Utica Councilman Joe Marino (D-4th Ward) says he wasn't lying when he told WIBX on Thursday that he "gently touched" an umpire at a minor league youth baseball game "to get his attention" as the two were arguing over the strike zone. The issue is over whether or not Marino has been suspended by the league over the incident and if he indeed pushed or shoved the umpire during the altercation.  "I did not shove him," Marino told WIBX's Bill Keeler several times on Friday morning; however, the video which was anonymously sent to WIBX paints a different picture.

Watch the video (the first is the original video sent to us.  The second, has been been slowed down and enhanced for quality purposes) :

On Thursday, Marino agreed to come on the radio and explain what really happened at the Little League game. He downplayed the altercation and said, “I touched his (umpire) elbow and said ‘Hey bud, I’d just like to talk to you’ and he said ‘You’re outta here!'”  ‘First News’ host, Bill Keeler, asked to clarify that he hadn’t swore, kicked dirt, hit the guy, or anything to that effect. Marino replied, “Of course not.” Marino hoped by coming on the air to set the record straight, he could finally put the rumors to bed. “I just don’t like it when umpires make the game about themselves, I think these kids deserved a shot to play and I am proud of defending them, Marino says. He also added, “One of my favorite things to do is coach my kids. That’s why I am glad I was able to come on and talk about this.”

After Thursday's program, several people contacted WIBX and claimed that Marino misrepresented the actual facts during the interview and one person provided the program with the video of the incident.  People involved with Little League also confirmed to WIBX that Marino was indeed suspended.  On Friday, Marino said it wasn't actually a suspension. He said the umpires would have boycotted the rest of the tournament had he coached so he decided to take himself out of the dugout.  He confirmed he watched the game from the outfield and that he did not coach.  He insisted that he has not been suspended.

During Friday's interview, Marino also reiterated that he didn't push or shove the umpire and he criticized host Bill Keeler for exposing such a "minor private moment" that should never have been discussed on the radio.  Keeler said, "It's not about the incident per se, it's about the fact that you agreed to set the record straight and you lied to us." He added that Marino is a guy who wants to be Mayor and that the interview is about his credibility and whether or not the taxpayers of Utica can trust him."

Updated at 2:12 p.m. - Video from Friday morning interview added.


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