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Home Government Sack Wants Pickup/French Email Trail on Rye Golf Club Public: Guest Column

Sack Wants Pickup/French Email Trail on Rye Golf Club Public: Guest Column

Show Me the E-mails:  Pushing for Openness and Transparency in City Government

By Councilman Joe Sack

On July 21st, I specifically asked the city manager for information about RM Staffing and Studio Y, since I had heard rumors that these entities might do business with Rye Golf Club, and that the golf club manager might have a connection to these entities.  Unfortunately, the city manager did not respond to my request at all.  Instead, the mayor – unsolicited – informed me that he was handling the matter; he otherwise declined to provide any other information regarding my inquiry at the time.

On or about September 12th, thanks to the efforts of Leon Sculti, details emerged indicating that RM Staffing did indeed do work for the golf club, that the golf club manager did indeed have a relationship with this entity, and that there were questions regarding bills sent to the golf club by RM Staffing.

On October 1st, following the emergence of these details and subsequent additional details uncovered by Leon, the mayor claimed that he and the city manager had actually been leading an investigation of the matter for a while.  However, when I specifically asked the mayor and city manager for details of that investigation, I again did not get a response.

On November 20th, still having received no direct answer regarding what exactly the mayor was handling back in July, or regarding the investigation that the mayor and city manager had been leading for a while as of October 1st, I sent a request to the city manager – with a copy to the mayor – for all e-mails between the city manager and the mayor.  I have not yet received the e-mails.

As a duly elected member of the council, with responsibility for oversight of the city manager pursuant to the city charter, why shouldn’t I be able to see the city manager’s e-mails, especially under the circumstances above?  If we’ve learned any lessons from recent events, it’s that we’ve got to continue to ask tough questions, and demand straight answers.  That’s the only way we’re going to get to the bottom of things, and restore the public’s confidence in what we do.

Notably, I was compelled and advised to turn over my own e-mails with the city manager and mayor in response to a recent FOIL request.  So why should my request now be such a big deal?  Also, the mayor has recently made a number of requests to a member of the golf club commission, pointedly asking him when he first learned about the issues at the golf club and what he did with that knowledge.  So why would the mayor now object to providing similar information about himself?

We need to move forward, but before we move forward, we need to find out where we’ve been, and take appropriate action to make sure that any missteps are addressed, and not repeated.  We need openness and transparency.

I previously congratulated my colleagues on the council for taking a big stride in hiring Brune & Richard on October 18th to help us uncover the unknowns at Rye Golf Club.  Those efforts are continuing even as I write this.  But we need to help ourselves too.  Although it may not be a common occurrence for a council member to seek the city manager’s e-mails, and although this request may cause some to experience hard feelings in the short term, keeping the e-mails under wraps will not be good and healthy for the city in the long run.

It is my sincere hope that the city manager, as well as the mayor, disclose the e-mails without further delay.

Joseph A. Sack, Esq.


  1. Has everyone seen the memo sent last week from City Manager Scott Pickup and Corp Counsel Kristen Wilson to city employees and board/commission members?


    “Importantly, the investigation is LIMITED to the Rye Golf Club Manager’s action and no one else is being investigated.”

    Wow! It was my understanding that an investigation examines a situation or problem to discover the truth- wherever it takes them. Why is Pickup (who should be nowhere near this investigation to begin with as per City Council resolution) and Wilson installing boundaries and limitations as to what is to be examined? I have a hunch that the questioning of City employees might lead investigators in the direction of the City Manager himself—and perhaps even the Mayor…

    Why? Well apparently Mayor French said in response to Councilman Sack’s July inquiry into RM Staffing and Studio Y relationships, that he was “handling this matter” and that if Sack wanted access to the info, he needed a majority of the Council vote. (Apparently as Mayor of Rye you get to make up rules!)Fast-forward a few months, we have a video where you can hear quite clearly Scott Pickup defending Scott Yandrasevich’s relationship with RM Staffing. He even went as far to say that the relationship has been vetted by the City Attorney, who apparently had not done so. A week later, Pickup took back what he said at that meeting and told Leah Rae of The Journal News that he fell victim to a “mob mentality”— a flat out line of classic Scott Pickup bullsh*t obvious to anyone watching this video:


    What the City Manager didn’t realize at the time was that RM Staffing and Leon Sculti’s investigation efforts were not going away, and FOIL laws cannot be entirely ignored forever. Most importantly, public pressure mounted and the City Council was forced to take action. Kristen Wilson couldn’t do much to stop it, as Scott Pickup pouted from his corner of the dais.

    Let’s not forgot Deputy Mayor Jovanovich’s comments when this RM issue, excessive overtime charges, etc first broke. He called this issue “tiresome,” one of many “mini-controversies” that would “amount to less than a hill of beans,” a “faux cause célèbres,” the “latest mini-drama,” and “just another Rye City Council sideshow.”

    But here’s the irony: In a 2009 interview, Jay Sears, the publisher of this blog, asked Peter Jovanaovich “What are your three greatest contributions to Rye?” And guess what one of them was? “Investigative reporting for the Rye Record on issues such as excessive overtime expenses in City government, and the operating losses at Whitby Castle.” Read for yourself:


    I suppose the Deputy Mayor didn’t pull back the curtain far enough, as Councilman Sack is now attempting to do. But before the Mayor resorts to name calling and playing the “politics card” on Sack, let’s encourage the Mayor and City Manager to release their emails if in fact there is nothing to hide. The severity of this issue is far to great to follow the Mayor’s distractions.

  2. It’s not unreasonable for Joe to request information. I DO think it is unreasonable for Scott Pickup to ignore Joe, but it seems he is under a lot of pressure from the Mayor. Mr. Pickup must remember this: he reports to the entire Council, not just the mayor. Mayors come and go in this town, which is why you shouldn’t get too political. Frank Culross was able to survive through about six and a half different mayors, and many many councils.
    Shame on the mayor is he turns this into another Republican party slime war. Please don’t do it Doug! Release the emails so we can just move forward. Your actions over these last few months, and certainly the actions of the City Manager leave too many unanswered questions. Better yet, the IT department should release the communications, and the City Attorney of all people should keep her hands off. She too has forgotten that she reports to the entire Council, not just the mayor, and certainly not to the city manager!


    From: Joe Sack
    Sent: Saturday, July 21, 2012 10:29 AM
    To: Council&Manager
    Dear Scott: What is RM Staffing and Studio Y, what connection do they have to the Rtye Golf Club, and to individuals at RGC. Thanks, Joe

    From: French, Douglas H.
    To: Council&Manager Subject: Re:
    Sent: Jul 21, 2012 6:30 PM
    Hi All; Catherine and I are meeting on this and will report back to Council. Thanks, Doug

    From: Joe Sack
    Sent: Saturday, July 21, 2012 07:43 PM
    To: French, Douglas H.; Council&Manager
    Excuse me, the city manager reports to the council not to you. I expect to receive a report from the city manager ASAP.

    From: French, Douglas H.
    To: Council&Manager Subject: Re:
    Sent: Jul 22, 2012 8:24 PM
    Joe — I do represent the City Council, I am the president of the Council as the elected Mayor. Should you disagree, then get 3 other members of the Council to agree with your point of view. Otherwise, staff will respond based on the consensus of the Council. As I said, I am working with our colleagues on this matter. Doug

  4. The Supreme Court, aligning itself with several State Supreme Courts, recently overturned a Ninth Circuit holding that opened emails are protected by privacy. A good starting point to educate oneself might be the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. 2701 and the line of cases under it.

    Keep up the pressure, Joe. It would be more relevant if they used private email addresses (i.e., Yahoo, Gmail, etc) rather than the ryeny.gov server.

  5. Doug, I am sorry to say I was supportive of you and your campaign when you ran. But as a lifelong Rye republican, and a Rye Golf Club member, I cannot support this lack of forthrightness from your office any longer. I ask you to please release the emails asap. The golf club needs to be cleansed. Further impediments to this inevitability will only hurt the members (families of Rye) and the club financially.

    As an earlier commenter wrote, please do not try to burn down the republican party, or this city over this. You will be the one who loses politically and socially should you choose that path.

    I have been surprised at your behavior on many occasions since I voted for you. Now, the time has come for you to finally stand on your own two feet. Have your disagreement over the contents of your emails, your rationale for acting as you did, not over weather to release them or not.

    I support Joe 100% in this effort, and I urge all Rye citizens to do the same.

  6. Reb Trust,

    As a person whom “ALWAYS” stands behind his words with an identity, I will never understand how someone could post without an IDENTITY? This particular post without a doubt requires an IDENTITY!!!

    You are asking every Rye Citizen to support you on this but to do so would be supporting a ghost!!!

    I do not disagree with you.
    My point is this, I use my “real” identity because I believe my name carries as much value (if not more) as my words and without my name the words are just that….WORDS!

    I’m sure you have many who believe in you and would support you for not just your words, you lose that support with no identity!

  7. Councilman Sack,

    If you could see me from there I am giving you a “STANDING OVATION”!!!!

    I have been posting this question (AND YET SOMEHOW MR. SCOTT PICKUP IS STILL EMPLOYED HERE????????) for about 2 weeks now on multiple blogs.

    Since we are on the subject of “transparency” I respectfully request an open answer on this!!!

  8. Just released:
    (1) There will be a Commission Meeting on Monday December 17th, 2012 at 7:00pm in the Whitby Castle Ballroom.


    According to Wilson Manrique, the owner of Nazca Waitstaff, there are names of employees on RM Staffing’s invoices to Rye Golf Club who just might not be real. “I’m telling you there is, there’s gotta be some, like, what we call… some ‘ghosts’, Mr. Manrique told LD10580. “I was like, what the bleep is this guys name? I don’t know. I know all of them.” The revelation was one of many that came during a sit down with Mr. Manrique at Mamaroneck Diner in late October…


    Link to audio and transcription of conversation at end of story.


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