Friday, December 31, 2010

LAME DUCK CITY COUNCIL VOTES TO CONTINUE FISCAL IGNORANCE IN 2011; KEEPS $50K IN BUDGET FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM


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.

CITY COUNCIL VOTED TO HIRE LAW FIRM                                                            


Saturday, December 25, 2010

MOUNT VERNON CITY COUNCIL CONTINUES TO ABUSE PUBLIC FUNDS; CITY COUCIL MEMBER MAY FACE ETHICS AND/OR CRIMINAL CHARGES

City Council President Yuhanna Edwards

City Councilwomen Karen Watts

While governments across the country are doing more with less, the government in the City of Mount Vernon, for some strange reason feels they are exempt from cutting spending.  When cuts are made, they come from a vindictive and selfish approach without rhyme or reason.  

This year we have two budgets before the people of Mount Vernon.  One that was prepared by Mayor Young that calls for a 5.5% property tax increase and one that was prepared by the City Council and the Comptroller that calls for a 4.4% property tax increase.  

On Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 Mount Vernon residents got a chance to weigh in on the 2011 spending plan.  The standing room only public hearing was the only chance for the public to voice their opinion before the Board of Estimate and Contract adopted the 2011 spending plan. 
 
While the two budgets differ when it comes to cutting spending and downsizing government, one budget line item remains the same in both budgets.  Under the line item “Outside Contracted Service” members of the Mount Vernon City Council have sneakily added an additional $50K into this budget line item for a total of $70K, a 250% increase in spending over the prior year. 

Over the past few weeks’s members of the public have contacted Mount Vernon Exposed ™® about the Mount Vernon City Council’s arrogance and continued abuse of public funds.  Mount Vernon Exposed™® then began an investigation as to why the Mount Vernon City Council™® needed so much money for “outside services” in these economic times.  On Wednesday December 23rd, 2010, Mount Vernon Exposed™® learned what the $50K for “outside services” was being used for.  

According to the anonymous source, the $50K was being used to hire a high priced political consultant and public relations firm.  The political consultant part of the firm would be to aid Councilwoman Diane Munro-Morris is her re-election bid, and the public relations part of the firm would be to aid the City Council of spreading their propaganda to the masses and to attack Mayor Young at every opportunity.  The name of the public relations firm is Scheinkopf LTD.  The proposal sent to the Mount Vernon City Council dated October 26th, 2010 calls for a fee of $3K per month plus expenses.  The proposal was addressed to the Mount Vernon City Council and the public.  The public however, has never seen a proposal from Scheinkopf LTD.
However, Mount Vernon Exposed™® demanded proof as we always do of such an egregious accusation.  The tipster also told Mount Vernon Exposed™® that there was a deal in place that would benefit a certain (male) candidate that wants to run for Mayor in 2011.  The agreement reached is if the City Council retains the firm at the proposed rate of the $3K per month, the candidate (male) that referred the firm to Council members would receive the service of Scheinkopf, LTD at no charge.  Not a bad deal some would say.  However, taxpayers  are not aware of the “hidden charges” or expenses as Scheinkopf puts it.  Just one mailing to City of Mount Vernon residents could be over $10K per mailing.  

Upon review of the proposal reveals that the attempted hiring of this public relations firm is political in nature and not about getting out the Councils’ message.  The City Council has already shown that they have no respect for the taxpayers in the City of Mount Vernon nor do they care about ethics.  Earlier this year, the City Council retained a law firm that represented them in election matters during their campaign.  The controversial hiring of this law firm came even as some council members expressed their reservations about the lack of expertise with the law firm.  Mount Vernon Exposed™® has learned that Councilwomen Karen Watts was the figurehead behind the hiring of this law firm.  Councilwomen Watts is also the go to person between the candidate (male) and the public relations firm in question Scheinkopf LTD.  

Councilwomen Karen Watts has come under fire lately by City of Mount Vernon taxpayers.  During the December 8th, 2010 meeting before the City Council,  Mount Vernon resident Mike Skylar stated on the record that he wanted Councilwomen Watts to resign because she had an outstanding property tax liability of almost $30K with the City of Mount Vernon.  “Having this kind of outstanding debt, leaves you susceptible to bribes and corruption” said Skylar.  Other residents have stated to Mount Vernon Exposed™® that they do not feel Councilwomen Watts could effectively govern with this outstanding debt  looming over her head.  Some have said it is similar to ethics charges that embattled Congressman Charles Rangel is currently facing.  Councilwomen Karen Watts will be sworn in as City Council president on January 3rd, 2011.  

There is also a question of law if the City Council can legally hire a public relations firm without first obtaining an RFP.  It appears that the hiring of this public relations firm without first obtaining bids is illegal in nature and violates state and local law.  This will not be the first time that the Mount Vernon City Council has violated the law.  It has come to the attention of Mount Vernon Exposed™® that Councilman Steve Horton has already said that he will vote against this abuse of taxpayers’ money just as he has done in the past pertaining to the hiring of counsel to defend against the Inspector General lawsuit.  The Mount Vernon City Council lost that battle due to the hiring of a law firm that was not experienced in municipal law.  The Mount Vernon City Council is appealing the decision of the Hon. Joan Lefkowitz at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars to the City of Mount Vernon taxpayers.  

The hiring of this public relations firm and whether the Mount Vernon City Council can legally do it without first obtaining bids for this service may ultimately come down to being decided by a Judge.  Under New York State municipal law, the hiring of professional services is exempt from the competitive bidding process.  Under state law, professional services are classified as services requiring special skill or specialized expertise.  However, a question of law arises if a public relations firm does fall under this category.  How much skill or expertise is required to attack the Mayor and to prepare a few mailings and newsletters?  Taxpayers however are provided with recourse to bring an action against the City Council.  Taxpayers are provide d this relief under §51 of New York State General Municipal Law.  

        § 51. Prosecution of officers for illegal acts. All officers, agents,
            commissioners and other persons acting, or who have acted,  for  and  on
  behalf of any county, town, village or municipal corporation in this
           state, and each and every one of them, may be prosecuted, and an action
     may be maintained against them to prevent any illegal official act on
the part of any such officers………

There also are possible ethics and/or criminal charges looming for incoming City Council President Karen Watts for collusion and big rigging.  Mount Vernon Exposed™® was informed that the proposal from Scheinkopf  LTD. was sent to her directly.  Such actions are illegal and violate Mount Vernon City Charter §74.  Such proposals should have only been received by the Board of Estimate and Contract of which Councilmember Watts’ is not a member. 

§74  of the Mount Vernon City Charter

§ 74. Proposals.
No contract shall be let, except after the receipt of sealed bids or proposals
therefor, and no bids or proposals shall be received at any time other than at a
regular meeting of said Board and unless they conform to the rules of the Board and
the general ordinances of the City Council. All bids or proposals must be endorsed
by the title of the work or materials to which they related, and the name of the
bidder and his residence or business address. It shall be the duty of each member of
the Board to be present at the time and place mentioned in the public notice for the
opening of bids or proposals, and such meetings shall be open to the public. After all
the bids or proposals have been presented, but not until the time stated in the
public notice for holding the meeting, all bids or proposals shall be opened by some
member of the Board or by its clerk publicly and in the presence of the bidders and
other persons there present, and an abstract of all of such bids or proposals, with
the prices and security offered, shall be transcribed in a book kept for that purpose,
without any change, correction or addition whatever. A majority of the Board need
not be present when such bids or proposals are opened. The Board may reject all
bids or proposals received at any meeting and advertise again for new bids or
proposals to be received at another meeting as above described. No person
submitting, or on whose behalf a bid or proposal is submitted, nor the principal or
sureties on any bond or security accompanying the same shall have the right to
withdraw or cancel any such bid, or proposal, or bond until the Board shall have
awarded the contract for which such bid or proposal is made, and such contract
shall have been duly executed. All proposals or bids submitted as provided in this
chapter shall be accompanied by a certified check, cash or bid bond, for at least five
per centum (5%) of the amount of such bid or proposal. Performance bonds are not
required on any proposal on a purchase contract where the total contract is twenty-five
thousand dollars ($25,000.), or less. (As amended by L.L. 1955, No. 4; L.L. 1962,
No. 7; L.L. 1972, No. 1; L.L. 1988, No. 24


Sheinkopf LTD Proposal                                                              

Mount Vernon Sets Hearing on $86.8m Spending Plan                                                            




Tuesday, December 14, 2010

RACIAL DESCRIMINATION IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THE WESTCHESTER COUNTY COURTS: CORRUPT JUDGES SCHIENKMAN AND DAVIDSON SHOW FAVORITISM TO RACIST WHITE JUDGE

 Embattled Supervising Family Court Judge Kathy Davidson

Corrupt 9th Judicial District Administrative Judge Alan D. Scheinkman
(The ringleader)

Racist Family Court Judge Elect Michelle Shauer



It has come to the attention of Mount Vernon Exposed®™ that racist tactics similar to those used by the Klu Klux Klan are being used by Administrative Judge of the Ninth Judicial district, Alan Scheinkman and Kathie Davidson, Administrative Judge for Family Court, Ninth Judicial district.  

Based upon information and belief, Family Court Judge elect, Michelle Schauer was assigned to Yonkers Family Court beginning in January 2011.  According to sources close to Scheinkman and Schauer, Schauer became extremely angered about the decision to place her in Yonkers.  Mount Vernon Exposed®™ has heard allegations that Michelle Schauer, as Family Court Referee, removed Latino children from their parents simply because the parents did not speak English.  

The Journal News recently covered the horrendous conditions and severe overcrowding in the Yonkers Family Court.  Family Court Judge elect Michelle Schauer decided to take matters into her own hands.  Judge Shauer went out on her own and purchased an asbestos and mold kit.  Judge Schauer then went to the Yonkers Family Court facility on South Broadway and took air samples.  The air samples tested positive for asbestos and mold.

Mount Vernon Exposed investigated Judge-elect Schauer's allegations and found them to be credible.   In a report released by the NYS Office of Court Facilities numerous hazardous conditions were found to exist at the Yonkers Family Court facility.  Some of these dangers include inadequate heating, air conditioning, and ventilation.  Numerous safety issues were also found to exist.  A copy of the report can be found below this story.
It is then alleged that Judge Shauer put her findings in writing to Judge Scheinkman and Judge Davidson informing them that she will not be taking the bench there come January 2011.  According to the source, Judge Shauer described the Yonkers Family Court facility as “uninhabitable”.   Judge Davidson and Judge Scheinkman have been scrambling to find a home for Judge Shauer.  According to the source, Judge Shauer has been getting preferential treatment because she is white.  Judge Malone, who also sits in Yonkers and is black, has been ignored for years and her alleged complaints have fallen on deaf ears. 

Stay tuned for more coverage on this situation………..


Assessment of Yonkers and New Rochelle Family Courts                                                              

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

****BREAKING NEWS**** MOTHER OF FORMER CITY COUNCILWOMAN EILEEN JUSTINO INVOLVED IN FATAL HIT- AND - RUN ACCIDENT


Former City Councilwoman Eileen Justino

Mount Vernon Exposed™® has just been informed that former City of Mount Vernon Councilwoman Eileen Justino’s mother was allegedly involved in a fatal hit and run.  According to The Journal News, Bridget Gambone, 85, was arrested by Bronxville detective and charged with felony leaving the scene of an accident which resulted in a death.  Gambone was arraigned in Bronxville village court and released without bail. 
Gambone is charged with running down popular Bronxville educator Sheryl Chasin.  

 Eileen Justino lost her re-election bid for City Council in 2009.  Sources have told Mount Vernon Exposed that Justino plans to run again in 2011.   Mount Vernon Exposed™® will continue to follow this story.


 WOMAN KILLED BY HIT AND RUN DRIVE                                                                      






Thursday, December 2, 2010

MOUNT VERNON CITY COUNCIL FALLS ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL; MAYOR YOUNG NOT ONLY ONE TO BLAME FOR CESSPOOL OF CORRUPPTION IN MOUNT VERNON

 Embattled Mayor Clinton Young

 Embattled City Council President J. Yuhanna Edwards



With the budget season well under way, Mount Vernon taxpayers are being presented with an encore performance of last year’s showdown between the various branches of government.  Mayor Young has released his debauched 2011 spending plan that is fatally flawed.  Comptroller Maureen Walker publicly called Mayor Young’s actions “reckless” and said that his actions may result in severe financial stress to City taxpayers during and beyond 2011.

On Tuesday, November 23, 2011, Comptroller Walker and her staff thoroughly went through the budget in front of the City Council.  Councilman Horton was not in attendance.  Councilmember’s appeared amazed at such a fraudulent budget that was prepared by Mayor Young.  Council President Yuhanna Edwards said on the record that the budget appears to be a political move by Mayor Young and the gang.  Keeping the tax rate low is key if Mayor Young wants to get re-elected in 2011.  Many contenders have already thrown their names in the ring for this highly contested slugfest.  Council President Yuhanna Edwards is rumored to be a contender.  Mount Vernon Exposed™® will provide an extensive insight into the 2011 Mayoral race in January 2011.

Comptroller Walker stated that Mayor Young knowingly and willingly inflated the revenues and understated the expenses for the 2011 spending plan.  Mayor Young did this in 2010 as well.  Comptroller Walker publicly stated that she is dissatisfied with Mayor Young’s spending plan while Councilmember’s remain silent on this issue.  In fact, Councilmember’s have remained silent on numerous issues affecting the public except for when their actions benefit them directly.

Councilmember’s would rather hire a law firm at taxpayers’ expense to eliminate a position under direct control of Mayor Young,  rather than address numerous quality of life issues affecting Mount Vernon residents.  Councilmember’s lost the legal battle in the courts.  It is unclear if they plan to waste even more of taxpayer’s money during these tough economic times appealing Judge Joan Lefkowitz’ ruling.  Many taxpayers’ agree, Inspector General Harry Stokes must go for many reasons, but the position is important and must remain.  

The self-governing system that Councilman Yuhanna Edwards spoke about does not seem to be working.  The Board of Ethics is on the verge of collapse.  Many members have resigned.  Perhaps, Councilmember’s wanted the Inspector General gone because they too are involved in nefarious dealings.  Mount Vernon Exposed™® has heard of a very ambitious development project (Fun City) that Councilwoman Karen Watts is pushing for.  Councilwoman Watts is going to be City Council President in 2011.  

Mayor Young is not the only one to blame for the cesspool of corruption in the City of Mount Vernon.  Mayor Young can only spend money that is approved by the City Council and the Board of Estimate.  The Mayor, Comptroller, and City Council President sit on the Board of Estimate.   The final budget decision does not rest with the Mayor, but all three Board of Estimate members.  The most dangerous of these three individuals is current City Council President Yuhanna Edwards who blows with the wind.  Councilman Edwards who has exhibited racist behavior on several occasions, does not have a clear understanding of city government.   Instead, he encourages taxpayers to rally and yell at the top of their lungs hoping that someone hears their cries for help.  Councilwoman Diane Munro-Morris is up for re-election in 2011.  She will be careful not to ruffle any feathers because she wants the support of the United Black Clergy.  Her pastor, Dr. W. Darin Moore of Greater Centennial A.M.E Zion Church is the President.  Mayor Young also attends that church.

What does 2011 have in store for Mount Vernon taxpayers?  Hopefully not the same as 2010.

Some of the major accomplishments of The City Council in 2010

  • ·         Voted to eliminate the Office of the Inspector General- (City Council was successfully sued by Corporation Counsel Loretta Hottinger.  Mount Vernon taxpayers must pay thousands because of this ill thought out plan by City Council members.  Law Firm retained by City Council also represented them in the election matters)
  • ·         Voted to approve the controversial low-income Atlantic Development project in downtown Mount Vernon. (Atlantic Development and he City of Mount Vernon are currently being sued by City residents who allege that City officials were arbitrary and capricious in granting the approval to Atlantic Development.  It is alleged that Councilmember’s received kickbacks for their vote on this project)
  • ·         Approved hundreds of thousands of dollars for DPW Commissioner Terrence Horton to construct a brand new park on the corner of E. 5th Street and Union Lane (Council President Yuhanna Edwards is a former business partner of Joan Horton, Terrence Horton’s mother)