Mayor Josh Cohn and Council Members Carolina Johnson, Julie Souza and Ben Stacks formally dropped their lawsuit against the City of Rye Board of Ethics last Wednesday, August 2nd. But it appears the grudge match will continue.
“Well, obviously, there was a lack of public comprehension of the reasons for our challenge to the Board of Ethics,” City of Rye Mayor Josh Cohn told MyRye.com after moving to drop the suit. “And how, just how wrong we thought the Board of Ethics position was and how important that could be for the City.”
“We found ourselves with a heavy burden in having initiated the Article 78 and we were just very happy to find an authoritative voice – The New York Conference of Mayors – that agreed so sweepingly with our position and then enabled us to essentially be able to say, look, there has been good reason here. And there’s reason for correction to take place.”
Good People, Misguided. Next Stop: City Code
The Mayor, who appointed the Board of Ethics members to their posts maintains they are all “good people”. “I appointed them and my only surmise is they were misguided.”
Cohn is moving forward now to assemble a panel to review the City’s Code of Ethics. He maintains the Code is “ancient” – it dates back to 1960 – and has shortcomings that need a refresh. Cohn says it will be early fall before a panel is assembled and the approach is discussed at City Council.
Board of Ethics Stands by Its Actions
Through its legal counsel Yankwitt LLP, the Board of Ethics issued a statement on Monday its view the suit was without merit and standing by the Board’s original opinion.
“We are pleased that the lawsuit, Josh Cohn, et al. v. City of Rye Board of Ethics, has been completely dismissed …,” began the statement.
It continues, in part: “Petitioners, however, persisted in their meritless, wasteful suit, and only agreed to dismiss their own case after the Board of Ethics’ counsel sent them the enclosed letter making clear that dismissal was required by law … Petitioners have made public statements attempting to malign the Board of Ethics, its advisory opinion, and regarding the purported merits of the dismissed lawsuit. Petitioners’ statements are incorrect. The Board of Ethics’ confidential advisory opinion was correct. The Board of Ethics stands by it.”
The Board declined to comment on the intent of the Mayor to review the existing City of Rye Code of Ethics.