Mayhem at New Rochelle City Hall as Bramson "Water Tortures" City Council Over Echo Bay Vote

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Mayhem at New Rochelle City Hall as Bramson "Water Tortures" City Council Over Echo Bay Vote

November 13, 2013 - 06:16

New Rochelle Police escorted Mayor Noam Bramson home tonight after an incendiary City Council meeting during which one Council Member walked out on Bramson, another accused Bramson of "water torturing" a third member of Council and a fourth accused Bramson of bullying members of Council including himself. Outside, a fifth Council Member nearly came to blows with two New Rochelle residents in the parking lot.

The meeting devolved into total, utter, bedlam in New Rochelle City Hall.

City Manager Chuck Strome called it the worst City Council meeting he had ever seen, according to one source.

The meeting ended with shouts, screams and threats. As the tension rose and police were called in the lights were suddenly turned off leaving dozens of people, including City officials, stumbling around in the dark while TV cameras rolled.

The chaos comes just a week after Noam Bramson was soundly defeated by Rob Astorino in the race for Westchester County Executive.

At issue is the Echo Bay Development Project and the move of the DPW Yard to Beechwood Avenue.

The day began with a Committee of the Whole Meeting during which Council Member Albert Tarantino brought forward a motion to table all discussion and votes on Echo Bay until January. The motion passed 4-3 with Democrats Shari Rackman and Ivar Hyden joining Republicans Al Tarantino and Lou Trangucci.

The Mayor was stunned by the vote, calling it "one of the most remarkable votes that has been ever cast at this table".

"I truly don't understand it".

Bramson insisted that Council Member needed time to reconsider their vote.

"I would like to ask that there be some additional thought devoted to this subject by Council Members over the next few minutes because maybe some Council Members did not have an opportunity to think through fully the implications of this motion."

"You win some you lose some," said Council Member Tarantino, who said that any move to reconsider the vote would be extraordinary and unwarranted.

The City Council went on dinner break, returning an hour later for Public Hearings and Citizens to be Heard.

The first speaker, a woman employed by IDA Member Greg Merchant, claimed to have a petition from leading citizens of New Rochelle with 550 names on it. Talk of the Sound has been reporting for over a week that Forest City employees have been collecting signatures on a petition supporting Echo Bay.

The remaining 27 speakers all spoke against the Echo Bay Project.

During the meeting Bramson passed a note to Council Member Shari Rackman.

After closing Citizens to be Heard, Bramson took Rackman into the Media Room just of the Committee of the Whole Meeting room and was heard screaming at her by City staff and Council Members.

Bramson hurriedly organized a continuation of the City Council meeting to force what was effectively a re-vote on Tarantino's resolution.

Council Member Tarantino strenuously objected to Bramson's maneuver with an uncharacteristic (for Tarantino) hostility towards Bramson. As Tarantino and Bramson argued, Tarantino accused Bramson of "water boarding" Rackman in the Media Room.

Louis Trangucci expressed his disgust at the proceeding and walked out of the meeting.

It will take some time watching video tape to be clear on exactly what exactly the Council was voting on but Bramson forced a vote.

Council Member Ivar Hyden, clearly enraged with Bramson's tactics, stated that the meeting was his worst moment on City Council and that he resented bullying by Bramson, before voting against the Mayor.

By this point, word had gotten around City Hall that Bramson had brought the City Council back into session. The room was filled as the roll call went to Shari Rackman.

Council Member Rackman stated that she agreed with Hyden about the bullying but was voting with the Mayor, effectively reversing her earlier vote.

The crowd erupted in angry catcalls, jeers and threats.

Police officers interposed themselves between the crowd and the City Council.

Suddenly, the lights were switched off, leading to more shouts and screaming in the dark.

With the lights turned back on, the spectators, Council Members and staff filtered out of the building into the parking lot.

As she walked towards he car, Rackman was shouted out by Ashley Ward, an opponent of the Echo Bay project.

As the shouting continued, Council Member Barry Fertel, already in his car, drove around the parking lot, ran from his car and confronted Ward, screaming at her with his face inches from hers. Peter Parente, another Echo Bay opponent, ran to defend Ward from Fertel.

"Hit me," screamed Fertel over and over again, holding his hands at his side, daring Parente to punch him in the face.

Police intervened, Fertel got back into his car while a visibly shaken Rackman was escorted to her car by a police officer.

Over the 30 minute period from when Bramson reconvened the City Council until the parking lot emptied out there were dozens of other incidents of screaming, shouting and threats.

"I've been coming to City Council meetings for 30 years," said James O'Toole. "I've never seen anything like what I saw tonight."

Committee of the Whole Vote to Table Echo Bay Discussion/Vote - Afternoon

Committee of the Whole Vote to Table Echo Bay Vote - Evening

Citizens to be Heard on Echo Bay

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you have your own stories about what happened tonight please add them in the comments.

RELATED: Who is Robin Sherman? - she was the only speaker who supported Echo Bay, she had a petition with 550 names, and she did not honestly represent herself last night.

There are 23 Comments

I turned off the meeting after CTBH, but I had a feeling when Bramson reconvened the meeting after CTBH this was going to happen. He must be removed. This has never, that I recall, happened in the City of New Rochelle before. this is one man, the mayor, trying to force a project down our throats and he will use any means possible. There was absolutely no reason this issue couldn't have wait until 2014. It is not a pressing matter. Disgusting.

I went to the New Rochelle City Council meeting tonight knowing there would be a lot of people there to express there feelings over the Echo Bay project a Project that i do not support. People from across the city came out to talk on the subject of Echo Bay at Citzens to be heard. I have attended Council Meetings for a very long time and i have never seen the likes of this one.
Mayor Bramson and Councilman Fertel should hold a joint press conference and speak of there actions tonight.
Mr Bramson you are a BULLEY your actions at this meeting were nothing but that you get so mad at council members when you don't get your way your actions tonight speak for themselves i can't believe what you did and the people of New Rochelle will know and see and hear of your actions you are a blight to this city. Your time in this city Noam is up you have tried two times to move on and you were beaten both times. New Rochelle does not need a WATER BOARDING MAYOR we need a leader and clearly you are not it.What the Hell is a motion to consider i can't wait to hear your side on that one. This was a pure act of BULLYING and you did that to
Councilwoman SHARI Rackman other members of council saw you do it and they told you so.Shame on you Mayor Bramson.
Now to Councilman Fertel you need a class on manners you are a low life. How dare you jump in the face of a woman and scream things at her how dare you drive your car in the lot of city hall like a nut. Mr.Fertel and believe me your no Mr. you should get a life and stop being Noam's poster boy. I saved your ass tonight and i am sorry that i did but i know in the long run you will get the boot from this city you are not a man you are a disgrace to this city and to the city council. Your actions are a joke and let me ask you Fertel you came running to save councilwoman Rackman from a woman in the city hall parking lot but you never did anything when Noam was screaming at her in the media room in city hall. I ask you Barry why not the help then.? Because Noam got you your seat on council in the last election and you will never go against your boy. Your actions Barry speak for themselves your time is up go away and take Bramson with you. The two of you should call Forest City and jobs with them this way they can get something for the money they gave you.

Lost control of the city and himself. Abusive, a bully, everything we tell our kids to tell an adult about. How could anyone still support this narcissistic megalomaniac. He's going over the edge as we watch his self immolation of his career. Sad but true.

Is this what goes on at City Council meetings? I will admit to have never attending - if I knew they were pure unadulterated comedy like this, I think I'd get a front row seat every time.

Noam is a caricature.

Tickets start at $100 for front row seats.

No one admitted without shirts, shoes, bullet proof vests and helmets.

It is not my intention to make light of this appalling situation but in looking at this video clip all i could see was Captain Queeg right down to the paperclip hand fidgeting. The walls are closing in especially if you bully your way to miscarriages of democratic process. We will vote again after i take Councilwoman Rackman to the broom closet and berate her until she changes her vote. I would have tried this on Ivar but he was too big for me.

The curtain has been pulled Mr Mayor and you are the one who revealed yourself. I only hope the best for the PEOPLE of New Rochelle. Although Noam does not believe it there is strength in numbers. Dont let one man's questionable interests ruin your city. A city i still care about. I think you know what you are doing.

Clearly this amount of pressure on 2 Council members Ms. Rackman, Ivar Hayden comes from a place that none of us have visited.
Why this dog of a project?
Why this developer?
Why would Mayor Bramson allow himself to expose what many of us have known about him from his past Machiavellian maneuvers.
Bramson is what I know him to be, a bully a baby holding his breath till he turns blue.
Jared Rice is what he is expected to be the town Judges son who is looking for his piece of the public sector pie.
Fertel has yet to not vote ever in a manner not with Noam Bramson so this comes as no surprise. Certainly he is a bully also but why so vested in Noams pet project?
He lives in my community and has support of his 20-30 friends who would vote for him no matter but truly he is just a plural vote for Noam.
Ms. Rackman you are not advancing your political career, you have been bullied you have been show as someone who maybe Noam has something on. Does he know something about you that the public does not know. How does his taking you out to the shed mean anything to you. Bramson is no more than he ever has been a bully and a spoiled rotten child trying to get his own way.
You all should be ashamed of yourselves.
Chuck Strome your days are numbered by your own admission. You are the City Manager in a City with a WEAK Mayor form of government.
As long as you are still getting your check you need to step up and put an end to Noam Bramson's days as Boss Tweed in the New Rochelle Tammany Hall.
Take control Chuck, end the madness become the City Manager, manage the City as it must be done. The worst they could do is have a motion and vote to fire you on the spot. Have the self respect to do what you have been hired to do. Man up get some Testosterone and Run THE FREAKING CITY.

Ken, you stated this well. The question remains as to why Rackman (fear), Fertel and Rice think the Mayor has coattails to ride. Last Tuesday he lost his shirt in Westchester. From what I have read it was a shame what he did to Rackman LET ALONE THE PEOPLE OF DISTRICT 6 WHOM SHE REPRESENTS.

I am sickend from afar.

I'm sorry I left right after CTBH. I missed the spectacle. All of your comments are right on.........our mayor is nothing but a bully and an arrogant, spoiled adolescent. Can you imagine what he's teaching his children by example?

Shouldn't we all wonder what his loud, probably one-way conversation with Shari was about? Could it possibly include Monroe, among other things? That's a whole other subject!

Hopefully we'll be able to connect the dots soon -- before the Echo Bay vote.

Noam Bramson is a hypocrite; he ran around Westchester County campaigning on a platform that accentuated a woman’s right to choose. Last night, Council member Shari Rackman made a choice and Bramson flew into a rage publicly insulting Ms. Rackman and embarrassing himself, every member of the NR Democratic Party and every elected official. The public got to see the real Noam Bramson, the tyrant who knows what’s best for everyone and will bully, intimidate, terrorize or do whatever is necessary to beat opposing views into submission. Noam Bramson needs to realize that a woman’s right to choose doesn’t stop at reproductive choices. Newsflash to Noam: Women are your equals!

This is definitely about gender as Noam chose to attack Ms. Rackman over Councilmember Hyden a male who is larger in stature. Bramson campaigned on protecting the weakest among us then attacks what he believes is the weakest link in a bipartisan group of legislators. These are the acts of a coward, acts that are encouraged by handmaidens Fertel & Rice who sheepishly bow to Bramson’s every whim and did nothing to protect Rackman from Bramson’s attack.

Although Mayor Bramson’s actions are a disgrace the fact that a bipartisan group was able to assemble and agree on what’s best for New Rochelle is encouraging. I pray this is a step in the right direction and I hope TEAM COMMON SENSE (Trangucci, Tarantino, Hyden & Rackman) realizes they have the power to change the direction and future of New Rochelle!


How soon we forget,

Back on July 9, 2013 there was a similar problem. Just not as heated. When The New Rochelle City Council was discussing the scheduling of the Public Hearings for Forest City Ratner‘s FEIS. Council went back and forth looking for information in the responses and couldn’t find it. The questions were not answered. Many members of council still had questions. New Rochelle City Council had trouble with the information. Some wanted to delay voting to schedule the public hearing. There was a problem with some of the dates for the Public Hearing because they wanted to get them done in July and wouldn’t wait until September. They took their break for dinner and reconvened at 7:15pm and then a vote to hold the Public Hearings in two weeks on July 23, 2013 was taken. Amazingly, questions were answered and calendars cleared during dinner. I had left to attend the council meeting thinking the vote was delayed only to find out that the vote was taken just before Citizens to be Heard. I felt the same way back then when I heard what happened with this vote. Dejavu all over again!

The claim once again as is often done to push item through is that they are a procedural vote. These procedural votes are called for by the mayor quite often. They continue to put the Citizens of New Rochelle and members of council at a disadvantage and are not fair and equal treatment. Two weeks to review the FEIS was troublesome and even now there are many unanswered questions.

I will repeat, The process is flawed, The result of all these developments has been and continues to be that of confrontation, debate, petitions, hearings and a lack of true input by the community. The community should be put first at all times. It is time The New Rochelle City Council listened to the people they serve.

“Common Sense for the Common Good”.

Robert Cox's picture

I downloaded and clipped the 2 sections of the 5.5 hours of video related to the Echo Bay vote and the 1 section of CBTH.

The idea was to make it as easy as possible for folks who were not there to see just what transpired last night and why so many people are outraged by Mayor Bramson's conduct.

Now Playing:

Citizen's to be Heard

Rated R

**adult language, violence**

No one under 17 admitted without parent

Just to be clear its over 6,000 views at 5:30 am 11/14/13.
With every read and every forward to every media outlet Bramson's career steadily begins to fade.
Reisman who is a stir the pot Democrat has summed it up. Waterloo for Bramson.
Thug Councilmen threatening Citizens and driving in a dangerous manner in the parking lot of City Hall.
This is going to be it for Noam Bramson and his minions.
These key words will link Bramson searches for ever in the vast internet.
Self implosion who would have thought he would do it to himself. The fight continues this is getting easier every day to bring him down. He is doing it to himself. Its a matter of days before this will be over. Come in Chuck Strome are you there.

Check the city code and you will see it was illegal for Bramson to ask that this vote be reconsidered.

Check NY State Ethics code and you will see it is unethical to except campaign donations from a developer and then vote on any project in favor of the developers behalf. Bramson should have recused himself in this matter when his campaign took payments from Ratner, or from Forest City and any of their consultants associated with this project according to NY State Code of Ethics. This is not gray in any manner.

Time to file a complaint. Anything to make Bramson's life miserable. He is a POS. I hope he buries himself so deep that the sunshine has to be pumped into him.

Robert Cox's picture

At CBTH the other night Noam interrupted Peter Parente to claim it was not true that he took money from Forest City/Ratner.

At a past East End Civic Meeting, Noam was asked whether he ever took money from Forest City/Ratner and he said "no".

Noam is not lying when he says he did not take money from Forest City/Ratner.

The problem here is that the people raising the issue are phrasing the question poorly.

If you want to confront Noam about his "developer money" you need to more carefully construct the words in your question.

So, did you ever take money from Forest City/Ratner will always get you a "no".

A better question might "have you ever accepted campaign contributions from people who work for Forest City/Ratner?" The answer is "yes".

Another is "have you ever accepted campaign contributions from family members of people associated with Forest City/Ratner?" That answer would also be "yes".

Another is, "have you accepted campaign contributions from people or businesses hired by Forest City/Ratner to prepare Environmental Impact Statements for the Echo Bay Project". That answer is also "yes".

If you are going to make it easy for Noam to swat away the challenge he is going to do that -- if you want to pin him down then be clear about what you are saying and ask thoughtfully worded questions.

If he will own up to taking money from these people connected to Forest City/Ratner you get to ask an even better set of questions:

Prior to the City of New Rochelle awarding the Echo Bay RFP to Forest City/Ratner had anyone in the Ratner family ever contributed to your campaign? And since receiving those donations have those same people ever contributed again?

To Al Tarantino:

Your motion to postpone discussion of Echo Bay still stands until 2014. All Bramson won so far, was the ability to give information to council. ANY attempt by Bramson or any city council member to discuss ANY Echo Bay issues until 2014 will be inappropriate and in violation of your adopted resolution. DO NOT allow any further discussion about Echo Bay to occur.

I am lost on this. Al made a motion to table "discussion" of Echo Bay until January. The motion passed. Bramson makes a "new" motion to table discussion until next week. How it this NOT reconsideration of Al's motion? If a resolution to halt discussion on a matter passed, then the losing party cannot change that. No discussion can take place. End of story. Otherwise, people can mix words and continue to re-introduce the same thing over and over again until they achieve the desired results. This needs to challenged in court.

Bramson deliberates withholds details about everything because if the public knew what his plans entail they would be outraged. His latest plan to establish a fire hydrant tax is designed to transfer taxation over a wide base. Now renters will have to pay for fire hydrants AND garbage collection. This is getting ridiculous. The high cost of government is draining everyone--not just property owners. Gas tax, fire hydrant tax, garbage fee, utility taxes, Obamacare, car insurance, renters insurance, sales tax, etc. etc. We work to support government and pay government mandated fees. How much more can people absorb?

And Echo Bay? Apparently Bramson has some letter from the National Development Council which he wants to make public at this Tuesday's council meeting. That letter, he claims, will address the concerns of the naysayers. Do we really need a letter at this point to show us we are being bamboozled? There is no water at Echo Bay--it is a mudflat. How much will the dredging cost taxpayers? Where is the water view from the street? What about the armory that we have yet to see the plans for? Why do we need another park in such a hurry? Has anyone been begging for another park? Why will these apartments on Echo Bay be the catalyst for change? Isn't this what we were told with all the other development projects in NR and we are STILL IN A FINANCAL MESS!

Echo Bay is Bramson's pipe dream and way for him to score brownie points with HUD and Cuomo. It is about his political future. If he pulls this off, he will be able to tell all his supporters how he masterfully manipulated public consensus to get a project approved despite massive opposition. He will be able to tell everyone that the new norm will be to pass the burden of taxation onto renters as well as property owners. This is his "vision." More taxes and more fees while developers get tax breaks and become richer. Al Tarantino AND Shari Rackman: If you let this tyrant have his way this Tuesday you will be selling out the people of New Rochelle for the benefit of a rich developer and a deplorable mayor. DON'T DO IT!

I see no factual basis for John Imburgia to state that renters will be paying the hydrant tax. As it is generally the landlords who pay for the water, that water tax would also be paid by the landlords.

Likewise, it is the landlords who usually pay for garbage pickup.

At least this is true for multiple family dwellings built before 1974, as all of those rents are regulated by NYS ETPA law and NYS Division of Housing & Community Renewal (DHCR):

Are you aware of any exception to that rule, and if so what is the legal exception under NYS law and regulation?

There is a reason why there are taxes, and that is because most people appreciate government services.

One can always move elsewhere to obtain inferior and reduced government services and wages, in trade for lower taxes. I suggest Mississippi or perhaps a third world country would fit the bill.

I am amazed at a person complaining of gasoline tax, fire hydrant tax, garbage fee, utility taxes, Obamacare, car insurance, renters insurance, sales tax, considering the many benefits we get from those costs.

It makes more sense to complain about the outrageous costs of gasoline that our Oil Companies charge while they pollute our water, land and the air we breathe.

It makes more sense to complain about the outrageous costs of medical care and private medical insurance, both of which will be reined in by ObamaCare. Of course, we would have been better off if we had a plan similar to Canada's where the government pays the medical costs directly for everyone; and in which private medical insurance would be optional, but instead Obama gave us national RomneyCare.

Renters Insurance, of course it totally voluntary, so I don't understand why that complaint was included at all.

It certainly benefits everyone, that cars are required to be insured. I'm more bothered by the excessive costs of the Triboro Authority's tolls, which are my single greatest annual automotive costs, other than the cost of purchasing my car.

Complaining about creating additional parks is absurd and unpopular. A better issue is the location of that additional park, and I agree we don't need a third park abutting the sewage treatment plant, other than the Armory already located there.

In regards to the question, how much more taxes can people afford? The USA is one the lowest taxed, least socialist countries in the world. As a result, the USA is losing its competitive edge to other major countries.

I have always felt that the Armory should be restored and maintained for local culture, that City Yard should be rebuilt where it is, and certainly not moved to Beechwood. And I have no confidence in Ratner or his Forest City project at Echo Bay.

I have consistently advocated against the City of New Rochelle's involvement increasing the residential population of downtown New Rochelle.

As a Democrat, I do encourage Shari Rackman and Ivar Hyden to vote against Ratner's Forest City. I am confident they will do so. I believe they will continue to vote against that Ratner part of the project, although they might continue supporting the rehabilitation and/or relocation of City Yard.

I think City Yard should be relocated more central to New Rochelle, somewhere near Potter Ave, rather than the impractical location of Beechwood.