The ongoing dispute involving Utica fire Chief Russell Brooks and his health started more than a year ago with an application.
Citing his diagnosis for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which he says resulted from responding to New York City to support 9/11 recovery efforts, Brooks applied for benefits outlined under General Municipal Law 207-a. The law entitles firefighters to medical or hospital expenses as a result of on-duty injuries or illnesses.
Mayor Robert Palmieri — the city’s public safety commissioner — denied Brooks’ request, however, leading to a number of public spats and several court appearances ever since. The mayor also placed Brooks on paid, indeterminate, nondisciplinary leave the same day his 207-a application was rejected.
Brooks sought arbitration to appeal the city’s denial, and in the time since, the status of that appeal for 207-a benefits was unresolved — until about a month ago.