A foreboding and agitating discomfort and melancholy has reared its ugly head in the closing days of Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone. The benevolence expected from one raised within our midst to fall short of the trust bequeathed upon him when he was afford the honor of serving Yonkersites from their most august office is a tragedy that has diminished him as it has soiled a city deserving greater respect from one of its own.
Amicone may have suffered many demons in his life. Had he been plagued by any measure of adversity, by the time he reached his early fifties he was gifted a new lease on life. He was plucked from obscurity to serve in the capacity of Yonkers Deputy Mayor under Mayor John Spencer for eight years. It was during those eight years that Deputy Mayor Phil Amicone, under the aegis of Mayor Spencer’s vision, could learn to meet the demands of office; but he would not. He would come to recognize that he was not as talented as he imagined. He earned solace and comfort in self-denial.
He would reveal his personal mediocrity after receiving permission from then Mayor Spencer to “go ahead” with a minor league baseball park stadium project he envisioned for Chicken Island. He believed his engineering degree had won him a home run concept. He never did learn his engineering craft. The word engineer is derived from the Latin roots ingeniare (to “contrive, devise”) and ingenium (“cleverness”). Fairness demands acknowledgment there was a kernel of ingenuity to his thought but it fell flat when he was to draw his first rendering. It showed plausibility but was not thought out well enough. Amicone would waste many more hours on his “project.” Permutations of the original lacked the “cleverness” demanded of his conceptualization and worse still, it was deficient in contriving a mechanism to bring about a hope for its reality; even so, hope is not a plan. Phil Amicone remains a mediocre engineer, attested by those with whom he worked in that capacity in White Plains, and has remained inept in bringing about an imprint to a vision that has long since evaporated into a mirage by his very ineptitude.
The challenges before him became the catalysts of his myopia. As those revelations insinuated themselves into his consciousness his self-inflicted wounds would become the demons that would unhinge his sense of propriety. Despite being surrounded by allegedly supportive “friends and family” he become isolated to the false world of submission of others to his mediocrity and debauched conduct borne from a growing rage of diminished self worth. He became the wounded animal cornered in and by his mind and snarling at everyone because he would not deal with that realization. The insidiousness of his diminished capacity would reveal itself in his finger pointing antics by which he would blame all others for his lack of knowledge and vision and his lacking an ethical compass. He was wounded and crying for support. He would incorporate the power of his office to exact retribution among all who would not kowtow to his maniacal excesses. In juxtaposition to his demeanor to shun people and kick them to the curb, Yonkersites could be heard quietly supporting him to compensate for the empathy he yearned to receive from his inner circle.
Phil Amicone would direct his staff to engage in acts that went to compensate for his personal impotence. The judgment he lost in federal court for trashing the freedoms afforded a free press, as stipulated in written form by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, is testimony to his personal angst and self-loathing. The mantle of protection afforded the Mayor of Yonkers disintegrated when Phil Amicone was judged by a jury of his peers and stipulated to be personally liable to the tune of $393, 338.00. When Mayor Amicone chose to request the Yonkers City Council indemnify him of the personal burden designated to be his personal burden alone and not that of the City of Yonkers by the Honorable Cathy Seibel, the judge presiding over his case, the gall and temerity of Phil Amicone became ever more blatantly evident. Amicone’s contrivance to extort an indemnification of his personal responsibility while in the guise of the Mayor of Yonkers, the Executive Branch of government, by the Yonkers City Council, Legislative Branch of government, is one that is not legal and to which no precedent speaks. The Legislative Branch of government does not have the purview by which it may indemnify or exonerate the Executive Branch of government over that of the Judicial Branch of government, in this case, the Federal Courthouse. Even so, Mayor Amicone threatened to engage the Yonkers Corporation Counsel to challenge the Seibel ruling at costs that would likely exceed beyond $1 or $2 million. The Yonkers City Council capitulated in a vote of 5 to indemnify, and 2 opposed. Mayor Amicone’s extortion of the Yonkers City Council by omission, deceit, and threat has since relegated him to Yonkers’ Benedict Arnold.
A week or so after that vote was cast, Mayor Amicone instructed Deputy Mayor William Regan, in his capacity as Chairman of the Yonkers Parking Authority to contractually engage Lisa Mrijaj, Mayor Amicone’s present Chief of Staff, to that of executive director of the YPA to the tune of over $600,000.00 over 4 years. That position was unfilled for almost two years. The position she filled was not publicly noticed as required by law. The position she will accede to demands a Civil Service exam that she has not taken.
Without prior approval by the Yonkers City Council, Mayor Amicone directed the city’s bond counsel to bond for an $800,000.00 eminent domain judgment he directed be taken of the Saw Mill River Road and Lockwood Avenue Parking Lot that was seized and thereafter folded into the Yonkers Parking Authority when Phil Amicone was Chairman of the YPA Board of Directors and Deputy Mayor of Yonkers.
When Mayor Amicone learned that Lorraine Lopez’s daughter Tamia, born in March 1991, was suffering from Multiple Schlerosis (MS), and that her mother had not purchased any health insurance for her children, a plan to gain insurance coverage for the daughter was devised and the City of Yonkers has since paid for this insurance. There is no legal protocol by which a minor cmay be insured on the back of the public. This is another of Mayor Amicone’s backroom deals.
It has also been learned that one of the Yonkers City Councilmembers, having fallen into arrears with regard to paying the rent engaged Mayor Amicone to ask the landlord to reduce that rental. It was. A vote to indemnify the mayor in the $393,388.00 lawsuit was the agreed upon quid pro quo deemed appropriate to be exacted from the Yonkers City Councilmember.
Mayor Amicone had demanded that two members of the Yonkers Board of Education Trustees resign. Three days later he reappointed Nydia Perez and one other board member to the board for an extended term. Had he not done so, their holding office would have expired in May of 2011. The purpose of this conduct was to deny incoming Mayor-elect Mike Spano the authority to change the demeanor of the BoE Board of Trustees. This conduct is part of the slash and burn mentality of the wounded lame duck Mayor Phil Amicone.
Mayor Amicone has an impotent, do nothing, political appointment in Inspector General Dan Schorr who presides in that office at a cost of $500,000.00 per annum. I.G. Schorr is salaried to protect Mayor Amicone from being investigated for any wrong doings three years beyond Mayor Amicone’s exit from office. With Chairwoman Nydia Perez, nothing that was promulgated at the behest of Mayor Phil Amicone, legal or illegal, will be divulged.
Yonkers will suffer the legacy of his failed tenure in office for over a generation.
If you see something, say something. Phil Amicone’s behavior, trespasses, and excesses became the norm by our collective silence. We must find the strength to overcome our shame, or whatever it was that maintained our silence and our present circumstance. May we find that strength in each other and within our ethical compass.