While it is tempting to use this column to address the many fabrications my opponents spread like a cancer across social media, I have always viewed this column as a means of promoting and sharing my ideas to allow the community the benefit of having them as we consider the best path forward for our City. I’ll address my opponents in the debates during the campaign.
What I do want to focus on in this column is real solutions for moving our City forward; starting with the initiatives I began in 2019 during my (brief) time as Mayor. Simply put, I inherited a situation filled with confusion and problems stemming from the previous administration, including MILLIONS of dollars in unpaid legal bills from outside lawyers hired by the City to defend lawsuits caused by that administration. There existed a culture of corruption that permeated throughout the Department of Public Works (DPW), the Police Department, and the Industrial Development Agency (IDA). Together with the money they were outright stealing from the Water Department, our City’s taxpayers were on the hook for as much as $25 million dollars. That’s money the previous administration is not going to have to pay, but, as taxpayers, we are.
My first steps were to cleaned house. I started by terminating those employees who were treating IDA funds like personal piggybanks and who were costing the City unwarranted and unnecessary expenses. I got rid of the Water Commissioner who was writing blank checks to the former Mayor’s criminal defense lawyers and hundreds of thousands of dollars in sweetheart deals to his cronies for work having nothing to do with the Water Department. I also stopped the police inappropriate overtime scam that was costing taxpayers in the millions.
I didn’t do it alone, I needed the help of people who knew what to look, who could be trusted and had no connection to the city or the past administration. Therefore, new people were brought in to look at the books and attorneys to take over the many court cases. These same lawyers ultimately saved our City over half a MILLION dollars in fines from the DEC related to Memorial Field.
We settle several cases that would have cost the City millions down the line. There were also several cases the City Council refused to approve; many of which are still pending. Working closely with the Comptroller, responsible decisions were made to pay priority bills to keep the City running. My next steps were to go after the people who stole money from the Water Department, returning hundreds of thousands of dollars in repayments to the taxpayers of this City. That decision was abandoned once I left office.
Some of my opponents’ are saying I did nothing while in office but spend money on lawsuits. Well, let’s check the record. I cleaned up Memorial Field and close the deal with the county; renovated municipal parking lots; returned City Hall’s parking lot to the People; purchased four brand new fire trucks at no cost to the taxpayer for the first time in over 20 years; changed the insane alternate side parking rules; implemented disaster planning training for City workers; remove several corrupt police officers, dropped the crime rate 33%, generated business investment in Mount Vernon (including a Starbucks); set up a master plan for cleaning up the sewers with an actual engineer; closed the books in the Water Department and put in procedures to avoid what happened in the past. Successfully negotiated settlements to end expensive litigation; delivered a finished budget in October “on-time” and left “$6 millions dollars” in grant money for the incoming administration.
Unfortunately, the same problems with the Comptroller are back. The IDA is back to considering destructive PILOTs, which will cost the taxpayers additional MILLIONS in costs for services and school district expenses.
In the four months a lot was accomplish. I considered coming back because there is a lot more I wish to offer our city. I ask my opposition, rather than create false narratives, please tell me:
Do you have a plan to save Mount Vernon Hospital? I do.
Do you have a plan for closing the books on the City’s finance? I do.
Do you have a budget that isn’t science fiction? I do.
Do you have people who can competently advise the city on the legal problems this City faces? I do.
Do you have a record of financial success outside of cashing paychecks from this City? I do.
That’s why I’m running again. That’s why the People of this City have asked me to run again. That’s why the Democratic Party has nominated me to run again.
Competence is necessary. Incompetence is lethal. Those who scream the loudest are usually the ones contributing the least.
If you have thoughts or comments about this issue or any other, reach out to me at [email protected].