Outraged that a group of New Rochelle residents made critical comments about his Redistricting Plan during last night's Citizens to be Heard portion of the City Council Meeting, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson bolted the stage to angrily confront startled members of the ad hoc Concerned New Rochelle Citizens' Redistricting Committee as they made their way out of the meeting.
"Don't piss on my leg then try to shake my hand", Bramson hissed at one committee member who attempted to greet the Mayor as he approached the group. A woman who overheard the remark was stunned by the Mayor's language.
The notoriously belligerent Bramson was especially upset over criticism of his redistricting plan contained in a press release distributed by the group earlier in the day.
The press statement pronounced the Mayor's Plan as "incorrect and insufficient on numerous grounds; the published boundaries are: illogical, ignore population realities and not contiguous. Most important, they deprive minority interests of the rights enshrined in the United States Constitution's First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, the 1973 Voting Rights Act as confirmed in the 2003 decision and consent decree of the US District Court."
Some committee members later expressed shock and dismay with the Mayor's crude language and confrontational tone. Others were more sanguine. Bramson's hissy fits and profanity-laced tirades are well-known by community leaders who have ended up on the other side of an issue from Mayor Bramson.
"Typical Noam antics" chuckled one Council Member who asked not to be identified.
Committee member Martin Sanchez was not surprised. He previously recalled similar behavior by Bramson over Sanhez' concerns about the environment in the West End of New Rochelle:
A couple of years ago, while I was a School Board member, I made public comments about the Beechwood area in New Rochelle and the impending environmental disaster that was forthcoming. I live in the West End; my children's friends live here. Well, Noam didn't like that a sitting school board member made public comments that ran against his desires. He called me on the phone and went into a tirade, full of expletives...He used foul language and insulted me unlike anyone ever had. The point is that if you speak out and Noam doesn't like it, he will try to stifle you...
Even the Mayor's own hand-picked redistricting consultant, Andrew Beveridge, a Bramson donor and former Democratic District Leader in Yonkers, dismissed the redistricting debate as "personal" and "political theater". Many expect the redistricting battle to end up back in Federal Court as was the case a decade ago.
Faced with declining career prospects and frustrated over the absence of opportunities for advancement within the Democratic Party in Westchester and New York State, Bramson has found it difficult to keep his emotions in check during City Council meetings as a recent example from a February meeting demonstrates even the mild-mannered Council Member Al Tarantino criticized the Mayor for going over the line.