We reported two weeks ago on how Noam Bramson was passing himself off to the public and media as a "full-time" Mayor, New Rochelle's "Full-Time" Mayor Moonlights His Way to Six-Figure Income.
We interviewed Mayor Bramson for that article:
Asked to comment for this story via e-mail, Bramson told Talk of the Sound that "the full-time vs. part-time status of the position of mayor in New Rochelle is not, as far as I know, formally defined by law".
A Talk of the Sound reader obtained a copy of Mayor Bramson's Personnel Form from City Hall and sent it to TOS:
, signed by Bramson, makes it clear that not only is the part-time status of the Mayor formally defined by law but that the legal document which makes that clear is a document prepared and signed by Bramson himself. Click the image below to see the entire document:
In our original article we questioned Bramson's equivocation on this issue of whether he is or is not a full-time Mayor:
Not only is the City Charter not unclear on this point, it is very clear on the very limited role of the Mayor. New Rochelle, like many municipal governments in the United States, has a "weak-mayor" form of mayor-council government where the City Council as a whole possesses both legislative and executive authority. The council as a group -- not the Mayor as an individual -- appoints officials and exercises primary control over the municipal budget. In this form of government, the mayor, though elected, has little real political power and less independence, serving through largely ceremonial duties. Just as there is no "full-time Mayor" position in New Rochelle there is likewise no such title as "chief legislator" on the City Council.
The only ethical or legal issue here is whether Bramson is actually doing work to earn a $3,750 month retainer. Bramson described his work for Lowey as campaign related which raises more questions. What campaign is he working on now? Lowey was justed re-relected in November and it is hard to see what sort of campaign she is engaged in at this time. Having not come clean on the nature of his job status, voters may wonder whether Bramson is being paid to work on a Lowey campaign or whether developers and other interested parties are donating money to Lowey which is then finding its way to Bramson. We invite readers to peruse Lowey's list of 2007-2008 contributor to identify any such "interested parties". If you find a match between people doing business with the city and Lowey contributors let us know and we will knock on some doors to learn more.
This is hardly the first time Talk of the Sound has found Mayor Bramson to be playing fast and loose with the facts. Last September, Bramson sought to dismiss criticism from a Talk of the Sound contributor that there is a "North-South Divide" in New Rochelle Schools. Back then Bramson lashed out at the Journal News for even raising the question, accessing the paper of "playing with fire". As threatening a newspaper that is widely viewed as in the back pocket of the New Rochelle City government is hardly the road to higher office so Talk of the Sound took notice when Bramson accused paper of fomenting violence: Allegations of favoritism harm pupils. Of course, this being an Op-Ed in the "paper of record", the story has been removed from the lohud.com website so there is no trace of the story on the Internet; we will put up a PDF document with the article by the end of the day.
In the Op-Ed Bramson seeks to "rebut" the complaint from a South End resident that children are treated differently in South End schools by noting that he (Bramson) attended the public schools in New Rochelle and that his kids will attend public schools in New Rochelle. As Bramson grew up in the North End and now lives in the North he went to school in the North End and his kids will go to school in the North End. So, how exactly is sending his children to North End schools a rebuttal to concerns about South End schools? It isn't. It is an entirely fatuous, disingenuous claim which cynically uses his own children as a sort of human shield by inserting them into a debate over the legitimate, documented concerns shared by many South End parents that their children -- especially Latino and Black/African-American children are not being treated the same as North End children -- especially White children.
If the Mayor is so convinced of his own argument there is a simple way he can prove it -- enroll his children at Columbus or Jefferson or Trinity and, when they are older, to Isaac. There is a long line of parents who would gladly have their children trade places with Mayor Bramson's children at Ward or Albert Leonard.
We hope the Mayor will discontinue the practice of using the term "full-time" when describing his role of Mayor and using his own children to try (and fail) to score points in a political debate.