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Sack Grades Council, Looks Forward & Asks for MyRye.com Reader Ideas

Today in a MyRye.com guest column, Rye City Councilman Joe Sack looks back on 2010, forward to 2011 and asks for your comments.

By Councilman Joe Sack

Looking back on 2010, the year was marked by some welcome developments, including:

  • an increase in the number of residents who volunteered to participate on our boards and commissions.
  • the restoration of more stability to our city manager position, after a period of uncertainty.

But throughout the year, we also missed a number of important opportunities for real change, including:

  • a failure to make needed structural reform to our law department.
  • a failure to put up a fight to avoid upwards of 20 percent increases to our water bills.
  • a failure to prevent another bad deal on the Bird property at taxpayer expense.

Looking forward to 2011, we need to stay vigilant to make the right decisions, including:

  • ensuring that we look out for Rye's interests, and not the county's interests, when it comes to our quality of life issues with Playland.
  • ensuring that we take a closer, informed and detailed look at the budget before making more cuts.
  • ensuring that we pursue all options when it comes to halting or rolling back water rates.
  • ensuring that we keep Rye golf club affordable for our residents.

What is your view on our 2010 performance and our 2011 priorities?  Post your ideas here, or contact me at 914-886-2348 or jsack@sacklawfirm.com.

Thank you for your feedback.

26 COMMENTS

  1. We all know the truth behind the Schubert Pond DEBACLE!!! We want this settled without it costing us millions in legal fees by continuing to hide behind the truth!!!

    3 years ago there was a VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE against the Commissioner of Police. Why was this NEVER ADDRESSED and will it be???
    A well FUNCTIONING PD is a matter of PUBLIC SAFETY! You made a conscience decision to make PEDESTRIAN SAFETY a PRIORITY…..STICK TO THE SCRIPT!!!
    IGNORING the problems at the RPD “IS NOT” sticking to the script!!!

    You have made significant changes to fines, and well overdue, now it’s time to figure out a way to ENFORCE them!!!

    ENFORCEMENT , ENFORCEMENT , ENFORCEMENT!!!

  2. Well said Jimmy. Prior malefactors have succeeded in scaring and/or suborning the French Slate into inaction on their clean-up responsibilities. Credibility and trust are for now out the window.

    And on Schubert – Paul Shew didn’t operate in a vacuum. Especially when Nita Lowey’s office called on him to resolve the issues that day. Paul Shew executed a strategy. Others were part of it. Most of the senior management of this city is completely innocent of wrongdoing here but ALL are tainted by the maintenance of this cover-up. Documents show this. Documents thought to be destroyed but gathered anew from 3rd parties under court directives and at great expense. Documents and other evidence the new administration so far considers akin to Kryptonite.

    The finely articulated, deeply considered, ‘appeal and delay’ strategy of Rye City is now apparently for Mr. Schubert to – “Die Quickly.” The public knows this (widely) – and is revolted by it.

  3. Joe Sack..Please have the council focus on fixing the Central Ave. bridge. It never seems to be a topic of discussion. The traffic on the Post road at certain times is unbearable due to the limited access. It really has become almost comical how long the repair or replacement is taking. The bridge needs to be fixed!!! Please get it done!!!!!

  4. Jim, what do you want them to do regarding the ‘vote of no confindence?’

    Hopefully the mayor/city manager are constantly reviewing/monitoring all department heads and assessing their performance. What issues do you have that are directly attributable to the police commssioner?

  5. Avg.Citizen,

    THEY NEED, SHOULD, and are OBLIGATED to ADDRESS IT!!!

    There are reasons the Vote exists!!!
    I want Connors OUT & I am not alone!!!
    He doesn’t belong here, he never did!
    He has NO RESPECT for the MEN and WOMEN on the Police Force! And if he can’t respect and support what the RPD stands for than he obviously DOESN’T CARE about PUBLIC/PEDESTRIAN SAFETY!!!

    Do you support the RPD?
    Do you support Pedestrian Safety/Public Safety?

    Before Scott Pickup was assigned/hired as CITY MANAGER I was told that the NEW CITY MANAGER that has been chosen is prepared to do WHAT IS NECESSARY……IT IS NECESSARY, so what gives???

  6. Mr. Amico,

    You still didn’t give any reasons why the commissioner should leave. You want him out. That is not a reason. Could it be that you don’t like anyone in charge? Can it be you think you are better than everyone else in this town and laws don’t exist for you? I think the original vote was staged by an ex-officer that somehow got away with embezzling $250,000 from his own people.

  7. Honest Citizen,
    As for your ridiculous assumptions, I will not waste my time to address them!!!

    Why is it that every time I speak yo yos like yourself try and turn my words into a personal agenda?
    Every thing I say and do is in the best interest of every RYE CITIZEN

    Your words posted 12/10…
    “I couldn’t agree more. Public safety should always be the last thing you cut in a budget. If you lose police manpower because of forced retirement or restructuring of the department and then all of a sudden you need it, what happens then? People move to Rye because of what we have and offer. Don’t tell me that services won’t change. Why wasn’t eliminating one of the lieutenant’s positions mentioned? What happens if Det. Wood is busy on a burglary investigation and then some youth incident happens. You can’t have him 2 places in one time. How do you then prioritize the importance of whatever investigation he is working on and the youth problem”?

    Did you slip and fall and develop a case of Amnesia???

    How in the world do you keep an individual employed at the top of the PD whom doesn’t support the PD and what it stands for????????????????????????

    Honestly, do you even know the purpose served by a PD???

    Staged? Got away with??? If it was such a slam dunk he is guilty case, why did it go NOWHERE???

  8. Jim, I always support the RPD. They are tops in my eyes.

    You wrote: “He doesn’t belong here, he never did!
    He has NO RESPECT for the MEN and WOMEN on the Police Force! And if he can’t respect and support what the RPD stands for than he obviously DOESN’T CARE about PUBLIC/PEDESTRIAN SAFETY!!!”

    Would you mind expanding on your ‘reasons?’ To say he has no respect, nor does he support the RPD is a powerful statement. Without backing up your claims, I do not see how you arrive at that statement. I’m not asking you to justify your opinions to me, but if you are going to post these statements, then it would also be nice to hear some concrete examples.

    I know that you feel strongly about the PC and RPD, but as the last poster stated, because you want him out, isn’t a reason on its own.

  9. Avg,
    It’s obvious they are not gonna fire a Commissioner just bc I request so,DUH!

    Don’t get why I need to explain this!
    Isn’t everyone up to speed on all the issues brought forward by the RPD Members?

    Connors DOES NOT support the members of the RPD!!!
    If he doesn’t support the members then he doesn’t support PUBLIC SAFETY!!!
    He doesn’t care about the SAFETY of the RPD MEMBERS!

    He doesn’t PUBICLY address anything! Oh wait, I stand corrected….He googled COYOTES and gave a 1 hour presentation at a Council Meeting, WOW!!!

    We spend on avg. $500,000 a year on Overtime!!!

    I can go on and on, but I won’t!

    Let me ask you and honest citizen….do you want him here and why?????????????

  10. Do I want him here? Put it this way: I am satisfied with the Rye PD. I have zero issues with them. Are they perfect? Before I answer that, I’ll also ask if you and I are perfect.

    You don’t get why you need to explain why you feel Connors should be fired? On one hand, you’re right – you don’t need to. However, if you’re going to post this and not give reasons behind it, it loses its credibility.

    You say he doesn’t support the RPD or public safety, yet you say he spends $500,000 on OT. If he really didn’t care about the RPD or Rye residents, it would make more sense for him NOT to authorize the OT, thereby hurting both the officers and the residents. In addition, less OT would also make the mayor, council and city manager happy, thereby increasing his chances of continued employment.

    I’m not sure what prompts you to say that Connors doesn’t care about the safety of his officers. That is a strong statement, and other than asbestos (or mold?) being found in HQ, I haven’t read anything else where their safety was in jeopardy. I would be eager to hear of other safety issues that exist.

    Lastly, you mock him for “googling” coyotes. I don’t know about you, but I would not have thought less of him for not being up to speed on how to deal with the coyote issue. Face it, the coyote issue was a no-win situation for Rye. All it was going to do was cost the city a lot of money, one way or another.

    And FTR, I don’t know Connors, have never spoken with him, etc.

  11. Avg,

    “You don’t get why you need to explain why you feel Connors should be fired”?

    You took this the wrong way….what I mean is… IT’S OBVIOUS!

    You don’t think $500,000 on OT can be curbed considerably with better management?

  12. Mr. Amico:

    Connors refused to address dangerous mold and asbestos in the police station. In the last 10 years one officer has died, one almost died and 3 became seriously ill. I don’t know if they are all related to the unaddressed dangerous conditions, but they could be. The state issued Connors and the City of Rye citations for Connors handling of these dangerous conditions.

    Connors refused to address dangerous conditions involving the detaining of prisoners. The state corrections commission had to come in and issue citations to Connors and the City of Rye for his failures to protect the cops.

    Numerous times Connors has withheld vital information from his own cops exposing them to harm and liability.

  13. LegalFeesTooHigh,

    Thank You for the input.
    I wonder if this will satisfy the curious or maybe not since they think working in an environment that causes cancer is OKAY!!!

    What and who do you think is responsible for the EXCESSIVE OT SPENDING???

  14. Jim, I have no idea if the OT is excessive or not. Should RPD just hire five more officers? Would that resolve it? I honestly don’t know, but just because there is $500k of OT, is that automatically bad? I have no idea, and if you do, please let me know. I would love to hear Franco’s take on this.

    Again, I’m not supporting or deriding this amount — I just don’t know what it is being used for. OT is always needed. As a matter of fact, a well-oiled department will ALWAYS have OT. I really don’t think that you or I can definitively say whether it is high from abuse or just manpower shortage. Franco, are you OTA?

    And I’ve posted this before: why would Connors hand out excessive and unnecessary OT to the very people who gave him a vote of “no confidence?” Is he trying to curry favor?

  15. Fees, you wrote: “Numerous times Connors has withheld vital information from his own cops exposing them to harm and liability.”

    Can you expand on these instances. I would love to hear what they are. I am a huge supporter of the police, and if they are put in harm’s way unnessesarily, I would like to know more about it.

  16. Mr. Amico:

    First and foremost French and Pickup having no clue how many cops work at the Rye PD is as bad as it gets.How do they control overtime or anything else if they don’t have this basic knowledge. How can there be any credible oversight? There isn’t!!!!!!

    Stupidity rules the roost at the Rye PD when it comes to manpower deployment and scheduling. This has led to $$$$ millions of dollars for needless and avoidable overtime the last ten years that Connors has been here.

    Pickup seems to me to be in way over his head. French probably chose him so French can micromanage every aspect of city management. Their performance last night in trying to retroactively change their idiocy during the budget process was revolting.

  17. I’ll ask again…

    Fees, you wrote: “Numerous times Connors has withheld vital information from his own cops exposing them to harm and liability.”

    Can you expand on these instances. I would love to hear what they are. I am a huge supporter of the police, and if they are put in harm’s way unnessesarily, I would like to know more about it.

  18. Avg,

    That question was not for you, but thank you none the less.
    My opinion is…Poor Management!

    I never said or would say that OT is not necessary.

    Yes, a well oiled PD will have OT as well as a RUSTED POORLY MANAGED ONE!

  19. Joe,
    Who is responsible for this snow removal and WHEN is it going to be taken ca

    Why did the City Manager order Connors not to come to a Council meeting about the Rye PD?

    Where is the Central Ave bridge to nowhere?

    Why was paying off the CVS building more important than replacing a bridge vital to Rye’s transportation and a sluice gate that is key to the flood mitigation we need?

    Where are the repairs to the Theodore fremd wall?

    Where is the Sluice gate?

    Where is the $1,000,000 in grants for the bird?

    Why is the City Manager paying tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to prevent two subpoenaed public employees from testifying in a public court case?

    Why isn’t the Corporation Counsel handling the City’s unprecedented legal action to prevent two Rye employees from testifying in the Schubert matter instead of outside lawyer$$$$$?

    Does the Corporation Counsel have a conflict concerning the Schubert matter? If yes, what is the conflict?

    Councilman Sack,
    You have been asked many questions here since your post….How about posting some answers?

  20. Jim,

    While I sometimes write guest columns for MyRye, as you know I am not a “poster”. But you raise a fair point that my request for feedback has resulted in questions that seek responses. I may not have all the answers, but here is what I know and my own opinion for what it’s worth. I am sorry if you have posed these questions directly to other council members or city staff and have not heard back.

    Re: snow — I too have inquired about sidewalk snow removal and have been assured that the city is working its hardest to remove snow for which it is responsible, and writing tickets for resident non-compliance. However it seems that there are spots that have gone uncleared. As I have said in other situations (e.g., coyote tracking) public safety is a results-oriented endeavor and trying hard is not always good enough. Please send me off-line a list of the spots you identified. It could be that what we need to do in serious situations is — instead of just writing tickets — have the city clear a private spot and then send the bill to the owner.

    Re: Participation by department heads at public budget meetings –The city manager runs the city, and this is his prerogative. But I am a believer in the most transparency and information as possible, and I am confident that the next time around all necessary personnel will be present.

    Re: Central Ave. Bridge, sluice gate, Theo. Fremd — I am told that these projects are stalled because we are waiting for grant money, and that we will not get the funds re-imbursed if we lay out our own money first. We just can’t afford to do this.

    Re: CVS — There are no grant monies waiting for us on this, and if the city didn’t pay off the $5 million delayed ballon purchase payment in 2010, the city would have been subject to other monetary costs and penalties. That said, CVS is still a big albatross that was hung on our necks back in 2006, but is just now starting to drag us down, and we need to have a full accounting for where the funds to pay off the purchase price came from and how it affects our balance sheet and budget.

    Re: Bird house — I do not relish being right from the beginning on this bad deal. A year and a half later, we still haven’t received a penny. Even if we ultimately re-coup some of the money, the damage has already been done to our cash flow problem. Even city staff has so little faith we will get all the money back that they haven’t even issued the Revenue Anticipation Notes they requested and received approval for last year. We also still haven’t figured out the full impact this will have on our already strained balance sheet and budget.

    Re: Schubert pond — Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, although I was the only council member willing to constructively address the situation, I have now been sued personally along with other city officials. This obviously constrains my ability to respond at this time. But I was very vocal and opinionated in the face of extreme adversity before the litigation was commenced, and I would generally remind you of and refer you to these publically available comments.

    Joe Sack

  21. Councilman Sacks made some excellent points especially about getting a full accounting of how the old CVS was paid off.

    From Rye Patch.

    1037 Boston Post Road

    This year, French and the City Council also paid off the balance of 1037 Boston Post Road, a site the city purchased during Steve Otis’ administration in the hopes of building a joint police and court facility. Though that plan never materialized, the city rented the building to Lester’s Clothing store for $23,000 a month. In March, the City Council authorized the issuance of $2 million in debt to pay for part of the balance it owed for its $5 million purchase of 1037 Boston Post Road. The remainder is covered by state and federal reimbursements. The city paid off the balance in November and will generate an additional $267,000 in interest savings as a result. This year, it will formulate a plan for possible uses of the building.

    A few questions.
    Do the state and the feds know French used $3,000,000 0f their money to pay off the old CVS building?

    I wonder if they were told by French that it was valued at about $2,000,000 below what the City of Rye paid for it.

    I wonder if the $3,000,000 in state and fed money used to pay for the old CVS building was supposed to be used for other projects.

    I wonder if the state and feds know Rye leases the old CVS building.

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