The arrest of city schools Facilities Manager Steven Raucci had one immediate effect: it brought back the heat for one church’s coffee hour.
St. Adalbert’s Church owns one of the buildings used by the city school district, FDR Elementary on Lansing Street. In the lease agreement between the school district and the church, the church members were allowed to use part of the school for meetings and refreshments after weekend services.
But the lease didn’t specifically say that the school district had to heat the building while the church was using it, and Raucci adamantly refused to provide heat.
In emails sent a month before he was arrested, Raucci said he was withholding the heat because he personally held a grudge against the church pastor, the Rev. Carl Urban.
“This is more of an issue I personally have with Urban, who I won’t respect by calling him ‘Father’ Urban,” Raucci wrote to FDR Principal Pedro Roman.
Raucci took to calling the pastor “Emperor Urban” because Urban wouldn’t relinquish control of his church maintenance staff.
Raucci wanted to speak directly with the church worker who plowed the school grounds, he wrote, but Urban wouldn’t let him.
Urban explained Thursday that the argument had started several months earlier, when the district signed the lease.
Raucci immediately went to the church and told the maintenance staff that “they had to answer to him now,” Urban said.
Urban directed Raucci to come to him with any work requests, rather than issuing orders to his workers.
“I mean, the church is paying them. They’re still our people,” Urban said. “That turned him totally off.”
When winter came, Urban learned the price of his stance.
“He wouldn’t turn the heat on because I stood up to him,” Urban said.
But unlike many school officials who did not report problems with Raucci for years, Urban endured the cold for six weeks or less before taking it up with Assistant Superintendent William Roberts.
Roberts emailed Raucci and asked him to provide heat on Sundays. Raucci refused, citing the fact that the lease didn’t specify heat.
“You are asking me to do something that I am not capable of doing with someone I consider a ‘bully.’ And that is to back down,” Raucci wrote Roberts. “He can bully [Principal] Pedro [Roman], he can bully you and he can bully others in this district, but he is not going to get away with it with me.”
He also told Roman, in another email, that he had sent copies of his heat-refusal emails to Superintendent Eric Ely, Assistant Superintendent Michael San Angelo and Human Resources Director Michael Stricos, among others.
“It should surprise you that NO ONE responded or wants to get involved when they know I’m this angry with someone,” Raucci wrote.
Urban didn’t back down. His parishioners kept using the building, even without heat.
“We would dress warm and get out quickly,” he said. “It was horrible. What’s more upsetting, to my mind, is the superintendent let this go on.”
He said the heat stayed off until Raucci was arrested.
“That’s when we started to get heat,” Urban said.
Raucci is now serving 23 years to life in prison, convicted of setting explosives on homes and vehicles to intimidate his victims. His emails were released by the district under the terms of an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit with The Daily Gazette and the Times Union.
Attempts to reach Roberts for comment were unsuccessful.