City Councilwoman Pam Tarlow has exited City Council. And on her way out she is describing a threat from Mayor Cohn and an environment that is “abusive and toxic”.
Tarlow is planning to move to White Plains on July 31st, which would have necessitated her resigning from City Council by that date. Piecing sides of the story together, Tarlow notified the City, and the Mayor told her not to attend the Council’s meeting tonight, Thursday evening July 22nd.
Using the past tense, Mayor Cohn told MyRye.com Thursday evening “Pam Tarlow moved to White Plains, without notice to the Council. She did however report her change in domicile to the City’s Corporation Council. Once she domiciled out of Rye she vacated her office by operation of law. We are figuring out what law applies to filling the position and we will follow it.”
More interesting than missing her last Council meeting is what Tarlow is saying on her way to the I-95 and I-287 on ramps over to White Plains.
“What I can report is that my exclusion tonight [referring to Thursday’s Council meeting] is an example of an underlying problem on this city council and in this city government – the inability to respect and engage with differing views on issues facing the city,” Tarlow said on social media Thursday night. “The governmental model in Rye has become abusive and toxic.”
Describing a “legal dispute” with the Mayor surrounding when her term would technically end, Tarlow said “The message from the mayor was if I do not attend “They wont do anything to me” which was inappropriate and unprofessional and can only be interpreted as a threat.”
Tarlow’s full comments are below and are remarkable for their candor and length. Eyes will certainly be on the Mayor on how he navigates Tarlow’s replacement.
Full comments posted on social media Thursday night by Councilwoman Pam Tarlow:
I first want to say it has been an honor serving you on the City Council. My goal has always been to support policies and practices that are in the best interest of Rye and treat all residents respectfully. I know I was true to those values.
For family reasons I regret that I am announcing tonight that I am moving to another community on July 31 and need to resign my position as a member of the City Council. My preference would have been to join you tonight for my last meeting but cannot because of a legal dispute with the mayor as to when my term of office actually ends. The message from the mayor was if I do not attend “They wont do anything to me” which was inappropriate and unprofessional and can only be interpreted as a threat.
As you know I am not shy about asserting my position or beliefs. I chose not to attend tonight so as not to distract the Council meeting with an unnecessary legal fight over my participation. Legally I know I should be with you, but the issue will be moot after tonight as this is the last meeting of the month.
I brought to this position over 20 years of experience in local government. On my time on the council, I have advocated for better procedures to keep you informed, make sure you are part of the decision-making process and that the State open meetings law las been obeyed. I have fought for small businesses, better traffic safety, good environmental policies, better zoning decisions and that the Rye City Charter be followed as to the legal roles of the City Council, the City Manager and the professional staff. I have advocated for concerns of residents and students on the human rights and civil rights issues that face us today.
Not all these efforts were met with cooperation, but I was true to good government principles and the needs of Rye residents. What I can report is that my exclusion tonight is an example of an underlying problem on this city council and in this city government – the inability to respect and engage with differing views on issues facing the city. The governmental model in Rye has become abusive and toxic.
I have disagreed with policies and practices of the mayor on a number of occasions. The result has been that I-serving as a member of the city council in a volunteer capacity- have lived under a constant siege of threats and harassment. All for doing my job and representing this community. I will tell you that I am not the only woman that has felt this way. There is a long list of women who have felt the wrath of this Mayor and his supporters. This should not be a surprise, it has played out over and over at council meetings and behind the scenes. Those that disagree are threatened and rebuked. Just ask the retailers in this town who sought help during the pandemic or the kids who wanted a flag.
I believe all of you deserve to know and participate in your government. Government decisions should be made with your involvement. Issues should be debated at meetings, not secretly in executive sessions. Civil discourse should not include threats. I have seen it first-hand from before I took the oath of office until my being threatened not to attend my last meeting.
Lastly, I would like to say that the Council-Manager form of government, which is the law according to Rye’s City Charter, should not be subverted. The Charter is designed to prevent political interference with the professional management of the city. The professional staff and their independence should be supported and strengthened so that municipal services are equitably provided. I raised it as an issue before I took office and was isolated and undermined every day I served.
I have faith that the people of Rye will understand these issues and demand better. I am moving to another community and will remain in local government in a variety of ways. I am proud of the service I was able to provide in Rye. I am proud of the values I supported and my efforts to push for decisions that were in your best interests.
Good Luck to all of you.