|CORRUPT CORPORATION COUNSEL LORETTA HOTTINGER|
On Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 the Mount Vernon City Council voted to sell 323 E. 3rd Street to Henry Solly for $25,000. Coverage of this transaction was provided in the Journal News the following day. Upon reading the headlines and the article one would gather that some impropriety or corruption or back door deal making took place. However, that is not the case.
Mount Vernon Exposed™® was present during the Mount Vernon City Council work session on February 8th, 2011 when various city properties were discussed including the one the City Council voted to sell to Henry Solly. When the subject property came up for discussion it was a very sticky issue. City Council President Karen Watts and Councilwoman Diane Munro-Morris grilled Corporation Counsel Loretta Hottinger and her trusted sidekick Assistant Corporation Counsel Joana Aggrey for approximately 20 minutes about the 323 E. 3rd Street property.
The councilwoman’s’ intense questioning of Hottinger was to ensure that Mr. Solly paid up his tax arrears of $131K before he was allowed to close on the 323 E. 3rd Street property. Ms. Hottinger informed the council persons that there is a clause in all contracts for city owned properties that the prospective purchaser can have no outstanding tax liabilities. Councilwoman Diane Munro and Council President Karen Watts were adamant that they did not want the property sold to Mr. Solly until all his taxes were paid. They also said they did not want to give the perception that is ok to purchase city property if you owe outstanding taxes.
Council President Watts’ even asked if the Comptroller drafted purchase contracts for the sale of City property. Ms. Hottinger answered no and explained all contracts are prepared by her office. So it was with the advice of Ms. Hottinger that the City Council weighed in making their determination that everything was above board and ok to move forward with the sale of the property to Mr. Solly.
Mount Vernon Exposed™® has earlier reported that there is a conflict of interest within the Office of the Corporation Counsel. Ms. Hottinger sued the City Council on behalf of Mayor Young last year. It has been proven time and time again that Ms. Hottinger is biased towards the City Council and is not capable of being fair and impartial. How can Ms. Hottinger sue the City Council then have the audacity to give them legal advice? Serious reform is needed in City Hall to prevent these conflicts of interest from occurring in the future. In the end, it is only the taxpayers that suffer from incompetent legal advice.
Mayor Young being the political whore that he is didn’t waste any time seizing the spotlight. Mayor Young stated that he will be vetoing the legislation of the sale of 323 E. 3rd Street. Even Stevie Wonder could see that Mayor Young is political grandstanding.
The City Council work sessions are usually never recorded. However Mount Vernon Exposed™® did record the meeting. Elected officials who are corrupt and have something to hide fear the tape recorder. Elected officials who are above board and are honest never fear being recorded. In this case the tape recorder clarified a situation that was misrepresented to the public. As you listen to the recording you will clearly hear that the City Council did act in the best interests of the taxpayers of the City of Mount Vernon.
STATEMENT FROM CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT KAREN WATTS
I would like to address the circumstance surrounding the potential sale of 323 E. 3rd Street. Once again, incomplete information has gone out to the public. The sale of any city owned property requires that there be a contractual agreement, signed by both the City of Mount Vernon (represented by the Corporation Counsel) and the prospective buyer. In that agreement (contract), there is a stipulation that states in part, that the prospective purchaser must pay all taxes on properties owned that are in arrears before the process of securing an additional property can proceed to closing. During this period of time, an estimated 45 days, the property remains in the possession of the City of Mount Vernon. After 45 days, and at the discretion of the Corporation Counsel, the offer of the property can be rescinded and potentially returned to the Real Estate Committee to be offered/sold to another interested party.
It was on this basis, as explained to us by the City of Mount Vernon’s Corporation Counsel, that the City Council voted to accept the offer on the property located at 323 East 3rd Street.
Further, the Charter is silent on this issue. Though it might seem reasonable that properties owned by the city should not be sold to anyone owing taxes, this is not the rule. As department heads and legislators, we cannot make up the rules on a case by case basis. The Charter provides the protocols and we are directed to act within its parameters.
Karen Watts President
Mt. Vernon City Council
Mt. Vernon City Council