Mamaroneck Board Under Fire for ‘Secret’ Trustee Nod
11 Feb, 2014
By Polly Kreisman
Did the Town of Mamaroneck quietly, and without public scrutiny, decide to appoint a former Village of Mamaroneck Trustee to replace Phyllis Wittner, who retired Feb. 1?
The result, says former Town Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe, who contacted theLoop Tuesday, “is taxation without representation.”
Up until a few days ago, the five members, all Democrats, consisted of two Larchmont residents, Supervisor Nancy Seligson and Councilwoman Jaine Elkind Eney and three residents of the unincorporated area, Ernest Odierna, Abby Katz and Phyllis Wittner, until her resignation.
Now it appears that as early as Wednesday, Tom Murphy, a Mamaroneck village resident and former village trustee, who ran in the Democratic primary for County Legislator in November and lost to Catherine Parker, will be officially sworn in.
“That means the majority of the Board can pass tax hikes that won’t affect them, or pass Town Fire Dept. bond issue that they can’t vote on.” O’Keeffe says. “It’s crazy. They’d flunk Government 101. There seems to be no respect for the process.”
Over the last few weeks, the Town has sent notices of a “personnel matter about a Town employee” being discussed in Executive Session, a type of meeting that is not open to the public.
It now appears those sessions were held to discuss appointing Murphy.
O’Keeffe and another former Town Supervisor, Elaine Price, who now lives in Massachusetts, suggest this may have violated Open Government laws, as applied in recent similar cases in New York State, where Executive Session employment matters should apply “only to employees of the municipality and not to appointments to fill the unexpired terms of elected officials. Certainly, the matter of replacing elected officials, should be subject to public input and scrutiny.”
“There was no transparency here,” says O’Keeffe.
Tom Murphy responded, “It is a Board appointment. There will be an election for the seat in November… Valerie’s Town view Balkanizes us as a community, it is a very divisive view of government. I am a citizen of the Town not just the Village. I will make decisions based on what is best for everyone in the community. I actually find Valerie’s assertions to be insulting.”
The Board meets Wednesday Night.