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Home Government Sack Makes An Appeal For Basic Truthfulness and Fair Dealing

Sack Makes An Appeal For Basic Truthfulness and Fair Dealing

By Joe Sack, Rye City Councilman

In February of this year, Andrew Dapolite, a city employee in the Rye TV studio, wrote a letter to the city council.  In the letter, Mr. Dapolite made very detailed, credible and serious allegations.

To this date, nearly six months later, the city council has taken no meaningful steps to either investigate or act upon these allegations.  What a shame.

These allegations included in sum and substance:

That a January city council meeting which the city manager told us was not videotaped, was indeed videotaped.

That Mr. Dapolite was instructed by city staff to tell the public that the meeting was not videotaped, even though it was.

And – when the city finally acknowledged that the meeting was actually videotaped – that the audio on the videotape was purposefully lowered to make it difficult to hear.

Subsequently, Mr. Dapolite made a further allegation that the city manager retaliated against him for bringing these matters to light, by taking adverse employment action against him which was unfounded.  That particular allegation took the form of a lawsuit, which was luckily recently settled with regard to resolving the city’s exposure.

Back in February, I publicly called for the city council to investigate these serious allegations.  The city council is, in fact, the only body authorized by our city charter to conduct such an investigation.  However, the council majority declined to do so.

Instead, the council majority decided to refer this matter to the city ethics board, for that body to do its own investigation, even though it is not authorized by our charter to do so.

A few weeks ago, the ethics board released a report recommending that no further action be taken.  I like and respect the members of the ethics board.  However, they were put in a tough situation by being given this matter.  And I know that they tried to do the best they could under those circumstances.

But unfortunately, the ethics board did not reveal the results of any investigation.  Mainly this is because the ethics board did not conduct an investigation, beyond speaking with Mr. Dapolite behind closed doors.  Incredibly, the ethics board issued its report without ever even speaking with the city manager or any other city staff, reviewing documents, or speaking with any other potential witnesses.

I myself had offered to speak with the ethics board, in that Mr. Dapolite, the city manager and other city staff had all made contemporaneous statements to me regarding the alleged misconduct.  The ethics board did not take me up on my offer.

Regardless of the course taken by the ethics board, they are not the decision makers.  The city council ultimately is in charge.  So now the ball is back in the city council’s court to do what it should have done in the first place – conduct an investigation, make a determination as to what happened, and take appropriate action based on that determination.

On a personal note, I have worked closely with Mr. Dapolite over the past couple years on many Rye videos, including “The Council Project”, which featured interviews with past city council members on the qualities that make for a good and effective member of the council.  On those standards, Mr. Dapolite has acquitted himself well, and proven to be a talented, dedicated and upstanding person.

I am saddened that Mr. Dapolite has recently left his job with the city, apparently in large part because of frustration that the city council has failed to investigate and act on his allegations.  Mr. Dapolite, a life-long Rye resident who is just 22 years old, has demonstrated great character beyond his young age in very adverse and trying circumstances.

There are of course many important issues in the city for us to address, including the balancing act of providing essential city services while keeping taxes down, all while maintaining our quality of life.

But the allegations which Mr. Dapolite made – which touch upon basic truthfulness and fair dealing – chisel at the faith and trust upon which we must rely, which form the very foundation of our city.  So in fact, there is no more important issue than protecting these ideals.

We appreciate the hard work that the city manager and staff do.  We like them personally.  But we must address these allegations, we cannot simply ignore them and move on.

There must be accountability.  We must maintain integrity.  We cannot just sweep this alleged serious misconduct under the rug and pretend that it didn’t happen.  If we allow this matter to go unchecked, worse that setting a terrible example, we will sadly diminish everything else that we strive for.  In the end, we will be doing a great disservice to the people of the city of Rye.

Joseph A. Sack, Esq.

The Sack Law Firm PLLC

8 COMMENTS

  1. Rye Sound Shore Review – August 2, 2012

    To the Editor,

    We hope to provide additional context and commentary on what has become known locally as “The Dapolite Controversy” revolving around a Rye City employee whistleblower’s accusations of false public statements made by the Rye City manager, the institutional persecution of the whistleblower by city leadership and the resulting oblique non-ruling by the Rye Board of Ethics on the key question of the matter.

    On Jan. 25, a fireman’s workshop budget meeting was held at City Hall. It included an at times heated discussion between members of the Board of Wardens of the fire department and elected and paid city officials about, among other things, a restructuring and expansion of the city manager’s responsibilities and authority over the fire department. A City Council meeting immediately followed this special fire department session and, prompted by a question about seeing a recording of the prior fire department meeting by Councilman Joe Sack, Rye City Manager Scott Pickup stated, “We just didn’t have it taped this evening…we didn’t have the ability.”

    On Feb. 7, a 63-minute recording of this same workshop was quietly posted to the city website. Much of the credit (or perhaps “the blame”) for this revelation was due to the efforts of Andrew Dapolite, an employee of RyeTV who knew Pickup’s repeated public denials were false due to his knowledge of just such a recording.

    On Feb. 13, Dapolite submitted a seven-page letter to the council, asking that it investigate this false statement and apparent recording concealment by the city manager and RyeTV Access Coordinator Nicole Levitsky. It was this letter that ultimately resulted not in the City Council investigation Dapolite had requested, but in a misguided referral by the council to the Rye Board of Ethics which, by city code and board mandate, has zero legal standing or authority to investigate anything of this nature.

    We will spare readers the details of the legal battle that ensued among the various constituencies–the Board of Ethics, the City Council, the outside and inside city paid attorneys, Dapolite and his attorney Judge Carey, Pickup and Levitsky–who, it should be emphasized, never were required to appear for questioning before the Board of Ethics or the City Council. Dapolite spent hours alone with the board which denied him the presence of legal counsel.

    The board finally produced a single-page opinion letter that focused narrowly on a small resolved legal matter, yet was fully silent on the greater issue of next steps concerning city officials who apparently lie or mislead about matters of public record.

    Under New York State Law, a person is guilty of tampering with public records in the first degree: “when… he knowingly removes, mutilates, destroys, conceals… a record of a public office or public servant.” So these actions could have legal consequences.

    Rafael Elias-Linero’s recent letter to the editor [“Ethics Board column had issues,” July 27 edition], like the non-constructive board opinion it addresses, misses the point. This matter should never have been brought to the Board of Ethics, as only the City Council is empowered by the city code to investigate matters of this nature.

    Elias-Linero always appears well spoken and informed in public forums. It’s therefore regrettable that he apparently remains uninformed about the true nature of the ethics elephant still lingering in plain sight at City Hall.

    Ellen D’Angelo and Ted Carroll,
    Rye

  2. Mr. Sack,
    I find it interesting that this issue about honesty and truthfulness arose once again after a 45 minute segment at last night’s City Council meeting where Mr. Pickup and Mayor French were again accused of lying about why they never informed the public about the presence of positive West Nile Virus test results on Hen Island and @ the Rye Nature Center. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck!
    http://ryeny.swagit.com/play/08062012-809/#12

  3. My email to City Officials:

    Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2012 08:55:00 -0400

    I can not begin to describe the feelings that overcame me as I watched last nights Council Meeting unfold.

    My daughter, all of 13, had become ill in the morning, as the day progressed so did her illness. Last night my wife rushed her to the urgent care facility in Mamaroneck, Allye was diagnosed with Coxsackie virus. As I sat and watched the segment on the West Nile being found on Hen Island and at the Rye Nature Center a friend asked me if my daughter had been to the Rye Nature Center recently……suddenly my heart was in my gut, Allye was at the Rye Nature Center just last week!!! Had it not been for the one symptom that is not found with West Nile, all of her symptoms would match with having “WEST NILE”!!!! I can’t begin to tell you how scared this can make a parent!!!!

    Should you be upset with the County…maybe.
    Should you be upset with Ray…NO!!!
    Should you be upset with yourselves….ABSOLUTELY!!!
    Once again it’s business as usual in Rye….”lets shoot the messenger”!!! Every single one of you seemed every bit concerned with how Ray received this info, who he received it from, why Ray had this before you, etc, etc.

    Where is your concern for the health of the Citizens of Rye??? This should be your only concern and your highest priority!!!
    Who gives a damn how Ray got this info, we should all be grateful that Ray CARED ENOUGH to retrieve this info!!! Ray has been bringing this matter before you for the last 5 plus years, it’s time you acted on it!!!

    For gods sake, do you know how many children visit the Rye Nature Center on a daily basis? Do you know how many children live just outside the boundaries of the Rye Nature Center??? Do you even care???

    Then to top this all off we have Councilman Jovanovich’s comparison of rain water standing on the Bird property for all of maybe 48hrs….SERIOUSLY???
    Then he tops that with his mocking comment while laughing….”people are dying right now and your withholding this info”….again SERIOUSLY??????

    Now….lets fast forward to the “Dapolite Letter”…….
    UTTERLY DISGUSTING OUTCOME!!!

    Mayor French, as much as you may not like it…..our Charter dictates it and when you were sworn in you were sworn in on the beliefs of our Charter. None of you have to agree with it but you all sure as hell have to respect it. No one likes to be “judge & jury”, unfortunatley that is just what our Charter dictates you to be in this case.
    Instead you drop this in the laps of our Ethics Board….a Board neither qualified or responsible for this outcome.
    None of you, other than Councilman Sack are interested in the truth….you value your friendship with Scott & Nicole more than the truth?? This is a business, and sometimes in business you have to make hard choices, choices like drawing the line between “friendship & business”. The 6 of you do not want an investigation because you either know the truth or are afraid of the truth. Either or…the truth needs to come out. Should this be put behind us, sure….RIGHT AFTER THE TRUTH IS UNVEALED!!!

    I think just about every one of you thanked the Ethics Committee…. you should have been apologizing to them!!!

    Councilman Jovanovich’s grand standing of Nicole was down right insulting. You won’t put forth an investigation to unveal the truth but you sit there and make apologies to Nicole as if she was innocent and Andrew made up some fairy tale to put himself thru hell…SERIOUSLY??????
    Councilman Jovanovich, you seem to have a habit of celebrating those NOT WORTHY!!!

  4. Joe,

    Keep up the pressure. I know you are up, have smelled the coffee, and perhaps a rose or two, but this is Rye, NY presently occupied by small bit, wannabe Mafios types, and their gun molls (a.k.a. corrupt, Republican pigs…excluding the present company). As the de facto Mayor-elect, think back to our recent conversation at the Osborn moving up ceremony. Come inauguration day 2014, think very carefully who you are going to appoint to fill the remainder of your Councilman seat. The right choice is, I guarantee, is going to make your job a lot EASIER.

  5. …and the promised Final Brune & Richard report is still not forthcoming. Why? It is because Sotty Y greased more pockets than his own, mark my words. Who? Well, follow the trail of those no longer willing to serve: French, Fillipi, Jovanovich, and, well, Brett she is still trying to figure out what “preferential treatment” was being afforded when the PBA volunteer was the low bidder. Some people are going to have “a lot of ‘splain’ to do, Lucy.”

  6. Mr. Lamont,

    If true that is earth shattering news and you would think would surely lead to numerous arrests.

    However,

    Did you know that Pickup’s very good friend, Westchester County Assistant District Attorney Ted Livingston, is in charge of this so called investigation of the Rye Golf Club?

    Do you know if Ted Livingston is related to another Westchester County Assistant District Attorney with the same last name who signed off on Compagnone getting $75,000 in exchange for dropping a felony charge and who I believe signed of on Pickup getting $21,000 from the guy who drove into his house in exchange fro those charges being dismissed?

  7. WryRecord,

    I did not know that about ADA Ted Livingston, and that, certainly, is not good news. Earlier, it was also theorized to me that the DA’s reticence to act in this ongoing matter is to protect Kevin Plunkett (an individual I do not know) but where Plunkett is a former law partner of Al DiBello, he is basically untouchable…I don’t like it either, but it is just the way the system works, and these mountains are unmovable.
    As for the payments to Compagnone and Pickup, and no one on this blog is going to like this but, I see it as no more than out of court settlements before one gets to Court; the only element that sounds out of place is how a victim gets to pull felony charges when this matter is usually reserved for a PD, DA, or Court.
    Well, with that said, at least I call them as I see them, and I am going to be able to please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time, and I expect your vote in November.

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