Saratoga County

Footage shows City Hall envelope-throwing incident

City Attorney Joseph Scala clearly beaned Commissioner of Public Works Anthony Scirocco in the back

City Attorney Joseph Scala clearly beaned Commissioner of Public Works Anthony Scirocco in the back of the head with an envelope full of layoff notices, footage from a surveillance camera shows.

The bureaucratic warfare between the two officials became the butt of jokes among City Hall insiders and on local blogs after the incident occurred on Dec. 16.

The tall, lanky Scala pitched for Saratoga Springs when city employees played a charity softball game against the town of Wilton in 2008.

The city’s hired outside attorney this week released footage from surveillance cameras to The Daily Gazette in response to a Jan. 4 Freedom of Information Law request.

The City Council voted Feb. 16 to retain the law firm Bailey, Kelleher & Johnson of Albany to review the FOIL request and give a legal opinion. The firm will be paid $170 an hour up to a maximum of $1,000, Mayor Scott Johnson said when the firm was hired.

Footage was released from three cameras whose tapes were preserved after the Dec. 16 incident: one from inside the mayor’s office; another outside the City Council chambers panning down the hallway; and a third at the front entrance.

The third camera doesn’t show any of the interaction between Scala and Scirocco.

The videos can only be played with special software. A New Jersey company that used to make software for the .g64 video files the city uses said that that format is outdated and the company no longer uses it.

The videos show Scirocco entering the mayor’s office twice after 4:15 p.m. that day, the first time to give the layoff notices for 28 of his employees to Scala’s assistant and the second time to deliver the envelope to Scala himself.

Scirocco said he wanted Scala to hand out the layoff notices to Department of Public Works employees because Scirocco didn’t know the answers to questions they might ask.

Distributing the notices was Scirocco’s job as head of the department, Scala said.

The hallway camera shows Scala with the envelope, pursuing Scirocco, who never turns around. Scala flings the envelope full of papers at the commissioner, striking him in the back of the head.

Scirocco then shakes his finger in the city attorney’s face. Both men leave the envelope in the hall for 12 minutes before Scala retrieves it as he is going home for the day.

After the event, Scala said he was trying to throw the envelope at Scirocco’s feet.

Scirocco initially filed an internal workplace violence complaint against Scala but dropped it later.

Here’s a rundown of the incident by the minute:

4:18 p.m. — Scirocco walks into the mayor’s office and talks to Scala’s secretary, Nancy Woodworth. He hands her the envelope, speaking animatedly during their five-minute conversation.

4:27 p.m. — Woodworth leaves the office with the envelope.

4:30 p.m. — Scirocco returns to the mayor’s office with Woodworth behind him, quickening his stride as he enters. He disappears into Scala’s office for less than 30 seconds and then returns with Scala close behind. They do not appear to speak to each other.

4:31 p.m. — When Scirocco reaches the stairs leading down to his office, Scala stops walking. Standing in the middle of the hallway, he flings the envelope at Scirocco. It bounces off Scirocco’s head and hits the floor.

Scirocco, who briefly disappears from the camera’s view, reappears, shaking an index finger toward Scala’s face.

Scala responds with his own wagging finger but then drops it as Scirocco continues with his several-second tirade.

Scala bends to pick up the envelope, shakes it toward Scirocco, who is out of the camera’s view again, and drops it purposefully on the floor.

He slams the door to the mayor’s office when he returns.

4:43 p.m. — Scala, wearing his overcoat, walks out of the office and returns with the envelope. He hands it to Therese Connolly, the mayor’s executive assistant, who opens the envelope and peeks inside. She places it on Woodworth’s desk.

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