilors had a chance to ask question of the city's corporation counsel at Wednesday's common council meeting.

''But really all the council can do at this point is ask about the process leading up to it. Something that got highlighter here is that the mayor is also acting as the public safety commissioner. I feel that should be in the spotlight,'' Galime said.


Video: Fire Chief Russ Brooks talks about being placed on 'leave' after 9/11 health claim

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