WHINE LESS. LEAD MORE.
Ordinarily, I try to avoid addressing ridiculous lies and political rhetoric by people who just want to blame someone else for their incompetence. But, as the most recent allegations by the Mayor go beyond political talk and into irresponsible defamation of both my team, and me. I will give you the real facts, all of which can be supported and all of which were done in the best interest of the People of Mount Vernon.
Regarding the Water Department. Let’s get some facts straight because the Mayor seems to be wildly confused. Setting aside the fact that she claims the City owes the County for its “water bill” (it doesn’t), the money I moved out of the Water Department in August 2019 was money that belonged to the City. Mayor Thomas never paid the City a nickel of the money it owed from the Water Department. Remember, the Water Department collects money from the residents to provide water (not sewer service) and anything left over at the end of the year belongs to the City, often over $1 million per year. Instead of moving that money over, Mayor Thomas kept it in the Water Department where he controlled the funds so he could pay for things like his criminal defense lawyers, give event contracts to friends & family and worthless “consulting” services by his lobbyists and PR people.
I took the Water Department to Court at my own expense because the City Council refused to act (not one dime of City money was used to bring that case) to shut down that slush fund. His former Water Commissioner perjured himself in the process, covering for Mayor Thomas. He later testified in Court that a ton of money was used for things other than Water Department expenses. Lawrence Porcari is going to jail because of that mess.
How did it happen? I got a list of all the accounts where the Water Department kept money, asked them how much they needed to run the operations, left EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR allocated for the water lining project in the Water Department, and transferred the rest to the Comptroller.
Why the urgency? The City was under a consent order (insanely agreed to by Mayor Thomas) to clean up Memorial Field or face crippling fines, which fines would cost the City millions of dollars. My lawyers not only got the DEC to waive those fines, they got the County to pay for the construction of Memorial Field. Where did the money go? In order to get these concessions from the DEC and the County, we had to clean up the Field ourselves. We used that money to fix the dumping ground at Memorial Field and turn it over to the County. That’s where it went.
How was all of this policed? The City was under Court supervision to make all of this happen, including identifying funds to pay for the cleanup. Even Mayor Thomas didn’t object to using the Water Department funds for this purpose. The County, the Comptroller, the Mayor, and the City Council were all involved in making this deal happen.
Did anyone from the Water Department object at the time or at any time? No. We moved the money in conjunction with John Arena, the Superintendent of the Water Department, making sure he had enough money to run the department. I informed the incoming Water Commissioner of the transfer. I even issued a press release about it.
What else did I do? I cleaned up the Water Department and got rid of the crippling waste and abuse. I went after the lawyers Mayor Thomas paid with Water Department money and got back over $135,000 in a matter of weeks. What did this administration do with that case? Let it die.
Second, let’s talk about what is really worrying the Mayor. She’s worried she’s not going to get to run over the City Council for the next two years if I’m elected. She’s worried she’s going to have to raise your taxes by over twenty percent because she failed to do anything this year or last year. She’s worried she’s going to have to explain why she’s made no progress on finalizing the audits of the City’s finances. She’s worried because she can’t get any more grant money to spread around to her staff. She’s worried because she won’t be able to deliver any sweetheart deals to her developer friends. She’s worried because she won’t have another rubber stamp that mirrors the three candidates she and her developers/Lobbyist partners are funding. But, mostly, she’s worried that people are going to blame her for the mess she caused.
Real leaders don’t worry about being blamed. They take responsibility. They stand up and tell the People what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and why they made the decision they did. That’s why I’m going back to the City Council. I made a promise to the PEOPLE of this City to help turn it around. I will defend my record all day long. I did more in five months than this administration will do in four years.
I am not running for political or personal gain. I’m running to help you “Mayor” be successful, so that “OUR” city can succeed. I don’t need this job or any government office to provide for my family. I have turned down a lot of offers to run for positions at the County, State, and Federal level because of the promise I made to the PEOPLE of this City. Unlike some, I actually intend to keep my promises.
It’s time for the Mayor to spend more time solving problems than complaining about them. If she wants to blame me, that’s her choice. It’s weak and tired. Everyone in this town is sick of hearing about all of the things that cannot get done. Please, start creating solutions and creative ideas on how we can overcome our breakdowns, by providing breakthroughs that solves our problems. That’s real leadership; everyone’s tired of the whining.
To any elected official or department head in City Hall right now, I can only say this: if you can’t do your job, go find something else to do. Because the PEOPLE are the BOSS, and, if they elect me to the City Council, I will put their interests first. And, I will call out anyone who is not doing that. Period.
If you have thoughts or comments about this issue or would like to discuss other topics regarding Mount Vernon, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.