by Ted Carroll, Guest Columnist
Rye NY’s Joe Sack, Julie Killian, Kirstin Bucci & Terry McCartney are apparently ‘United’ in one thing, their collective support for increasing public record secrecy…
In 1970 Bill Withers was 31 and working at a Los Angeles factory making toilet seats for Boeing 747’s when he wrote and recorded his Grammy winning song of the above title. The song was released the following year. When it was quickly certified a gold seller, his record company presented him with a golden toilet.
In the media field, Sunshine Week was launched in March of 2005 by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). Sunshine Week is a non-partisan, non-profit initiative celebrated in mid-March each year to coincide with James Madison’s birthday on March 16. Sunshine Week, which was last week to be specific, is all about the public’s right to know what its government is doing and why.
Which brings us regrettably right back to our own City of Rye and its tightly suppressed, mockingly managed City Hall records capers – still unresolved and getting worse. I brought these matters up in January in my column “Sack’s Silly Season of Suppression.” But the problems just continue and multiply.
Item 1. Despite good news that Rye’s insurance company will now be sending the city treasury a settlement check for $1.55M related to the city’s largest ever fraud, the actual “fraudsters” (save the single one residing in state prison) remain free and unnamed – quite possibly because they now personally hold high elected and appointed public positions and thus can do ‘favors’ for candidates in or running for office. We’ll all see if my instincts are confirmed here about these financial control circumventors and/or colluders when the city releases copies of the unredacted forensic reports issued by Breen & Associates. So far, these publically paid-for reports remain fully suppressed from the public.
Item 2. Hilary Clinton would be proud of Rye’s Republican Mayor Joe Sack. Mr. Sack, like Mrs. Clinton, now has what is euphemistically called “an email problem.” The problem is Mr. Sack is withholding his government business-related emails from legal freedom of information records requests. Given that Mr. Sack rents his Rye office space from a law firm that just achieved historic and valuable property rezoning permissions for a client from the Sack-led Rye City Council, there might possibly be something that residents less lucky with the city zoning appeals process might like to know about those official digital communications. So far, though, taxpayers here are outta luck.
Item 3. Every week, the city attorney provides residents a public update of current litigation matters which is posted in the Council Packet on the city website. For the most current example, click here. Residents who follow these things know this ‘Litigation Update’ suffers from multiple defects. Cases can entirely disappear with no explanation (Bassett v City of Rye), while others never appear at all (Jeanette v Verille) until outside press disclosures force the city’s hands. Such is apparently the case now yet again with the Rye Golf Club which is back in the extrajudicial news despite city hall’s best efforts.
In this unmentionable case, an official government regulatory agency has charged environmental violations against a senior city employee acting on the city’s behalf – and did so now almost three months ago while the public was being assured by elected officials that the employee “did everything right.”
Sunshine Week in Rye seems like a punch line to yet another Corridor of Corruption political joke. Yet this is the record of public secrecy accumulating under Rye Deputy Mayor Julie Killian who has just announced her bid to try and unseat New York State Senator George Latimer, a fellow Rye City resident.
Bill Withers went on to a long successful songwriting and performing career after getting his golden toilet for “Ain’t No Sunshine.” The song’s final stanza begins “Ain't no sunshine when she's gone / Only darkness every day…”. What golden object might Rye taxpayers award our secrecy sorcerers at city hall? I’ll leave that thought for yet another sunless day.
Ted Carroll is a lifelong Rye resident, a Certified Public Accountant, and a partner at Noson Lawen Partners, a media industry private equity firm.