YONKERS, NY – Kitley Covill, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano’s nominee for Inspector General, was yesterday confirmed by the Yonkers City Council to the office recently vacated office by the now departed former Inspector General Dan Schorr. The Yonkers City Council, absent Yonkers City Councilman Michael Sabatino’s (District 3) presence, voted 6-0 in confirming her to the Office of Yonkers Inspector General for a 5-year term. The vote is however invalidated by its non-compliance with the Yonkers City Charter.
The Yonkers City Charter, once the Office of Yonkers Inspector General was authorized, stipulated a 5-year term or multiples thereof. The rationale for a 5-year term was to afford the inspector general a sense of independence from the power that could be wielded upon the I.G.s office by a mayor, specifically one harboring the powers of a “strong mayor” form of government.
Phil Zisman was Yonkers’ first inspector general. The first person offered the position accepted the office but then backed out. Phil Zisman for all intent and purpose undertook the responsibility of the Office of Inspector General. The Office of Inspector General was legislation proposed and formulated by Vincenza Restiano when she served as Yonkers City Council President. The legislation specified the inspector general was to serve a 5-year term and/ or increments of 5-years terms. Phil Zisman served his first 5-year term under then Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, served a second 5-year term under Mayor Phil Amicone, and was permitted without designation to encroach into what must be designated a third 5-year term. Then Mayor Amicone was known to be not contented with I.G. Zisman’s conduct. After serving his 11th year as inspector general, then Mayor Amicone designated Dan Schorr his choice to fill the remaining 4-years of what was the third term of office for an inspector general in the City of Yonkers.
I.G. Schorr proved himself impotent and lackluster in his conduct as inspector general. Schorr was not trusted by the incoming administration, that of Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. Schorr was made to know his services were no longer warranted. Schorr was given the face saving ability to find employment elsewhere. He did so by becoming a consultant for Bill Bratton’s security firm, Kroll. Mr Bratton served as the chief of police of the Los Angeles Police Department, New York City Police Commissioner, and Boston Police Commissioner. Mr Schorr exemplifies Yonkers most well-known political adage, “F*** up, to stay up.”
“When originally created, the IG held a four-year term that coincided with the Mayor’s term. In November, 2002, however, the voters approved a referendum extending the term to five years. The objective of this change was to provide greater independence to the IG so that the IG’s term would not coincide with the Mayor’s term.”
- Reference: http://yonkersny.gov/Index.aspx?page=95
The purpose of the 5-year term was to permit an inspector general to eclipse the term of office of a four-year term mayor, specifically because of the required need of independence and freedom to operate for the public good, rather than possible fall under the thumb of a strong mayor form of governance.
In order for Ms Kitley Covill to have been legally designated into office, she would have had to earn a majority of Yonkers City Council votes, the term designated could not exceed the balance of the 5-year term from which time was consumed under the services of both Mssrs Zisman and Schorr.
Were Mayor Mike Spano of the mind to have Ms Covill serve a full 5-year term, the Yonkers City Council would need to be presented with a proposal to change the present ruling that permits her to complete the yet unfilled 3rd five-year term.
The Yonkers City Council decision, which won a 6-0 vote from the sitting Yonkers City Council membership is nullified, as it cannot override the Yonkers City Charter. The vote must be taken to abide by the Yonkers City Charter. No opinion or conjecture, from any source, even that of Yonkers Corporation Counsel, can change the tenets by which this government may conduct itself.
Covill is will be tasked with the responsibility for overseeing investigations of alleged waste, fraud, and abuse by the City of Yonkers and / or any of its public officials or employees.
“I am pleased to see the City Council also acknowledges Kitley’s vast experience, integrity, thoroughness and toughness as assets to Yonkers,” said Mayor Spano. “I am confident Kitley will help promote ethical, fiscal, and legal accountability throughout our City as our new Inspector General.
Covill comes to the City of Yonkers after spending six years as the Assistant Chief Deputy Westchester County Attorney. While with the County, Covill headed the Family Court Bureau where she oversaw investigations into allegations of abuse and neglect of minor children. Previously, Covill ran her own private law firm dealing with civic legal matters. Covill also worked with the Nassau County District Attorney as an assistant DA where she was the first Chief of the Civil Forfeiture Unit, a position that required her to investigate and pursue financial proceeds of criminal enterprises.
Covill is the state director of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of the New York, the co-chair of the Criminal Law Committee and the former co-chair of Westchester Women’s Bar Association Domestic Violence Committee. She earned her law degree from Vermont Law School and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Kenyon College.
Kitley Covill, who replaces outgoing IG Dan Schorr, is expected to start on June 11.