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Home Government Maverick or Lone Wolf? Sack Sees Missed Opportunities

Maverick or Lone Wolf? Sack Sees Missed Opportunities

Is Sack a Top Gun

Is Rye City Councilman a maverick or a lone wolf? At last Wednesday's city council meeting, Sack tried to push additional budget reductions that would have kept the budget flat – a zero percent increase – versus the 1% increase that was finalized. Sack – not the budget – was cut down in a 6-1 vote.

Today in a MyRye.com guest column, Sack talks about missed opportunites. What doe you think? Leave a comment below.

Missed Opportunities
By Councilman Joe Sack

At the year-end budget meeting, I voted for real change and bold action.  My council colleagues did not join me.

I voted for a "zero percent" tax increase.  After years of unsustainable tax increases, and especially in these tough economic times, with many Rye residents out of work or on fixed incomes, we needed to take the practical and symbolic step of keeping taxes flat.

I voted for structural reform to the City's law department.  As per the report I authored with Judge John Carey, in order to manage out-of-control legal bills we needed to require the corporation counsel to handle most litigation for a reduced flat retainer fee, instead of farming the work to expensive charge-by-the-hour outside counsel.

I voted to keep Rye Golf Club affordable.  With fees at our public golf and pool facility more than doubling in recent years, and with the cost of a family membership now significantly even more expensive than the average total City tax bill, we needed to keep rates down this year.

I voted to stand up to unfair treatment from Westchester County.  Faced with a contract that would require the City to snow plow the County's roads for a small fraction of what it actually costs us, rather than roll over in the hope of currying favor with them, we needed to set the tone that we won't be pushed around, especially when it comes to Playland.

And on all these items, I voted alone.  These proposals were all defeated, 6-1.

Although I am in the minority on the current council, my sense is that more Rye residents than not are sympathetic to these points of view.  In any event, it's what I think is right.  

16 COMMENTS

  1. Looks like Steve Otis was right when he predicted the new GOP team was all talk when they promised to get tough on taxes . Astorino is firing huge numbers at Country level . With many supporters expecting same , we get yet another tax increase .

    Looks like the new guys feel the need to be liked vs get things done . Looks to me like Rye needs a Tea Party group to stop the insanity .

  2. Don’t worry Joe; we’ll take care of the so called “law department.”

    Your colleagues have already allowed senior city staff to start a whispering campaign intimating that Rye’s former city naturalist lied under oath about the shenanigans in the Otis administration which brought all of us Schubert’s Pond -Year 6 and its cascade of huge and unnecessary legal bills. Tell them all to buckle up. The documentary evidence – some on Rye City letterhead – didn’t “disappear” after all. And it goes far beyond the honest testimony of a single very reluctant whistleblower.

  3. tedc

    Why won’t Council Sacks colleagues allow those senior city staff members to testify under oath about the shenanigans surrounding Otis, Shew, Pickup, Plunkett and Wilson in their handling of the Schubert ordeal?

    Why are French, Jovanovich, Parker, Keith, Fillippi and Gamache allowing taxpayer money to be used to further the coverup while protecting those responsible for it?

    Councilman Sack called for an investigation into the Schubert ordeal and was denied. I believe that vote was 6-1 as well.

  4. Yes Really?!? – the investigation voted down by the previous city council was the one we were told to expect by the new council.

    The Rye City Charter specifically provides for such an internal citizen led investigation (read: low cost, taxpayer aligned) because it was established by our city founders who, one suspects, knew a thing or two about special interests, political jobbery and dishonesty in the municipal sector.

    Retired Judge and former Rye City Mayor John Carey volunteered to help lead the investigation – and publically reached across the political spectrum for Republican Party support. He was rebuffed. The result was that costly lawsuits defense and court motions multiplied, the Planning Commission was prevented from holding a public wetlands hearing and senior city employees were gagged.

    Meanwhile, Messer’s Carey and Mr. Sack put a ton of unpaid hours into a detailed restructuring proposal for the Rye City legal department – a department twisted into unrecognizable shape and size by the diligent efforts of Steve Otis and Kevin Plunkett. It was greeted by the new council with public fanfare and support. Then it died a silent ignominious death over the summer and the result is a few nip’s and tucks around the edges and a midnight hour, last meeting of the year appointment of Mr. Plunkett’s former employee sans health benefits.

    Who’s kidding who?

  5. Is the New Corp. Council now going to handle all legal aspects concerning the City of Rye? or is the City going to continue to contract their Labor Attorney when it comes to Rye Labor contracts? Vince Tomey the City’s Labor attorney seems to never be mentioned. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been paid to Vince Toomey yet its never mentioned in open at City Council meetings. He was another of the City’s lawyers that worked in tandem with Plunket at their own selfseving interest. Plunket leaves to be Deputy dog in County Government and Vince is brought in to handle all the Labor negotiations for the County government, how convenient. The Arbitration process put forth concerning the Police contract Vince Toomey assigned himself to the panel and is having one of his junior lawyers in his firm litigate, thereby double billing the City of Rye taxpayers for 250-300 dollars per hour. Why is the New Corporation council not handing these labor matters? I thought the whole point to have an independent contractor was to save the City money ? Yet Vince Toomey and his double billing and unfair labor practice shinanigans goes unchecked….

  6. Is the New Corp. Council now going to handle all legal aspects concerning the City of Rye? or is the City going to continue to contract their Labor Attorney when it comes to Rye Labor contracts? Vince Tomey the City’s Labor attorney seems to never be mentioned. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been paid to Vince Toomey yet its never mentioned in open at City Council meetings. He was another of the City’s lawyers that worked in tandem with Plunket at their own selfseving interest. Plunket leaves to be Deputy dog in County Government and Vince is brought in to handle all the Labor negotiations for the County government, how convenient. The Arbitration process put forth concerning the Police contract Vince Toomey assigned himself to the panel and is having one of his junior lawyers in his firm litigate, thereby double billing the City of Rye taxpayers for 250-300 dollars per hour. Why is the New Corporation council not handing these labor matters? I thought the whole point to have an independent contractor was to save the City money ? Yet Vince Toomey and his double billing and unfair labor practice shinanigans goes unchecked….

  7. At least Joe did not turn Red in the face when it was discovered at the last Council meeting that the 33 Police Officers budgeted for INCLUDED 3 Lt.’s, 6 Sgt’s and 2 Detectives. Seems that Certain councilmen were led to believe that they had 33 Police Officers PLUS the Lt.’s, Sgt’s and Detectives. The Real Wolf is the person that led those Councilmen to believe the latter.

  8. Frenchdip:

    From 2001 thru 2008 Toomey and his law firm was paid $7,100,000 from Eastchester, Greenburgh, Rye, New Rochelle, Larchmont, Harrison, Sleepy Hollow, East Hampton, South Hampton Town and South Hampton Village.

    I’m sure there are many other towns not included above that are paying a lot more $$$ to Toomey and his law firm.

    If someone were to analyze the labor relations in each one of these towns that Toomey is the labor lawyer I wonder how many of them have very contentious labor/management relations. I wonder how much of it is instigated/facilitated by Toomey himself motivated by his own personal profit.

  9. Really?!?, divman, & Frenchdip –

    Ever stop to consider WHY Rye’s legal costs are so high? It’s because the city needs to defend against any and all legal challenges that are brought forth by plaintiffs- and there have been a large number of lawsuits filed by a very small number of parties, with one or two people filing multiple suits. You should be targeting those who bring forth the frivolous lawsuits, rather than the city council. Or are you arguing that the city should simply reduce the legal costs by caving in to these frivolous lawsuits, and if so, can you tell me of any other costs the city might incur as a result of such a shortsighted act?

    Regarding Judge Carey’s offer, remember the adage “you get what you pay for” – unlike unskilled labor like ditchdiggers, lawyers are not interchangeable. You really should hire specialists in order to get the best legal representation. Here’s a simple test for you:
    If you were mistakenly arrested for shoplifting, who are you going to call – A) corporate lawyer, B) criminal lawyer, C) divorce lawyer, or D) tax lawyer? (the truly obtuse may want to consult a lawyer for advice before answering).

    Additionally, while Judge Carey’s mind might still be as sharp as ever, his age leaves open the possibility that his services might not last a terribly long time. And while I have no doubt that his offer is an exceptional example of civic virtue, I don’t think he’s the most qualified lawyer available to the city in the field of municipal law.

  10. Matt,

    frivolous lawsuits? Why do “you” consider them frivolous? Who are you to make this judgment?
    Are all lost law suits frivolous! Just once it would be nice to see you “not defend” every comment made against your friends on the council!

    Can hardly wait to see what you have to say when the “frivolous” Schubert law suit BLOWS UP in their face costing us millions and the “frivolous” law suit brought on by two officers pounding on an 18yr.old!

  11. Above average –

    I was thinking about a certain former employee who filed a large number of lawsuits against the city, including civil rights lawsuits, in the hopes of having the city come to some sort of settlement. They were frivolous b/c of the nature of the complaint, and any reasonable person would conclude as such upon examination of the argument.

  12. December – about one year ago.

    In an office suite high above the mythical City of Frivolous, not far from Anywhere – in the County of Commentary & Opinion.

    – Great to see ya Doug, come on in!
    – Thanks. Nice view Kevin. I saw Rob’s office just over there – you’re right in the center of things.
    – You bet and there’s a lot to do and you’re gonna be a big part of some great stuff Doug.
    – Thanks Kevin – you know I’ll do my part like I promised.
    – Yeah that’s the spirit. Have a seat. Stuff is gonna move. Like, with you, no surprise, we’re done playing around with your $layland this year. Andy’s perennial pet is gonna get a big and I mean big haircut.
    – Right. You know I figured that was coming. I don’t know if my people are really prepared for the scope of it if you know what I mean.
    – Right. Well it’s always tough doing “the reveal.” You make promises, you break promises. You gotta tell ‘em – “life goes on.” Then ya snow ‘em come election time.
    – Yeah I mean I knew that when I got the party’s blessing to run.
    -It ain’t the party kid – it’s “our group” – the party is nothing to us.
    – Right, sorry, my mistake Kevin. How is Big George these days?
    – He’s doing great. We got this squeaky clean kid Harry all teed up to run for the big money office this year in Albania. Can’t lose. We’ll raise a ton of contributions and be right back on top come election eve.
    – That sounds really great Kevin. Just like your group did here with Rob. Now you and he can get all those deals switched over from Andy’s guys to yours.
    – You bet – now you’re talking. We can’t wait. Whoops, sorry about that. Waving my arms in here with these big piles of paper crap is dangerous. That Donald is such an egomaniac he sends these fully rendered architectural packages in almost every week and I just can’t find space for ‘em. Big waterfront locations in your town – there for the bidding – Doug, ya know I think it makes him a little nuts.
    – Yeah, um, right.
    – Look don’t be worried. We’ll have hearings upon hearings upon hearings and let everyone flap their lips to kingdom come. Then we’ll bring in our consultants to legitimize whatever works best for us and we’ll let you and a few others be the heroes and push back on our so called “overreach.” We’ll throw you the pre-arranged crumbs and you can take it out to everyone as a big win. Party first, right? (laughing heavily)
    – Yeah I guess that makes sense. You’re the master Kevin.
    – You’re damn tooting I’m the master. Just ask Steve. He got a ton of connections working for, er, with me.
    – Right. So you told me. Well and that brings up a little problem that we briefly discussed before. As in Steve getting knocked out by cronyism, constantly raising taxes and…The Old Vet.
    – Yeah. Well now that last one IS a sticky one. I’m a little personally exposed as you’ll come to find out and it’s not something I’m proud of. I always use others to do my bidding – you’ll find it’s useful to have lots of cover when steering these public boards – so many nebbishes – they make me insane – butt kissing day in and out – turning on the charm – what rubbish! I’m so done with it!
    – Right, I guess it takes its toll. But um, we’ve made promises, ya know, to end this thing with The Old Vet and the litigation you forced him to bring and of course to stop the cash drain in the legal department and save city jobs while cutting taxes this year.
    – Look Doug, I don’t have to tell you about promises again, do I?
    – No Kevin, that’s not what I meant. Promises are, I know, negotiable things when it comes to governing.
    – Right.
    – Really, Kevin it’s just that people are gonna find out just how much has been paid to you and your old firm on this thing and how many people are involved here and before you know it – if I can’t quickly and quietly pull the plug – this thing might blow.
    – Oh cut me a break! This is nothing that can’t be dragged out and obfuscated for freakin years. We’ve done this same shtick over in $reenburgh for almost a decade now – on a stupid zoning beef. Milked it dry and beyond. There’s just no way a federal judge is gonna rule against a municipality for multi millions with my name on the papers – wouldn’t freakin’ dare.
    – Yeah ok I hear you.
    – Yeah, hear me now and believe me always.
    -Right. But, ya know – and I know you know this – the guy is on to what went down. He’s going to subpoena people, depose people, find documents, put the pieces together.
    -Yeah and how is he gonna get justice in this state, “our” state?
    – Well sure, that’s a problem. But are you so certain about the federal court system?

  13. Well said tedc.

    Now that Rye has hired Plunkett’s protege Wilson and her new firm Harris Beach how long before she and her firm go after the Wainwright House using the same federal religious use law that Plunkett very unsuccessfully tried to use in Mamaroneck and Greenburgh?

    Perhaps it is ok for the politically connected Jay Homestead, the Bird people and other organizations to use their facilities for fund raising but not the Wainwright House.

    I wonder how much legal work Harris Beach gets from Plunkett at Westchester County.

    It seems to me like the plan is to get rid of Durland, Playland, Wainwright House, 25% of the Police force, and let Rye Town Park get used by 95% of non residents. In the meantime give away the Bird house and the Meeting House while buying CVS for $5,000,000 and renting it to Lesters for a fraction of market value.

    No wonder City of Rye government is morally and financially bankrupt.

  14. tedc, you forgot to mention one character, the Labor Attorney Vince Toomey on your “On the Waterfront” dialogue…guess who Charlie is? could be any one of these buffoons we mentioned. Rye politics right out of Hollywood, “It wasn’t him, Charley, it was you. Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, ‘Kid, this ain’t your night. We’re going for the price on Wilson.’ You remember that? ‘This ain’t your night!’ My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn’t have to take them dives for the short-end money. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Charley.”

  15. Frivolous Lawsuits? Given what I’ve been reading here and about the Rye Police Department on this blog and another article a friend just sent me from another local Rye blog, maybe eve more non-frivolous lawsuits are on their way. The abuse of power and sense of entitlement is beyond sad.

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