The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kogut's Dark Past

On Hampden County District Attorney candidate Michael Kogut's website, in the "Meet Mike" section, virtually no job held is too small to be included on his lists of accomplishments dating back to 1983. But mention of one job he held, however briefly, is conspicuous in it's absence - his tenure as former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano's City Solicitor.

There are a number of reasons why Kogut may have found it convenient for his memory to fail him on that subject, besides the fact that nearly everyone who ever showed the poor judgment to serve in the Albano Administration now finds it a burning mark of shame essential to be kept off one's resume. For one thing Kogut was pretty much forced out of the job by criticism from Springfield's City Council, which noted that he appeared to have no known background in municipal law. Their criticism of Kogut was all the more remarkable because people getting jobs in Springfield with no known qualifications was hardly unusual. That was especially true during the Albano years when someone like Gerry Phillips was able to become Police Commissioner and the head of a job training center despite having been nothing more than a State Bingo Inspector. So for someone to be declared unqualified by so sleepy a watchdog as the Springfield City Council, meant that Kogut's incompetence was exceptionally glaring.

But perhaps also contributing to Kogut's hasty departure beside the competency issues was the eruption of an ugly City Hall scandal over false accusations which were leveled against City Auditor Gennaro Daniele. Here is what I wrote at the time about that shameful episode:

Shortly after Albano was sworn in for his first term in 1996, never substantiated allegations of sexual harassment were made against City Auditor Gennaro Daniele (above). Albano's response was to fire Daniele at once, declaring a policy of zero tolerance for sexual harassment.

Interestingly, Danielle had been a real thorn in the side of Albano's predecessor, Robert Markel, because of Danielle's openness in making information about the city's finances freely available to both the public and the press. Albano himself had taken advantage of information provided by Daniele in his own successful campaign to unseat Markel. It was assumed that Danielle would continue his open book policies during the Albano Administration, which some critics suggest may have contributed to Albano's anxiousness to remove him.

Albano's fire first, investigate later policy backfired badly when a Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination investigation exonerated Daniele in the strongest possible terms, stating that not a "scintilla" (the tiniest shred) of evidence could be found to support the accusations in any way. MCAD Commissioner Charles E. Walker described the charges against Danielle as "totally lacking in merit." Not surprisingly, Daniele then turned around and sued the city. A settlement was reached but with an odd twist - the amount of taxpayer's money the city agreed to hand over in order to pay Danielle off was not made public.

It was an insult to the taxpayers to ask them to pay such a settlement without ever being told how much it cost. Happily, the Springfield Newspapers brought the city to court and finally got a judge to order the release of the amount of money the taxpayers lost - $100,000 dollars, with half of that going to Daniele's accusers! According to the May 12, 1999 edition of the Union-News the two women who made the false accusations (Kathy A. Kelly and Joanne Reilly) are still employed by the City of Springfield. Ms. Kelly even has a new city job with a $16,000 raise! The least that should happen to these women is that they lose their jobs, considering the large sum of money that their apparently unfounded statements have cost the taxpayers. That they actually made money off of their groundless accusations is simply an outrage! Thanks to the efforts of the Springfield Newspapers, the public has at least been told how much they were forced to spend in order to compensate for Albano's rush to judgement.

As reported in the Springfield newspaper on May 14, 1999:

City Councilor William T. Foley, who was council president when Daniele was fired, said he believes there was a "rush to judgment" by Albano and former City Solicitor Michael Kogut in how the case was handled.

"I certainly hope a lesson was learned from this," Foley said. "Rushing to judgment is not a proper solution."

When justice was at stake, Kogut did nothing and an innocent man was made to suffer. Just imagine what it must have been like for Danielle to have had to go home and tell his wife and family that he not only had been fired from his city job, but had been accused of sexual harassment. Of course this was all over the media as well.

Fortunately his family believed his denials, but the public humiliation he endured before his innocence was finally proven must have been hellish. A widely circulated rumor at the time said that at one point in the ordeal the police were called to the Danielle home by a panicked caller who said that Daniele had locked himself in the bathroom with a gun. Allegedly the police talked him out of harming himself. Although that rumor was widespread and repeated as fact, to my knowledge it was neither proven true nor denied.

In any case Gennaro Daniele did not have long to enjoy his complete and full vindication, as he later died young from cancer. Although cancer can have many causes, at Daniele's funeral more than a few mourners suggested that the terrible stress he had unjustly endured at the hands of Albano and Kogut had shortened his life. As for Kogut, despite losing his job he went on to prosper from his insider connections during the Albano years, as reported by Maureen Turner in the November 1, 2001 Valley Advocate article entitled City for Sale:

Attorney Michael T. Kogut was Albano's original choice to head the city's Law Department, but was driven from the position in 1996 by opposition from the City Council. Kogut was gone, but not forgotten; since then, he's received $25,000 in city contracts to do work for the city's Department of Elder Affairs. Kogut has donated $700 to Albano.

We may never know the full story behind the tragic persecution of Gennaro Daniele. We do know however that Michael Kogut is now reaching for high office. Kogut has proven in the past that he lacks the character to hold such a position, and in the name of justice, he deserves to fail.

Hey I'm not crazy... oh wait, that's not true, I've got a blog... here's the blogger overlooking Northampton from the gates of Smith.

Luke Arivel and friend playing outside the Haymarket.

Pasted to a downtown door....

She wanted revolution but was scared to revolt.

A seeker will see better when they see this sign on the woodland way into downtown Hamp.

But what if they can't read the sign without their glasses? The woodland way sure is pretty in late summer.

Alas it won't last much longer. My neighbor's garden has already sprouted its first Halloween pumpkin.

Some Amherst crazies made a film based on Springfield's Dr. Seuss.


S.P. Sullivan said...

That Seussian video was shot right where I used to live in Amherst. I spent a lot of time in the Wentworth Farm Conservation area.

Anonymous said...

I will never vote for Michael kogut.

Mick said...

Buoniconti is an even bigger crook!