Mount Vernon City Hall — Mount Vernon Mayor Richard W. Thomas held a press conference to discuss what he calls the Offboarding of Public Safety Commissioner Robert ‘Bob’ Kelly, Monday afternoon in the Mayor’s Conference Room to the right of his office in City Hall.
Flanked by Planning Commissioner Shawyn Patterson Howard, Acting Police Commissioner Ronald Fatigate, Councilman J. Yuhanna Edwards, Mount Vernon PBA President John Gamble, Pastor Gwen Wilson, Duputy Fire Commissioner Ernest Richardson and HR Commissioner Rick Pogue stood behind the Mayor during his Monday afternoon presser. Several other Mt. Vernon public officials like City Clerk George Brown and Councilman André Wallace were also present for the presser.
“I made a business decision that was in the best interest of Mount Vernon,” Thomas said.
Mayor Thomas explained to the press and others that the decision to terminate the Police Commissioner was a Business Decision and he was ‘not willing to debate his decision publicly.’ When asked questions like ‘why was the commissioner fired’ and ‘what did he do to get fired’ by the press which included Fios1 News, The Journal News (Lohud), News 12, WVOX and Black Westchester, the Mayor responded with answers that consisted of ‘it was a business decision,’ ‘it’s a personnel matter,’ and ‘I can’t get into details right now.’
“Things often start off with the most sincere of intentions, but it didn’t work out,” said Thomas. “It is a personnel matter.” He also said he won’t debate his rationale for the firing.
He did however mention he had the support of the majority of the City Council, noting that ‘only one council member was still playing politics,’ and invited the press to ask Councilman André Wallace why a sitting Councilman who is also a contractor was suing the city, stating it was a conflict of interest. While the unpaid contract for the work he completed at least a year before running for City Council is another story we plan to follow-up on, to be honest, this journalist was among the many members of the press and those in attendance who were left with more questions than answers at the conclusion of the presser.
Ernie Garcia of The Journal News (Lohud) made an observation to Mayor Thomas, that when people were attacking the Mayor, Garcia would defend the mayor suggesting people should give him a chance, he just got in office and then asked the mayor ‘How much time does a commissioner need…’ to which Mayor Thomas once again responded, ‘It’s a personnel matter.’
Unlike the other outlets who will edit the press conference to the parts they need to fit their news briefs, Black Westchester once again shares with you the entire press conference so you the resident, the voter, the Mount Vernonite can watch for yourself and make your own informed decisions. See the press conference in its entirety in the video below, along with a few follow-up questions from WVOX’s Bob Marrone and one from BW Editor-In-Chief AJ Woodson with Councilman André Wallace. As always please feel free to share your opinion, leave your feedback and thoughts in the comment section below the article.
Stay tuned to BW as we continue to follow this story as well as the ongoing Civil War in Mount Vernon City Hall.
Kelly has a long and distinguished resume. He spent more than 20 years with the Mount Vernon Police Department before he retired as a captain. He went on to work for the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, where he created the county’s intelligence center. Kelly has not spoke to the press since his termination.
Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Ronald Fatigate is now the acting commissioner, and a search is underway to fill the position permanently.
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, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.
I agree with you. Where is the transparency. The mayor’s behavior has added more damage to MV.
I have observed from a distance Richard Thomas the past four years, beginning when he was elected to the City Council. I perceive him as a talented and intelligent young man. At the same time, he is extremely egotistical and disingenuous. The very thing he did grandstanding and holding roadside press conferences to bring scorn to Mayor Davis and to separate himself from his fellow council members whenever something was wrong. He now accuses others of grandstanding because he refuses to be transparent with his decisions. I do not have an opinion on whether he should or should not have terminated Commissioner Kelly. In fact, I commend him on making the tough call to do so, early in his tenure. My concern is his “Iron Curtain” mentality to be open and truthful. His commissioners set and implement policy on his behalf for the City. Therefore, the Mayor owes it to the citizens to discuss the reasons behind his decision. I disagree with him that to do so is debating his decision. For all his “book smarts” he severely lacks human intelligence in how to work collaboratively with others and to invite constructive criticism.
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