Mount Vernon – The Tale of Two Mayors continues… Richard W. Thomas who made history in 2015 as the youngest person elected to serve as mayor in the city of Mount Vernon, filed legal papers Thursday, asking the State Supreme Court to order an end to the City Council’s and Comptroller Deborah Reynolds’ illegal actions related to the appointment of an “acting mayor.
Specifically, Thomas’ court filing asked the court to order André Wallace, – who was sworn-in as Acting Mayor, Wednesday, July 10th unanimously by the Council – to stop calling himself “acting mayor,” to stop signing checks and contracts as “acting mayor” and to stop hiring, terminating or terrorizing municipal employees.
Thomas’ legal filings ask the Court to re-affirm past decisions that the City Council may only exercise legislative powers and that it may not interpret or enforce laws since these are judicial and executive functions.
Thomas’ petition also references previous court orders and decisions against the City Council when they previously tried to fire mayoral appointees and withhold salaries.
In 2017 Supreme Court Justice Lefkowitz issued multiple orders, determining that the City Council exceeded its legislative function when it declared the positions of Corporation Counsel, Commissioner of Public Works and Deputy Police Commissioner to be vacant. Justice Lefkowitz found that the Council was exercising a judicial and executive function in violation of the City Charter. She also enjoined them from interfering with Mayor Thomas’ day to day management and operation of the City in a decision which was unanimously affirmed by the Appellate Division, according to a statement issued by Thomas.
In his court filing, Thomas also cited a 2016 court order to end the City Council’s effort to undermine his administration and ability to govern immediately upon taking office. In that case, Supreme Court Justice Neary ordered the City Council President and the Comptroller to stop issuing and signing City checks without the Mayor’s countersignature as required by the City Charter.
“These actions are illegal, unnecessary, disruptive, embarrassing, and directly interfere with the day to day operations of municipal government and my ability to discharge my statutory duties as Mayor,” said Thomas about the July 10 resolutions and Wallace’s and Reynolds’ actions since then.
“The unnecessary confusion has also injured the City’s ability to conduct business. We will not tolerate immature extremists interpreting the law at the expense of the people. I will not stop defending the people and the integrity of our great City.”
1. LINK TO 2017 JUDGE LEFKOWITZ ORDER AGAINST CITY COUNCIL/COMPTROLLER: http://cmvny.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Lefkowitz-Court-Order.pdf
2. LINK TO 2016 JUDGE NEARY ORDER AGAINST CITY COUNCIL/COMPTROLLER: http://cmvny.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Neary-Decision-7.7.16.pdf
LINK TO OTHER MAYOR THOMAS COURT ORDERS AGAINST THE CITY COUNCIL/COMPTROLLER: www.cmvny.com/courtorders
“Richard Thomas vacated his position as the Mayor of Mount Vernon on July 8, 2019, pursuant to the City Charter and State law,” Acting Mayor André Wallace tells Black Westchester. “The City Council had every right and, indeed, the obligation to fill that vacancy. Mr. Thomas is now a private citizen, with no right to seek the relief he’s asking for. We look forward to making this clear to the Court tomorrow.”
On Friday, July 19th Thomas was only paid for three days, July 8-10, the period up until Wallace was sworn in as mayor. And Wallace got paid for those same days as council president and as mayor the remainder of the pay period.
The Black Clergy appeal to either Thomas or Wallace to voluntarily step down, Tuesday to no avail. Maybe the court will make a decision and put an end to the Tale of Two Mayors.
Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story!