‘A difficult time for all concerned’

Editor’s note: The following are the remarks delivered by 5th District Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli at the conclusion of the removal hearing of Liquor Commissioner Mark Bodi. The hearing resulted in Bodi’s reinstatement to the commission, although he was reprimanded and stripped of his job as chairman of the agency. All of us in public life are familiar with the tension between constituent service and going too far. We don’t really have a rulebook. We all try to do our best, if we are well-intentioned, in our own ways. We can’t just refuse calls from voters when they raise issues with state government.And agency commissioners find themselves in similar situations. I know I have called many – not trying to pressure them, not trying to convince them to do something wrong, but hoping they might see things my way. I hope they don’t perceive it as undue political pressure on my part.Mr. Bodi has admitted to making mistakes. And I have concluded he made mistakes.In reaching my own decisions, I’ve paid close attention to all the testimony and I’ve thought about the two questions that seem to be of paramount importance:1. Should Mr. Bodi be removed for even injecting himself into this matter?2. Should he be removed because of the way he handled things when he did get involved?I have tried to determine just what his intentions were. I realize some might say that his intentions are not the issue. Only his actions are. But, I don’t accept that.On my first question, in retrospect, it is clear to me that a commissioner should stay as far away from a criminal investigation as possible. Let the matter be handled by the appointed officers and the courts. Courts are here to correct any wrongdoing on one side or the other. And they are good at it. But I also know from personal experience that it is easy to succumb to the temptation to jump into a constituent’s complaint. I know there is the press of a lot of other business and a desire to problem-solve.In this case, I find no bad intention on Mr. Bodi’s part. I don’t think he tried to stop or block or hinder the criminal investigation. And, of course, we know it was not stopped. The evidence was secured, the tavern owner was dealt with, and justice was done.I think Mr. Bodi made a mistake in injecting himself into this, but I can’t find improper motivation.Once Mr. Bodi got involved, things happened fast. This mistake of hasty action caused other mistakes. The equipment was ordered to be returned. It was returned. But the evidence was kept. Did Mr. Bodi tell the chief to retrieve the evidence first? Who knows what words were spoken in highly charged conversations? One thing is clear, though. Mr. Bodi was dealing with a qualified law enforcement professional. His assumption, even if that’s all it was, that the chief would return only the equipment and not the evidence, was reasonable. And, that is what happened.We all make mistakes. It’s important to me to think about whether the mistakes in this case were done with bad intent or a bad heart. I definitely do not think so, and therefore I am satisfied that Mr. Bodi’s actions do not rise to the level that requires his termination.I know this has been a difficult time for all concerned. I know some disagree with how I come out on this matter, but I’ve brought my honest and best efforts to the task. I also believe the governor and the Attorney General’s Office and the lawyers on both sides have done so as well.

Categories: Opinion