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Council Continues Third World Style Politics In Mount Vernon

Just when you thought it was safe, just when it appeared the drama was over, the saga of the Mount Vernon Mayoral Mess continues. The black run city of Mount Vernon has just gone from the Tale of Two Mayors to a question who is the Council President. the questions still remains, Who is in charge?

The latest highly publicized events in the City of Mount Vernon proves most politicians are often far better at campaigning than governing. This is especially true for local city politicians. Kept in office by loyal constituencies, local city politicians turn to corruption, cronyism and nepotism just because they can.

It’s no surprise that many of America’s metropolitan centers are run predominately by Democrats. Democratic city councilmembers, Democratic mayors, Democratic judges, Democratic prosecutors. You name it. The donkey party enjoys a virtual monopoly over densely-populated urban districts, playing them for an ass. Many of these urban centers are in dire need of infrastructure development due to years of neglect. The city of Mount Vernon which is run by predominately Black Democrats is no different.

Besides being the joke of Westchester County – and lets not pretend that is not true, because you don’t like how it sounds – it’s a chaotic moment n the history of the eighth-most populous city in the state of New York. Mount Vernont has underpinned the global order in a time of instability for the balance of power that has the potential to reverberate for months, years, and decades to come. While most African-Americans traditionally vote Democrat, decades of democrat rule ruined some of our finest cities. Mount Vernon has lost it’s credit rating and if we do not get it straight can easily be on the brink of bankruptcy.

In the city of Mount Vernon, three mayors have failed to re-open Memorial Field, the Corporation Cousel was indicted by the grand jury for offering false instruments for filing in connection with roughly $365,000 in payments to law firms representing former Mayor Richard W. Thomas in his criminal case, two straight Mayors have pled guilty to federal charges leading to two straight Democratic Primaries with up to six candidates campaigning for the cities top seat, further dividing a city with a very tribal nature, to begin with.

So how did we get here this time? How did we become a punchline that made national headlines, even being discussed on ABC’s The View by Whoopi Goldberg and NYC Radio Station WBLS, calling Richard Thomas a squatter?

Richard Thomas the former embattled mayor, made history as the youngest elected to serve the city the summer of 2015 and now maybe the youngest and possibly the only mayor in Westchester County to be convicted and removed from office. Thomas pled guilty Monday, July 8th to misdemeanors for misusing campaign funds in 2015.

The City Council interpreted the Charter that Thomas vacated his office when he pled guilty and Council President André Wallace was sworn in as acting mayor July 10. But Thomas insisted he was still mayor, refused to relinquish the mayor’s office, leading to a three-week stand-off that made national headlines after being picked up by the Associated Press, all talking about the Tale Of Two Mayors. The battle over who is mayor should have come to a conclusion when State Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Ecker said Thomas vacated the mayoral seat by pleading guilty on July 8.

Just as the residents of Mount Vernon were about to finally exhale, there was a brand new battle over who is mayor of the city, Friday when the City Council installed a new council president, giving us three mayors in three weeks. Wait what? Yes the very City Council who fought all the way to court to install Wallace as Acting Mayor and Janice Duarte now undid all they had done and voted 4-1 for Lisa Copeland to replace André Wallace as council president, which would make her the new acting mayor.

Beginning a new stalemate over who is in charge. Wallace said he has no intention of stepping aside, he will continue to do the work of the mayor. Now the city of Mount Vernon gets to do this dance again which will probably end up in court again for a resolution, continuing the circus, national headlines and doing anything but what they claim – restoring integrity to the office of mayor and the City Council President office.

The four other council members say Copeland is in charge insisted Wallace had overstepped his bounds and had taken actions without consulting them, including appointing a new Police Commissioner, which a mayor has the authority to do.

I find it interesting that the city council that failed as a body to hold former mayor Richard Thomas feet to the fire, speak up against the corruption of the Thomas Administration and enforce subpoenas is going after the only one in that body who has consistently stood up to corruption and claimed to be draining the swamp.

The council does not even have the support of Reggie Lafayette, the former Mount Vernon City Clerk and current chairman of the City and Westchester County Democratic committees. Mr. Lafayette who made it a point to mention he didn’t vote for Wallace twice ‘but what is right is right what is wrong is wrong,’ shared with Black Westchester his disappointment in the council’s actions Friday afternoon. Mr. Lafayette stated the council didn’t have a basis for replacing Wallace as acting mayor or switching council presidents mid-year. Wallace serves as council president until the next statutory meeting

“It’s just a grab for power they’ve done and it’s a bad move,” he tells Black Westchester. “They have gone crazy and I have told them basically this, I going to speak out against it as a citizen. Party Chair or no Party Chair, I’m going to speak out against them, because it is wrong. The acting mayor does not report to them. They can’t remove him from being Acting Mayor. You can’t vote a person out of something without giving them a hearing. What did I do wrong for you to vote me out? Now you have to allow me to defend myself. What they did is bad and I told them as a taxpayer, your spending taxpayers dollars on needless legislation. We just got from under this with Richie. The judge said to Richie the day he signed that plea deal July 8th he was out of office. When Andre left the courtroom, whether the judge put it in the papers or not, the judge called him Mayor Wallace. I heard it.”

When discussing the $35,000 the Council agreed to give Thomas, Mr. Lafayette stated, “That’s totally illegal. I don’t think legally they can make that agreement and I don’t see Deborah Reynold issuing him a check or signing off on it. I just furious, they have put the people of Mount Vernon on the front page of the news again and then they are giving away taxpayers dollars on an issue that was settled in court when the judge said that he suggests that he leave immediately because he has no standing. It looked like you did the right thing and now you’re going to do away with all that goodwill because you don’t like André. Marcus and Janice should not be there next term. I don’t see how you do that, you waste the taxpayer’s money, you wasted it in court and then you want to give away more of it to Richie.”

Joining Lafayette in expressing disappointment in the action of the council is District leader Tajian Nelson who also wrote a scathing rebuking of the council and their actions on her Facebook page, Friday afternoon:

“Today’s activities are beyond disappointing to me,” Nelson wrote under the heading, Message to my City Council. “Just when the City drama seems to be getting behind us. Another bunch of shenanigans is pulled, further damaging our Citys reputation and making the City look like a bunch of clowns.

You all make me feel like I wasted my votes on you. Furthermore this looks like a blatant power play that is uncalled for. Thank you for continuning to make our city look ridiculous. Hope you all keep in mind that will need the people of the City’s votes. Hopefully the people will reward you all accordingly the next time you are up for re-election

Hope the Judge hands you all your a***** because you more than deserve it. Another sad day in out City”

Two highly respected members of the Mount Vernon Democratic City Committee are calling this a power play, the type of play it would be wise to have the power of the party behind, but as you can see they do not. From the video that streamed live on Facebook, it’s hard to think this is more personal than political.

The council public defended their actions with a statement Friday afternoon;

To ensure a smooth transition from Former Mayor Thomas’s administration, and to restore order and integrity to the Office of the Mayor and the Office of the City Council President, the City Council voted to remove Councilman Wallace as City Council President.  The City Council took this action following acts of misconduct by Councilman Wallace over the past week. Councilman Wallace’s behavior highlights a continuous disregard for proper process and the checks and balances of government.   

The need to settle the government of Mount Vernon after the recent dysfunction is imperative for the City Council on behalf of Mount Vernon’s residents.  The Council’s actions today affirms to the public that our government will put the people first.

The new City Council President and thereby Acting Mayor is Lisa Copeland and there is no change in the rest of the City Council leadership. The City Council President Pro Tempore is Janice Duarte, and Acting President Pro Tempore is Marcus Griffith.

Where was this concern with “continuous disregard for proper process and the checks and balances of government,” for the three and a half years of the Thomas Administration? I do not remember seeing our hearing them speak up or act when the Thomas Administration continually showed a disregard for proper process in the attempted shutting down of businesses like Cupcake Cutie Boutique, Kela Tennis, OK Freddy’s Mega Beverage and several other businesses which will end up costing the city in millions from the lawsuits. Now a few showed up for Keya Tennis but I saw no resolutions to admonish the actions of The Thomas Administration, they displayed Friday.

I do not remember seeing or hearing The Council speaking up or acting when The Thomas Administration showed a blatant disregard for checks and balances of government including the firing of anyone who refused to do his bidding for three-and-a-half-years. Like the lyrics on the Randy Newman song that played at the beginning of the TV Show, Monk, “I could be wrong but I don’t think so.” While I was told by a City Official that ‘this was a necessary action,” the actions appear on the surface quite hypocritical, to be honest.

The Council claims to be “restoring order and integrity to the Office of the Mayor and the Office of the City Council President,” with this apparent political coup. They claim that these actions were on behalf of Mount Vernon residents and to prove government will put the people first. But all they did was prolong the recent dysfunction of city government. Their actions leave residents with less faith in their government because of their actions. This was not done to protect the residents but to settle a personal grudge. That is not serving the people that serving your own interest.

The council released a statement against the appointment of Shawn Harris as Police Commissioner but we didn’t hear a peep from them about the illegal appointment of the garbage man as Deputy Police Commissioner. Didn’t hear a peep against Spiezio’s many actions while impersonating law enforcement including verbally threatening one of their own.

It’s time for some REAL TALK about what is going on in our city. We just witnessed one million people in Puerto Rico hit the streets and protest and we can not get five people in Mount Vernon to stand up. It’s time for We The People to get up, get out and do something if we truly want change.

When the people can not trust the people we vote to govern our city to do their job with our interest in mind as supposed to their own, the people need to make their voices heard. The Civil War in City Hall must end and end today or Nelson posted on Facebook; people [need to] reward [the elected officials] accordingly the next time [they] are up for re-election, REAL TALK!

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About AJ Woodson (2369 Articles)
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company. AJ is a Father, Brother, Author, Writer, Journalism Fellow, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
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