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Home Government Rye People: Rye Mayor Steve Otis (Part 2 of 2)

Rye People: Rye Mayor Steve Otis (Part 2 of 2)

Today we have our second installment of our interview with Steve Otis, Rye's mayor since 1998 who is going for "four more" (see our first installment here).

Here Otis gives Rye a B+ on flood mitigation and an A for fiscal responsibility. You'll also find out what hockey position Otis plays and where and when he and his wife used to write restaurant reviews.

Rye sustained $80 million in damage in the April 15, 2007 flood.  Is Rye prepared for the next “100 Year” flood? What are the most important things we need to do to prepare, how much will they cost and how should Rye pay for them?

1. Implement the current phase of flood repair and mitigation projects. Most of these costs will be supported by outside funding from federal, state, or county governments. These projects are completed or near approval for construction.

2. Identify and implement the next phase of projects where costs will be higher, the need for outside funding even greater, and our reliance on cooperation of upstream municipalities and other levels of government will be more critical. It will take a detailed knowledge of all facets of the flooding issue and the ability to work with the decision-makers at every level of government to be effective going forward.

3. We need to continue to seek an increased commitment from county, state, and federal governments for funding to assist municipal flood mitigation projects. I advocated that the county establish a funding program to assist local flood mitigation projects. Rye will now be among the first to benefit from that $50 million in five-year commitment by the County.  The existing programs will not meet the need for funding in NYS or Westchester. I will continue to advocate for new programs and new funding to help communities like Rye.

Teachers in Rye public schools have been operating without a contract for over two years due to a stalemate between Rye’s Board of Education and the Rye Teacher’s Association. What specifically should be done to resolve this stalemate, if anything?

In municipalities outside of NYC, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers, local governments have no jurisdiction over the schools. We work well with our local schools on areas where we overlap, such as shared recreation facilities, traffic safety, cable television and issues affecting young people. We always hope for a resolution that supports quality education and protects the taxpayer at the same time.

Grade Rye’s handling of the following issues over the last two years on an A, B, C, D or F scale [general Rye City council and staff performance, not specific to one person].

Flooding and flood mitigation (Bowman Avenue dam, Elm Place Wall, Central Avenue Bridge, etc.) –  B+

Rye is ahead of most flood-damaged communities in project implementation and in identifying plans for the next phase of mitigation projects. All phases of flood mitigation and repair involve complex layers of permitting and approval by other entities so the pace of all projects is not set by Rye. We continue to have outstanding success in securing outside funds whenever we can. In addition to flood mitigation the emergency responders (police, fire, DPW, City staff, EMT) have been excellent. (see above for more detail on flooding)

Fiscal responsibility including taxes, budgeting and labor relations (Overall budget, taxes, litigation) - A

Rye has a Aaa bond rating, rare in NYS. We have addressed declining elastic revenues aggressively with cuts and by creating our Recession Task Force. Our municipal tax level is among the lowest of any municipality in Westchester and only 16% of the property tax bill. Recent contracts have included cost effective changes in health coverage and we will seek cooperation in future contracts to address reduced revenues because of the economy. The scrutiny we give to the budget process is more intensive than most municipalities. We have been recognized as a leader for our financial reporting and providing public access to key financial reports and documents. (see Financial Reports at www.ryeny.gov) Rye has a long history of frugal operation through constant review of our structure, use of job merging, and success in seeking outside funding to complete community projects. I played a key role in Rye’s successful defense of a $50 million lawsuit brought by Home Depot and will take a strong position to defend Rye against other lawsuits that seek to take advantage of City taxpayers.

Public works including condition of sidewalks and roads and snow, leaf, garbage and recycling removal (no grade)  

The current Council has made infrastructure a priority rebuilding Theall Road, repaving and redesigning the Boston Post Road and increasing annual spending on road repaving and overcoming opposition to infrastructure repairs by some no longer on the Council. Our pavement management study demonstrated that delay costs taxpayers money and we continue at an increased pace but at one taxpayers can afford. Our solid waste and recycling program is one of the best in the county with consistency in service a key to success. Our DPW staff does an excellent job in snow removal and in emergencies.

Safety including policing, fire and traffic (no grade)

Traffic safety has been a major priority with the creation of the innovation Traffic and Transportation Committee and with our partnerships with the Rye YMCA Activate America Program, the Safe Rides to Schools program, our Trailways Committee, and our school districts. Many improvements have been implemented, especially around the schools. Our innovative “Road Diet” for the Boston Post Road has been a success. I have been involved in all of these efforts including our efforts to obtain outside funding for improvements.

Rye benefits from dedicated individuals serving us in the police and fire departments. Over the past decade we have rebuilt two long ignored firehouses and renovated parts of the police station. The police headquarters and courthouse require substantial renovation to comply with current standards which I support being accomplished in phases while seeking outside funding where possible to limit the cost to Rye taxpayers.

Schools including quality and labor relations (no grade)

We have outstanding schools, but this is not under the jurisdiction of the City government.
Public recreation including parks and recreational programs  With the addition of the Thruway Field project, we will have increased the number of playing fields from 6 to 10 when completed. I have made implementation of the Recreation Master Plan a priority and have led the effort to get projects implemented, especially the new fields at Disbrow Park and Rye Nursery. We have added new parkland at four locations, expanded the Duck Pond at Rye Town Park, saved the Rye Nature Center from closure and used outside funding wherever possible to meet our goals.

What are your three greatest contributions to Rye?

Using my knowledge and experience earned over 29 years in public service,  have brought innovation and results for Rye that others would not be able to accomplish.

1. Enhancing Rye through new athletic fields, traffic safety improvements around the schools, innovation to create the Traffic and Transportation Committee and the Rye Senior Advocacy Committee, acquisition of key recreation, flood control, environmental and historic parcels often with significant assistance from outside funding, improvements at Rye Town Park financed through private/public partnerships, rehabilitation of two firehouses, one police firing range, restoration of Whitby Castle, and leadership for Rye in flood mitigation and emergency management policies and projects.

2. Financing Rye through strong fiscal management, Aaa bond rating, finding alternatives to property taxes such as Rye’s Hotel tax (the first municipal hotel tax in Westchester approved by the state), strong and open financial reporting, our innovation in job merging and reorganization through the Job Reduction Review Policy, ability to secure millions of dollars in outside public and private funding to make community projects a reality, and the strong actions we took to address the economic downturn last year. These include adopting a 2009 budget that was $1.1 million lower than the 2008 budget, making additional cuts in 2009 to match elastic revenue reductions with spending reductions, and through creation of the Recession Task Force to plan for the ongoing economic challenges we face.

3. Defending Rye against threats to our community, our neighborhoods, or our community organizations. I have been the leading advocate in Westchester against the proposed Long Island Sound Highway Tunnel that would bury Westchester highways in additional traffic from Long Island and led the City’s seven-year legal strategy to
successfully win City defense against $50 million Home Depot lawsuit. When Rye neighborhoods are threatened by flooding, cell towers, traffic or organizations threatened with closure such as the Rye Nature Center I have been a tireless advocate to protect our community and will continue to use all my knowledge and experience to do so.

What are the three best reasons to live in Rye?

1. Rye benefits from a strong sense of community based upon volunteerism, quality not-for-profits, and a dedicated City government supported by professional staff and volunteers all working together to enhance and support the activities of our town.

2. Rye continues to preserve the natural, physical, environmental, historical and architectural characteristics that make our town special.

3.  Rye benefits from a well-run municipal government with policies established by an elected City Council (our current Council stresses nonpartisan merit-based decision-making and public participation.) and implementation delegated to a nonpolitical professional staff.

Where can we find you on a Saturday morning?

On Saturday and Sunday mornings in the winter, I play goalie for the Rye Ranger’s Men’s Hockey team. I enjoy walking our dogs seven days a week. Generally on weekends I juggle community events, work, and family activities.

What are your three favorite restaurants in Rye that deliver?

One great change in Rye over the last decade is the growth in food options. I am very excited about the fact that Rye is now the home to many great restaurants and casual food offerings. My wife Martha and I wrote a restaurant review column together in college and good food continues to be important to us today.  We do not get food delivered but have done take-out from just about every restaurant in Rye. I want all of them to succeed and recommend them highly to Rye residents and visitors alike.

Where do you live in Rye?

Martha and I have lived at our house on Lynden Street, off of Forest Avenue since 1990. Before that we lived in downtown Rye in the Arcade building. I grew up in Harrison and attended Rye Country Day School.

How else are you involved in the community?

• Mayor, City of Rye 1998-present.
• 29 Years Experience in State Government.
• I have worked with and supported the efforts of practically every not-for-profit organization in Rye.
• Westchester County Flood Action Task Force, Member
• Rye YMCA Activate America Committee, Member
• Westchester Municipal Officials Association, former President, long-time executive committee member
• Long Island Sound Watershed Inter-municipal Council, Vice Chair
• Rye Conservation Commission, Former Chairman
• Westchester County Environmental Mgt. Council, Former Vice Chair
• Audubon NY, Stewardship Committee, Member
• Rye Recycling Committee, worked to establish recycling in Rye in the 1980’s
• Established the innovative City of Rye Traffic and Transportation
Committee to convert citizen recommendations on traffic safety
problems into implemented improvements.
• Established Senior Citizen Advocacy Committee to better serve
senior citizens.
• Rye Project Impact, Co-Chair, Nationally recognized emergency
preparedness program.
• Beaver Swamp Brook Inter-municipal Working Group, co-founder.
• NYS Association of Conservation Commissions, Board of Directors, long-time member
• Played a key role in saving the Jay property from development, City acquisition of Rye Nursery, the Rye Meeting House, the Bird Homestead, expansion of the Duck Pond at Rye Town Park, and the addition of new recreation fields.
• In the last year used my experience and knowledge to win county $1.2 million grant for Rye’s Bowman Avenue Sluice-gate Project, secure $1 million in grant funding for purchase of the Bird Homestead property at no cost to Rye taxpayers, won NYS Thruway Authority approval for Rye to lease their parcel on the Boston Post Road for use as an additional recreation field, and assisted the September 11th Memorial Committee in securing approval for the September 11th Memorial Gazebo project.

Tell us your contact information:

Your web site:  website will be launched in the fall
Your phone: Home 967-8152
Your email address: steveotisrye@verizon.net

Thanks Steve!


  1. Here is an example of how the Vice Chair of the Long Island Sound Watershed Inter-municipal Council allows sewage to enter the Long Island Sound from “his” Community.


    It appears to me, this is just one more committee the mayor has involved himself in, just to put another notch on his belt. His only concern is going to Albany and taking Oppenheimer’s place when she steps down. If his real concerns were about the environment he wouldn’t allow these issues to continue on “his” watch in “his” city. He has been here too long owes too many political favors and believes that he can get away with avoiding the laws put in place to protect the people and the environment.

  2. But wait – please tell us Mayor Otis – where are the unelected outside lawyers listed on your new “bipartisan” slate? You know – the people who now apparently run our little city thru closed door, closed to the public “consultations?” Where are they Mr. Mayor – and why aren’t they on your ticket?
    Outside lawyers look like they’ve got this current board of directors (er, city council) wrapped tightly around their fingers and the HUGE cash billings and the related reams of unnecessary litigation show that. As I recall Port Chester and Home Depot got preemptively sued by RYE – and you claim as a “victory” the fact that Rye didn’t lose its pants in that one? Puhlezze.
    Most businesses fail when litigation leadership syndrome starts. Instead of another puppet show, why aren’t you putting one of these lawyers, say Mr. Plunkett, on your ticket? If he was maybe forced to be paid like a regular city attorney how long do you think he’d hang around?
    We HAVE the money folks – we pay BREATHTAKING taxes – we can pay for MOST OF OUR OWN infrastructure problems (and not always be hat-in-hand for redistributed conditional long delayed dollars).
    Being spent poor only increases the power of one man in this city.

  3. Ray Tartaglione (mr Flot)
    Blah blah
    Answer the question..Did you violate the law regarding your septic system? Or are is it just another lie ??
    Flush! Flush! and Flush!!!!!!!!!!

  4. This is Otis’s idea of open and transparent government. Once again Otis refuses to provide documents concerning the former CVS building. Taxpayers paid for the former CVS building and $25,000 for a study yet Otis refuses to release the study.
    I believe Otis is intentionally concealing details of the CVS purchase and subsequent study out of fear of embarrassment which will fatally injure his campaign.
    This FOIL request was submitted a month ago. The FOIL Law is clear where Otis had 5 business days to provide this response and he took a month instead.
    I find it disgusting that Otis touts open government and transparency when in fact his record is very clear that he is for closed government and secrecy.
    Anyone who openly misleads and lies to the public does not deserve to be our Mayor.
    September 22, 2009
    Dear Mr. Chittenden:
    This response is being sent on behalf of all Records Access Officers addressed in your e-mail FOIL request.
    The document received by JCJ Architecture is in draft form and is unavailable to the public.
    August 19, 2009
    Dear Records Access Officers of the City of Rye:
    (1) Please email the following records if possible:
    All invoices from JCJ Architecture.

  5. Mimi Otis is claiming a victory in the Home Depot case?

    The next time I am on Midland Avenue in Port Chester I will have to double check if Home Depot is there or not. The last time I checked it was. What a “victory” for Mimi Otis.

    I believe the “victory” Mimi Otis refers to costs the taxpayers a few million dollars and it was to defend the Mayor and Council, not the taxpayers.

    Any guesses who the Attorney for Rye was?

    I notice Otis has removed the Beaver Swamp he helped create from his campaign propaganda.

    Mimi Otis doesn’t commit to anything in his responses. He only wants to talk about Mimi.

    We want a Mayor who let’s a competent City Manager run our City. It is clear why you have brought us so many of these idiot City Managers. You want them as your taxpayer paid stooges.

    We are tired of hearing your B.S. Mimi. Go away. Go back to Harrison where you came from.

  6. Hey Mimi – Right on target again!

    I to could swear that Home Depot is in Port Chester and that the deadly traffic flows confidently predicted by experts on Peck Avenue in Rye didn’t materialize post construction. The Amico’s son got killed on Midland Avenue – and by someone NOT going to Home Depot. Do you think the Otis Administration could test – just test – a $300 stop sign there? Heck, Kevin Plunkett makes that much and more from our pockets just when checking his Blackberry at any given Rye City Council meeting.

    I also note a very much subdued rendition in this above mock-u-mentary of self appraisal about Mr. Otis’s environmental stripes and all he’s done to protect the local environment.

    Hen Island, Schubert’s Pond, Beaver Swamp Brook and much more – stand as moldy testaments to his “deep experience” and “unwavering commitment” to the environment.

    True leadership here, honest leadership, is I think likely to be found in the presently neutered ranks of the CCAC. Mr. French, if elected, would do well by us all to support the remaining CCAC members – all solid democrats btw I think – and give them his immediate support in restarting their mandate.

  7. I have a couple of comments. Regarding the Shubert pond – why hasn’t anyone asked why it took the naturalist two years to come forward? Was it that she made the whole thing up? Was she also a disgruntled employee as so many of you are? It is so easy to say Shew lied. But he was just doing his job. Shubert’s expert didn’t say that the neighbor’s drywall was 100% the reason the pond dried up. Regarding the stop sign on Midland – nobody should ever lose a child. The truth is that children do stupid things. Mr. Amico’s pain is very real but there could have been a stop sign every 10 feet and the child still rode his bike in front of a non-speeding car. The only thing that could have prevented his death was that he should have been more careful. Nobody was to blame for his death. A stop sign would not have made a difference. Speeders in Rye are everywhere – can all the bloggers say they have never gone over the speed limit? As for the shift-change with regards to crossing guards – the PBA is a union. Don’t they have to agree to changing schedules? You can’t just say to someone you are changing their hours if they are in a union. Let the PBA take a vote and see if they agree to change their hours. See how many of them care to be crossing guards. I think there are probably only a handful of you that write all these blogs. For the most part they are hurtful and full of lies. Do you not have anything better to do then to try to ruin Rye’s reputation.

  8. Honest Citizen – we’re so glad you’re here, feeding us such delicious embattled administration slime! I know you’re just getting started but we really can’t wait to see more.

    Regarding Schubert – have you or anyone else found the Gate’s Wetland and Watercourse Permit yet? I believe the environmental studies required to be generated in that expensive document should put to rest the water flow diversion or non-diversion issue directly. Please attach it to your reply and ask if the City Manager would post it to the City website.

    Regarding O Paul Shew – I’m pleased you agree with all of us that an independent investigation of the underlying facts surrounding the missing Gate’s Wetland and Watercourse Permit and the crisis center call on Schubert by Shew and its aftermath is warranted and necessary. Nobody believes Shew acted alone. This independent investigation will bring all of the parties into deposition including the one you just mentioned in your allegation.

    Regarding the Amico’s – I’m discouraged you use the word “stupid” when speaking about a dead child – it’s disrespectful to him and his living, grieving parents. But your use of the word does accurately reflect what the community sees in you and the others up there on the council bench. Don’t you think “accident” and “accidental” are better descriptors of the facts here? Doesn’t that mirror what the police report indicated?

    Regarding the PBA – it’s great to see you try and spin this into an organized labor thing but in all my years here never has there been such a lopsided vote by the rank and file against their assigned management team. I wonder what the secret ballot of the other City employees would show if such a vote was allowed?

    Regarding our Voices – I’m so glad you’ve brought up the subject of lies. Do you know it’s a word that this sitting administration doesn’t want to hear? Really. Citizen taxpayers are admonished for using it in public. I wonder why? Rude you say? Not conducive to proper public discourse? Unfashionable, uncouth, impolite, crude? What MS in Polly Sci phrase or word do you prefer – incomplete story, partial picture, inaccurate, factually incorrect?

    Regarding our Ranks – it’s comforting to know you feel secure in your numbers and that we only represent a vocal minority. We will not disabuse you of this notion. Don’t worry about a thing.

  9. If you read and re-read carefully you will be able to pick up on Mimi’s careful choice of words.

    In paragraph one under the flood report issues he says;

    “Most of these costs will be supported by outside funding from federal, state, or county governments”.

    Instead of saying “these costs will be” he should be saying “these costs will have to be because I have taken all the taxpayers monies and wasted it”!!!

    In paragraph two he says;

    “It will take a detailed knowledge of all facets of the flooding issue and the ability to work with the decision-makers at every level of government to be effective going forward”.

    What he is trying to sell us on here is that he is the only one capable of getting this done and if we vote him out we can’t move forward on this without his vast knowledge.
    Pretty funny considering not a thing has been done yet since we are broke because of him and have to rely on outside funding!!! Otis hasn’t accomplished one thing on this subject and can’t prove that he has. All things considered are we really going to take him at his word??? I SAY NO!!!

    On the subject of the Teachers contract he says;

    “In municipalities outside of NYC, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers, local governments have no jurisdiction over the schools”.

    What he saying here is that he has no opinion and will not get involved. Okay, so the Mayor has no jurisdiction, given the circumstances a Mayors opinion might go along way and he should try to help as should any Mayor!
    It definitely can’t make matters any worse!

    He grades himself with an “A” for Fiscal Responsibility. OMG- YOU HAVE GOT TO BE JOKING!!!

    He gives no grade for public works and I for one would like to know WHY NOT??? He seems to have an awful lot of good things to say here so why not put a grade on it? mmmmmm sounds like this one is scripted!!! Is Otis as Mayor not in the know? Shouldn’t he be?
    I SAY YES!

    On Public Safety he gives no grade! This shows you how much he really cares about our safety and our childrens safety! BTW- I probably wouldn’t grade myself either if I deserved a failing grade!!!

    Otis goes on to say;

    “Traffic safety has been a major priority with the creation of the innovation Traffic and Transportation Committee and with our partnerships with the Rye YMCA Activate America Program, the Safe Rides to Schools program, our Trailways Committee, and our school districts. Many improvements have been implemented, especially around the schools”.

    Traffic Safety has been a major priority??? Where were your priorities before people started to get hit by oncoming traffic?
    Traffic Safety was never his priority and never will be!!! If it had been children would not be getting struck by cars and ending up in the hospital or a cemetery!!!
    “Many improvements have been implemented, especially around the schools”.???
    Mayor Otis, We have 3 very busy Elementary Schools here in Rye, can you please talk about the projects that have been completed around & for them??? Let me help you out with this one – “ZERO”!!!
    The only school in Rye that gets any attention is the RHS/RMS!!!
    What kind of non-sense are you trying to sell here!!!
    Do as you wish but don’t use our children as your crutch!!!

    He also boasts about being responsible for bringing Rye the Hotel Tax. I’m almost positive that I read & heard somewhere that a former City Council member was responsible for this.

    Since Otis is so big on helping around here I think he should hold a charity event. What do you say Steve?
    How about this: “A DAY ON THE ICE WITH STEVE”
    You play your favorite position and any Rye Taxpayer can line up and take slap shots on goal so this way you can see what a “SLAP IN THE FACE” is all about!!!

  10. Honest “Stupid” Citizen,
    How courageous of you to refer to my son as “STUPID”.
    I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name, can you repeat it for us?
    Stupid would actually be an act committed by you for revealing your identity!!!

    Along with the other heartless pieces of garbage that have the audacity to even utter a word on here in a negative tone on the death of my son you are a COMPLETE ***!!!

    Had I known my son was not going to survive I would have asked him in between his MEDICATED COMA what happened. Since I did not, I, no more than you or any other *** that cares to comment on the subject knows what really happened.
    Maybe he lost control of his bike, maybe he was blinded by the sun, maybe 82yr.old drivers should pay attention or maybe they shouldn’t be driving at all, and maybe just maybe if there was a Stop Sign in place where it should have been for years we wouldn’t be having this conversation!!!
    What facts do you know about the situation to call my son STUPID???

    HOW DARE YOU!!!!!

    I have a SMART question for you; when your driving and you are approaching an intersection with a STOP SIGN what do you do??

    Do you consider Kate Emanuel’s daughter STUPID also???
    After all she was also STUPID enough to try and cross a busy street!
    2 years prior to Jarrid’s accident I had a dog with $5,000 worth of training into him. One day he ran out into the street and was killed by some maniac flying down Midland Ave. Now he was STUPID!!! Care to take a guess what intersection this occurred at?
    Not long before that my Mom stopped to let a boy about Jarrid’s age cross the street, after playing cat & mouse with this child she decided to go and so did the boy, she struck him with her car. Care to take a guess what intersection this occurred at?
    Just recently my Mom was coming out of an intersection, as she slowly creeped forward she heard my Father scream to her to STOP because there was some lunatic driving at the speed of light! Care to take a guess what intersection this occurred at?
    And in 1957 a little girl about Jarrid’s age was also killed by on coming traffic just one block up on Midland Ave.


  11. Sorry linus – that’s not a complaint, that’s an answer.

    Maybe it was The Easter Bunny who peed on your lantern? He and his gang from your unhappy island are good at committing felonies now in Rye’s residential districts so wetting a lantern would be nothing to them.

  12. Linus,
    Which one of these sewage systems do you own?
    Is it this one that is connected to the blue garbage can in the upper left hand corner of the picture?
    or is it this one near the Greenhaven Homeowners Association beach?
    Below is a picture taken standing atop of the sewage pit near the Greenhaven Homeowners Association beach, just to give you an idea how close your effluents are.
    Do you think the people in Greenhaven are happy knowing they are swimming with your Floatie’s?
    Just think about all the taxes Greenhaven pays and Otis still lets you pollute!!!!!!!

    Jack A. (Mr. Floatie’s ass-istant)

  13. Jack,
    I think you are wrong. I think he owns the one below, (the last remaining outhouse in Westchester County).

    If not he may own this one, which also faces Greenhaven. But if he owns this one he must be Ben Minard the president of Hen Island. Minard’s system is only seven feet from the waterline. In a two foot water table. I wonder why Otis allows this to continue.

  14. Some quotes of interest to look back on from this string –

    Paraphrased from “Mimi Otis” –

    “(Mr.) Otis doesn’t commit to anything in his responses. He only wants to talk about (himself). We want a Mayor who lets a competent City Manager run our City. It is clear why you have brought us so many of these idiot City Managers. You want them as your taxpayer paid stooges.”

    There is a strong ring of truth here Mimi – this gets at the core of Mr. Otis’s administrative world view – he doesn’t give a fig for the rules – he just says he does.

    And straight from “honest citizen” –

    “The truth is that children do stupid things. Mr. Amico’s pain is very real but there could have been a stop sign every 10 feet and the child still rode his bike in front of a non-speeding car. The only thing that could have prevented his death was that he should have been more careful. Nobody was to blame for his death. A stop sign would not have made a difference.”

    Such casually cruel, condescending speech reflects the character of the writer – an incumbent administration admirer if not member. Is it any wonder so many of Rye’s most respected citizens turn up repeatedly at City Hall to challenge this administration’s policies and pratfalls?

    And from me –

    “We HAVE the money folks – we pay BREATHTAKING taxes – we can pay for MOST OF OUR OWN infrastructure problems (and not always be hat-in-hand for redistributed conditional long delayed dollars). Being spent poor only increases the power of one man in this city.”

    The French slate has a lot of astonishing material to work with here.

  15. TedC,
    My sentiments exactly.
    Why on earth would bloggers like “honest citizen”,or “nonpartisan” write such insensitive, disgusting,revolting things like that unless they are trying to gain by it?
    Of course they knew it would eat my alive to read such crap and I would not ignore it. What parent in my position would?

    They are cowards and have proven so by disappearing after my response. In both responses to these inhuman pieces of trash I asked a couple of questions and I am still waiting for the answers!!!

    Maybe they are looking up my address so they can answer the questions in person!

  16. So Otis wants to grade himself but refuses to grade the Police, Fire, DPW and our schools. That’s how twisted and political Otis has become. The four major costs to the taxpayers and Otis has no comment.

    How about a comment about Shew and Novak?

    What are the REAL advantages to a Aaa bond rating other than Mimi repeating it until we all puke?

    Mimi Otis turned every question from MyRye into his own propaganda opportunity. Mimi couldn’t even say what restaurants he orders out from without going into a mememememememememe self promotion.

    I cannot understand Mimi Otis refusing to comment on anything to do with the schools. The teacher contract issue has been out there for a very long time. Is it because Mimi never had any kids so screw everyone else in Rye who did?

    I think Mimi Otis should make a real lasting legacy on Rye and just leave. He can go back to Harrison with his beloved huskies.

  17. Mimi,
    Have you seen this one? Instead of enforcing the sewage and potable water laws on Hen Island to protect the people, the environment and get rid of my Floatiemobile, Otis and his high priced city attorney tries to inconvenience everyone in Rye by enacting new parking ordinances.

    When Joe Sack exposes the mayor’s illegal and self serving (ME,ME,ME,ME) plan he decides to table the law. Watch his face after Joe Sack exposes him; he is so hot; you could fry an egg on his little head.


  18. Mimi, it is going to seem like I am supporting Otis here, but I am not. But some of your points are off-base. You ask what good is a Triple A rating for the city of Rye? That is from an independant bond rater that looks at the city’s finances and opines on its quality. An AAA rating is like you having the best credit score. The biggest benefit is it allows you to borrow at the lowest rates available. Every municipality needs to borrow funds (even if it is to purchase the old CVS building!).

    Of course Otis going to blow his own horn — this is an election! He is a politician– that’s what they do. Both candidates will. Watch.

    As for not commenting on the school system, he and Doug French said the same thing: The school board (and school taxes) are a totally seperate entity from the city. Might as well ask them what they think of how Playland is run. It has nothing to do with the election.

    I respect your comments, and hopefully you will respect mine. I’m not here to get called names (like other posters do), just to have a dialogue about the city we both love.

  19. AAA ratings ain’t what they used to be average citizen.

    The agencies are now getting their clocks cleaned for a reason – that reason being they sold their integrity for dollars just a few short years ago.

    Rye City’s rating may be totally legit – I for one certainly hope so.

    But after looking at the apparent lies handed to me in a FOIL this spring, I tend to see things coming out of this administration in a very different light.

  20. Don’t ever underestimate a AAA rating.

    As for your FOIL info, you’d better do something with it. The election is what, six weeks away? Get that info out to us so that we can make an informed decision when we pull the lever!

  21. I’m confused on how much informed facts a citizen needs to make an informed decision?

    And yes, both Otis and French have clearly stated that it is not their position to comment on the Teachers Contract dispute.

    No one is disputing that, what I want to know is as a parent and or a Mayor why not try to help. The way I see it how much could it possibly hurt.

    Maybe their unheard opinion would go a long way, but we shall never know because it is not in their job description.

    Sorry, but I completely disagree on this!

    FTR- Politicians do have a habit of tootn their own horn.
    But how can Otis toot his horn to his favor on facts that have been clearly proven otherwise???

  22. Average citizen,

    My FOIL of all documents concerning the Schubert/Gates construction issue resulted in the production to me of – exactly 5 sheets of paper. And I have a witness to everything I saw and we were of course suspicious that data was being withheld.

    Then former City Naturalist Chantal Detlefs (in a bombshell exclusive interview with The Rye Record) stated said she had TOLD Rye City Manager Paul Shew 3 years ago that the Gates property was a wetland and that a WETLAND PERMIT (and all its related scientific studies) should have been required before any Gates backyard construction permission was granted.

    Then the council actually decided to do some real investigative work on the issue (other than to just badger and berate Bob Schubert repeatedly and publicly) and demanded that Paul Shew produce the same information I had previously FOILed.

    Low and behold – the stack of paper held up on the council bench at the very next meeting was – an inch thick. Mr. Shew got challenged by me immediately on the apparent difference and Shew countered on the record that my FOIL “scope” was limited – and that the Council had expanded it. I don’t buy it for a minute.

    Now the prime witness – my prime witness – Paul Shew – sits under a convenient legalistic “cone of silence” – complements of Mr. Plunkett and other litigiously creative elements of The Gang of Steve.

    So average citizen – how should I “get that info out” so that the public can “make an informed decision” before they “pull the lever?”

  23. Ted, you have clearded that up.

    I think even you would admit that the “average citizen” couldn’t deduce that from your original post. All you said was that you have information. I wasn’t challegning you, just asking for more details. You have provided some.


    P.S. I’m sure if you scanned the docs that you FOILed, that they could be posted here. It would be interesting to read.

  24. Ted C:

    Did you see this story about Mimi Otis and Culross in the Journal News today?


    Do you know if Mimi Otis settled Shew’s lawsuit yet and if he did, how much did it cost the taxpayers in legal fees and the actual settlement?

    Did Mimi Otis use taxpayer money to cover his and Plunkett’s actions in the Schubert/Shew coverups?

  25. Mimi –

    I did see it – hard to miss it right there on the front page of this countywide publication.

    For those of you locally who missed it here’s the headline –

    “Rye city manager earns $198K while collecting pension for same job.”

    And here’s an interesting paragraph from the article itself –

    “Besides earning $198,400 a year – making him one of the highest-paid city managers in Westchester County – Culross also receives $6,424.39 a month from his pension from his first stint as city manager, according to the state Comptroller’s Office. Both incomes total $275,492.68 annually before taxes.”

    Ludicrous you say? Oh yes.

    But actually Mr. Culross is not the highest paid administrator presently sitting on the City Council bench. For that honor, one needs to look directly to Mr. Culross’s right to where the Mayor’s favorite esteemed (now embattled) corporate council sits.

    According to the hard fought FOIL-ed data, Mr. Plunkett apparently banked over $280K of Rye taxpayer money in 2008 and has extracted over $1 million in just the past 4 years. This doesn’t even count Mr. Plunkett’s Rye City retirement plan contributions or his Rye taxpayer fully paid medical coverage.

  26. Ted C:

    I have to agree with you on Plunkett.

    How is it that whatever firm Plunkett has to be working for at the time is somehow the firm that Mimi Otis usually hires to do Rye’s legal work based on Plunketts own legal advice?

    Isn’t this double dipping too?

    Culross retired in 2000. How much was Culross paid by Mimi and the City of Rye from 2000 up until becoming Rye’s City Manager again in May 2009?

    You can try FOILing W-2’s and 1099’s for Culross but they do not exist.

    Did Mimi Otis pay Culross as a consultant to a consultant firm to skirt Culross’s pension earning limits and or social security earning limits?

  27. Wow Mimi – those questions are surely loaded for bear!

    This Administration spends Rye taxpayer money like tap water while passing the hat for redistributed conditional grant monies from other jurisdictions.

    Imagine what people in other New York towns think about Rye City getting these infrastructure grants when stories like this one come out on the front page of the county newspaper.

    They likely think Rye City is run by politically craven spendthrift idiots deserving of not one thin dime of their own local monies taken unwillingly from them by a government in Albany for redistribution.

  28. Ted C:

    Excellent points. I can only imagine how angry people from around the County get reading about the crazy money, salaries and benefits paid to these idiots running our City and then seeing Mimi panhandling around the County for money for poor little Rye.

    How do you think the employees of Rye feel reading about the crazy money, salaries and benefits paid to these idiots running our City and then being told by Mimi that the City has no money for them and their families.

    Mimi Otis has ruined our City’s reputation.

    Mimi Otis has brought morale to all time lows by refusing to hold management responsible and by allowing management to trample the rights of Rye’s employees at will.

    Mimi Otis does not deserve to be Rye’s Mayor any longer.

  29. Right again Mimi – and so well put.

    Some people in Rye cling to the belief that Mr. Otis is so good at getting redistributed money (grants) that we as a community would be at a loss if he’s not reelected. And it’s no wonder that he constantly reinforces this Chimera.

    We HAVE the money folks – we pay BREATHTAKING taxes – we can pay for MOST OF OUR OWN infrastructure problems – and not always be HAT-IN-HAND for redistributed conditional long delayed dollars.

    Being spent poor increases the power of only one man in this city.

  30. Ted, are you saying we should bypass grant applications and just pay for everything ourselves?
    I admit I cannot even venture a guess of how much Rye has recieved in the past few years, but I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t a significant amount.

  31. Now that the election is quickly approaching, Mimi Otis is blaming Con Ed and the Water Company for the City of Rye not repairing the Theodore Fremd Avenue wall.

    Who dropped the ball on this one? After 2 1/2 years Culross and Pickup realized that there were utilities involved? Come on. Culross makes $275,000 and Pickup makes $150,000 and NOW they realize utilities are involved?

    It seems that Pratt is trying to leave his legacy with the Rye City Council with his usual self serving, pompous rants coming at increasing frequency and increasing lengths. Sorry George, you have already left your legacy and it ain’t pretty.

  32. Average citizen –

    We should not bypass grant applications but neither should we rely on them. In order not to be reliant on outsiders we need to stop wasting our own money right here, right now.

    There are multiple egregious examples of wasteful spending detailed in these MyRye strings. They add up to MILLIONS of dollars.

    What could we as a community of taxpayers have done with those millions?

    I think the current Mayor would likely try to apply for a grant to fund a prestigious outside consulting firm study of how to spend that surplus.

    Being spent poor increases the power of only one man in this city.


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