MOUNT VERNON, NY — APRIL 4, 2021 — April Fool’s Day became more serious than it needed to be with Mount Vernon Comptroller Deborah Reynolds playing a dangerous game of not paying the City’s bills – particularly the fuel bill.
As a result, public safety was compromised. Fuel supply tanks hit empty. Emergency services were forced to ration 5-gallons a shift, limiting their ability to respond to a crisis.
Mount Vernon was forewarned. The Mount Vernon Inspector General (IG) issued a detailed report on how Comptroller Reynolds destroyed the City’s electronic payment system, MUNIS, in early 2019. The IG raised red flags asserting that Mount Vernon’s payment system collapsed when Comptroller Reynolds unilaterally moved the electronic payment process to a paper-based, arbitrary voucher system.
On her many Facebook Live appearances, Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard appealed to the public to urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to remove Comptroller Deborah Reynolds from office, noting that he has an official complaint on his desk since 2018. To date, no official action has been taken in this direction by Albany.
Former Mayor Richard Thomas was correct and continues to be exonerated by the consequences of an unchecked Comptroller in Mount Vernon. It certainly looks as if he was politically targeted for crusading to reform a corrupt City Hall and raising questions about the Mount Veron’s finances. Based on the IG report and NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s September 2020 audit of Mount Vernon, the Office of Comptroller wrongfully seized control of the Mount Vernon’s finances going back to 2016. The public was led to believe that former Mayor Thomas was the cause of turmoil; however, this has been proven not to be true. Old power struggles continue to manifest today through high property taxes, rampant potholes, chaos to the point of near fist fights between Mayor Patterson-Howard and Comptroller Reynolds at meetings, and the ridiculous amounts of grime littering Mount Vernon streets.
Mount Vernon has been lucky that disaster did not strike during the tenuous fuel shortage as lives could have been lost.
Assuming the State of New York does not act, the City Council and Mayor have at least two options available to them to solve the Comptroller problem/issue immediately. One is for Mount Vernon to change banks, and the other is to hold Comptroller Reynolds in breach of her fiduciary responsibilities/duties.
Curiously, despite being blocked access to Mount Vernon’s finances by the city’s own bank, one should know that at a Board of Estimate meeting on March 16, 2021, Mayor Shawyn Patterson Howard and City Council President Marcus Griffith said they do NOT want to change the city’s bank. Instead, they declared that they want to give Comptroller Reynolds another chance by offering “olive branches” to work together. You can watch (in disbelief) here or at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=752995052272591&ref=watch_permalink
In contradictory fashion, the same two people – Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard and Council President Marcus Griffith – made opposite statements to the Journal News the following week. They indicated that they would do anything and everything to solve Mount Vernon’s Comptroller problem/issue with Comptroller Reynolds given the continued threat to public safety. They ignored the above two solutions and took door number 3, which was to file a lawsuit only with respect to the fuel bills.
To Mount Vernon’s benefit, a judge ordered Comptroller Reynolds to pay the fuel bills which Comptroller Reynolds did, albeit partially.
The political perception is that everything is now okay. The reality and simple truth is things are not okay.
The reality is that the problems/issues with Mount Vernon’s Comptroller Reynolds continues to worsen.
These issues begs and demands answers to the following questions:
1. Was the lawsuit meant to distract us from the real problems?
2. Why is Mount Vernon City Hall doing nothing to STOP Comptroller Reynolds from using a paper-based, arbitrary voucher payment system?
3. Why is the electronic payment system, MUNIS, not being used?
4. Why is City Hall not taking action to hold the city’s bank accountable for aiding and abetting the Comptroller’s egregious behavior?
The Mount Vernon City Charter is clear. New reforms require transparency. The obligation to uphold the Constitution is paramount, yet those in office betray their oath to do so.
Incident after incident, issue after issue in Mount Vernon and nothing seems to matter.
Repeated dangerous situations either caused by Comptroller Reynolds or by the lack of action by City Hall ranging from a Police/Fire/DPW fuel shortages to $20 million vanishing without a trace from the Mount Vernon School District’s account that Comptroller Reynolds controlled, to raw sewage invading homes and businesses throughout Mount Vernon… it appears that Mount Vernon lives do NOT matter enough for City Hall and Albany to exact accountability.
Evidence continues to mount that Comptroller Reynolds is jeopardizing Mount Vernon’s public health, education system, and general safety. Just as bad is the willful neglect by City Hall officials who do nothing of substance to stop the madness in Mount Vernon.
How come Mount Vernon Lives Do NOT Matter?
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Corroborating Report Type: Mount Vernon Inspector General Report
Title: Mount Vernon’s Electronic Payment System Compromised by Comptroller Reynolds
Date Issued: February 25, 2019