Council President Lesnick’s Statement on Resolution That Settles Guevera, Et Al. V. Philip Amicone, Et Al

eHezi Archives 26 Comments

Lesnick_Chuck“We must Always be Vigilant to Protect the Freedoms we Cherish

YONKERS, NY —  November 22, 2011 – After costly litigation to represent the City and Mayor Philip Amicone as defendants in the lawsuit known as Guevera, et al. v. Philip Amicone, et al., the City Council tonight voted 5-2 to approve paying $393,338.00 to settle the case. Voting against the measure with City Council President Chuck Lesnick was Councilmember Joan Gronowski.

STATEMENT:

We just heard prior to tonight’s meeting from our Finance Commissioner that the City of Yonkers is already overdrawn on its financial settlements account – and to pay this settlement would only place the city deeper in debt.

Over the past week the Council has spent many hours in executive session and in caucus being briefed by attorneys of different opinions as to whether this settlement will ultimately save or cost the taxpayers money going forward depending on possible subsequent appeals or actions. This settlement does not include more than $400,000 that the City has already spent in its own legal fees. 

My fiduciary responsibility is to the taxpayers not only to stop the financial bleeding, but to also ensure that the City does not assume the obligation to pay for items for which it has no legal responsibility.

While I will not argue the law or revisit the case itself, it was clear that an order was given to city employees to remove certain newspaper boxes within the city of Yonkers from the public’s view.

Who gave this order and how it was carried out were at the heart of the trial issue.  No one from the City was ever fired or disciplined for giving the order. The jury found a preponderance of evidence to indicate that the mayor gave the order and by doing so, violated the federal constitutional amendment that allows the press the freedom to deliver information and opinions to the public in an uncensored fashion. 

To approve a settlement with no individual accepting any responsibility for any mistake thwarts the intention of the jury’s punitive award, runs counter to the public policy that generally prohibits municipal indemnification of punitive damages and leaves the Constitution vulnerable to future violations from those who might take a chance thinking that they too will be bailed out by the taxpayers.

Potter Stewart, the late associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court once said that “censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself.  It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”

Having served many years in government, I respect the media and the press for the necessary function it serves – to keep the public informed of the actions of its elected leaders. While I do not always concur with its coverage or the angle of a story – and I too have been blasted on the front page of the Westchester Guardian – I have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution that protects the bedrock of our Bill of Rights, the First Amendment. And that means that no matter how seemingly fabricated, tainted, suspicious or slanderous some stories may appear to be, the press is to be protected in its efforts to report the truth.

The words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt are just as important today as they were when he uttered them amidst the great war that defined the American spirit to safeguard humanity and its finest principles, “If in other lands the press and books and literature of all kinds are censored, we must redouble our efforts here to keep them free.”

While the dark days of totalitarian regimes are long behind us, we must always be vigilant to protect the freedoms we cherish and hold dear. For, even here in Yonkers, there will be those individuals, regardless of ranking and station, who may seek to grab hold of and maintain authority with any means possible.

To them I say, not on my watch, and not with our money.

 

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eHeziCouncil President Lesnick’s Statement on Resolution That Settles Guevera, Et Al. V. Philip Amicone, Et Al

Comments 26

  1. This outrageous EVEN FOR YONKERS. Here’s what I propose to every citizen of this could be great City. CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT against all of the members of the City Council that voted to pay the settlement. The cause of action is abuse of power, nepotism, collusion, and pure ignorance (which is not a defense). CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT against Amicone. If he didn’t understand or was incapable of understanding the Amendments, which is a basic right of every US citizen, he falsely presented himself as someone who was capable of acting as a Mayor (I use the word acting quite succinctly). I’m sure Michael Sussman could find some additional grounds against the “Mayor” for misrepresenting himself as someone who understood the constitution and it’s amendments when he took his Oath. Does he understand what an Oath of Office is? If he doesn’t understand the Amendsments, who has been acting as Mayor for the past 8 years. Misreprentation. I’m calling Michael Sussman on Monday morning. Anyone want follow and join me?

  2. Yonkers is screwed…. You said exactly what I was thinking when I first read this. Yonkerites need to stand up and be heard, quit letting these politicos with interests only in what it will do for them continue to have their way….it’s time to oust them and their kind.

  3. Wilson Terrero is a fraud. Do you really believe he lives in the drug infested house on Oak street? No, he owns the building like he owns buildings in Mount Vernon. Wilson Terrero does not live in his district. His niece outed this illiterate fraudster. Does not speak english and speaks awful spanish.

  4. At Angelo’s Corner Deli where the elite meet to have their morning coffee, the guys are saying that Larkin is going around claiming he will be running for mayor in 4yrs.

  5. What is this guy Terrero doing on the YCC? Is he even a citizen? The guy doesn’t know the difference between a fender bender and a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

  6. OMG Truth is…
    I love it…didn’t know about the “new teeth” she got. But, when you think about it, it does make sense. Makes it easier for her to feed at the public trough.

  7. Jiggy, in all honesty, it is very hard to get seven people with diverse political agendas, egos etc. to be on the same page. Chuck has many issues at times, but he is not a magician. One never know what is behind ANY councilmember’s vote, so it is not easy to rein them in.

  8. No matter what Chuck could or could not have done with the incoherent Dems from the First and Second Districts they would continue to pander to the mayor(and lets not forget that Terrero worships the ground Amicone walks on – you may have forgotten he was a “Dem for Amicone in 2007 – and McDow owes her parking spot, new teeth, apartment, free gas and lord know’s what else to Amicone). Hopefully, any chance for her to have gotten a Spano appointment is now gone. Maybe she’ll go to work for Andrea in the 35th District!

  9. Cos Chuck allowed his other dems to vote on this. If he was a real leader, which he is not, he should have got a 4-3 result. But then again real leaders lead and not pander or slobber all over issues like he does.

  10. Mike Sabatino and Chris Johnson (the guy from the 1st district) were opposed to the settlement as was Mike Spano. Why do you think the Administration rushed this before the change in administration. Why do you think that Murtagh made a motion to reconsider urging his colleagues to vote against it to be sure that it could not be raised again.

  11. Why are you attacking Chuck for doing the right thing? Where was our mayor-elect? Why didn’t he “slap their asses into line”? Where was Sabatino, Breen and the other guy from the 1st dist.? This does not bode well for the future.

  12. Chuck, why did the other 2 so-called democrats vote against this? I guess you are not able to slap their asses into line?
    The only reason he is pandering with this press release is to promote himself. They are all the same. All of them, except Gronowski, the one who stands up for us.The rest …well…nothing more to say really…

  13. Lets hope the federal judge refuses payment from the city, and actually orders Amicone to pay it personally as he was first directed to do. Lets remember the no cowardly council members who voted to pay this, lets make sure they NEVER get reelected to another office. As another poster stated, this noney could have been used to hire 5 cops or 5 teachers.As far as Im concerned this administration gave away millions of taxpayer dollars and this is the final slap in the face to the taxpayer.

  14. At the very least Amicone should pay for the $170,000 for punitive damages against him and for that portion of the $400,000 of the Citys legal fees that paid for his counter claim for defamation on his lap dance with Sassy at the strip club.

  15. I believe the Council was sold a bill-of-goods by the Mayor’s attorney. I also believe that Amicone’s name was taken off the title of the lawsuit thus insinuating that Yonkers was guilty not him. How many of us would pay rather then defend our personal reputation? That’s what 5 Council members did last night.

  16. Why would the City appeal? Wouldn’t it be up to the new Mayor to decide to fund that appeal?
    Chuck, congratulations. Yours was the right decision. You seem like a much better lawyer than a City Council President.

  17. hey JP…do you have the reasoning ability to flip that coin and ask yourself if citizens’ groups or others can also sue us for the vote just given to the mayor last night…six of one, half a dozen of the other as they say…Yonkers has pissed away hundreds of thousands of dollars, through the years, if not millions, on unnecessary jobs and the like, and you find it a better solution to not spend money upholding the constitution of the United States, and allowing this egomaniacal mayor to have stomped all over it? Wouldn’t ever want your ilk watching my back – ever. Let’s just pay rather than fight the good fight.

  18. Picking up the tab for Phil sucks, plain and simple.
    Unfortunately, it was either that or Phil would appeal, and ultimately cost us another million dollars — or more.
    Distasteful as it is, the Council made the right call.
    Now if Amicone were a standup guy, he’d offer to pay the settelment himself.

  19. The CITY never violated anyone’s rights. Why are we the taxpayers paying for a decision against the Mayor? Didn’t we have a civil right violated? If anyone knows, can the taxpayers start a lawsuit to recover the $393k?

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