The rumor mill has been rife for over a month’s time. The “chatter” is insistent and has become louder and louder. It is also being kept under wraps. Calls and inquiry of Yonkers City Hall continue to go unanswered. Awaiting a response is tantamount to the absurdity described in Samuel Beckett’s “En attendant Godot", that is, “Waiting for Godot”. City Hall’s silent dismissal of inquiry demands a symbiotic rather than a respectful response. City Hall, and specifically Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone, cannot be permitted refuge when action taken at his behest bears onerously on those still awaiting his serving the public good.
The strong mayor form of government insinuated into the Yonkers body politic may have had its proponents and detractors when first instituted. From conception to present day execution, it has deflected attention and purpose of many elected officials to subscribe to blindly “serving” the mayor and relegating Yonkersites to the scrap heap. The unfolding saga of deceit and subterfuge of the public will is such to have forceably chiseled Yonkersites out of any future equation.
The rumor mill has been spewing out tidbits of information accepted as “facts” by some, yet is unsubstantiated to date. The political landscape has been redrawn on actions taken and being taken to form a basis of conduct derived from Mayor Amicone’s reactions to a “pending" indictment of him. Reference to Ridge Hill and the Struever, Fidelco, Cappelli (SFC) projects is heard.
The “pending” indictment of Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone is the missing domino to City Hall’s only exemplary attribute, that is to “plot” its way one step ahead of being caught for some alleged wrongdoing.
The “plot” seemingly started when Mayor Amicone launched a poll to ascertain his potential to challenge incumbent Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Mayor Amicone was stopped in his tracks when reluctantly he overcame his denial of the fact that his negative ratings were so great as to deny him the accolades commensurate with such a win. Instead, Mayor Amicone stealthily retreated from his intention for higher office as if his battle was being fought in Gallipoli. Mayor Amicone’s eviction from Thrace was both politically numbing and embarrassing.
It was at this time when Mayor Amicone’s Achilles’ Heel was exposed. The chess pieces would be redeployed. Mayor Amicone had not escaped scrutiny as he had thought. What had at one time been described to be no more threatening than a yelping Chihuahua’s was now allegedly being replaced by the determined “pit-bull" Feds.
Mayor Amicone’s charge of the Charter Revision Commission to permit him carry out the plot concocted by mayoral consultant and strategist Anthony Giumbruno to permit Mayor Amicone’s ability to abdicate his office while promoting succession to his trusted appointment Deputy Mayor William Regan was maintained. Despite Mayor Amicone not considering a run for political office and the possibility of rescinding term limits long ago dashed by its telling within the virtual pages of the Yonkers Tribune, Mayor Amicone maintained his resolve for the Charter Revision Commission to formulate a referendum to come before the public for a vote this November 2010 Election Day. The Charter Revision Commission submitted to the mayor’s will. It defined the parameters for succession. It did so by skirting notice demanded of it by law. Legal notice was not afforded the public. Yonkers Tribune is in possession of documents that show request of public notice be made a day after a meeting took place. Further, no assembly of a majority of the Charter Revision Commission Board of Directors was ever conducted to make notice of a Public Hearing and its subsequent decision to move ahead with a referendum. As has so often been the case of past mayoral conduct, Phil Amicone and his obedient staff had allegedly won another battle over democratic process by autocratic mayoral fiat. [See "Charter Revision Commission: Ignorance or Plot By Hezi Aris"].
Federal investigation and indictment of former Yonkers City Council Majority Leader and Councilwoman Sandy Annabi, former Yonkers Republican City Committee Chairman Zehy Jereis, and Anthony Mangone, Esq., has yet to be concluded. Rumors continue that convicted felon Al Pirro, Esq., who served as a lobbying consultant to developer Forest City Ratner with regard to the Ridge Hill Development project, concerned about getting “caught” a second time, is allegedly “talking” to save his butt. The alleged “talking” is made with reference to Phil Amicone.
Another layer of complication has insinuated itself with the recent passage of legislation that will permit one member of the Yonkers City Council to sit on the Yonkers Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Board of Directors chaired by Mayor Phil Amicone. This legislation was requested of Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Yonkers City Council President and Budget & Finance Chair Chuck Lesnick is likely to be that new board member. Lesnick’s “eyes and ears” on the New Main Street Development Agency (NMSDA) board found him averse to reveal the agency’s conduct.[See "Senator Andrea stewart-Cousins' IDA Accountability and Oversight Legislation Signed Into Law"]. The NMSDA was supposed to begin the daylighting process in June of this year. Mr Lesnick has been mum on the issue. So has Mayor Amicone. One must wonder if the NMSDA is sufficiently liquid to begin the so-called “development” effort.
Mr Lesnick suggests that by his sitting on the YIDA Board of Directors he would be able to stay abreast of the projects and critique its direction and execution thereof. Mr Lesnick’s resume has shown him subservient and co-dependent, rather than independent, of the mayor. Deficient insight of YIDA conduct and practices is unlikely to find remedy by legislating a board member whose business acumen has been imprudent vis-a-vis his approval of the SFC Yonkers Land Disposition agreement (LDA) conducted and concluded behind closed and executive session, the Master Developer Agreement (MDA) also behind closed doors, the study of the Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) with the hiring of a Lesnick associate whose costs were never justified nor his exit noticed when the Yonkers Tribune trashed the concept for not being “doable” within days of its mention. This man is not worthy to sit on any board; unless more of the same is the name of the game.
Yonkers City Council Minority Leader and Councilman John Murtagh issued a position statement this weekend on the issue of the use of eminent domain that is contrary to his record of appeasing and acquiescing to mayoral dictate. [See "Eminent Domain Hurts Our Most Vulnerable Citizens By John Murtagh"] A pandering epistle that will not distance his role of acquiesence to political dictation likely to be found contrary to legal prudence. Phil Amicone use of eminent domain with regard to the Lockwood Avenue parking lot exposes Phil Amicone’s failed conduct which has implications on the financial survival of the Yonkers Parking Authority vis-a-vis a failed legal skirmish that now Mayor Amicone is asking for the Yonkers City Council to approve a loan to cover the costs of meeting the courts demand for over $800,000.
These issues also go to the alleged misconduct of Phil Amicone while deputy mayor and subsequent mayor of the City of Yonkers.
The Yonkers Downtown / Waterfront Development Corporation is now saddled by what its director, Jim Pinto claimed was a grant that is now said not to be. Which is it Mr Pinto? The City of Yonkers, by his action, which he will not attempt to remedy his understanding of the loan to be a grant, will cost the city $300,000 for a ferry service that was doomed by other factors including Mr Pinto’s own ineptitude and lack of marketing skills. [See "Yonkers downtown Waterfront Development Corporation Board of Directors Meet By Hezi Aris"]
The closing of the Mark Twain School pool is a deceitful move by Yonkers City Hall in collusion with the Yonkers Board of Education (BoE) who have chosen to shut down a facility whose costs are hidden from public scrutiny. [See "Mark Twain School Pool Closed Despite Community Uproar" and "EXCLUSIVE: Yonkers Board of Education to close Mark Twain School Pool By Hezi Aris]. The cost of maintaining the pool is said to be $550,000. The audit of the Yonkers BoE was to have begun but the financial ledgers are yet to arrive at the Office of Inspector General Dan Schorr. Must the 4th City Council District suffer the closure by the silence of Councilman Dennis Shepherd? Must the 4th District pay for the lack of services by the over $2 million squandered in a lawsuit fighting for receipt of fair treatment by Albany of fair education funding of Yonkers schools? The money was spent. What about the money spent for Yonkers Baseball that has yet to be returned to the Yonkers Public School coffers? What about BoE money funneled into Tara Circle, yet to be clawed back? What about the $21 million invested in the nValley Technology Center and the $21 million in tax write-offs, bringing the total debacle to over $40 million on the back of the taxpayers. What about the $3 million plus lost on the Philipsburgh Performing Art Center (PPAC)? Where is the money? [See "The Hezitorial: Perks Long Permitted 'Family and Friends netowk' Members Collapse Under Mayoral ineptitude By Hezi Aris"]
A dog and pony show with YPS Superintendent wailing and whining away at not get his fair share to the Pavlovian applause of Yonkers PTA and Yonkers Federation of Teachers (YFT) members in the audience at a Yonkers City Council meeting last week is a travesty of lucid thinking. The fact that Mayor Amicone dropped the “fair share" mantra for over three years may be the cause of financial crisis befalling the Yonkers Public School District. Deflection is the game for City Hall and its surrogates. The so-called Walls of Jericho will crumble. Time will see to it.
The most egregious issue to be distilled from these alleged circumstances is an inferred complicitness by the Feds in their alleged warning of impending doom to Mayor Amicone. If such a circumstance exists, that is someone on the inside is knowingly aware of the timing of an indictment of Mayor Phil Amicone, the mole must be found and silenced so as not to besmirch the Feds and to place Phil Amicone, despite his political standing, on equal footing under the law.
The case brought against Phil Amicone for allegedly removing newsstand boxes owned by the Westchester Guardian is moving along under the court’s watchful eye. The City of Yonkers has been removed from any liability by the lawsuit. Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone stands before the court personally liable should Publisher Sam Zherka win the suit.
It all seems a cauldron of deceit, subterfuge, and dismissal of law.
The three witches in William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” said it best, “ Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”