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Ogdensburg housing fiasco report delayed

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OGDENSBURG — The city will have to wait a little longer for the report on City Attorney Andrew W. Silver’s investigation of the controversial rehabilitation and sale of two city-owned houses.

In one of them, at 819 Knox St., city officials allowed a family to live rent- and tax-free for three years.

“We won’t be getting it for a few more days,” Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley said Friday. “I don’t imagine we’ll get it until next week.”

At the Oct. 11 City Council meeting, Mr. Silver told members that his report would be ready Friday. In an email received by councilors Friday morning, Mr. Silver said that he was still drafting the report and that it would be complete this week.

“He hopes that it will be complete in the next few days,” Councilor Nicholas J. Vaugh said.

The delay in the report means the council will not be able to act on Mr. Silver’s findings at Monday’s meeting. That would push any action back until after the Nov. 8 general elections unless a special meeting is called. The council’s first meeting next month is set for Nov. 14.

Mr. Morley said he would call for a special meeting once the report was in his hands.

“There will probably be a special meeting. I can’t say for sure,” Mr. Morley said. “If I call this special meeting, I have to have a second.”

That means the council might act on Mr. Silver’s report before the election.

“I’m not shooting for before or after the election. I am shooting for as soon as possible,” Mr. Morley said. “I can’t imagine we would let it go until Nov. 14. I want a meeting two days after I get the report.”

Mr. Silver’s report is the culmination of an investigation requested by the City Council in response to accusations against City Manager Arthur J. Sciorra brought by former city planner J. Justin Woods. Mr. Woods has accused Mr. Sciorra of lying to the council.

“I’m very disappointed that we don’t have the report,” Mr. Morley said. “Now we’re back to square one.”

Mr. Woods’s accusation came after it was revealed that the city had allowed a family to live in 819 Knox St. for three years without paying rent or taxes. When asked, Mr. Sciorra said he was not aware of the situation.

“I can’t understand how he didn’t know about it from the volume of emails that were sent to him,” Mr. Morley said. “The only way he couldn’t have known is to intentionally ignore it.”

Later, it came to light that Mr. Sciorra failed to inform the council of the situation at 819 Knox St., leading to calls from Mr. Morley and Mayor William D. Nelson for the city manager to resign.

“Not once until July of this year did I get an email or update that mentions about 819 Knox St. at all, so we have not been informed of anything,” Mr. Morley said.

Mr. Silver, Mr. Nelson and other council members did not immediately respond to calls for comment Friday afternoon.

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