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Home Government Mayor Otis "incompetent, out of touch" - City Council Candidate Chittenden

Mayor Otis “incompetent, out of touch” – City Council Candidate Chittenden

Gadfly and Rye city council candidate and Timothy Chittenden has come out swinging – again.

In a letter sent to city council, Rye city employees and press, Chittenden attached a copy of new Rye City Manager Frank Culross' employment agreement. And then he goes to town on the city. Some of the highlights:

  • The employment agreement has "all the characteristics of covering something up" and is "insulting to us taxpayers"

  • "Otis is an incompetent, out of touch and micro-manager"

  • Culross and Otis were "responsible for bringing us the two disasters called Novak and Shew" [former city managers]

You can read the letter in full:

"This is a copy of the new Employment Agreement between Otis and our "new" City Manager Frank Culross.

We are now living in what has been described as tough financial times by Otis and other members of the Rye City Council yet they have gone out and given Culross a salary of $198,400. To solidify their sham commitment to battling these tough financial times, they have retained Assistant City Manager Pickup and his at least $150,000 salary and are paying former City Comptroller Mike Genito somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000 to ironically and almost beyond belief to help them with the recession.

Not to be deterred by the bad publicity of the many perks Otis gave to Shew in his contract, Otis gave Culross 25 free vacation days on his first day of employment and 15 free sick days. All of these free days will be subject to being cashed out by Culross when he leaves at full face value. At todays rate that adds up to about $36,000.  Without even working one day Otis is throwing Culross $36,000.

It appears that Culross will also still collect his NYS Pension while being paid his $198,4000 salary.

Giving someone exclusive and unrestricted  use of a City of Rye taxpayer paid vehicle has not had a very good recent history. It was widely reported that Shew resided in Massachusetts and used the City of Rye car to commute. It has also been reported that Culross has a second home somewhere out of state. What will be the cost of this benefit and was it really necessary?  Will the records of the gas and mileage used still be kept in pencil?

Chapters 11 and 12 of the employment agreement are insulting to all taxpayers and  appears to me to at the very least to cover the rear end of Otis concerning not having a City Manager after Shew "Retired". In my opinion the language has all the characteristics of covering something up or correcting mistakes that were made. This in my opinion is insulting to us taxpayers and I believe only furthers the desires of Otis to still operate in secret and without transparency.

Why has Rye had what in essence has been 8 City Managers in the last 9 years. Starting from 2000 we had City Manager Culross, Interim City Manager Bradbury, City Manager Novak, Interim City Manager Culross, City Manager Shew, Acting City Manager Culross, Interim City Manager Culross & City Manager Culross. I believe it is because Otis is an incompetent, out of touch and micro-manager in a City that is supposed to be a strong City Manager form of Government.

I believe that a very large part of the blame of having such instability in our City Manager position lays squarely on the shoulders of Culross and Otis. They were responsible for bringing us the two disasters called Novak and Shew. Culross has benefitted greatly financially because not only was he retained as a consultant to hire these two what in my opinion were complete incompetents to run the City of Rye, when they predictably couldn't get out of their own way yet alone run Rye. Culross also benefitted greatly by filling in for them when they fell on their faces. Otis benefitted because he got to micromanage Rye. Unfortunately for us taxpayers, he has run it into the disgraceful mess we are in today.

If elected to the Rye City Council in November, my first hope is that Otis is no longer the Mayor. His micro-managing style along with his closed and non transparent ways in deciding matters affecting all Rye residents has run in course. Otis has done a lot of damage. I am going to advocate that a new City Manager be local, that Culross has nothing whatsoever to do with the hiring of a new City Manager and that the $150,000 Assistant City Manager position be eliminated.

Accountability needs to be introduced to Rye. Taxpayers have the right to know how our money is being spent and what policies are being violated by their employees. In addition, I will advocate that all City of Rye business will be open and transparent and all relevant documents will be available on the internet. Both the letter and the spirit of the NYS Open Meeting Laws and Freedom of Information Laws will be followed and if not, any employee not in compliance will be dealt with by the City Manager. Any employee, including the City Manager, who intentionally violate these laws should face serious sanctions up to and including dismissal.

Thank you.
Very truly yours,
Rye City Council Candidate Timothy Chittenden
2 Hammond Road"


  1. Dear Mr. Chittenden,
    Don’t be insulted by paragraphs 11 or 12 of Frank Culross’ agreement. In fact, you should be comforted that those clauses preclude his reliance on any agreement, written or oral, other than the one you see.
    These are simple provisions. If you misunderstood or misrepresented them, maybe you should reconsider seeking a job that will require evaluation of more complex agreements and issues.

  2. Amen Tim.

    I differ with you on Messer’s Culross and Pickup however. I think either of them could be good managers without the top down interference that has now branded Rye City with its well deserved scarlet letter in municipal management circles.

    And Shew didn’t “retire.” That obfuscation is an insult to us all. You don’t need to be a lawyer to spot an outright lie. This administration has a pattern of this and its doing no one in Rye any good.

  3. And speaking of Mr. Floatie, is he making a statement by parking his distasteful and inappropriately decorated vehicle in front of Resurrection Church?

  4. Didn’t Ossining also have to fire shew? Why was he no good for Ossining but a must have for Rye? Great nationwide search!

  5. http://www.satcho.com/images/ossining/Articles/Rescind.htm

    Good point Claremont Avenue resident. This enclosed article appeared in the North County News when Shew was getting fired in Ossining. The articke was not very flattering and mentions his many previous misdeeds at previous jobs including while living and working in Massachusetts.

    No need to worry about Ossining refusing to give Shew lifetime medical when they were firing him. Otis gave it to him after only 5 years of “service” just like he gave that and a free going away party to Susie Morrison after only 5 years of “service”.

    How is it that Otis said Shew was the best man for the job i Rye when he hired him and signed his Rye contract two months prior to Shew getting fired. Didn’t Otis and his “National Search Team” do any research on Shew??? One only had to google Shew on the day he started here and all of his numerous previous employment F-Ups were listed. Perhaps this is why Otis signed the contract with Shew two months ahead of time and kept it secret in case people found out what a piece of crap Shew was.

    Was Shew the best man for Rye or the best man for Otis? In my opinion I say for Otis because Shew lived in Massachusetts and would do or say anything Otis wanted him to do. Shew would hardly ever come to work yet got $58,000 in raises in only 4 years.

    Shew was such a joke that he was referred to as Oz because no one knew who he was and nobody knew what he did.

    Otis does not deserve the time of day let alone another term as Mayor for what he has done to the Rye taxpayers, the employees of Rye and the reputation of Rye.

  6. Shew said he was excited to help Rye tackle its environmental issues related to the sound and get started with a government he has “good chemistry (with).”

    WOW! Need I say more????

  7. Hey Candidate:
    I hope the first task you’ll do as Councilman is hire a private
    investigator to follow active policmen on “injury” disability collecting collectively over $200,000 py in salary and benefits-tax free!
    Oops- that means the PI will be stalking you.

    MyRye calls you a gadfly.
    A better name would be Village Idiot. Have a nice day.

  8. Garnet Graduate

    I wouldn’t waste any taxpayer money following City Council candidate Chittenden around. The City of Rye’s doctors informed Police Commissioner Connors a number of years ago that Chittenden could return to duty but Connors ignored HIS OWN Doctors recommendations and would not allow Chittenden to return to duty in any capacity whatsoever.

    I think an an inquiry into why this was allowed and what Connors possibly had to hide by bringing Chittenden back to work is definitely in order.

    As far as your attempt to disparage and misrepresent Chittenden, you must not know him very well. Instead of attempting to use desperate attempts of character assassination against a heroic and loyal Rye Public Servant who has served his community with honor and distinction, how about addressing some of the ideas he has to make Rye a better place for all including you.

  9. Robert Byrne is right: if Chittenden doesn’t understand paras. 11 and 12, he’s clearly incompetent and incapable of serving as an effective council member.

  10. Charmian:

    You may be confused or you just like to report untruths and mischaracterizations to try and influence the upcoming election.

    After bringing brought up on retaliatory, bogus charges almost 7 years ago, the City of Rye and Lt. Falk sued me to fire my Attorney.

    They argued that Lt. Falk had sought legal advice from my Attorney previously and he could not testify at my haring for the City as the accuser with this Attorney representing me.

    6 Years later and close to a $1,000,000 in legal fees, expenses and salaries, and not only has there been no disciplinary hearing, the City is now saying Falk isn’t even testifying.

    That means they spent $1,000,000 of our money so Falk could testify. They won getting my Attorney removed and now Falk isn’t testifying.

    I believe that if Falk does not testify we should get a $1,000,000 refund from Falk, Novak, Connors, Shew, Plunkett and Toomey for facilitating this farce.

    There never was a case against me. I believe the City of Rye is afraid to put on any witnesses because of serious credibility problems and because of misdeeds and improper acts they have committed.

    Ask ourself why aren’t Falk, Verille, Connors, Shew, Otis, Reichert and Novak testifying at the hearing against me?

    No credible evidence comes to my mind.

  11. This is such bad timing to take such large chances. We will be years getting out from underneath the Otis administration’s mess;

    By Theresa Juva for the Journal news

    RYE — It’s still unclear when the city will be reimbursed $1 million it shelled out to help save a 19th-century farmstead, a city official said.

    The City Council in August approved using $1 million from its savings to purchase an 1835 farmhouse on Milton Road. The council said it expected to be paid back with state, federal, and county grants.
    The Committee to Save the Bird Homestead, a not-for-profit, will maintain the 1-acre property and hopes to make it an educational center.
    But Assistant City Manager Scott Pickup said Wednesday there is concern about when the city will get some of the money. If the grants don’t come through, the not-for-profit would be responsible for finding other sources.
    “It’s an issue we have to pay attention to, and, potentially, it could be a concern,” Pickup said.
    The city expects it will soon have $250,000 from a state grant through Assemblyman George Latimer’s office, but the other grants are in limbo, Pickup said.
    The city still needs to recoup $350,000 from the state Historic Preservation Office, $200,000 from a federal Long Island Sound program and $200,000 from Westchester County.
    Pickup said with the change in county administration, getting the funds may take longer and the money isn’t guaranteed.
    “Whenever you are involved in the grant process, until you get a check, you can’t say yes,” he said. “But we’re confident.”
    Joe Sack, the only council member to vote against using the $1 million, has cautioned that the lagging reimbursement could be a surprise budget expense.
    “The City Council majority took a huge risk by making a $1 million loan without a reasonable guarantee we’d get the money,” Sack said. “This was nice project, but it was a pet project. It was not the type of project that should have been dumped on the citizens of Rye.”
    Mayor Steve Otis disputed there are problems with the grants.
    “All of them are within sight in terms of checks being cut. If there are any delays, the interest is covered by the not-for-profit,” he said.
    Anne Stillman, head of the committee, said it’s standard for reimbursement grants to take some time.
    She added that the organization has just started raising the $500,000 it needs to conduct studies and restore the house. Half that money will come from grants.
    “We’re just thrilled the property was saved,” Stillman said.

  12. I am happy that the City of Rye spent a million dollars to “save” the Byrd property. Once again as I stated to City hall and its administrators, the City would rather invest in inanimate objects than invest in their employees. That money could have gone to hire more Police Officers and replenish the ranks that are now at an all time low. The million dollars could have been used to settle contracts for Police, Fire and Depart. Of Public works unions. Yet the City of Rye spends monies, that there is no guarantee of recouping, hanging its hat on Grant money. Instead the City of Rye spends monies for brand new flagstone steps for City hall, a brand new roof for the Square house and the Byrd property. I as the Police union president am only concerned with people, human beings, employees of the City of Rye. Employees who to date have no contract, that are Parents, taxpayers and play an important part in the economy of Westchester. When will City Hall change its practice of investing in inanimate objects and start investing in the employees, people that perform important services with pride. We shall see if the new Mayor and City council change this practice and invest in us. Happy New Year to all your families,

    Franco Compagnone
    President; Rye Police Benevolent Association


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