|City Council President Yuhanna Edwards|
|City Council Member Steve Horton|
|City Council Member Diane Munro-Morris|
|Incoming City Council President Karen Watts|
On Thursday, December 30, 2010, the lame duck Mount Vernon City Council adopted a controversial spending plan that included $50K for outside contracted services. The City Council led by Councilwoman Karen Watts tried to sneak $70K into the budget while many departments throughout the City faced elimination of services and personnel.
Public outcry and a series of articles in The Journal News forced the City Council to back peddle and deviate from their pre-mediated agenda of driving the City of Mount Vernon into fiscal ruin. At the Board of Estimate meeting on Thursday, December 30, 2010, the Board of Estimate and Contract voted to reduce this questionable budget line item by $20K. In previous years, the City Council only had a total of $20K for “outside contracted services”. Mount Vernon Exposed™® first broke the story that City Councilwoman Karen Watts was illegally soliciting bids for a public relations firm and was quite possibly involved in collusion with public relations firms.
The City Council had the highest increase out of any department in the City of Mount Vernon. It is quite clear that incoming City Council President Karen Watts has her own agenda and it is not one that echoes fiscal responsibility. The City Council from the looks of it plans to spend most of 2011 litigating in the courts. The lame duck council recently voted to retain the law firm of Silverberg and Zalantis, LLP at a rate of $275.00 per hour. Mount Vernon taxpayers must keep this lame duck council under the microscope to ensure that they do not sneak and try to pilfer away the City coffers midyear with crafty legislation. With that being said, Mount Vernon Exposed has issued an end of year report card for the Mount Vernon City Council.
Yuhanna Edwards- (F) – Yuhanna Edwards likes to hear himself talk. He flip flops from issue to issue, is easily manipulated, and doesn’t really have an understanding of the day to day operations of the City of Mount Vernon. Mr. Edwards has used on several occasion this year denied person their freedoms that were given to then under the constitution. And Mr. Edwards calls himself a veteran?
Karen Watts – (D) – Ms. Watts does have knowledge of how City government works, but chooses to use her knowledge for her own benefit. The times and the politics have changed tremendously since Ms. Watts served on the Council. Residents are more vocal and there are forums such as these that can alert tens of thousands of people in a matter of minutes. If Ms. Watts chooses to apply her talents for the good of ALL of the people she can be an asset to the City of Mount Vernon.
Roberta Apuzzo –(C) Ms. Apuzzo has the desire to really want to change the City of Mount Vernon. In order to be successful, Ms. Apuzzo must take the lead on issues and not echo constantly what her colleagues are saying on the Council. Ms. Apuzzo appears that she wants to the right thing but she does fully understand the powers between the separate branches of government or the real problems facing The City of Mount Vernon. Ms Apuzzo has shown taxpayers that she can remain independent in the midst of extreme pressure. Ms. Apuzzo was the only Council member that voted against Atlantic Development, a controversial housing project in downtown Mount Vernon.
Steve Horton – (C) – Mr. Horton has been around the City of Mount Vernon and its politics for over two decades. Mr. Horton fully understands how the City works and communicates well with the public. However, Mr. Horton has not exhibited that he can be an independent voice. It is always predictable as to which way Mr. Horton will vote on an issue. Mr. Horton however did take the lead on trying to put a halt and find answers to the foreclosure problem plaguing the City of Mount Vernon. Mr. Horton should spend less time politicking and more time governing.
Diane Munro-Morris – (F) - Ms. Munro-Morris was not ready to assume the role as Councilmember. Ms. Munro-Morris does have public service experience as a school board trustee. As a person with extensive knowledge of the schools in Mount Vernon, Ms. Munro-Morris should have taken a more active role in trying to alleviate concerns of residents that come before the body that she serves on. School taxes make up 60% of the property tax bill. Ms. Munro-Morris needs to spend the next year getting out into the community and listening to what the taxpayers are saying. She also needs to get a clear understanding of the business community. There is not much for her to do this as she is up for re-election in 2011.