SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
CHIEF OF STAFF YOLANDA ROBINSON
MAYOR CLINTON I. YOUNG JR
On Wednesday January 27th, 2010 The Mount Vernon City Council held their 2nd bi-weekly meeting for the month of January. Mount Vernon Democratic District leader Joseph Pombo urged Mount Vernon lawmakers to stop wasteful spending. Pombo stated that he has been a resident of Mount Vernon for over 20 years and during this time his property taxes have gone up significantly. Pombo further insisted that lawmakers institute a hiring freeze. Many municipalities throughout Westchester County and even throughout the nation have taken this route to reduce the size of government to provide tax relief to homeowners.
Pombo must have been talking about Mayor Young’s Chief of Staff Yolanda Robinson when he asked the Mount Vernon City Council to stop wasteful spending. On Friday, January 29th, 2010, The Mount Vernon Industrial Development Agency approved the transfer of $30,000 annually for the salary of the Chief of Staff to supervise and coordinate all economic development activities for the City of Mount Vernon.
Yolanda Robinson was hired as Chief of Staff in 2008. The amount that was approved in the budget for Robinson’s salary at the time that she was hired was $77,250. In a Journal News article on August 15, 2008, Mayor Young said he agreed to hire Yolanda Robinson at a salary of $107,000. How can Mayor Young agree to hire Robinson at a salary of $107,000 if only $77,250 was budgeted? Mayor Young then went on to state that he learned that the revenue needed to increase Robinson’s salary came from The Urban Renewal Agency.
Robinson $30K annual raise has been met with controversy in the last. In 2008, Mayor Young had signed a check to issue payment to Robinson even though she was appointed to the IDA as a voting member. Comptroller Maureen Walker refused to sign the payment because voting members are not entitled to compensation.
Chief of Staff Yolanda Robinson Wants $30k Raise
Chief of Staff Yolanda Robinson Wants $30k Raise
ROBINSON’S SALARY NOT BUDGETED CORRECTLY IN ANNUAL ESTIMATE
Mount Vernon taxpayers are outraged that a portion of Robinson’s salary comes from the Mount Vernon Industrial Development Agency. Funds from the IDA are earmarked for economic development. Robinson stated publicly in The Journal News on August 15th, 2008 that going forward her salary would be budgeted correctly and that her salary would be included under one budget line.
Two years later, Robinson’s salary is not budgeted correctly and is still not under one budget line item. Mayor Young and Robinson stated on several occasions that the reason Robinson is compensated from IDA funds is because Young’ s predecessor Ernie Davis’ Chief of Staff was compensated that way. Mayor Young and Yolanda Robinson conveniently left out that Davis’ Chief of Staff was an attorney that drafted legal documents and provided legal advice to the Mayor and fellow Board members. Robinson is not licensed to practice law.
JOB DESCRIPTION AND DUTIES
Yolanda Robinson’s job duties that would earn her an additional $30K would be to supervise and coordinate all economic development activities for the City of Mount Vernon. She would also be responsible for creating a new IDA brochure. Mount Vernon Exposed has yet to find one person that has been issued or has even reviewed this brochure. Robinson would also be responsible for writing press releases, prepare speeches, and draft correspondence for the IDA and the Urban Renewal Agency.
POOR ATTENDENCE RECORD AT IDA MEETINGS
Mount Vernon Exposed recently reviewed all IDA meeting minutes for 2008 and 2009 to get a better understanding of what Yolanda Robinson does for the IDA. For starters, Yolanda Robinson has a problem with attending meetings. In 2008, Mount Vernon Exposed could find just two meeting minutes that confirmed Yolanda Robinson’s attendance at their monthly meetings. In 2009, Mount Vernon Exposed could only find three meeting minutes that listed Robinson in attendance. However, Mount Vernon Exposed found a handful of meeting minutes that listed John Boykin, the foul mouthed punk and former Special Assistant to Mayor Young, as being in attendance.
The January 23, 2009 special meeting for the IDA meeting minutes was amended to remove Helen Blackwood, Yolanda Robinson, and John Boykin as attendees. Mount Vernon Exposed could find no explanation as to why these individuals were removed from the meeting minutes as attendees. Coincidently, a resolution approving Robinson’s $30,000 transfer from the IDA to increase her salary was voted on and approved at this meeting.
YOLANDA ROBINSON VIOLATES HER CONTRACT WITH IDA
The resolutions that were approved by the IDA Board and the City Council required Robinson to issue quarterly reports to the City and the IDA regarding said economic development activities. Mount Vernon Exposed could find no reports from Yolanda Robinson to the IDA for calendar year 2008 and Mount Vernon Exposed was only provided with two reports for calendar year 2009.
Mount Vernon Exposed took a close look at the two reports dated June 1st, 2009 and December 31st, 2009 respectively. The two reports appear to identical in nature except for a few minor changes. A few of the projects that Mount Vernon taxpayers have paid Yolanda Robinson $60,000 for are as follows:
CHIEF OF STAFF YOLANDA ROBINSON FILES REPORTS WITH MOUNT VERNON IDA
CHIEF OF STAFF YOLANDA ROBINSON FILES REPORTS WITH MOUNT VERNON IDA
(IN YOLANDA ROBINSON’S OWN WORDS)
June 1st, 2009 IDA Report
· On January 7th, 2009 attended Governor Paterson’s State of the State address. (What was the outcome of Robinson’s attendance at the State of the State address? What did she accomplish? How much did this trip cost Mount Vernon taxpayers?)
· On January 22, 2009 attended WESTCHESTER COUNTY ASSOCIATION BREAKFAST WITH ANDY SPANO. Discussed the possibility of a tour of the Greyston bakery in Yonkers and future partnerships. (Why are Mount Vernon taxpayers paying Robinson to attend a breakfast with Andy Spano? How will a tour of the Greyston Bakery in Yonkers benefit Mount Vernon taxpayers? Is Greyston Bakery looking to relocate Mount Vernon? Was the tour of Greyston Bakery ever organized? Is Grayson Bakery looking to hire Mount Vernon youth and/or residents?)
· Attended NYCOM conference in Albany on Monday, February 23rd, 2009. There, I spoke to Governor Patterson briefly and State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson regarding the status of economic development and state appropriations for Mount Vernon. I attended the following NYCOM sessions: Federal Stimulus Money for Governments and The State Economic Development in New York. (Why did Robinson need to drive all the way up to Albany to speak briefly with Governor Patterson and Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson? Isn’t Ruth Hassel-Thompson elected to serve the citizens of Mount Vernon? Doesn’t she owe it to Mount Vernon taxpayers to discuss state appropriations? How much did this trip cost Mount Vernon taxpayers? Couldn’t a phone call, letter, or e-mail sufficed? How much Federal Stimulus money did Mount Vernon receive?)
· Commissioner Jeff Williams and I have met with members of the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce of Commerce board to discuss shared resources and programs: (What resources can the City of Mount Vernon and the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce quite possibly share? Is the sharing of these resources going to benefit Mount Vernon taxpayers?)
· Attended public hearings and facilitated Request for Proposals and Legislation for Memorial Field Project. (What public hearings for Memorial Field project? When were they held?)
· I have been working with Commissioner Jeff Williams and IDA Executive Director Carmen Sylvester on a new IDA Brochure. (Is the brochure complete? Is the IDA brochure on the City of Mount Vernon’s website- www.cmvny.com ?)
· Organized and facilitated the Westchester Municipal Officials meeting in Mount Vernon March 12th, 2009. I continue to work with the organization to promote shared resources and business development. (What was the outcome of this meeting? How did this meeting benefit Mount Vernon taxpayers?)
· March 13th, 2009, I attended the New York State Legislative Breakfast in Tarrytown. Discussed upcoming stimulus funding and economic development projects with Governor Paterson’s Regional Representative Richard Thomas. (What did Robinson accomplish by attending this meeting? What stimulus funding and economic development projects are slated for Mount Vernon? How did this meeting benefit Mount Vernon taxpayers?)
· Facilitated meeting with Consolidated Edison to discuss future business projects in the City. (How does Con Edison doing business in the City of Mount Vernon benefit Mount Vernon taxpayers? Did Con Edison make a committment to hire Mount Vernon youth/residents?)
· Participated in negotiations with Atlantic-Kenwood Development to develop a mixed use project on Gramatan Avenue in Mount Vernon. (What was negotiated at this meeting? How does this meeting benefit Mount Vernon taxpayers? Did Atlantic Development offer Robinson a bribe or other incentive in exchange for promising to lobby City Officials for a favorable vote on this project?)
· Spearheaded a committee to host Mount Vernon’s first Business Expo in September 2009. We have prepared and sent out sponsorship letters and save the date cards. This is an on-going project with the Chamber of Commerce. (Were funds appropriated for this project in the 2009 budget? How much did this Expo cost Mount Vernon taxpayers?)
· I met Senator Gillibrand and her staff regarding stimulus/economic development packages for Mount Vernon. As a result of our discussions, Senators Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer have proposed one million dollars for The City of Mount Vernon to establish an EOC. (What was the outcome of this meeting? Did Mount Vernon ever received the proposed one million dollars or was this just hype because both Gillibrand and Schumer are up for re-election this year)
December 31st, 2009 IDA Report
· Frank Fraley of the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce on November 6th to discuss shared resources and programs: (Didn’t Robinson list this item in her June 1st, 2009 report to the IDA? What was accomplished at this meeting and what shared resource initiatives have been put in place since the last IDA report of June 2009?)
· Attend Memorial Field planning meeting public hearings and facilitated Request for Proposals and legislation for Memorial Field Project. (Didn’t Robinson list this item in her June 1st, 2009 report to the IDA?)
· Attend regular Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce and Fleetwood business meetings. (What was accomplished at these meetings? Did you attend any business meetings on the South Side of Mount Vernon? How did these meeting benefit Mount Vernon taxpayers?)
· Organized Mount Vernon Coalition press conferences and Town Hall meeting at Dole Center on September 9th, 2009. (Is the Mount Vernon hospital closing? What was accomplished at the Town Hall meeting?)
· I have been working with Commissioner Jeffrey Williams and IDA Executive Director Carmen Sylvester on a new IDA brochure. (Didn’t Robinson list this item in her June 1st, 2009 report to the IDA? How long does it take to design a new brochure for the IDA?
· Spearheaded a committee to host Mount Vernon’s first Business Expo in September 2009. We have prepared and sent out sponsorship letters and save the date cards. This is an on-going project with the Chamber of Commerce (Didn’t Robinson list this item in her June 1st, 2009 report to the IDA?
· March 13th, 2009, I attended the NYCOM Legislative Priority setting breakfast in Albany. Discussed upcoming stimulus funding and economic development projects with Governor Patterson’s regional representative Richard Thomas. (Robinson stated in her June 1st, 2009 report to the IDA that she attended New York State Legislative Breakfast in Tarrytown and met with Richard Thomas. How can Robinson be in two places at the same time? Does Robinson possess special superhero powers? Did Mount Vernon taxpayers pay for Robinson to take a private jet to Albany?)
· November 9th, 2009 I accepted NYCOM’s invitation to participate in a round table discussion to develop business and government legislative priorities in Albany. Also, attended Governor Paterson’s Joint Session on in Albany (Couldn’t this have been accomplished with a conference call, e-mail, or video-conferencing? How much did this trip cost Mount Vernon taxpayers?)
FINDINGS OF FACT
Yolanda Robinson was hired by Mayor Young as Chief of Staff. Robinson was not hired to supervise all economic development activities for The City of Mount Vernon. If this is the vision that Mayor Young had for Robinson, then Robinson should have been hired as the Planning Commissioner.
Mount Vernon taxpayers should not have to pay for Mayor Young’s shortcomings and failing to review the budget prior to the hiring of Robinson.
Yolanda Robinson attendance was extremely poor at IDA meeting in 2008 and 2009. Robinson’s reports to the IDA are incomplete and duplicative. The reports as submitted, does not go into detail about the projects that were undertaken in 2008 and 2009. If Robinson was to suddenly quit or take a leave of absence, it would be impossible to know what Robinson was working on. Robinson has repeatedly not adhered to the terms of the resolutions that were approved by the IDA and The Mount Vernon City Council. Mount Vernon Exposed could not find any reports submitted by Robinson to the IDA in 2008 and Robinson only submitted two reports in 2009. The resolution that was approved by the IDA requires that Robinson submit a report to the IDA quarterly.
Yolanda Robinson has spent a substantial amount of time in Albany. Such trips are very costly for Mount Vernon taxpayers. Mount Vernon taxpayers would have been served better if Robinson would have reached out to Mount Vernon’s elected officials that are currently serving in Albany.
In closing, Robinson is abusing her authority as Chief of Staff and has not provided a substantial and legitimate reason as to why Mount Vernon taxpayers should continue to supplement her income with $30,000 from the Mount Vernon Industrial Development Agency. It is hereby recommended and in the best interest of Mount Vernon taxpayers that the Mount Vernon City Council denies any and all resolutions for Yolanda Robinson that may be presented before such body for approval.