REAL TALK From AJ Woodson

Mt Vernon City Council & Mayor Acknowledge Need For New Personnel Policies and Procedures

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I was pleasantly surprised when I received back to back press statements from the City Council and Mayor’s Office, where it seems like they are on the same page. Before I go on, I have been calling for them to work together. as have many of you, so I must make mention of it when they appear to be going in that direction the way I called it out when they obviously weren’t. That being said it is going to take more than mere words and press releases, we the people would love to see it in action. In other words, it sounds good, let us see what it looks like!

The Mount Vernon City Council announced their intention to review personnel policies and procedures in their press release, Thursday afternoon.

In light of unfolding developments surrounding the criminal and employment background of David Hardy, the suspect charged with the New Year’s Eve killing of 13-year-old Shamoya McKenzie, the City Council will be working with the Police Department, Human Resources and other municipal departments to discuss and review City personnel policies and procedures.

Mayor Richard W. Thomas said he plans to implement new policies and procedure with the City Council to “ensure that each and every employee and future employee of our city is properly vetted.”

“The city of Mount Vernon expects each and every one of the employees in government to uphold the highest standard of ethics, accountability and respect for the life of every person in Mount Vernon,” Mayor Thomas said in a statement. “The Thomas Administration is requiring background checks, drug testing, and training classes – when appropriate – for all employees.”

In 2016 both branches of city government, the Executive branch (The Thomas Administration) and the Legislative branch (The City Council) seemed to be committed to continuing the ongoing Civil War in City Hall that left residents the sole losers. Now we are three weeks into 2017 and both sides appear to have found a common goal they could collaborate on.

Could this be a one-time deal and then it’s back to business as usual or could this truly be the beginning of the collaborate spirit we expect from our elected officials and have been demanding for over a year now? Only time will tell, but I am happy to report press statements from both branches that are more interested in attacking the problem and not the other branch.

The elected officials owe it to the residents of Mount Vernon to put their differences away and work together for the betterment of Mount Vernon. In this instance they also owe it to the family of Shamoya McKenzie to make real change as they stated in the personnel policies and procedures and not let her death be in vain and just another popular political moment where you make grand statements in front of the camera for positive press or in an attempt to be re-elected.

Let us not forget the other families of victims of senseless gun violence, you owe them justice for their loved ones and preventive measures so more mother’s are not burying their children who were shot down in the streets of Mount Vernon in 2017.

Make no mistake I am encouraged by both press statements, but I will be watching and holding you all to your words and campaign promises! REAL TALK!

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AJ Woodson

AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale,,, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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