Mayor Ardell Brede’s surprise vetoes of two council actions last week are evidence that he intends to play a large and maybe larger role at City Hall.
Brede has used his veto power sparingly during his 14 years in office, but his vetoes on the August Kutzky house demolition permit and video technology in City Hall’s Room 104 — relatively minor issues, in the grand scheme of things — were shots over the council’s bow.
Rochester has a “weak mayor” system and some think Brede has made it weaker by not exercising the authority he has, not just in the veto department but in driving an agenda and working with council members to build consensus.
Some of those same people are now annoyed that Brede is exercising his authority.
Regarding the demolition permit for the 103-year-old Kutzky house, which the council denied last Monday, the mayor’s point is that the house almost certainly will be demolished and the council is engaging in a “public flogging” of the developers, Nicholas LLC.
The house was moved to make way for an apartment project, and the council and neighborhood leaders clearly believe the developer committed to renovating it in its new location, though there was no legal obligation. The house has since deteriorated and the owners want to demolish it. Critics say they used “demolition by neglect” to accomplish that.
The council voted 4-2 to deny the demolition permit, with Council Member Nick Campion saying the developer “made a promise” and “they are not living up to it. Come back with something that shows some modicum of understanding of what it does to the public trust when you make a promise and don’t deliver.”
The mayor, in his veto statement, acknowledged that “it’s a ‘travesty’ that the house was left to be in a condition that creates an uninhabitable situation.” But “to force what I would see as a public flogging of the…