Cameron served as chair of the Rye City Democratic Committee until recently and last year she ran in the Democratic primary for the New York State Assembly 91st District mounting an ultimately unsuccessful challenge to incumbent Steve Otis.
By Jim Glickenhaus
Outspoken or quiet, cautious or bold, most of our City Council members contribute to Rye’s wellbeing. But if you’ve spent any time in the last year watching City Council meetings, you can’t miss the one member who has failed to contribute to our wellbeing or the City’s. When she isn’t focusing her attention on something outside the Zoom screen, Councilwoman Pam Tarlow is accusing City employees and elected officials of following the wrong procedures or acting in bad faith. With frequent, meritless objections to the way things are being done, she disrupts the Council’s work rather than furthers it. In various public venues she has accused City employees and elected officials of fraud, racism and forgery. This is inexcusable, as every one of her accusations is unproven or demonstrably false. Reckless attacks on colleagues and City workers are not the way to represent Rye residents, who value civility, fairness and truth. She does not belong on the Council.
At a City Council meeting (July 15, 2020), she accused senior City staff of fraud in disposing of an old City-owned boat. As a boat owner who knows what many years of saltwater does to marine engines and hulls, I thought her claim sounded unlikely. I found the make, model, year and condition of the boat in question and did my own research, which confirmed that Ms. Tarlow was wrong, City staff was correct. Rather than checking the facts herself, Ms. Tarlow continued to make these reckless public allegations, unfairly maligning the character of our City employees without proof.
Without proof, in a public hearing (Dec. 3, 2020) she accused the Rye police of “stopping people for walking while Black.” The Police Review Committee will investigate her report of seeing, from a distance, police interacting with kids heading to their jobs at Playland. Without knowing the frequency and content of those interactions, any conclusion is unwarranted, and her assumption is irresponsible and insulting. Furious, the PBA demanded that she publicly rescind her statement and apologize. She has not responded. The rest of the Council released a public letter separating itself from her statements.
In a Rye Record Readers’ Forum (“Why I Get Mad When I Read the City Charter”), she said she reads the City Charter over and over and over, looking for ways the mayor, her Council colleagues and City employees might be violating its dictates. To what end?
She then denounced her Council colleagues and the mayor, saying their actions “negatively affect your family’s quality of life and future.” Yet she couldn’t name a single example of how they have made our lives worse. In my opinion, she’s got it backwards: they’re making our lives better. They have risen to the challenge of the pandemic by exercising sound fiscal management, giving residents extra time to pay City taxes and working with the Chamber of Commerce to support our local merchants, while proceeding with plans to improve sidewalks, roads and infrastructure.
Her Rye Record piece also claimed that Mayor Josh Cohn forged the City Manager’s name on agenda reports. I called the mayor and asked him about it. He said, “That’s nuts. I’ve never signed Greg’s name on anything.” I believe him. Ms. Tarlow also attacked the way the City Council had gone about hiring a City Manager. The mayor says Ms. Tarlow got virtually every detail wrong – but none of that interests me, as Greg Usry has proved his mettle by performing admirably during a pandemic. Finally, she condemned the City’s delay in updating the master plan, finding it reprehensible that the Council addressed urgent issues, including the pandemic, first. Wrong: prioritizing is an essential part of governance. Why she submitted such a baseless, scattershot attack on her Council colleagues and the City Manager to a local newspaper (let alone why they printed it) is beyond me.
Ms. Tarlow doesn’t stop at public mud-slinging. I’ve heard from several Council members that in private, her abusive speech and emails have created a hostile work environment for Council members and City staff. One staff member confirmed that Ms. Tarlow threatened, “I’m so angry I want to wring your neck.”
Rye’s employees deserve better treatment. So do our mayor and Council members. So do we. It is time for Councilwoman Tarlow to resign.