WARNING: DO NOT SUBMIT ANY INFORMATION REGARDING CRIMINAL ACTIVITY OR ETHICS VIOLATIONS IN CITY HALL TO THE CITY COUNCIL OR THE BOARD OF ETHICS. IF YOU DO SO, YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO RETALIATION BY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS.
Dear City of Mount Vernon Employee and Taxpayer,
I feel your pain. The City of Mount Vernon has been rocked by scandal after scandal. The corrupt acts of officials in The City of Mount Vernon have resulted in The City of Mount Vernon being the highest taxed city in America. When you speak to your elected officials, it goes in one ear and out the other.
It is even sadder that when public servants report acts of theft, waste, and abuse they are made targets of retaliation and in some cases, terminated from their positions. The political system in the City of Mount Vernon is not designed to weed out corruption, but instead, is designed to benefit a chosen few who choose not to “rock the boat or make waves”.
There is also case law to support this theory. Please see Garcetti v. Ceballos. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garcetti_v._Ceballos) If a public worker makes a statement about corruption pursuant to his position as a public employee, rather than as a private citizen, his speech has no First Amendment protection. Therefore, it is imperative that all statements regarding corruption and ethics violations are made to media outlets such as Mount Vernon Exposed. ™® This is your only whistleblower protection. The Mount Vernon City Council has failed to enact legislation for whistleblower protection even though this subject has come up on the record several times.
The Mount Vernon City Council and others known and unknown, unlawfully, intentionally, and willingly did combine, conspire, confederate, and agree together and with each other to stack the aforementioned Board of Ethics with their personal friends and political cronies.
The City of Mount Vernon Board of Ethics has been inactive in the City of Mount Vernon for over one year. After a complaint was filed alleging corruption in the Department of Public Works, all but one member of the five member Board of Ethics resigned. The members who resigned did not want to be a part of the City Council's political witch hunt.
The City Council in 2010 had a chance to correct many of the problems in City Hall. The City Council instead chooses to operate in darkness and continue the culture of corruption in the City of Mount Vernon. In October, 2010 an ad was placed in The Journal News seeking Mount Vernon residents to serve on The Board of Ethics. Not one City resident responded.
In January 2011, after several persons questioned the status of the Board of Ethics, members of the City Council began to again solicit resumes from their personal friends. This time an ad soliciting persons for the Board of Ethics was not placed in The Journal News. Over the past few months there has been allegations that members of the Mount Vernon City Council has been engaged in criminal activity including but not limited to bribery, money laundering, and tax evasion. The City Council wanted to make sure that persons appointed to the Board of Ethics did not investigate them and they wanted to make sure that they maintain complete control over them. The actions of the City Council are no different than that of Mayor Young and his actions with the Inspector General.
On February 13, 2011, City Council President Karen Watts instructed City Clerk George Brown to set up appointments for the candidates that submitted letters of interests to serve on the Board of Ethics. Councilwoman Diane Monroe asked about a resume of one of her personal friends, Haneef Nelson that submitted a resume a few months back.
On Tuesday March 8, 2011 the Mount Vernon City Council voted to appoint members to the Board of Ethics during their work session, a move that has many people scratching their heads. The City Council purposely wanted to fly under the radar and avoid scrutiny from the public. The City Council even appointed a person to the Board of Ethics that does not reside in the City of Mount Vernon. The City Charter mandates that all members of the Board of Ethics reside in the City of Mount Vernon. The City Council has since tried to cover up their blatant violation of the law by rescinding their appointment of the non-resident to the Board of Ethics. The City Council, as usual fell asleep at the wheel.
The Board of Ethics will not be effective in fighting corruption in Mount Vernon. The Board of Ethics, which is supposed to function as an independent body, does not have subpoena power. All Boards of Ethics in surrounding municipalities have subpoena power. Council President Karen Watts is opposed to giving the Board of Ethics subpoena power, but fired back stating that the City Council has subpoena power. The Board of Ethics is merely just an extension of the City Council, appointed to do the dirty work that the City Council is afraid to do. Disaster is eminent.
By not giving the Board of Ethics, subpoena power, the Board of Ethics is at the mercy of the City Council and will think twice about investigating City Council members. The City Council is trying to redistribute wealth amongst their friends and political cronies. They are attempting to commit the same crimes as Mayor Young and his administration. They are removing lucrative City contracts from Mayor Young and hooking up their personal friends that worked on their campaign instead of sending out requests for proposals. City Council President Karen Watts stated that the City Council will oversee all issues brought by the Board of Ethics.
The new members of the politically motivated Board of Ethics are: Mary Harris, Ronnie Cox, Haneef Nelson, and Will Simmons. Will Simmons is the only person appointed to the Board of Ethics that will not play politics and not be afraid to investigate corruption, no matter where the pursuit may lead. Unfortunately, Mr. Simmons will not have the necessary votes to take action because of the political hacks that will be serving with him on the Board of Ethics. The new members of the Board of Ethics will be sworn in on March 23, 2011 at 5:45 P.M.
The City Council now has their own political pit-bull to use to go after their political enemies. The City Council is now free to award Serapher Conn Halevi the booting contract. Serapher Conn Halevi is a member of the Westchester Black Woman’s Political Caucus. Council President Karen Watts and Councilwoman Diane Munro are also members of the Westchester Black Woman’s Political Caucus. If one was to do a little digging there are various other members in City Hall with connections to this organization. Conflict of interest? Apparently not, at least in the eyes of the Mount Vernon City Council. The City Council is now in the clear to line their pockets with taxpayer dollars and shell out lucrative contracts to their friends. Hence, the reason that they is now a Board of Ethics that will not investigate the corrupt actions of the Mount Vernon City Council. The City Council is a mirror image of the corrupt administration of Mayor Young. Do not be surprised if the City Council decides to partner up with Mayor Young in his re-election campaign. As the saying goes “There are no permanent friends in politics, only permanent interests”
Samuel L. Rivers
Chairman, Black Political Caucus of Westchester, Inc.