NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Investigation into the Identity of the jurors for the “Waterfront Gateway Competition” reveals that all four of the jurors appointed by the city are campaign donors to New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson. The contributions were made in past races for Mayor, State Assembly, and as well as his current race for Westchester County Executive.The contributions were found using the NY State Campaign Financial Disclosures Contributions Search Page
There are a total of eight jurors on the panel, ostensibly appointed through the City Manager but, as so often the case, actually done through the hidden hand of Noam Bramson. Four of the eight were appointed by the City Manager and the other four spots were delegated by the City Manager to be appointed by the publisher of an architectural design magazine, Arch Paper. The City Manager serves at the pleasure of the City Council and Noam Bramson controls the Democrat majority on Council.
On August 16th when Councilman Jared Rice was asked how the jurors were selected on his public Facebook page, he stated that "a cross section of New Rochelle residents was selected by the City Manager's office based on their backgrounds and expertise.”
A review of state campaign finance records shows the following:
Bennie Giles had donated $714 to Noam Bramson. Giles was supposedly selected as a juror to represent the Veterans Community which makes little sense considering that the actual Veterans organization of the City of New Rochelle had submitted a bid. Giles is not an active member of the United Veterans or other affiliated New Rochelle veterans groups. Giles donated $500 to Bramson's Campaign for County Executive in January and $125 this July which covers the period when submissions were being accepted for the competition. According to councilman Lou Trangucci Mr. Giles was a substitution for another juror who was originally supposed to be on the panel according to a list of jurors given to our council members in July. Mr. Giles has a unique position on the jury because of his position as City Clerk all FOIL requests for information regarding the competition must go through him. A complete bio for Bennie Giles can be found on the City’s Website
James Fleming has donated $215 to Noam Bramson. Mr. Fleming was supposedly selected as a juror to represent the East End neighborhood. Fleming is an architect and East End resident but not an active participant in the East End Civic Association. $100 in donations were made to Bramson in May, for his County Executive Race just weeks before his appointment to the jury. Mr. Fleming is part of the city’s Development Departments Peer Architectural Review Committee where all commercial buildings and new houses are reviewed by independent architects as a matter of aesthetics. The PARC serves on behalf of the Planning Board which is appointed by the Mayor. More information about James Fleming can be found Here
Greg Merchant has donated $1,500 to Noam Bramson. All of that money was donated in 2011. Merchant was appointed to the city’s IDA board by the Mayor on a party line vote in 2011. Mr. Merchants resume submitted for the IDA board can be found on the city’s Website.
Christina (Chris) Selin has donated $3,350 to Noam Bramson. Ms. Selin is a former Democratic Council Member and currently sits on the Board of the New Rochelle Business Improvement District. She has been appointed to various committees by Bramson over the years.
Not only are these jurors all Bramson donors they are also all Democrats who have been appointed to various positions by Bramson and two of the four have no particular background or expertise in architectural design.