Despite Claim to Contrary, Taxpayer Funds Were Used to Restore Anti-Catholic Statute in New Rochelle

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Despite Claim to Contrary, Taxpayer Funds Were Used to Restore Anti-Catholic Statute in New Rochelle

October 13, 2015 - 01:32
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NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- In the press release issued by the City of New Rochelle on behalf of the 325th Anniversary Committee, the claim was made that “No taxpayer funds” were used to restore the statue of Jacob Leisler.

"The restoration of this iconic statue was made possible by the extensive fundraising efforts of the 325th Anniversary Committee. “We are grateful for the generosity of the sponsors and many donors who gave of their resources, time and talents, which allows us to preserve our history for generations to come,” said Committee Chair Marianne Sussman. “The Anniversary Committee has dedicated these funds to preserving New Rochelle’s historic legacies, the first among them being this valuable historic monument.”No taxpayer funds were utilized for this purpose."

No taxpayer funds? Think again.

First, the statute is owned by the City of New Rochelle and sits on City property — in other words those are taxpayer funds tied up in those two assets.

Second, there is all manner of indirect and soft money involved including discounts and special deals from people or businesses that have some larger connections with taxpayer funds.

Challenged on this claim and asked to correct the record by contacting the media outlets sent copies of the press release, the City instead offered to omit the phrase “No taxpayer funds were used” from future press releases. To what end? The work was commissioned two years ago and is now complete. With the unveiling of the statute there will be no reason to issue press releases in the future.

The City also claims that there was no intention to suggest that no taxpayer funds were used to pay for the restoration of the statue by using the phrase “No taxpayer funds were utilized [to restore the statute]." That claim is absurd on its face.

“The phrase in spirit was intended to underscore that this historic preservation project was accomplished through funds raised by the 325th committee, apart from the City’s capital budget, said New Rochelle spokesperson Kathy Gilwit.

It would seem clear that the phrase “no taxpayer funds” were used is a phrase intended to underscore the [false] claim that “no taxpayer funds” were used.

In a recent Freedom of Information request, the City confirmed that there is just one bank account for the 325th Anniversary Committee, an account set up and administered by the City of New Rochelle at taxpayer expense. A spreadsheet (linked below) with all transactions for that account shows these funds are not segregated, they are co-mingled. All money taken in was then spent on an even, pro-rata basis.

325th Anniversary Committee Bank Account

It appears more likely that the false claim that “no taxpayer funds” were used to pre-empt criticism that the 325th anniversary committee used taxpayer money to honor a person who is known primarily in history as an anti-Catholic who took away the right of Catholics to vote in the NY colony a ban which continued even after the American Revolution, the adoption of the New York State Constitution and U.S. Constitution. In fact, and few today realize this, after 1790 African-American Men were allowed to vote if they owned property while no Catholic could vote.  That is the legacy the committee wishes to honor? 

Further, Talk of the Sound is aware that at least one (and possibly more) prominent Catholic citizen made just such a complaint to the Committee so the committee was well aware of these concerns.

Direct Use of Taxpayer Funds

  • $160 New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority
  • $100 City of New Rochelle
  • $500 New Rochelle City Council
  • $500 New Rochelle City Council

Indirect Use of Taxpayer Funds

(organization that transferred funds to the committee who themselves get taxpayer dollars and/or are taxpayer subsidized, effectively redistributing those funds).

  • $1,000 donation from Iona Prep
  • $75 Ursuline
  • $1,250 Ursuline
  • $3,750 Ursuline
  • $75 New Rochelle Opera
  • $100 New Rochelle Day Nurser
  • $4,000 Iona College
  • $1,000 Iona College
  • $500 New Rochelle YMCA
  • $250 New Rochelle Fund for Excellence
  • $250 New Rochelle Council for the Arts
  • $4,000 The College of New Rochelle
  • $250 New Ro Runners
  • $250 The Guidance Center

In-Kind Contributions from City of New Rochelle 

  • Mayor's Office - hours worked by Mayor Noam Bramson and his assistant, Angela Taylor.
  • PR/Communications - hours worked by Kathy Gilwit and her assistant on writing press releases, distribution, web site, A/V crew coveting ceremony.
  • Finance - creating trust fund, administering trust account, bank reconciliation, bank fees, financial reporting, deposits, check writing, etc.
  • DPW - hanging and removing lamppost banners, set up and clean up at ceremony.
  • Parks & Recreation - tennis tournament, Kite Day, Pain-to-Paine race 
  • New Rochelle Police Department - ceremony, Pain-to-Paine race, kite day.
  • Business Improvement District  - Restaurant Week Promotion, Performances, 50% of BID funded by City, balance from taxes/fees on property owners within BID area, tax-payer funded grants. 

RELATED: As Pope Francis Visits New York, City of New Rochelle Celebrates Restoration of Statute Honoring Noted Anti-Catholic Bigot