County Committee: Both Sides in Mamaroneck Race Used “Unfair” Tactics

Print

westchesterfairpractices

Here’s what the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee (FCPC) has to say about tactics on both sides of the Village of Mamaroneck Mayors’ race. The election is Tuesday.

 There were two cases brought by Daniel S. Natchez and Thomas H. Burt against Norman S. Rosenblum and Louis N. Santoro, candidates for Mayor and Trustee, Village of Mamaroneck. The FCPC heard one case brought by Messrs. Rosenblum and Santoro against Messrs. Natchez and Burt.

FIRST CASE:

FINDINGS IN THE COMPLAINTS OF DANIEL S. NATCHEZ, CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR, VILLAGE OF MAMARONECK, AND THOMAS H. BURT, CANDIDATE FOR TRUSTEE, VILLAGE OF MAMARONECK, AGAINST  NORMAN S. ROSENBLUM AND LOUIS N. SANTORO, CANDIDATES FOR THE SAME POSITIONS, RESPECTIVELY

COMPLAINT:  A mailer sent by Messrs. Rosenblum and Santoro alleged that “Dan Natchez is Wasting Taxpayers Money.” 
FINDING: UNFAIR.
  This assertion was not supported.  No evidence was presented that the lawsuits filed by an organization headed by Mr. Natchez, which were the cause of the alleged wasted money, were frivolous.

COMPLAINT:  That same mailer stated, “There is a reason property taxes are so high.  Dan Natchez and his cronies repeatedly sue the Village resulting in excessive legal fees and court costs.  Over the years Dan Natchez, while pursuing a personal agenda, has cost this Village hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary legal fees.”
FINDING:  UNFAIR.  
There are many reasons why property taxes are high; ascribing the high taxes to legal actions taken by Mr. Natchez is not fair.  There was no support presented for the judgment that the legal fees were “unnecessary.”

COMPLAINT:  The mailer states that “The current majority of Trustees have controlled the board since 2010.  They are responsible for excessive spending on legal fees.”
FINDING:  UNFAIR.
  The make-up of the Village Board has changed over the period since 2010, and it is unfair to ascribe any specific spending to all of them.

COMPLAINT:  The mailer states that “Dan and his cronies have hired two separate law firms to handle the Jefferson Ave. Bridge litigation.”
FINDING:   FAIR. 
The complaint is based on a misreading of the mailer.  The mailer, though confusing, indicates that the current trustees have hired two separate law firms.  It does not attribute that action to Mr. Natchez.

SECOND CASE:

FINDINGS IN THE COMPLAINTS OF DANIEL S. NATCHEZ, CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR, VILLAGE OF MAMARONECK, AND THOMAS H. BURT, CANDIDATE FOR TRUSTEE, VILLAGE OF MAMARONECK, AGAINST  NORMAN S. ROSENBLUM AND LOUIS N. SANTORO, CANDIDATES FOR THE SAME POSITIONS, RESPECTIVELY

Mr. Natchez and Mr. Burt represented themselves, and were also represented by Thomas Caruso.  Mr. Rosenblum represented himself; he and Mr. Santoro were also represented by Andres J. Bermudez-Hallstrom.

COMPLAINT:  On October 28, 2015, the day after this Fair Campaign Practices Committee issued findings in a previous complaint, Mr. Andres Bermudez-Hallstrom issued the following characterization of those findings on his Facebook page:  “It turns out Natchez/Burt’s newspaper ad and mailer were chock-full of lies.  I’m sure this surprises absolutely no one.”  The announcement then included the full text of the release, but in order to read anything but the heading, one had to click “See More.”

FINDING: UNFAIR.    The rules of the Fair Campaign Practices Committee clearly state that any misrepresentation of its findings is in itself an unfair campaign practice.  Characterizing the challenged ad as “chock full of lies” clearly falls into that category.  The Committee found that only one statement by Mr. Natchez was “untrue.”

This Committee concludes that Mr. Bermudez-Hallstrom’s Facebook comments constitute a statement by the Rosenblum/Santoro campaign.  He has appeared before this Committee several times representing Messrs. Rosenblum and Santoro, and has signed their complaints. Any attempt to claim that he does not represent them in this case is rejected by this Committee.  We would expect a Rosenblum/Santoro post on Mr. Bermudez’ Facebook page repudiating Mr. Bermudez-Hallstrom’s comments on the matter.

THIRD CASE:

FINDINGS IN THE COMPLAINT OF NORMAN S. ROSENBLUM, CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR AND LOUIS N. SANTORO, CANDIDATE FOR TRUSTEE, VILLAGE OF MAMARONECK AGAINST DANIEL S. NATCHEZ AND THOMAS H. BURT, VILLAGE OF MAMARONECK, CANDIDATES FOR THE SAME POSITIONS, RESPECTIVELY

Mr. Rosenblum represented himself, and he and Mr. Santoro were also represented by Andres J. Bermudez-Hallstrom.  Mr. Natchez and Mr. Burt represented themselves, and were also represented by Thomas Caruso.    

COMPLAINT:  Mr. Natchez claims to have been the “principal writer” or “principal author” of a document called “LWRP” (Local Waterfront Revitalization Project).  Messrs. Rosenblum and Santoro assert that he was not either of those things and played little if any role in its creation.

FINDING:  NO FINDING.    Various former elected officials asserted opposite conclusions on this issue.  This Committee has nothing to add to the discussion of this 30-year-old issue.

COMPLAINT:  Mr. Natchez produced an ad and other visuals unfairly depicting a hypothetical implementation of Mr. Rosenblum’s proposals regarding a portion of Mamaroneck Avenue.

FINDING: UNFAIR.  While artist’s renderings of proposed developments can further public understanding of an issue, the issue is one of degree.  The “tombstone” in front of the A&P may accurately predict the departure of that store and is fair, but the drawings of future development depict future developments so extreme and so unlikely that they amount to little more than scare tactics.

COMPLAINT:  The renderings in the ad and video appeal to prejudice.

FINDING:   FAIR.  The drawings may be ugly and otherwise inappropriate, but there is no specific appeal to prejudice.

COMPLAINT:  At an October 28th League of Women Voters debate, Mr. Burt stated that this Committee, at the earlier hearing, found a statement of Mayor Rosenblum to be “flatly untrue.”

FINDING:  FAIR.  While the Committee did not use the word “flatly,” the Committee found that Mr. Rosenbaum’s statement falls within the realm of normal political discourse. 

Committee Members: Victor J. Goldberg, [Chair], Miriam Cohen [Coordinator], Paul C. Atkinson, Elizabeth Bermel, Gisele Castro, Daniel S. Franklin, Jr., LaRuth Gray, Susan Guma, Lee Kinnally, Robert C. Kirkwood, Polly Kuhn, Philip M. Maley, Harry Phillips III, Joy Rosenzweig, Susan Schwarz, Evelyn M. Stock

Party representatives (ex officio): Republican Party, Democratic Party, Conservative Party, Working Families Party, Independence Party, Green Party, Reform Party                                   

 The purpose of the Westchester Fair Campaign Committee is to promote a climate in which candidates conduct honest and fair campaigns. The Committee encourages candidates to conduct campaigns openly and fairly, to discuss issues, to refrain from dishonest and defamatory attacks, and not to use campaign materials that distort the facts.

The Committee does not sit as a censor of political discussion nor as a body to enforce election law or make legal decisions. Its task is to accept written complaints about alleged unfair campaign practices and to determine whether the action complained about is indeed unfair. Among other things, the Committee will consider to be unfair any campaign practice that is a misstatement of a material fact or that misleads the public.

The Committee has no power to compel anyone to stop doing what it has found to be unfair. If the Committee acts on a complaint, it will release its findings to inform the public. The Committee may choose not to consider a complaint; in that case, a hearing is not held and the parties to the complaint are notified.

Statement of Principles of the Committee, as stated in its Manual, is available at www.faircampaignpractices.org. The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee believes that candidates should conduct their campaigns in accordance with the following principles:

  • The candidate will conduct a campaign for public office openly and fairly. The candidate will discuss the issues and participate in fair debate with respect to her/his views and qualifications.
  • The candidate will neither engage in nor be involved with unfair or misleading attacks upon the character of an opponent, nor will the candidate engage in invasions of personal privacy unrelated to fitness for office.
  • The candidate will not participate in or condone an appeal to prejudice.
  • The candidate will neither use nor be involved with the use of any campaign material or advertisements that misrepresent or distorts the facts.           
  • The candidate will clearly identify by name the source of all advertisements and campaign literature published and distributed.
  • The candidate will not abuse the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee process in order to obtain political advantage.

The candidate will publicly repudiate materials or actions from any individual or group that would violate the Statement of Principles.

                                                                       

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *