Yonkers' Benedict Arnold Revealed
It was a well-orchestrated ambush of the Yonkers City Council. A week after they conducted an Executive Session over the request of them by Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone to indemnify him of his personal responsibility in a First Amendment lawsuit which he lost before Federal Judge Cathy Seibel and a jury of his peers, the Yonkers City Council was ready to take a vote over whether they should indemnify Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone of his personal liability of $393,388.00 incurred when it was ascertained that it was he who directed Yonkers Police Officers and DPW personnel to take the blue metal newspaper dispensers owned by The Westchester Guardian from the authorized City of Yonkers placements they were situated. The property owned by The Westchester Guardian, but removed as directed by Mayor Amicone, caused the protection afforded Mayor Amicone to be pierced. Mayor Amicone’s directive was an act that was dismissive of the United States Constitution’s First Amendment guaranteeing the freedom of the press. By directing DPW and YPD personnel to remove the blue metal dispensers from their locations, Judge Cathy Seibel ruled that it was Phil Amicone who is personally liable to satisfy the debt demanded of him by the court, and not the responsibility of the City of Yonkers. Phil Amicone would not hear of it. The man voted into office, expected to be benevolent to the city in which he resides for all of his years except the first two, would turn on Yonkers and threaten its very viability were he not granted indemnification by the Yonkers City Council.
The ploy worked. The ruling of 5 votes to indemnify won over the 2 votes cast not to indemnify. Amicone seems to have concocted this ploy either on his own or with assistance, but that is of no consequence. The act of asking the Yonkers City Council to indemnify him was a ploy that kicked Judge Seibel’s ruling to the curb. There was never a challenge of her ruling after its initial rendering. One may only infer that is because the demeanor, conduct, professionalism, and execution of the law from her courtroom was and is impeccable.
Amicone threatened the Yonkers City Council by use of his surrogates, Yonkers Corporation Counsel, who argued that the Legislative body has purview in indemnifying the Executive branch of a federal court judge ruling. That is not the case. It is a fabrication. There is no such precedent.
Yonkers Corporation Counsel inculcated this line of reasoning from the lawyers who represented Amicone before the federal court and failed in his defense. Yonkers Corporation Counsel pressed the point to the Yonkers City Council membership that there is no threat from the outside for further litigation should they indemnify the mayor. They would go on to say that costs would accrue should the Yonkers City Council not indemnify Phil Amicone. The reason why was never fully divulged.
Even so, it has been learned that the treasonous turncoat is none other than Phil Amicone. It is he who would direct Yonkers Corporation Counsel to engage in challenging Judge Seibel’s ruling by his demanding legal remedy through the courts. Amicone wants all mention of his trashing of the U.S. Constitution expunged from any record. Yonkers Phil “Benedict Arnold” Amicone is the one who would cause this legal action against the City of Yonkers. It is he who would cause legal costs to be incurred despite Judge Seibel’s ruling that found him guilty.
Councilmembers John Larkin, John Murtagh,(Republican Minority Leader) Dennis Shepherd, Wilson Terrero, and Patricia McDow (Democratic Majority Leader) swallowed this scam. They may not have known what they were doing; only Mssrs Lesnick and Murtagh are attorneys. While speaking of potential legal challenge to the indemnification request by Mayor Amicone to absolve his personal responsibility from possible disparate litigants outside of government, not one Yonkers Councilmember exposed the fact that the fear was emanating from within City Hall, not from without. The Yonkers City Council members were in fear that Mayor Amicone would follow through on his threat to sue for legal remedy and the City of Yonkers would thereby suffer all future legal fees since the case would be initiated prior to his stepping down from office and would likely encumber CoY for many years in the court system. Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone revealed himself to be the culprit. He had become the turncoat; his threat of action may be described as akin to being treasonous. He would turn against Yonkersites because he could and he believes the taxpayer must bail him out. If they don’t, Mr Amicone will drag Yonkersites until he overturns the ruling against him or he bankrupts the City of Yonkers.
Having learned the ploy and somewhat aware of the plot, it was incumbent for someone in the know to take this issue to the Westchester County District Attorney to find a legal method to put a stop to Mayor Amicone’s threat. Instead, Yonkersites are left holding the bag and the conduct of the Yonkers City Council will surely attract litigation by Yonkers residents who may engage Article 78, or another tenet to claw back the money allegedly extorted in public view by legal remedy that would conform to an Appellate judge and common sense.
Every measure of cost incurred must be exacted from Phil Amicone; his house, and anything else he may own to reimburse Yonkersites their coerced bailout of his First Amendment Rights violations.
Hezi Aris is the Yonkers Tribune's publisher / editor and The Westchester Guardian's editor.