Regrettably for the city council the passing of the ordinance may have come a little late because the city will be facing millions of dollars in lawsuits and judgments in harassment, retaliation, and racism claims against the Thomas Administration and his appointed Commissioners.
“For too long the citizens of Mount Vernon have been subject to those in power serving their own interests, instead of the interests of the people,” Councilman André Wallace, who chairs legislation and has spearheaded the enforcement of the resident requirements since the beginning of the year, tells BW. “We have been doing things so wrong for so long that we now believe they are right. This is the beginning step in the right direction and a major step forward to getting our city back on track.”
Thursday, July 7th, Justice Robert A. Neary denied Mayor Richard Thomas‘ request to stop the City Council from removing from office commissioners who do not meet the City Charter’s residency requirements. The ruling was in response to a March court filing by Mayor Thomas seeking orders to also prohibit the City Council from paying vendors without Thomas’ signature on checks and meeting without issuing public notices, among other requests, reports Lohud.
State Supreme Court has said that Mount Vernon’s residency requirements are unambiguous, so some City Hall appointees could now lose their jobs. Despite the Justice Neary’s ruling in July, the City Council hadn’t move to enforce the residency requirements until now, due to the Civil War in City Hall, which included a heated debate over the 2017 Budget. But Wednesday night the Council voted unanimously 5-0 in favor of the ordinance after a lengthy Public Hearing for 2017 Budget. Councilman André Wallace and Council President Marcus A. Griffith signed the ordinance into legislation at the end of the Council Meeting.
The next step is for Comptroller Maureen Walker to stop payment and benefits for the aforementioned offices now deemed vacant.
§ 50-38Applicability of state law – In accordance with § 15 of the Charter of the City of Mount Vernon, no person shall be appointed as an officer of the City of Mount Vernon unless he complies with the residence requirements contained in the Public Officers Law of the State of New York pertaining to the appointment of local public officers. Every local office of the City of Mount Vernon shall become vacant if the person holding such office shall cease to be an inhabitant of the City of Mount Vernon.
Stay tuned to Black Westchester Magazine for more on this developing story.