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Home Government Speaking French: Mayor's Update: New Suzana, Water, Insurance, Albany Cabal, New Fire...

Speaking French: Mayor’s Update: New Suzana, Water, Insurance, Albany Cabal, New Fire Boss

Here is the next edition of Speaking French, the Mayor's Update.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

March 12, 2012

Appointment Process for City Council Vacancy
There will be a vacancy on the Rye City Council this summer with the announcement that Suzanna Keith and her family will be moving to Houston, Tx. Based on our charter, any vacancy prior to September 20th requires the Council to fill the vacancy for the balance of the year with a separate election to be held in November of that year to complete the term which in this case expires December of 2013. The Council will make the appointment at our June 13th meeting. Anyone interested should contact me or members of the Council.

Bowman Avenue Dam Sluice Gate
With the final agreements in place with Rye Brook and Harrison, the City has put out for bid the sluice gate project at Bowman Dam which will help regulate water flow downstream in Blind Brook. This is a complex project that has included inter-municipal agreements, multiple regulatory approvals, and several funding sources, and so the City is very pleased the first phase of its flood mitigation plan is underway. The Council hopes to award the contract at its second meeting in March.

Flood Mitigation Committee
The City's Newly appointed flood mitigation held its first meeting with an impressive group of talented individuals whose collective experience includes planning, zoning, engineering, financial, public safety, legal, communications and real estate. Chaired by Rafael Elias-Linero, members are Vice Chair Lawrence Lehman, Bernie Althoff, Richard Mecca, Annette Guarino, Dean Neely, and Holly Kennedy. The committee's focus will be on flood mitigation project coordination and outreach, oversight of surrounding development and regulatory actions, and pre/post storm preparedness.

Healthcare Challenges
The Council asked the Finance Committee for an update on their report from last year on the rising cost of healthcare as the City manages these costs for long term financial sustainability. Over the last 5 years, wages and salaries in total have declined 3.6% to $13.8M while employee benefits and payroll taxes have grown 72.4% to $9.5M. Employee healthcare costs have risen 85% during this period and retiree healthcare has risen 76%. Healthcare benefits are negotiated as part of the collective bargaining process and expenses are paid out of each year's operating budget. There is no separate fund established to cover these expenses, but the total unfunded future liability is approximately $60M according to some estimates.

Public Sculpture Exhibition on Purchase Street
The Council was pleased to approve a sculpture exhibition in May along Purchase Street as part of a program the Rye Arts Center is conducting. The human sculptures are made of a red/orange translucent resin and will sit atop poles in 5 to 10 locations in the downtown for the month.

New York Conference of Mayors
I attended the annual conference of New York State Mayors to discuss the challenges facing local governments. Rye is not alone as all municipalities are managing through the tough economic times with declining infrastructures, a tapped-out taxpayer, increasing labor costs, and heavy regulatory burdens. Last year the Mayors supported a tax cap with mandate relief — and got one out of two. The common mandate reforms being sought this year include: Make the pension system predictable and affordable, redefine compulsory arbitration, reduce costs of construction on public/private projects, establish minimum health insurance contributions for employees and retirees, and no new mandates. The session ended with a visit to meet the Governor at the Governor's mansion.

Council Approves Changes to the Rye Fire Department
Last week the City Council approved to amend the City Charter, article 13 which establishes a direct reporting relationship to the City Manager. Now, both the volunteer and career Fire Department personnel will align under the auspices of the City Manager as opposed to two separate reporting structures. The Board of Wardens, who also approved this measure, will work in conjunction the City Manager in the management and operation of the Fire Department. For the past year, the City Manager and I have met with key stakeholders to include the Fire Chiefs, volunteers, career personnel and Board of Wardens as well as have held 3 public sessions. This is an important change that will allow for better coordination of fire services.

  1. We all know now, that the Fire Department meeting was taped and Mr. Pickup asked a Rye TV employee to lie about the taping. Why, because Mayor French and Mr. Pickup didn’t want the public to know how upset the Fire Department was about the takeover by Pickup. So the lie was sent out “We just didn’t have the ability to tape the meeting” and they also laid the groundwork in that same breath stating that “the meeting at Whitby Castel will not be taped”. Why, because of the introduction of the 10 million dollar bond. A few months earlier the Mayor stated “WE DID A GREAT JOB IN NOT INCREASING TAXES” Was the Mayor just informed that the City needed the 10 million for infrastructure work? Or did he know when they pushed the budget thru?


  2. Mayor French and his Indian Village Flood Committee want to spend $200,000 on a water retention feasibility study in Bowman’s upper pond. The dredging project is estimated at $20.0m with out contingencies for oil runoff from nearby I-287. Let Indian Village residents pay 50% of the study expense.


    In between and despite all the gavel banging and sundry interruptions and expostulations emanating from the very center of the Rye City Council bench last night, a short speech was delivered that the public was prevented from clearly hearing. So I wrote to its author this morning and received it’s text from him. And here, for admirers of The First Amendment –
    is what he attempted to say:

    Tonight I would like to speak about a strategic shift in code enforcement in Rye.
    When I first undertook my quest to have the City of Rye enforce the health, safety and building codes out on the offshore cottage communities that make up Hen Island, I thought the problems were specific to Hen Island. I now find that the lack of code enforcement and illegal practices extends well beyond Hen Island to the heart of this City and its residential neighborhoods when Members of Rye’s elected and unelected “Political Class” are the homeowners involved.
    So for example, if you are the City of Rye’s highest current elected official – in effect the City’s Chief Executive Officer – and you get caught renovating an entire house without any city permits whatsoever – you can blame someone else and get away with it.
    Likewise if you’re that same Chief Executive Officer and you get caught cheating on your school taxes for a decade – you can blame it on a combination of City employee negligence – and get away with it.

    And if you are that same Chief Executive Officer and get caught in these illegal activities by outside sources, your first instinct is to turn the subject of your own shortcomings against what you perceive to be your Competitors on the Board – and publically blame them for supporting the exposure of this now documented illegal activity. What disturbs me most, is that you used lies to accuse your own party members of doing exactly what you yourself did. Let me assure you – Councilman Sack and Councilwoman Brett have taken no part – zero -in our ongoing corruption probe involving you Mayor French – and I believe you owe them both apologies.
    And while you’re thinking about that, here are some other words that the rest of Rye deserves to hear –
    I am sorry I did substantially renovate and improve my entire rental house without any City permits or City inspections.
    I’m sorry I did disguise all this activity from the City Tax Assessment Department and thus have deprived the City of my lawful and fair share of property tax payments.
    I’m sorry I am still renting the home to the public and it’s currently being unlawfully occupied and my tenants are at risk.
    I’m sorry that I have been issued multiple building department violations to date.
    I am sorry I partially blamed some of these issues on a widely admired, dedicated, long serving but now deceased Rye City Employee – I knew he couldn’t defend his reputation any longer so I regretfully took full advantage of that.
    I did cheat on my taxes and I’m sorry for that.
    I apologize sincerely to the residents of Rye – and to my family – for trying to cover up my short comings, encouraging some of my political party officials and political contributors to try and publically whitewash all this. I should have accepted responsibility from the beginning.
    And as a result of my failures to my friends, supporters and most of all to the rest of the hard working, honest employees and taxpayers of Rye, it is with great regret that tonight I resign as Mayor of Rye.
    Try saying at least that last one for starters Mr. Mayor.

    Thank You.

  4. Lunchtime Video – a good, recent short Heritage Foundation speech by one of our portfolio company founders about his recent book – “The Peoples Money.”


    Includes: “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” Rosa Parks’ 2nd “offence,” and political class contempt for voters. Deep currents eventually surface catalytic public “events.” And public opinion always moves before politicians do.

    Maybe food for thought for those who’ve now apparently made their bet that Andrew Dapolite’s sun lighting of bold wrongdoing in Rye Government can be smugly disposed of behind a closed door – just like an Amico or a Schubert.

  5. @tedc

    Looks like Scott Pickup may go down as the greatest City Manager Rye has ever had. The man is tough as nails and has protected Rye admirably. You, on the other hand, will be remembered as a just another clown.

  6. @Opportunist,

    You are either Pickup himself, a family member, the Mayor or 1 of a certain 3 Council Members or you are just a…. COMPLETE AND ABSOLUTE MORON!!!

    Any chance you will be moving to Texas with one of the formentioned “certain 3”?

  7. Watch the last Council meeting and it will be painfully obvious that French is now on the outs with his own local Republican party (the same people that put him where he is). Philippi and Jovanovich are burning their bridges also. The Dems had no great love for any of them from the beginning. I’m sure the Republicans in White Plains and on the ninth floor are also not happy with his embarrassing and illegal issues @ 13 Richard Place along with his conduct @ the City council meetings. When French is gone, Mr. Pickup will follow shortly behind. That is why Pickup is trying to protect our Mayor so vigorously.


    Otis was smart enough to know that Pickup could never handle the job as City Manager. That is why he brought Cullross back and never put Pickup in that position from the beginning.

    I don’t know about “the greatest City Manager Rye has ever had” but I am sure he will be remembered for trying to cover French’s as*, lying to the public and the entire city council.




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