Joseph Griffo

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Joseph Griffo
Joe Griffo1.jpg
Member of the New York Senate
from the 47th district
Assumed office
January 1, 2007
Preceded byRaymond A. Meier
8th Oneida County Executive
In office
Preceded byRalph J. Eannace, Jr.
Succeeded byAnthony J. Picente, Jr.
39th Mayor of Rome
In office
Preceded byCarl J. Eilenberg
Succeeded byJohn J. Mazzaferro
Personal details
Born (1956-01-16) January 16, 1956 (age 63)
Rome, New York
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Lorraine Griffo
ResidenceRome, New York
Alma materState University of New York at Brockport
ProfessionElected Office

Joseph A. "Joe" Griffo (born January 16, 1956) is a member of the New York Senate, representing the 47th district since 2007. The 47th district encompasses all of Lewis County, most of Oneida County, and St. Lawrence County.

Prior to his election to the Senate, Griffo served as Oneida County Executive, as well as the Mayor of Rome, New York. Griffo is a Republican.

Early life[edit]

Joseph Griffo was born to Joseph and Betty Griffo in Rome, New York. While he was an only child, Griffo had a large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. His mother was a seamstress and his father worked as a meter officer. Griffo went through the Rome public school system and graduated from Rome Free Academy High School in 1974.

He then went on to State University of New York at Brockport where he graduated magna cum laude in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Griffo first served in government during his senior year of college at an internship with State Assemblyman James Hurley.

After college, he served as Director of Community Relations for the City of Rome and as an Administrative Assistant to mayor Carl Eilenberg. Griffo's first term in elected office was in 1989, when he won a seat in the Oneida County Legislature.[1]

Political career[edit]

Mayor of Rome: 1992-2003[edit]

Griffo was elected mayor of his hometown, Rome, NY in 1991,[2] and won two subsequent elections in 1995 [3] and 1999.[4] Griffo began establishing his fiscal conservative credentials during his time as mayor of Rome. He eliminated Rome's special one-quarter percent sales tax.[5] Also, Griffo "was able to prevent a tax hike there (Rome) in all but one of his years in office, despite the crippling loss of Griffiss Air Force Base in 1993 - perhaps the worst single economic blow the county has ever seen." [1]

Griffo managed to streamline the city government by consolidating departments and making services more efficient. He successfully merged the parks and recreation departments and handed over the city's weights and measures and emergency management departments to the county, resulting in massive savings in the budget. In order to prevent closures and service cuts, he privatized Rome Hospital, the Erie Canal Village and the city trash collection, which all went on to become successful business enterprises.[6] Griffo accomplished all of this in a bipartisan way, as the city council was overwhelmingly Democratic during his time in office.

Woodstock '99[edit]

Griffo was instrumental in bringing Woodstock 1999 to Rome, NY. His driving effort to bring the concert to Rome earned him the nickname "The Rock N' Roll Mayor." [1] The concert was held at the deserted Griffiss Air Force Base and served as a precedent to using the space for future concerts and events. Woodstock '99 attracted over 200,000 people and poured much needed money into the local economy. The event was largely successful until the final day, when the audience, encouraged by the performing band, began making bonfires. [7][8] As the crowd got more out of control, state troopers and local police dispersed the audience without further incident.[9]

Oneida County Executive: 2003-2006[edit]

Griffo was appointed Oneida County Executive in June 2003 to serve out the term of his predecessor. Griffo then won the election in November 2003 in what was called an "honorable" and "responsible" campaign.[10] During his time as County Executive, Griffo stayed true to his fiscal conservative principles. After raising taxes 16% for 2003, his predecessor announced that taxes for 2004 may need to be raised by as much as 26% due to skyrocketing Medicare costs and retirement benefits. However, after Griffo was appointed County Executive, he was able to balance the 2004 budget in such a way that taxes only needed to be raised 2.9%.[11] Griffo also managed to deliver additional benefits to the county of Oneida. In 2005, he implemented a prescription drug plan that cut drug costs for Oneida county residents by up to 38%.[12]

Conflict With Mayor Julian[edit]

In 2004, Griffo was forced to make a special 1.5% increase in sales tax for the 2005 budget in order to cover soaring Medicaid costs. Normally, sales tax revenues are split amongst state, county and townships/cities. However, in order to cover mandated Medicaid costs, the 1.5% increase would all go to the county government. Utica Mayor Tim Julian began claiming a share of the revenues.[13] Despite being alone in his request as the Mayor of Rome stated he did not feel entitled to the revenues,[13] Julian persisted in his demands against Griffo. Although Buffalo had won similar requests over a sales tax dispute with the county, Griffo remained adamant in refusing to split the revenues. Griffo tried to disarm the situation by offering the city of Utica $800,000 in debt forgiveness which Julian refused.[14] Griffo eventually won out and the county did not split the extra sales tax revenues with Utica. In 2006, Julian decided to run against Griffo in the Republican primary for State Senator. While Julian lost the primary, he secured a spot on the Independence Party ticket and continued his campaign. A week before the election, Julian inexplicably dropped out of the race.[15]


Griffo helped stop the New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI) plan to run electricity from Canada through Oneida county. Concerned citizens feared the project would increase electricity costs in the area and pose health and safety risks to residents.[16] A grassroots effort formed opposing the plan and Griffo supported the local effort with $50,000 of county money.[17] [18] Griffo also helped unite local and state politicians to help kill the plan.[19]

New York State Senator: 2007-present[edit]

Despite an overwhelmingly Democratic year, Griffo was elected by a wide margin in 2006 to represent the 47th district in the New York State Senate. He replaced Raymond Meier, who was running for Congress in the 24th Congressional District of New York. Griffo was reelected in 2008. Among Griffo's significant legislation was a law that created the website where anyone could log on and see how state funds were being used.[20] The bill was instrumental in improving transparency and accountability. Griffo also championed to reform state government by proposing bills that would create term limits for the Governor, Comptroller and Attorney-General as well as forcing vacancies at statewide positions to be filled through popular election rather than appointment by the Governor.[21] [22] Also, "His bills have included child abuse victim protection, a law to keep snowmobile fees for trail system use and legislation capping assessment increases for farmers." [23] Griffo has also continued making government more efficient through consolidation and eliminating waste.[24] [25] Griffo voted against same-sex marriage legislation on December 2, 2009; the bill was defeated.[26] In 2011, he voted against the Marriage Equality Act, which the Senate passed 33-29. Marriage Equality Act and roll call

Role in investigation of Governor Spitzer[edit]

The Senate Committee on Investigations is considering investigating a controversial multimillion-dollar loan that New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer's father Bernard Spitzer gave him when he ran for attorney general in 1998, a loan Mr. Spitzer has acknowledged not being truthful about.[27][28] Committee Chairman George Winner told The New York Post that subpoenas should be used to find out about the loans.[29] Winner wrote to Griffo, who is the Chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, that an article profiling Spitzer in New York Magazine "outlined what may have been a willful effort by Eliot Spitzer and his father to circumvent campaign-contribution limits in New York state law and then conceal their actions."[28] In 1998, Spitzer claimed that he secured the $5 million loan by mortgaging apartments his developer had given him, but later revealed that his father was actually paying off the loans and, therefore, financing his campaign.[27][28]

Arrest Record[edit]

Griffo was arrested on August 1, 1988 after allegedly serving alcohol, or permitting alcohol to be served to minors at a party he hosted at the Erie Canal Village, in Rome, NY. His case was discharged under contemplation of dismissal.[30][31]

Joseph Griffo, after his arrest, made inappropriate remarks about the officer who arrested him, Griffo falsely accused the officer of being 'disgruntled', despite the Rome Police having legitimate grounds for an arrest.[32]

Later the Rome Democratic Party hired attorney Robert Abrams to probe into Rome Judge James Kehoe's disposition of charges against Joseph Griffo.[32]

Impaired Driving Accident[edit]

Senator and former Rome city mayor Joseph Griffo was involved in a two-vehicle collision on East Oak Street, Rome NY. Law enforcers said the accident was Griffo's fault, but he was not ticketed.

Police said the state senator caused the crash at the stop sign intersection at North James Street. The young female victim in the other car complained of shoulder pain, was later taken to Rome Memorial Hospital by a family member, police stated. The report said that Griffo "has a physical disability causing loss of vision in his right eye, which may have been a contributing factor" in the accident. Griffo "was determined to be at fault in regards to this collision," the report said, but he was not ticketed.[33]

Inappropriate Twitter Remarks[edit]

On January 3, 2017, Senator Griffo made sexist and inappropriate Twitter remarks to Melissa DeRosa, Chief of Staff to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Cooper, Elizabeth (October 29, 2003), "Griffo seeks to restore county's vibrancy", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 1A
  2. ^ "Griffo Wins Rome Race", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 6A, 1991-11-06
  3. ^ "Griffo's Vision for Rome Receives Vote of Confidence", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 8A, 1995-11-08
  4. ^ Video on YouTube
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2009-06-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) (accessed 6/20/09)
  6. ^ Dudajek, Dave (September 8, 2005), "Small steps can pay off big", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 13A
  7. ^ Jeff Stark (1999-07-27). "What A Riot". Salon. Archived from the original on 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2007-10-07.
  8. ^ Steven Rochlin (1999). "Woodstock 99". Retrieved 2007-10-07.
  9. ^ "Repeated Violence". The Lantern. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-09-05.
  10. ^ Staff (November 6, 2003), "We're all the losers in dirty campaigns", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 15A
  11. ^ Cooper, Elizabeth (November 5, 2003), "Griffo claims county victory", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 1A
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2009-06-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) (accessed 6/21/09)
  13. ^ a b Anderson, Shawn (October 29, 2004), "Utica wants portion of funds from sales-tax hike", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 1A
  14. ^ Cooper, Elizabeth (February 5, 2005), "Griffo offers loan forgiveness", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 3A
  15. ^ Gamela, Renee (October 28, 2006), "Julian drops state Senate bid", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 3A
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-06-01. Retrieved 2009-06-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) (accessed 6/22/09)
  17. ^ Anderson, Shawn (September 8, 2005), "Candidates rally around electric line opposition", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 1A
  18. ^ Cooper, Elizabeth (June 15, 2006), "County agrees to put $50,000 toward fight against power line", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 1B
  19. ^ Cooper, Elizabeth (June 2, 2006), "State, local officials unite in fight against power line", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 1A
  20. ^ Staff (June 13, 2008), "Griffo bill passes in state Senate", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York
  21. ^ Staff (April 24, 2008), "Term limits in Albany worthy goal", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 7A
  22. ^ Staff (June 20, 2007), "Empowering state voters is way to go", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 7A
  23. ^ Croniser, Rebecca (October 21, 2008), "Griffo recalls challenges while serving in office", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 7A
  24. ^ Staff (June 18, 2008), "Editorial: Act now to reform authorities", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York
  25. ^ Staff (June 26, 2008), "Authority reform plan must advance", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-11. Retrieved 2014-01-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ a b New York Times, His Aura Faded Now, Spitzer Faces Bolder Enemies, by DANNY HAKIM, July 23, 2007.
  28. ^ a b c New York Post, GOP PUTS HEAT ON ELIOT'S $5M LOAN, by FREDRIC U. DICKER, July 23, 2007. Archived August 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Associated Press, State Senate GOP Seek Spitzer Loan Records, July 23, 2007.
  30. ^ Observer-Dispatch. August 2, 1988. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. ^ Rome Daily Sentinel. August 1, 1988. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. ^ a b Rome Daily Sentinel. August 7, 1988. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  33. ^
  34. ^

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Carl J. Eilenberg
Mayor of Rome, New York
January 1, 1992 – June, 2003
Succeeded by
John J. Mazzaferro (interim)
Preceded by
Ralph J. Eannace, Jr.
Oneida County, New York Executive
June, 2003 – December 31, 2006
Succeeded by
Anthony J. Picente, Jr.
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Raymond A. Meier
New York State Senate, 47th District
January 1, 2007 – present