Embattled Inspector General Harry M. Stokes
The hiring of Harry M. Stokes as Inspector General in The City of Mount Vernon has been met with controversy from the onset. The creation of the Office of Inspector General was not the problem. The person that was handpicked to become the Inspector General did not sit well with Mount Vernon taxpayers. The position of Inspector General is nothing new to The City of Mount Vernon. Former Mayor Ernest D. Davis had the position of Inspector General listed for years unfunded in the budget under Office of the Mayor.
Mount Vernon Exposed begins its investigative series into the Office of the Inspector General. The dots will be connected as well as answering who, what, when, where, and how Inspector General Harry Stokes rose to power. Harry Stokes has been on the city payroll for over 2 years and has only completed 2 investigative reports for public inspection. There is now legislation before the Mount Vernon City Council addressing the taxpayers concerns about this position. The proposed legislation calls for the removal of funding and possibly abolishing the Office of Inspector General all together. The Inspector General has not disclosed what internal controls that he has implemented tp prevent fraud, waste, and abuse since he was appointed to that position. Corruption is running rampant throughout the administration of Mayor Young.
Inspector General Stokes has only found the time to report on PILOT programs and so called abuse of authority in City Hall. Comptroller Maureen Walker was the focus of both of his one sided investigations. The hiring of Harry Stokes as the Inspector General in the City of Mount Vernon is viewed by taxpayers as monkeyshine. Harry Stokes immediately upon taking office decided to take orders from Mayor Young whom former Special Assistant to the Mayor John Boykin, DPW Commissioner Terrence Horton and other regularly refer to as “The Emperor”. His mission: To ruin comptroller Maureen Walker’s reputation so that she would be tainted in the community ultimately leading to a failed election bid. MISSION FAILED: Comptroller Walker was re-elected with over 70% of the vote in the Democratic primary against another handpicked Mayor Young crony, Marcus Griffith. Griffith has since been appointed to The City of Mount Vernon’s planning board. Stokes would then compile a report stating the Comptroller abused her authority by not issuing payments to the law firm of Wilson and Elser.
Judge Rory Bellantoni issued a decision that The Mount Vernon City Council did not properly retain the law firm to represent The City Council in an Article 78 proceeding against Ravi Batra. Subsequent to that, 1st Deputy Comptroller Thomas Rajala asked Corporation Counsel Loretta Hottinger for an advisory opinion on how to recoup the $39,000 that was illegally paid to the law firm of Wilson and Elser. Hottinger stated in her opinion that Judge Bellantoni “failed to understand clear principles of law” when he rendered his decision. It is bloodcurdling that Mayor Young and his minions in the Democratic Party are even thinking about putting Hottinger on the bench in the event that there becomes a vacancy in the Mount Vernon City Court System.
MULTIPLE EMPLOYEMENT APPLICATIONS ON FILE WITH
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION
Through the New York State Freedom of Information law, Mount Vernon Exposed has obtained multiple employment applications on file with the civil service commission. Initially, Harry Stokes applied for the Commissioner of Management Services, a position now occupied by Mayor Young’s sister Mary. That application was time stamped by the Civil Service Commission on January 7th, 2008 at 10:14 a.m.
On January 11th, 2008, Mayor Young sent a memo to City Council President Loretta Hottinger and her fellow council members requesting that a local law be enacted “establishing an Office of the Inspector General”. Mayor Young further stated that “this position will significantly contribute to a transparent, efficient government for the residents and business owners within the City.”
MAYOR YOUNG REQUESTS LEGISLATION ESTABLISHING OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
Eager to get Harry Stokes onto the City of Mount Vernon payroll and to avoid additional scrutiny, Mayor Young recommended that Stokes apply for the Commissioner of Management Services position first. Next, all that needed to be done to move him over to the Inspector General position would be just erasing Commissioner of Management Services and inserting Inspector General on the application.
After the City Council approved Mayor Young’s legislation establishing the Office of the Inspector General, personnel in City Hall simply took white-out and erased Harry Stokes application and inserted the Inspector General position in its place. The new “Inspector General” application was time stamped January 30, 2008 at 9:26 a.m. Both applications are identical in nature except for the altering of position title.
INSPECTOR GENERAL HARRY STOKES DUBIOUS EMPLOYMENT APPLICATION
QUALIFICATIONS OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
There is a discrepancy about the qualifications adopted by the City Council and the qualifications sent to the City Council by Mayor Young. The resolution adopted by the City Council did not include the minimum qualifications were in the original letter sent to City Council members.
A college degree with ten (10) years experience in law enforcement/inspector general’s office, with a substantial background in conducting investigations/audits, preferably that correspond to the “TYPIAL WORK ACTIVITIES” of this position
-OR-Attorney or CPA licensed to practice in the state of New York for 10 years, with a substantial background conducting investigations/audits, preferably that correspond to the “TYPICAL WORK ACTIVITIES” of this position.
Mayor Young’s handpicked Inspector General does not even meet the minimum requirements of this position. Mount Vernon Exposed has obtained the letters and other correspondence sent to members of the City Council. The resume provide to the City of Mount Vernon by Harry Stokes does not indicate that he has any investigative experience whatsoever.
Office of the Inspector General
(As added by L.L. No. 2008, No. 1)
§ 69. Office established; Inspector General.
There is hereby created an Office of the Inspector General. The head of the office
shall be an “Inspector General” who shall be appointed by the Mayor to hold office
until the end of the term of the mayor by whom he or she was appointed and until
his or her successor is appointed. The Inspector General shall receive an annual
salary to be fixed by the Board of Estimate and Contract. The Inspector General
may appoint a secretary, and shall appoint such other subordinates as may be
prescribed by the Board of Estate and Contact.
§ 69-a. Qualifications of the Inspector General.
The Inspector General shall be a person experienced in the investigation of 207-a
claims, 207-c claims, workers compensation claims, disability claims, sick leave
claims, pre-employment screening, medical investigations, and risk management
possess thorough knowledge of municipal government operations, principles and
practices of public administration, investigative techniques and procedures; and
possess the ability to conduct and oversee audit, develop and enforce internal
auditing controls, and keep confidential information received during the
performance of duties.
§ 69-b. Powers and duties of the Inspector General.
The Inspector General shall have the following powers and duties, which shall be
exercised and performed subject to the provisions of law:
(a) Receive and investigate complaints from any source, or upon his or her
own initiative, concerning allegations of corruption, fraud, criminal activity,
conflicts of interest or abuse in any covered agency;
(b) Inform the heads of departments and/or agencies of such allegations
and the progress of investigations related thereto, unless special circumstance
(c) Determine with respect to such allegation whether disciplinary action,
civil or criminal prosecution, or further investigation by an appropriate federal,
state or local agency is warranted, and to assist in such investigations;
(d) Prepare and provide the Mayor, Comptroller, and City Council,
simultaneously, written reports of such investigations, as appropriate and to the
extent permitted by law, subject to redaction to protect the confidentiality of
(e) Prepare and release to the public written reports of such investigations,
as appropriate and to the extent permitted by law, subject to redaction to protect
the confidentiality of witnesses;
(f) Review and examine periodically the policies and procedures of
departments and/or agencies with regard to the prevention and detection of
corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest or abuse;
(g) Recommend remedial action to prevent or eliminate corruption, fraud,
criminal activity, conflicts of interest or abuse in departments and/or respective
(h) Establish programs for training City officers and employees regarding
the prevention and elimination of corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of
interest or abuse in departments and/or agencies;
(i) Subpoena and enforce the attendance of witnesses;
(j) Administer oaths or affirmations and examine witnesses under oath;
(k) Require the production of any books and papers deemed relevant or
material to any investigation, examination or review;
(l) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, examine and copy or remove
documents or records of any kind prepared, maintained or held by any departments
(m) Require any officer or employee in a covered agency to answer questions
concerning any matter related to the performance of his or her official duties;
(n) Monitor the implementation by departments and/or agencies of any
recommendations made by the Office of the Inspector General;
(o) Pe rform any other functions that are necessary or appropriate to fulfill
the duties and responsibilities of office.
§ 69-c. Responsibilities of agencies, municipal officers and employees.
(a) Every agency, municipal officer or employer shall promptly report to the
Inspector General any information concerning corruption, fraud, criminal activity,
conflicts of interest or abuse by another municipal officer or employee relating to his
or her office or employment, or by a person having business dealings with a covered
agency relating to those dealings.
(b) The knowing failure of any officer or employee to so report, or refuse to
answer questions, may be cause for removal from office or employment or other
(c) Any officer or employee who acts pursuant to this subdivision by
reporting to the Inspector General improper governmental action as defined in §
– 39 –
75(b) of the Civil Service Law shall not be subject to dismissal, discipline or other
adverse personnel action.
(d) The head of any agency shall advise the Mayor within ninety days (90)
of the issuance of a report by the inspector general as to the remedial action that
the departments and/or agency has taken in response to any recommendation for
such action contained in such report.
4 Years, $2 Million, And No Answers