Embattled Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton I. Young
Kenneth Plummer of Kensworth Consulting
On Wednesday December 16th, 2009 a public hearing was held at City Hall for a massive affordable housing project that is proposed to be built on Gramatan Avenue across from Hartley Park. Present at the hearing were the developers, Kenneth Plummer, John Boykin, residents of Mount Vernon, and an army of Mayor Young followers, many of them district leaders. The presentation started off with a long, boring, monotone speech from Planning Commissioner Jeffrey Williams. During Williams’ speech he informed the City Council members, that in order for this development to be built, a major change in the zoning code would have to occur.
The meeting notice on the City of Mount Vernon website stated that the public hearing was for the purpose of hearing public comments regarding the confusing, difficult to read 2000 page Draft Environmental Impact Study document (DEIS), not for changes to the zoning code. However, this last minute bait and switch has is habitual of Mayor Young’s administration. Mount Vernon residents quickly learned that two consecutive public hearing would be held in one night, the first on the change to the zoning code, the latter for comments on the (DEIS).
Councilman Randolph started the public hearing session by asking for public comment in favor of the project. A slew of Mayor Young supporters and many young men that said that they were working with County Legislator Lyndon Williams and were promised jobs spoke one after the other. However, the developers mentioned nothing to the audience and made no such promises on the record that they were committing to any hiring of Mount Vernon residents. Many of the persons that spoke in favor of the project either had a financial interest in the project or were not residents of Mount Vernon.
Next Councilman Randolph asked the audience if there was anyone opposed to the project. Residents lined up one by one to express their concerns and dissatisfactions with the way the Young administration is handling this project. Many expressed concerns that the neighboring schools, already operating over capacity could not handle any more students. Another resident mentioned that Mount Vernon is already one of the most densely populated cities in the country, and Mount Vernon residents could not afford a project like this and if approved will further negatively impact Mount Vernon’s social services.
One resident, a neighbor living in the neighborhood directly affected by this development stated to Council members, that he had not received any notification in the mail and only had found out about the meeting by word of mouth from his neighbor. Next, Mount Vernon resident Samuel Rivers approached the podium to state that he was opposed to this particular development because members of the Young administration and several City Council members have not been forthcoming to the public with information regarding this project. Many of Mayor Young’s cheerleaders were upset that Mr. Rivers was speaking out against this project. Prior to Mr. Rivers even entering City Council Chambers, he was stopped in the hallway by Jamie Dickerson, a close ally to Mayor Young and alleged consultant working alongside another Mayor Young crony, Kenneth Plummer. These two along with others are allegedly reaping huge financial rewards for steering and navigating this project through City Hall.
Mr. Dickerson during his interaction with Mr. Rivers had told Rivers that he didn’t care about the politics in Mount Vernon but would appreciate it if Rivers didn’t speak about that stuff and embarrass the City and disrespect the developers. Rivers was confused. Rivers told Dickerson, that this is a public hearing and he came to redress his grievances, a constitutionally protected right and that no one is going to take that away from him. From the outside looking in, it would appear that Dickerson was trying to extort and intimidate Rivers from speaking. Rivers paid Mayor Young’s cohort no mind and proceeded to City Council Chambers.
While Rivers was speaking he was very blunt and told the developers that they are not going to come into Mount Vernon and shove this down the throats of Mount Vernon residents, no matter how much money slid under the table and no matter what back room deals were struck. Rivers also told the developers that they were preaching to the wrong choir and asked them why didn’t they wait until the new City Council members take office in 15 days? “I hope the people that the Young administration loaded in this room tonight speaking in favor of this project have set aside funds for legal fees” Rivers added. Rivers concluded his statement by stating that many standard operating procedures were not adhered to and that City Council members appeared to have broken the rules for this particular developer. One has to wonder how much money really did change hands. Rivers also put the Council on notice by letting them know that a formal complaint was filed with the United States Attorney’s office. Hopefully a fully fledged investigation will give Mount Vernon residents the answers that they are seeking.
Mayor Young pal Kenneth Plummer sat in disgust and uttered sarcastic remarks from his mouth every time that someone went to the podium to speak out against the project. While speakers spoke out in opposition of the project, Plummer, Boykin, and Dickerson, the minions who do the bidding of Mayor Young, could be heard sneakily whispering and conspiring in the audience. Plummer looked extremely annoyed and agitated when City Councilwoman elect Karen Watts took the podium. Ms. Watts was very on the ball and appeared to have read through the 2000 page document. Ms. Watts was well aware that many promises were made in the past to the Mount Vernon community regarding employment that were not kept and she did not want to see the same thing happen again. Mount Vernon residents are very fortunate to have elected Ms. Watts to the City Council. With her on the Council we can be assured that she will scrutinize every document and ask all of the pertinent questions. We can also be assured that you cannot slip her a brown bag to get her to change her vote.
While the meeting was nearing adjournment, Jamie Dickerson, kept uttering profane and threatening words towards Mr. Rivers. Mr. Dickerson said such things as “I will kick your ass”; “Meet me outside” “Stop Fucking with me” “Why did you disrespect the developer?” “I am not Kenny Plummer”. Mr. Dickerson, upset that Rivers was speaking his mind and exercising his constitutionally protected right of free speech was behaving like a person that forgot to take their medication and has seen one too many Godfather movies. Mount Vernon residents must not forget that porch puppy John Boykin, told Rivers "You must sit back and learn the ways of the Godfather", during his 69 minute expletive filled rant. Dickerson appearing to have no self control or home training began to get more violent and belligerent the calmer Rivers spoke to him. Rivers told him, “If there are issues you would like to address with me like a man, then speak to me like a man, otherwise I do not recognize the foolishness coming from your mouth.” Dickerson in a moment of rage shoved Rivers. Rivers in a very stern voice let Dickerson know to not put his hands on him again. The developers allegedly paying Dickerson thousands of dollars to steer the project through City Hall witnessed the hothead in action that they have on their payroll. Time will tell if Atlantic/Kenwood Development will keep these ignoramuses’ employed. Plummer and Dickerson are the kinds of morons that the elected Mayor of Mount Vernon chooses to associate with. It is unclear what promises were made to the developer or how much money slid under the table, but one thing is for certain, all eyes are on this project. Atlantic/Kenwood Development is in for a long and costly battle.