How Municipal Corruption Works in New Rochelle: A Case Study from the New Rochelle Board of Education's Painter-Working Foreman Position

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StromeProcopioOrganisciakBramsonThe primary route through which municipal corruption exists in New Rochelle is the Municipal Civil Service Commission ("CSC") of the City of New Rochelle. The CSC sits in an entirely unique position, the only entity in New Rochelle that has a formal governmental function for both the City of New Rochelle and the City School District of New Rochelle. Anyone hired for any civil service position within the borders of the City of New Rochelle must go through the CSC. As a result, it is the Commissioner of the CSC alone who straddles both spheres of our local government. The local CSC is theoretically accountable to the City Manager, the Mayor of New Rochelle and the Superintendent of Schools, as well as, the New York State Civil Service Commission. In practice, due to a complete lack of oversight, transparency and accountability, the CSC has operated independently, led by its Chairman, Domenic Procopio

It is through Procopio and the CSC that the "friends and family" network is able to place unqualified people on the City of New Rochelle or City School District of New Rochelle payroll, fill positions without advertising open positions and exams, obtain promotions without holding civil service exams, or fill positions without selecting candidates from the "eligibility" list. Under New York State Civil Service law a position must be filled by selecting a candidate from among the top three highest scoring eligible candidates on the appropriate civil service exam, a requirement that many candidates have found "inconvenient".

Many of the people given jobs through the "friends and family" network actually show up and work. Some do not. Those who do not are holding what are referred to as "no show" jobs. Typically, these are people who either run a side business while "on the clock" for the City or School District and kickback money in return. Some of these people, however, are involved in illegal activity ranging from gambling, to loan sharking, to drug dealing, or worse. These are people with illicit incomes that need to show a "visible means of support" to justify to tax authorities their affluent lifestyle -- owning an expensive, well-appointed home (or two, or three) driving an expensive vehicle, taking expensive vacations and so forth.

The person running the Civil Service Commission is Domenic Procopio who, for almost a decade, pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in tax exemptions intended for combat veterans and homeowners. When Talk of the Sound reported Procopio's money grab, City officials including Mayor Noam Bramson, City Manager Chuck Strome and City Tax Assessor "Chip" Perone excused Procopio on the grounds that he was, in order, "doing a great job", was the victim of a "clerical error", "did not understand the annual tax exemption letters". Under pressure from this publication, the City did require Procopio to repay the money he pocketed using the illegal combat veteran exemptions but did not seek the far larger amounts obtained under an illegal STAR exemption. Perone stated, falsely, that only New York State could pursue illegal STAR exemptions. In fact, New York State law requires that the local tax assessor and only the local tax accessor pursue the return of illegal STAR exemptions. That money was never reimbursed by Procopio. Soon after Talk of the Sound exposed Procopio's illegal tax exemptions he placed the house at 7 Pinebrook Road on the market.

Mr. Procopio, President of the Casa Calabria, a non-profit Italian-American organization headquartered in the West End of New Rochelle, is considered by some local politicians, speaking on background, as "untouchable". For years he has lunched regularly at Mamma Francescas' restaurant on Pelham Road with powerful people such as former New Rochelle Mayor and current Westchester County Clerk Timothy Idoni and New Rochelle Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll. Many people in New Rochelle have great affection for Procopio, a man who has, through his public office, doled out many favors.

Talk of the Sound has documented numerous examples of public corruption involving Mr. Procopio ranging from holding secret meetings of the Municipal Civil Service Commission to taking illegal tax exemptions intended for Combat Veterans, to approving illegal 211 waivers to allow public employees to "double dip" while receiving state pensions, to manufacturing job descriptions tailored to specific individuals (a felony under New York State law), ignoring posted eligibility lists, reporting false information to the New York State Civil Service Commission and more. Despite this (or because of this), Procopio continues to hold the position of Chairman of the Municipal Service Commission.

Procopio never served in the military let alone saw combat.

Much of the corruption involves school district positions, primarily in the Security Department under Bruce Danielle and in the Buildings and Grounds department under John Gallagher and his lieutenants, Jimmy Bonanno and Anthony Rigos, all of whom report to Assistant Superintendent for Business John Quinn, who in return reports to Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak and up to the New Rochelle Board of Education.

A resolution passed by the Board of Education at their last meeting on June 7th provides a textbook illustration of how municipal corruption works in New Rochelle and how unwitting school board members are bamboozled into approving resolutions they do not understand to provide cover for corrupt public officials.

In 2009, Ronald Perri retired from the Board of Education. His last position with the district was "Painter-Working Foreman". The position was filled on a provisional basis by Anthony Paganico, another painter working for the district. Paganico had a family connection to Procopio and was considered "reliable". Not reliable as a worker but reliable as someone who would be accommodating to Procopio and certain people in the Buildings & Grounds department who were working "no show" jobs, stealing time, getting paid overtime they did not earn or engaged in misappropriation of school equipment and theft of supplies. Over the past two years, Paganico has proved his worth to the powers-that-be in this web of corruption and was recently rewarded with a supposed recommendation from the Municipal Civil Service Commission to the Board of Education that his promotion be made permanent.

Paganico was ineligible for the position based on the job description requirements. He never applied to the take the required Civil Service Exam. He never passed the exam. There was never any recommendation made by the Municipal Civil Service Commission regarding the Painter-Working Foreman position based on a review of records under FOIL going back to January 1st, 2009.

So, how did it come to pass that earlier this month the New Rochelle Board of Education was asked to approve, and did, making Paganico permanent in a position he should have never had in the first place?

On October 28, 2009, after Perri retired, a State Examination for the Painter-Working Foreman position was ordered. Then Civil Service Administrator Beverly Silverman, set to retire herself at the end of the year, drafted the notice and posted it at City Hall and at locations throughout New Rochelle including school buildings. Upon learning that the State Exam for "his" position was being advertised, Paganico became enraged. He went to City Hall and confronted Silverman and, in a heated exchange, demanded that the exam notices be removed immediately. Paganico sought and received support from Domenic Procopio and John Gallagher, Director of Environmental Services for the City School District of New Rochelle, but in reality a private contractor working for a company called Service Master. Silverman objected but the exam notices were taken down. Potential applicants within the district were warned by supervisors not to apply for the exam and threatened with retaliation if they applied to take the examination.

Presumably unaware of any of this, on November 4, 2009, the Board of Education passed RESOLUTION No. 1-136-2:

RESOLUTION No. 1-136-2
PROVISIONAL APPOINTMENT
PAINTER-WORKING FOREMAN

RESOLVED, that the provisional appointment of Anthony Paganico from Painter to Painter-Working Foreman (repl. Ronald Perri, retired) with appropriate salary adjustment, Grade 15, Step 2, $67,127 plus S16 $14,312 per annum be and hereby is approved effective September 26, 2009 with such appointment to be subject to the required civil service examination.

RESOLVED, that Anthony Paganico be granted a leave of absence without salary from his permanent position during the period of this provisional appointment.

Under RESOLUTION No. 1-136-2, Paganico received a grade/step increase along with a corresponding increase in salary under the condition that the promotion was "subject to the required civil service examination".

On April 9th, 2010, a new announcement for the "Painter-Working Foreman" State Examination was drafted. The date of the test was scheduled for June 10, 2010 with a filing deadline of May 10, 2010.

Although the filing deadline to take the examination was May 10, 2010, the Director of Environmental Services for the City School District of New Rochelle, John Gallagher, sent a letter to the Civil Service Commission on April 15, 2010 requesting the Painter-Working Foreman Examination #76-531 #2298 scheduled for June 20th be cancelled. Gallagher wrote "We do not require a need for this exam".

A FOIL request for CSC records by Talk of the Sound (below) dated June, 2011 yielded two documents: (1) a notice of the Painter-Working Foreman Examination #76-531 #2298 dated 4/9/2010 with a line drawn through the number 76-531 and, by hand, the number 77-384 below the number 76-531 and; (2) the Gallagher memo dated April 10, 2010 requesting the test be cancelled.

I would like to get copies of all public records related to Civil Service Exams for positions related to Painters and Painter Working Foreman or similar positions from January 1, 2009 until today. This would include but not exclusively exam announcements, application forms, list of applicants/eligibility lists.

In addition, the City of New Rochelle provided the following information from the Civil Service Commission:

"A test for the Painter working foreman was ordered on 10/28/2009 and a test announcement was issued on 4/9/2010. On 4/15/2010 the Board of Education requested that the examination be cancelled and as no one had applied for the examination, a request to cancel the exam was sent to the State and the test announcement was withdrawn."

Again, the filing deadline to take the examination was May 10th, 2010 but Gallagher is requesting the exam be cancelled on April 15th, less than a week after the notice was posted and four weeks before the filing deadline, on the grounds that "no one had applied for the examination" something that could not be known until May 11th, 2010.

The Painter-Working Foreman job description posted in the exam notice on April 9th, 2010 sets forth various minimum qualifications including "Five years of experience as a journeyman painter of which two years must have been in a supervisory capacity". Paganico has no supervisory experience and was thus ineligible to apply for the position.

The exam was ordered on October 28, 2009 but, according to the CSC response to the FOIL request no notice was drafted until April 9th, 2011, just a month before the deadline to apply to take the exam in June. Why would the CSC wait more than 6 months to advertise the exam? They did not; the exam was advertised months earlier but the signs were ripped down.

Gallagher is not an employee of the school district and, even if he was, he would be a department head not a human resources officer. Under what authority is a department head permitted to cancel a scheduled competitive Civil Service exam? Why did the CSC accept this request from Gallagher? Why did the request not go through normal channels?

Despite Paganico not being eligible for the position, despite not having taken the exam, despite not having passed the exam or been placed on the eligibility list, the New Rochelle Board of Education approved RESOLUTION No. 11-348-7 on June 7, 2011 making Paganico permanent in the position of Painter-Working Foreman.

RESOLUTION No. 11-348-7
PROBATIONARY/PERMANENT APPOINTMENT - BUILDINGS & GROUNDS
RESOLVED, that having been approved by the Municipal Civil Service Commission for a promotional probationary appointment effective April 15, 2010 that Anthony Paganico, Painter-Working Foreman Grade 15, Step 16, $87,109 per annum and hereby is approved; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that Anthony Paganico, Painter-Working Foreman, having served the require probationary period, be appointed permanent, be and hereby is approved effective June 10, 2010.

The resolution states the basis for making the promotion permanent is he was "approved by the Municipal Civil Service Commission for a promotional probationary appointment effective April 15, 2010". The only public records available are the exam notice and Gallagher's letter, also dated April 15, 2010, requesting the exam be cancelled. There are no documents from the Municipal Civil Service Commission that even name Anthony Paganico let alone approve him for any appointment.

The question for the honest, hard-working taxpayers and residents of New Rochelle to consider is why would so many people violate New York State law or otherwise participate in a scheme to place Anthony Paganico in a position for which he was never eligible. One thing is for sure, this is not an "isolated incident".

More to be revealed...

RELATED:

Domenic Procopio Pays Back Illegal Combat Veterans Property Tax Exemptions, Tens of Thousands of Back Taxes "Forgiven"

Meet Geeta Singh: New Rochelle "Resident" and School Security Guard from Bronx, NY

Meet Jerome Planter Another New Rochelle "Resident" and School Security Guard from the Bronx Hired With Phony Residency Papers

Board of Education Tables Illegal "Rolf Koehler" Resolution After Rare Two Hour Executive Session

New Rochelle Board of Education Passes Phony 211 Waiver Resolution

New Rochelle Civil Service Meeting Gets a Visit from Talk of the Sound; "We No Hire" Says Chairman Procopio

ADDENDUM:

Section 175 on "Appointment of Commissioners" reads "The members of the Municipal Civil Service Commission as prescribed by law shall be appointed by the Mayor."

The entire section of the relevant portion of the City Charter follows:

ARTICLE XVII

Civil Service
Section 173 Municipal Civil Service Commission – 59 – The Municipal Civil Service Commission shall be constituted as prescribed by law and shall elect one of its members President. The members of the Commission who are in office when this Charter takes effect shall be the members of the Commission (subject to the power of removal as prescribed by law) until the expiration of their terms of office and until their successors are appointed and qualify. Their compensation shall be fixed by the Council.

Section 174 Secretary and employees

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Fifth Ave Guy on Tue, 07/05/2011 - 13:51

But Bramson won't be able to override the tax cap with a 4-3 vote, that's only 57%. New Rochelle may actually have to start living within our means next year. Remember that when you go to the polls in November.

Warren Gross on Thu, 06/30/2011 - 17:53

In light of the many revelationa coming in from multiple sources, the impact of the procopio and his committee on appointments to the board of education which clearly ties together the board of education and the city administration despite protests of "separate voting influences", and the politics from both sides that dominate the conversation and well-being of this city, I am asking if anyone out there can enlighten me and othrs with

Concerning the City Charter, (1) what is the role of the City Council in terms of governance or oversight on the City Manager? (2) given the enormity of the Fevang situation in DPW and the assertion that his actions "are no secret" in the working climate of the city, what role does the council play in the appointment on city auditors, who the assumption is, at least via the AICPA, that they are fair and impartial, and (3) given the diligence of reporting by Cox and a few others, why is the council and administration invariable unwilling to examine the impact of a mismanaged and negligably productive school board?

When I say Council, I impugn no misconduct or accusation of same. I do state that there have been frequent examples of issues, problems, and worse, that are not properly exained and addressed. Politics is politics, but I am very uncomfortable with innuendo, lack of proferred proof of misconduct, but there have been situations such as the Procopio situation where any denial of incompetence and wrongdoing would be incorrect.

It has caused me a good deal of personal pain to have seen examples of poor planning and management. It has caused me an equal amount of pain to see examples of rationalizing why basic business applications are politicized or worse, ignored. By this I mean developing some City control over school district, some council district representation, and I cannot understand how badly handled simple control and monitoring situations around IDA matters were cited by Di Napoli. These were management 101 ovesights.

Yet I am not going to dismiss these but I refuse to join the bandwagon that wants to indite Noam Bramson for malfeasance, misconduct or the like. Politics is horrific --- going on the steps of City Hall is a grandstand play especially if the Council has real power to set the course for change in Auditors, staff and, even if subject to a Council vote, the failure of this to pass can only help the GOP as they would have a slate to run on..

If you want to come after me with your unnamed,but highly suggestive "tee shirt" type names accusing me of everything from naive to a contributor to Noam Bramson, etal...... I am anything but naive -- I ran business of some size and responsibility and I will continue to support Noam until such time or if he is tied to some personal role in behaving against the law or some aggrieved action affecting his constituents. I will even support him if he decides to ignore my advice on issues I am well versed in as perhaps he is someone who has trouble with disagreement. That is a character vice and not a business vice. I will actively support Louis Trangucci although I wish he would have stepped down from the City Hall steps and answered the questions I am posing to Bob Cox and anyone else about the role of the Council in City Governance. If it is not conductive to proper oversight and management of the City Administration and management staff, I would like Louis to be a key player in making change. To me, his honesty is unquestioned and one of the first things you learn in business and the military is to look for values and character first and not competency as you can always train or develop competency in people, but not so much values or character. Louis has thhese in abundance and like it, or not, Noam is exrraorinarily intelligent and until I know differently, is guilty of nothing much more than being more comfortable with supporters and less with critics.

Our nation is really in terrible shape and I think it is largely due because people have forgotten what comes first -- family and community over self interest and selfish ego.

Ok, so fire away but I still would like one voice out there; to educate me on the Charter and a few that support basic values that have served us well over the centuries.

I will close with this.... I shared my history with you on my relationship with bob cox. I know his politics and something of his prior work with his blog. He could easily have kept me off this blog but reinstated me. With that said, the man has opened a lot of doors that it would have be to many peoples' personal and sometimes professional interest to keep closed. I may hae problems with his style and sometimew with his thinking process, but the evidence is clear to me that handled the right way by people in power or even at the ballot box, there is plenty to discuss and even change about governance, priorities, and simply how we are as a community.

I know the First Amendment gives a great deal of latitude to internet postings and allegations, but let me simply say be fair even if unbalanced. Work to change what doesn't work, do not treat anyone in any way that you would not want to be treated by others. Now what is so naive about that.

NRinfo on Tue, 07/05/2011 - 13:48

MisterG, the answers, in order of your questions;

1) Technically the council is the legislative arm while the city manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city. Reality is that for 20-years the democrats have controlled council thus controlling the city manager as the city manager serves at the pleasure of council.

2) The city council must approve the contract for “independent auditors”. The current auditing firm goes back to the Idoni administration and they have made campaign contributions to Idoni & Bramson.

3) Your third question is truly naïve, I know you dislike that characterization but Bramson has never made a mistake (in his world) and could never admit doing so in the real world. The council had previous knowledge of Fevang going back to 2001. To allow Fevang to continue in a position of authority with the ability to approve hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts without extreme oversight is nothing less than malfeasance!

I implore you (MisterG) to listen to the interview with the true hero (Pat the whistle-blower) on TOTS. Pat reported the misconduct to two previous DPW commissioners (Maxwell and Coleman) and the recently departed deputy-commissioner (Catroneo) as well as other supervisors. Do you honestly believe none of these management officials brought this to the attention of the city manager? Do you honestly believe that Bramson and council had no idea, considering the fact that when someone moves their bowels in city hall everyone knows what color and how much before he has a chance to clean himself? Be realistic; take off your rose-colored glasses and see that this could not be a one-man show. Fevang was first investigated 11-years ago and found to have repaired his personal vehicle with parts charged to the school district billed to superintendent Linda Kelly’s vehicle.

You claim to have run a business, and I have no reason to doubt you, so I must pose a question to you; what would you do if a similar situation took place under your supervision? Would you fire the city manager, finance commissioner, independent auditor, what would you do? You praise councilman Trangucci and rightfully so, do you realize that when Trangucci wanted copies of invoices to take to the DA he was told there were no employees available? Do you know that Trangucci called his wife who came to city hall to make the copies the DA requested? Do you know that Fevang attempted to trump charges on the whistle-blower only a few months ago and that BS made it to executive session for disciplinary consideration?

Again I implore to listen to Pat’s interview and don’t miss part 2 this week on WVOX, 11 AM 1460 on your AM dial on Friday. Listen with an open mind and the ear that Noam has not yet whispered in.

Schmetz on Fri, 07/01/2011 - 18:54

Bramson cannot clean up the City Hall? There's a saying: Silence is consent. If he doesn't speak up he accepts what is happening. And if he accepts what's happening in many departments of City Hall, isn't it time New Rochelle Tax Payers do a petition for Impeachment on a county and state level? If you favor that send an email to schmetz@live.com. It's NEVER TOO LATE.

Warren Gross on Sun, 07/03/2011 - 22:11
Title: Impeachment

Mr or Ms. Schmetz you might check the City Charter as well as the the roles of Council Members and Mayor who is, as it turns out due to a lack of a strong mayor provision, a ceremonial mayor. Yes, I know he is the speaker of the house so to speak, but impeachment... if this was remotely possible, you would have to work on some recall notice for the entire council. Point is, however, all of this is pure politics. If you prefer blame, plenty to go around. Maybe it is time to fix the City and not see Bramson as the next Don Corleone. Give the man a break or rather a sandwich.

This is a very very conservative blog and that is fine. The relationship between this blog and the GOP is clear enough. Interesting to examine the various editors and spokespeople for TOTS. Actually that is fine with me; they sign their name and for the most part articulate their positions clearly if not balanced. I know some, maybe most of them and they would make good neighbors or friends. Only complaint is that they are myoptic on how the city operates. I amm going to publish what the charter calls for, review tapes for all past council meetings and I can guarantee you that there is plenty of blame to go around. There is also plenty of gamesmanhip -- come on -- revelations on the City Hall steps too sound out against what you really have oversignt responsibllity for. I will ask the City Counsel to give a report in front of the entire council on television to see just how these roles are playing out according to the Charter. I will also ask any councilman or woman or any citzen to approach a microphone and accuse Noam Bramson of self gain or interest. Looks like Favang is even escaping any charges of self gain or aggrandizement. I believe there were ample reasons not to hire Favang in the first place and I wonder who the mayor was at the time of his entering the workforce.

I know it is rotten theatre and likely not sexy reporting but maybe we got to find out if Strome has blocked reports from coming to him with a complaint. I want to know why Trangucci, St Paul and Tarantino didn't jump all over this allegation when Louis had to file and forward materials. That was months earlier; the answer either is incompetence or politics. And, I am not biased, I am a independent who has spent a few dollars in supporting NOam and asked Louis if he could use me during his campaign run. I say this simply because Noam, Marianne, and Barry Fertel should have jumped just as high and demanded an accounting. Same goes for the Di Napoli findings.

I guess you can see I am sick and tired of politics, unproven allegations, inept council actions, and anonymous posters on a blog. Cox used to use the word, "troll" at one point and I haven't seen it in a while.

I miss the old days when bob continue a most effective campaign against a deficient school disrict and board and even his getting under the skin of Keith Olbermann. But the man, if not lovable is very effective and I think I would be upset as he likely is at not being taken as seriously as he should be by the City. He should be and I think former resident Anthony, current critics John, Peggy, and Jim K just to name three are very sober, serious and decent people who are courageous enough to sign their names. I often disapgree with them, kindly know, less in the past, but relish the debates.

And, one other thing. Although I don't think there is a councilmember or critic who will directly confront Noam Bramson with charges of misconduct, malefeasance, lack of fiduciary duty, etc.... at least the critics I read about often on this blog have courage. I have yet to see on the national, state or city scene, members of the Democratic Party with enough courage to challenge the sort of allegations we read about daily.

Well, I am not a member of the Democratic party, but I am a citizen who believes that someone needs to step forward at place a different playbook on the table. The sooner we can turn the energies and talents of the Council, the Coxes, the D'Alois' and Killorans of the world in demanding that this city be fixed and in the right way and sequence, the better off we will all be.

I don't really have thick skin, but I have heart, a head and a willingess to take the point so I will. Look for me as often as I can drag my old bones out of bed and I welcome any citizen who is disgusted with the bickering, name calling, lack of proper oversight and process to open up and be heard. And sign your name; that is what it is for.

Bob Cox, I should publically thank you for reinstating me to this blog and I will try to give you and others enough to react and rsspond to and you may find out that I agree withh a lot of the substance, but very little with the form. Take the point!@

warren gross

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Mon, 07/04/2011 - 00:01

Warren,

The Democrats have had a majority on the City Council for a long time. I cannot think of a single example where Noam did not use a party line vote to get his way when he could not achieve consensus on the Council.

So, the math is simple: 4 > 3.

The benefit of having a 4-3 majority on City Council is that you can push through whatever you want -- GreeNR, Redistricting, Budgets, etc.

With that majority comes responsibility.

The downside of having a 4-3 majority (and a few years ago it was 6-1 and before that 5-2), is that you are responsible for the City, for better or worse.

City Manager Chuck Strome sits at the pleasure of Noam by virtue of his majority on Council. The Commissioners likewise serve at the pleasure of Chuck Strome. Each of these people is, in turn, accountable up the food chain with Noam Bramson sitting at the top of that food chain.

As will soon become apparent, Noam and Chuck did not cooperate fully with the Westchester County District Attorney and may have (did, in my view) obstruct justice in this case. It is "pro forma" for the DA to issue a statement thanking all concerned for their "cooperation". That does not mean anyone actually "cooperated", it is just a courtesy observed by government officials.

Remember that, as this story unfolds.

Warren Gross on Mon, 07/04/2011 - 11:34

Bob, of course you are correct but at this time it remains more of a question that must be decided as the facts unfold. I will join you in loudly in denouncing the guilty parties; whether by associatiion or lack of due diligence. Either is neglect of the public trust, whether benign or malignant.

You see where I am headed on this; I need to find out whether it was a collective lack of proper city management caused by a particular individual or party or whether it was more of a question of a process failure. For example, if Louis would have quickly placed on the agenda at a council meeting the fact that significant changes in oversight, or strome had a closed door policy or lacked the necessary hands-on management will to effect change, anything on the agenda that the public (and largely thanks to you for ensuring transparency) could have seen, it would have actually been a prima facie case for me that the majority had no interest in changing the status quo. I am also going to research and then insist as best a citizen can that the City Charter be explained fully and completely in terms of roles, relationships and responsibilities. I am in all honesty tired of the political games and personally burned bridges behind me. I am going to ask counsel to state in unequivocal language what this charter calls for -- meaning if Chuck Strome is defective, what is the ovesight and what role does Bramson play and more important, the collective council play who have oversight I would presume. Or else, bob, to me it is like the lyrices of the WHO song, "meet the old boss, same as the old boss." If the documents, our semi equivalency to the Constitution are defective, or not acted upon, then a St Paul led regime will have its own "quirks" and faults and someone on the other side will come up with a vehcile such as yours.

Bob, you have been the number one factor in exposing the faults of the school board; you have cited history, examples of both venial and mortal process and personal sin, over the yearss. It seems that the City Charter likely has carved out a similar role for City Counsel as it plays out for the District School Board. I need to see and understand that.

Your response to me is both sensitive and wise and I hope your conclusiions do not bear fruit once the DA proceeds with the investigation. I am going to say a few words at the July 12th meeting on this topic if I can drag my butt out of bed.

Keep running responses on all issues like you responding to me on this and you got an advocate and a supporter, and a worker if you challenge the school board membership again and I hope to God you do. Politics is a dirty business and, well lets's see

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Tue, 07/05/2011 - 20:10

Warren,

Did you listen to my radio show last Friday? The premise for a good deal of what you have written on this topic should have already been answered for you in my interview with Pat Papallardi. If you find him credible as I do then the answer is starting you in the face.

http://bit.ly/lYhp5G

Listen, then after you need to clarify what you mean by "a question that must be decided as the facts unfold".

As the person who has worked over the past 18 months to bring the facts in this case out to the public, who has been FOILing for the relevant documents in the case and reviewed them all, who has met with various DPW sources and, as the world now knows, was communicating directly with the whistleblower in this case, there is no mysterious unveiling of the facts that has yet to occur.

If you read my past articles, listen to the audio from last week's show and will listen to Part II of my interview with Pat on Friday, you will have all the information you need to understand that for 17 years Richard Fevang was picking the City's pocket, that "everyone" in DPW knew it up to the level of DPW Commissioner, that there were at least a half-dozen people involved in various ways in City government, that investigation is NOT closed as Chuck continues to claim, that NO ONE employed by the City has been exonerated by the DA as Chuck continues to falsely claim, that there are at least four vendors who were part of the scheme that entailed steering business for kickbacks and accepting invoices for payment for work that was never done.

I can site four invoices from one vendor that total about $30,000. Pat says this happened "many, many times". Do that math. Taxes have been raised and people laid off to fund Fevang's fraud. It is not chump change.

Is it really possible that NO ONE in City Hall understood this? We know that two City Hall Commissioners were told and did nothing. I have also mentioned Mark Zulli who was brought back a second time to testify to the grand jury.

One guy does not orchestrate this sort of fraud, going back 17 years, by his lonesome.

This is not the same thing as jumping on any bandwagon against Noam, Chuck or Howard; these are just reasonable concerns based on what my investigations over the past 18 years.

What does it tell you that I have spent more time investigating this fraud then the City Manager who stated last week in his press conference that there had been NO internal investigation. How can that be?

Warren Gross on Wed, 07/06/2011 - 00:23
Title: premise

bob, you know better than to allege that an interview with an individual is sufficient grounds for something "staring you in the face." Were that the case, there would be no court debates, no contested court cases. And the prior case of "naivety" is, well simply foolish. I admire and respect your skills and dogmatic search for facts. I subscribe to this and, as you know, I am an adherent of full contextual research and, what I have changed pretty much since our last association, is I am more respectful, less aggressive, but certainiy not naive, quite well read, and, like you and NIMRO and others, love the City.

So we have disagreements! That is what blogs are for I suspect. I do think that you put too much faith in dogma, personal belief and in framing a case that meets you needs and philosophy. That is fine with me; you are a courageous advocate of your beliefs and I wishy you had more people on the other page who had the courage to debate you. As for NIMRO, I don't know you but you seem an honest, dedicated person for your belief although your assessment of the roles of The Council and City Manager is not really the facts as expressed by the charter. If you read it carefully you will see that the City Council has oversight over the City Manager and that is not being properly understood or exercised by Council which includes the mayor as a member -- or understood by the general public. Bob, let me state what I am going to continue to state for anyone who will listen. My premise is simple... The City Council roles, relationships and responsibilities especially toward the City Manager are quite explicit. Your interview did nothing to enlighten the audience on this point.Technically by application of the City Code (see Sections 43 and 44), a Councilman should have directed all issues to the City Manager and not dealt directly with any employee. Yet, if Lou Trangucci felt that he was faced with a situation where there would be a non-response or worse, punitive action against a whistleblower, then he acted as I think a reasonable man would have and it was courageous. My problem begins with neither he or any other council member beginning to use their supoena or investigative power precisely at that moment to examine just how prevalent this situation is or was. It would not have suborned the investigation since you state that there was or is a history of this form of neglect. No one did, and worse, 6 or 7 months later, two GOP councilmen stood on the steps of City Hall and made some heavy-handed and yes, political statements about the need for a forensic audit. Good God,Bob surely you or your most rabidly anti administration colleagues on TOTS should have seen they had that power, duty and responsibility from the time they were sworn in office. This is one of the reasons I label it political and there are others and more important, why I am going to request clarification from Corporate Counsel concerning such matters as roles, relationships and responsiblities.

Sure I can be and have been wrong. I am essentially a Socratic believer who, holds to the premise, that "I know nothing." I might well be wrong here, but it won't be through naivety. Unlike many of your readers and possibly yourself, I want this thing to work. It is mostly heavy handed politics and like the Who says, if on the off chance that Richard St Paul wins, well, "see the new boss, same as the old boss."

I sense that you are becoming a little unnerved by me and this seems clear from your long prologue on your fact gathering and reporting skills. You seem also to feel that your radio interview with Pat is a summary argument that requires no disagreement or dispute. You are wrong on both counts! While I think your prologue is irrelevant to the issue at hand (Fevang inquest), I actualy have told you on many occasions that your fact gathering and reportage is excellent and I have done this while you and others have used words like, "naivety, data denial," against me. I no longer care if and when that is the case. I know my capabilities and my somewhat eccentric need for justice and fair play.

The point to me at this time is somewhat of a paraphrase of what you said earlier,e.e. we can expect a lot more from the DA office on Fevang. The evidence against Fevang seems irrefutable and Mr Coleman's resignation in my mind speaks for iteslf in the sense that had he any doubts, he could have exercise the ample protections of the City Code instead of walking away from a very serious matter.You say that many members of the DPW knew of what was happening and I want to know a lot more; did one or more try to approach Strome or their Department Head, will one or more testify at the upcoming trial, etc.... Bob, the heart of the matter to me is that all of this could have been unnearth earlier by the City Council. They could have used their subpoena power to look into this, provide immunity to testifiers, but they chose not to. That to me is a significant failure on the part of all 7 Councilmembers, not just the minority, but all. Yet now, we hear voices of "Forensic Auditors" around another process that the Council can employ pointed and direct action.

I can hear the bloggers now sharpening their pencils to write, "naive" and worse. Well our great system (or what was our great system) of political elections would say if the minority party makes an application for this to appear on a council agenda and the majority party squelches it, it would be hard for anyone and I think even you, to deny the power of such a denial on a pre-election plank. Any GOP member who would indicate to his electorate that the Democrats refused to sponsor an formal council inquiry, would gain both respect and votes.

Bob, why would you think that the stench of what has happened for so many years would escape me and not choke me with anger? It is as bad to me as the stain on the City with such internal divisiveness, calls for partisan inquiries, failing school district that the Council ignores (this is also anything but naive), and development of our commercial tax base, etal. If you love the city you want to eradicate stench and stain.

Is Noam Bramson guilty and if so, of what? Frankly, I don't know. I know what the Charter says about his role as "ceremonial mayor" but it would be truly naive to think that his influence stops there. However, I have not a scintilla of evidence to support any malfeasance. I do have some evidence that he does not deal with people who support and then question him..... I am not the most welcome guest in the court and so i understand why critics such as Jim K and Peggy for openers, find him inaccessible and remote. But that is not guilt, nor is being around or in office during periods of negative actions make him anything but a politician who is a member of a ruling clique. What I would really like to see is all 7 Council members embrace the entire city, welcome all input, and be visible and seen.

You mention Strome several timss and he is starting to look less than "ideal" in my sight. I know your history with him to some degree as well as examples of his arrogance concerning budget preparation and defense. There is more, but again, it is up to the City Couoncil who are truly empowered and I think expected to act on any issues, problems or concerns where he is concerned.

Pat sounds like a decent, concerned public servant and I don't knnow what I have posted or implied that would lead you to think otherwise. I can only imagine how hard it might have been for him or anyone else who cared about New Rochelle to see these sorts of things going on around him.

In conclusion the sad thing is you often miss the agreements for the points that you see as refutations of your service and skills. You are better than that. If my contibutions to the blog are such that you would rather I not submit contrary or questioning views, I will stop but you will have my support if and when you decide to re-enter the school board race.

I am going to both relate alternative viewpoints or scenarios unless i leave the blog but where this subject is concerned, it is ended for me and I want to personally move on to see if there is anything I can offer or do to strengthen the political process in our city with emphasis on building a community.

best always

warren gross

Timknows on Wed, 07/06/2011 - 12:15

Mr. Gross, after viewing the point counter-point it seems clear that your alternative views and scenarios are not based in fact. The roles of council and the city manager have no bearing on the Fevang calamity. You criticize the GOP’s statement as political but the mayor’s response about casting negative dispersion on 600 city employees goes uncharacterized. Talk about grandstanding to deflect the issue, wake-up! You of all people must realize this is a MANAGEMENT problem. When you have a management problem heads must roll to right the ship.

Strome has lied about the DA telling him the investigation is closed so why should we have any faith in an internal, or to your point, a charter authorized investigation conducted by liars?

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Wed, 07/06/2011 - 03:47

Warren,

I wrote "If you find him credible as I do then the answer is staring you in the face"

IF YOU FIND HIM CREDIBLE.

You have characterized that as me saying I have "alleged that an interview with an individual is sufficient grounds for something 'staring you in the face'".

Is that an accurate characterization? I think not.

I find Pat credible and so for me the answer is obvious.

You want to cast doubt, apparently tied to some desire to insulate Noam from political fallout from this case.

I have been down this road before with you. I have in-depth knowledge of this case and the people involved. You know only what I have presented on this site to my readers. I have drawn conclusions based on extensive research and experience with the principle players yet you feel that if you have a different view it is because all we have is opinions and they are all equally valid.

Sorry, but my conclusions and judgements are based on more than sitting at a keyboard and banging out conjecture and pseudo-legal theories using another person's research and investigation as a jumping off point.

Warren Gross on Wed, 07/06/2011 - 21:44

tim, you are not aware of the simple fact that it is a management problem and i am requesting no more than adherence to new rochelle city code. noam is not my fair haired boy to the other respondent; the City is what i fought for, worked for, and I am going to leave it at that. Bob Cox understands what i am saying and where I am coming from. we will have a lot of disagreement, but i would share a foxhole with him anytime because he has courage and guts. we speak somewhat differnt languages but bob keep it going. the rest of you guys, keep it going as well. agreement is not as important as honest and active participation. nothing further to say except do the right thing as you see it and thanks for the heads up on the meeting change. probably will not be prepared enough to make it due to change of date bur i am a supporter of bob mc caffrey and will try to make that.

warren gross

Timknows on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 01:15

misterg , (Warren if I may) adherence to the city code is what allowed Fevang to get off the first time. Trangucci knew the situation existed for 17 years and the administration used the code in the form of executive session to turn a blind eye. I absolutely realize it is a management problem but when the administration both elected and appointed put avoidance of a black eye before taking swift corrective action we have the ugly situation that exists today. You claim to come from management so you of all people know heads must roll. Two previous DPW commissioners and the recently fired deputy DPW commissioner knew as well as other supervisors according to Mr. Papallardi. I know other city-yard mechanics that have communicated Fevang wrong doing and they were instructed to go about their business "or else". This culture needs to end NOW and it can't be accomplished from within.

If you are truly fighting for New Rochelle, a US Attorney Investigation is the only way to sanitize The Queen City!

Warren Gross on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 19:51

maybe so tim but for Gods sake if a man of Lou's quality knew this for 7 years he had every right to exercise provisions for investigation and subpoena called for under the New Rochelle Code. I think you would agree that the City Council is the business equivalent of the board of directors in industry and they need to exercise their role and responsibilities. I have no doubt that it is a management problem of long standing and no question that it is something that would have to be handled in executive session. But tim, here is my problem. From what I can see, St Paul and Trangucci are strong men and it is very hard for me to think that a guy of Lou's courage and honesty would not have exercised his charter responsibilities. Where we absolutely agree is that something is seriously broken in governance. There have been other examples recently and I am sure in the past during other admiinstrations. I can recall similar issues during Idoni, paduano, others. I have gon over the City Code again just this week nd I have made a request to have the corporation council give a televised presentation of roles, relatinships and responsibilities for the ceremonial mayor, city council and city manager. A copy of my request has gone to each member of the council and I have requested that it be placed on the agenda. The city code states that the corporation council can only act on the request of one of the above parties. So lets see -- and yes, i want an up and down vote to see who would agree and disagree with the Counsel given this presenation but of course, this means someone would have to propose it first.

Look Tim, for better or worse, isupport Noam and also Louis. I support Jim Maisano and George Latimer. I am all over the map on this stuff.

Bob Cox seems to question whether or not I believe Pat Papalardi. Why should I doubt him; I don't know him and he has stepped forward. I don't know the extent of damage in the City, but I do know two things for damn sure: (1) some substantial changes need to be made, and (2) I want this all to end and work to begin on building the community and not tearing it down. So, I will continue to do what I think is right as I am sure you do.

Lets hope for the right outcome If you get a moment look at Secton 13 of the City Code. It forms a large measure of what I am about on all this and you could be correct that this is not being followed by the elected officials. MaKE up your own mind in the days ahead as more of this terrible stain on the City (Fevang) moves forward.

warren gross

Timknows on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 21:04

Misterg, you are so blinded by your protection of Noam that you can't see the forest from the trees. The roles of council under the NR charter are irrelevant. Lou didn’t know for 7 years, he’s only been on council for three years and about one year when Mr. Pappallardi approached him. The fact remains that Fevang was caught stealing parts over 10-years ago. The only one on council at that time and still a member of council today is Noam Bramson. So by your standard Noam Bramson is the only one who had the opportunity to exercise his charter defined responsibility to request an investigation. More importantly, Noam Bramson was a member of the past two administrations dating back 20-years and did not mandate or introduce any legislation that would prevent this level of thievery. The height of hypocrisy, Noam Bramson did not require that intense oversight be undertaken over an employee previously caught pilfering.

As far as the DA goes, they had Fevang’s personal vehicle for 5 years, confirmed that the parts purchased for a school district vehicle were installed in Fevang’s personal vehicle without an indictment. So to your point, charter stipulated recourse failed, internal investigation failed, the DA investigation failed initially and although there is a 66 count indictment pending if you believe theft of this scale was achieved without any other involvement I have swampland for sale in Florida. The US Attorney is the way to go and if indeed there is nothing to hide let’s welcome the investigation.

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 20:34
Title: Again, not

"Bob Cox seems to question whether or not I believe Pat Papalardi."

Again, what I wrote was to the effect that if you believe Pat then the answer is obvious. I am not making any judgement about you, I am explaining why I believe what I believe -- that I believe Pat.

What Pat has described is a SYSTEMIC problem not a "rogue employee" problem so that Fevang is gone does not address the systemic issues. I think we actually agree on that point.

While you may wish to "move on" there is no basis at this point because there has been no internal investigation into the systemic issues. What has happened is a DA investigation where a few of the issues with Fevang have been identified. Their goal -- to build a case -- is not the same as what the City needs -- to identify what went wrong, who was knew what and when and then, and only then, can you talk about making needed changes. Even then you cannot move on until those changes are made.

I know you want to be at a point where everyone gets along and no one is "political" or ever disagrees but repeatedly wishing for something that has never happened in the history of man and never will until the rapture comes is not necessary. We all wish that were the case. It is not. So let's focus on the matter at hand -- what to do about systemic corruption in New Rochelle and a failure of our leaders to pursue information about his corruption wherever it may lead.

Warren Gross on Fri, 07/08/2011 - 02:18

but first,

1. you seemed concerned that had i heard your interview with pat papalardi i would have no questions about what has happened or did happen.

2. I have no reason to question Pat Papalardi but it does not come about from your interview since i haven't heard it. all i know about Pat Papalardi is what I have read on your blog.

3. I listened to the entire Channel 75 presentation and you reported portions of the hour and 15 or so minutes. that's ok since you make no assertions other there was more.

4. anyone interested can see it for themselves on newrochelleny.com. I suppose starting tomorrow.

5. In all candor, St Paul concerns me. this is not political, this is from the standpoint of a senior executive. One reason is that he was trying too hard to cocmpromise the City regarding a direct order from the DA's office concerning not to openly reveal matters pertinent to the case.

6. Another is that he was feigning ignorance about the different audit processes involved. a forensic audit could not ever reveal the sorts of actions Favang is charged with. A forensic audit would have to be pinpointed at some specific area most often in the area of defalcation, fiscal impropriety, etc.
what i heard Ratner and Strome say is that the process steps, e.g. number of bids, proper signatures, etc. is routinely checked one hundred percent of the time and as all volunme businesses do, they randomly sample a relatively small percentage of the transactions -- say 5% or so more intensely; phone calls perhaps and, in addition, seem to look at all transactions to make sure that an unusual large number do not go to a single vendor

7. as you might know from your experience with Citibank, an outside auditor will employ a random number table as a statistical device to select a given number of transactions for a given year. It is all programmed.

8. st Paul showed eithr ignorance or spite by asking if the same vendors would come up each year. Ratner correctly said the data base would be different and Bramson gave a rational explanation of statistical probability that the odds of pulling vouchers from the same winning vendor say in 2009 and 2010 weer statistically remote.

9. Apparently Pat had this probem for 17 years; Strome has been on the job for 8 or 9 years. that leaves another one or so individuals at the City Manager desk. So, accepting which i will, Pat's honesty at not being able to approaach the city manager, it is either a serious management process issue or lower echelon department heads have been blocking him and maybe others from access.

10. Since they went to Executive session I have no idea who or if any other employee was involved.

11. Louis Trangucci looked satisfied, repeated certain confidences in the staff and i think in Strome and made a very good suggestion about some sort of secure intermediary source that could serve as a safety net for Pat or any other employee who was having issues. I hope they come up with something especially given no human resource professional in City Hall.

12. Fertel made a useful suggestion about asking that Strome ask the audit team to look at some specific area and include the findings in the audit report

13. what has not been discussed was that The City Code is crystal clear in Section 13 regarding City Council roles and responsibilities meaning they have the poer to subpoena witnesses and compel the production of all pertinent books, records, and papers. Net, net they could have taken over or initiated something I learned today for the first time -- that there was an on-going administration investigation until such time as the DA's office took charge, took possession of all records accumulated and acquired up to that point and cautioned Ms. Gill and others to button up.

Finally why the hell would I want corruption to be swept under the rug? you haven't said that, but one or two others have. If anythng, I am a totally intolerant of any wrongdoing, even down to the point of stopping the City from moving forward because of all of the needless and often baseless stuff that replaces downtown development, accepting more responsibility for the school district, evenn looking at that dangerous light at the intersection of main and division. This is what this council and city manager should do and now.

I hope to hell the DA office subpoenas as many members of this department and others and gets out a full report. As far as St Paul is concerned, I would love to read what he actually did say on the City Hall steps.

He is not coming up as someone who will win in New Rochelle. I would hate to see him adveersely impact the chances of people like trangucci and steve mayo. He just might.

bob, I will not respond to any further notation on this subject. Why not let it rest as two people who have some disagreement, some different ways of looking at things, and perhaps different hopes and aspirations. My next few weeks will be spent with Jim Killoran trying to improve downtown New Rochelle and with George Latimer on the Assembly equivalent of S395 in the State Senate which is designed to bring some transparency and tenants rights to shareholders, especially senior citizens, who live in cooperatives often on fixed incomes and if denied access or assistance on matters by their board of directors or New York State not willing or able to defend its own law, are asked to undertake the considerable financial burden of hiring a lawyer to defend them in Supreme Court.

Yeah, I am positive and always prepared. I have foiled in the past but it provides usually only raw data and not what is behind the data or has come out from the data.

see you or talk to you on the next subject.

warren

Timknows on Mon, 07/11/2011 - 01:32

Misterg, I will not pontificate anywhere near your level and I have no reason to believe you’re “going to move away on this” anymore than I believed your previous post, “last 3 comments”. You refuse to accept fact. Forget your theories, the city charter and any other obstacles you use to muddy the waters. Fact, Fevang has been caught stealing parts. Fact while Strome was not the city manager at that time he was the assistant city manager so to insinuate he had no knowledge is hypocritical. Fact, the city did not fire, demote or otherwise discipline Fevang for the first incident. Fact, the city allowed Fevang to continue in a supervisory position without oversight. Fact the city policy concerning certain contracts allowed "verbal bids" and even you realize this is foolish. Fact the whistle blower went to two DPW commissioners and the deputy commissioner and nothing was done. Fact, the city administration DID NOT cooperate with councilman Trangucci when he requested to have copies of invoices requested by the DA.

You claim that a forensic audit would not have caught Fevang because it would require pinpoint analysis. If you were the city manager would you not tell any auditors, forensic or “independent”, that the fleet manager of DPW was caught stealing parts? That would require “pinpoint” oversight yearly in that specific department.

Lastly, you chose not to listen to Mr. Pappallardi’s interview. Why? Are you afraid to hear the truth? Are you afraid to see how the system really works? Are you afraid to realize that management failed miserably?

There is no rationale to asking a horde of questions if you refuse to seek, acknowledge or believe answers. Pontification serves no one.

Robert Cox's picture
Robert Cox on Mon, 07/11/2011 - 13:18

Warren,

You wrote:

"there was an on-going administration investigation until such time as the DA's office took charge, took possession of all records accumulated and acquired up to that point and cautioned Ms. Gill and others to button up."

There is no one who knows more about this case than me.

I have NEVER heard anyone say there was already an on-going investigation prior to the DA investigation which began in January 2010. That includes Chuck Strome, the DA's office, Kathy Gill, Noam Bramson, etc.

I would be more than curious for you to explain the basis for that assertion as fact that there as already an investigation of Fevang BEFORE the DA got involved.

Tim,

Warren wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to pretend to want an investigation that follows the facts wherever they go but wants to support the administration and Bramson in blocking any further investigation. This is the same as Noam, et al talking about they take the matter very seriously but then say they do not want to conduct their own investigation because the DA conducted one. Newsflash for Warren, Noam, et al, when Chuck and Noam talk about holding employees to the "highest ethical standards" that is not consistant with the de facto standard where "highest ethical standard" is reduced "the DA did not charge an employee with a crime". There is more than a small difference between behaving ethically and not being indicted.

The idea that the City of New Rochelle is in the midst of the largest municipal corruption scandal in recent memory and the leadership on Council and in the City administration continue to insist that there is no need for a forensic audit, starting with the DPW, no need to question DPW employees themselves, no need to review ALL verbal bid contracts in every department given what happened in DPW, no need to review EVERY document Fevang touched in 17 years is not consistant with taking the matter seriously. In fact, it is the opposite of taking it seriously.

Lastly, I would point out that whatever Chuck knew or did not know, he has known for over a year that Pat Papallardi had met with the DA. He also knew or should have known that two supervisors went with Pat to the DA in 2001 and one of those is still employed by the City. So, what does it say that Chuck, to this day, says he has never met Pat Papallardi.

Seems to me that taking the matter seriously, means being receptive to whistleblowers, to wanting to make sure this sort of thing does not happen again (or is not ongoing elsewhere in City government) , to following the facts wherever they lead. What we have seen so far is the opposite of that.

Attempts by people like Warren Gross, Mitchel Tarnapol, Lou Felecione and others to muddy the waters should be seen for what they are -- part of the same cover up that has been going on for 17 years in DPW.

NRinfo on Tue, 07/05/2011 - 14:17
Title: FYI MisterG

FYI, citizens to be heard is on July 7 if you wish to speak. To your comment that the connection between this site and the GOP is "evident"; that may be true but why not level the playing field with the fact that NR Patch was created to combat TOTS and Noam controls Patch while Cox is controlled by no one! Noam could never compete in a situation he cannot control. You mentioned Galletta (Anthony) in a previous comment, Galletta has ripped Noam's claims to shreds and challenged Noam without any response. You want TOTS bloggers to qualify their claims but you don't demand the same from your fair-haired-boy Noam.

walkabouttown on Wed, 06/29/2011 - 21:33
Title: new hire dpw

were did he come from