Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



His vote hurt his own bottom line

The Days Inn building, formerly the Hotel Carlton

Is casting a vote against your own financial interest a potential violation of the city’s ethics code?

It’s possible, the Rochester Ethical Practices Board determined Tuesday, in weighing a claim against a member of the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission who voted with the majority in recommending landmark status for the former Hotel Carlton.

The ethics board is planning a hearing regarding the claim, filed by local business owner Abe Sauer against Heritage commissioner Tasos Psomas. The complaint was filed Feb. 23. 

Sauer alleges that Psomas had a conflict of interest when he voted to recommend the status change for the former Hotel Carlton building, on the northeast corner of West Center Street and First Avenue.

Psomas owns the Pannekoeken Restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel, which is now a Days Inn and is owned by Mark Kramer of MKDI LLC.


Ethics board members raised questions regarding the potential financial implications of the HPC vote.

"I’m just not sure what kind of gain there is," member Jose Rico said.

Psomas told the Post Bulletin last week that he would likely see a financial gain if the building was demolished to make room for new development, since his other downtown investments would increase in value with such changes.

"If that hotel comes down, it makes those other properties worth a heck of a lot more than Pannekoeken makes in a year," he said.

Rochester City Attorney Jason Loos said the proposed landmark status does not necessarily mean the building can’t be demolished, but it does add new levels of review and potential costs for future changes to the building.

"It would make it very difficult for it to be destroyed," he told the Ethical Practices Board.

In addition to Sauer’s complaint, the board received a letter from Brian McCool of the Fredrickson and Byron law firm, who represents MKDI, which Loos said seeks to support Sauer’s allegations.

Details listed in the complaint and McCool’s letter are not available while the board is investigating the issue.


In a previous letter to the city, McCool challenged Psomas’ participation in discussions related to the former Hotel Carlton, citing a conflict of interest similar to the one Sauer alleges.

The city’s ethics code states public officials should avoid conflicts of interest, which include engaging "in any business or transaction, or have a direct or indirect financial or personal interest, which is incompatible with the proper discharge of the person’s official duties or which would tend to impair the person’s independent judgment or action in the person’s performance of official duties."

With questions about the implication of the Heritage Preservation Commission’s decision, the Ethical Practices Board asked for a hearing to interact with those involved.

The planned hearing bypasses a formal investigation, which was part of the last two ethics complaints the board handled.

"It would save the time and expense of a formal investigation," board member Faye Harris said when suggesting the hearing.

Harris additionally noted the hearing is important to ensure the board hears both sides of the issue.

"We only have one point of view," she said.

The date for the hearing has not been set, but city staff will poll board members and other participants to establish a time to be announced later.

What To Read Next
Get Local