Time to read
7 minutes
Read so far


May 12, 2014 - 01:14


I am printing this POST for “He who shall remain nameless”. But many of you that have been around will be able to figure out who the writer is.

I am Thomas Paine Not! I am however an admirer of one of New Rochelle’s most formidable citizens, Tom Paine. His classic, “Common Sense” has inspired many of our Founding Fathers and I think many others since, to understand the majesty of a democratic society based on the will of the people and their natural rights as members of a democratic society.

One of his most compelling quotes, “men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent, selected from the rest of mankind; their minds are early poisoned by importance.”

Thomas Paine’s dire warning is even more apparent today. We now live during times of terrible violence, vast distribution of income levels and out and out cruelty. The great cultures nurtured by peoples all over the world have largely fragmented or worse, given itself to the lure of Social Media which all of its capabilities to destroy thousands of years of culture, social dynamics and much more.

However, we can actually play a part in restoring our little fragment on Mother Earth by will; resolving to return to some fundamental forms of learning and forms of governance that helped our once great nation, the United States of American, reclaim its seat at the table of democracy. It will take commitment, work, and a willingness to challenge those seekers of power who use apathy, sleight of hand, lazy colleagues and quid pro quo with developers and other politicians.

The hubris-ridden politician measures success by his or her ability to create new and often totally unwanted or unnecessary structures so as to leave a plaque with a name which I suppose stands for immortality. He or she will ignore the classic factors of decay; rot around the edges of its downtown, dirt and decay, stretching scarce resources to meet what amount to impossible demands. There is much more, such as “checkbook diplomacy,” Further burdening The City of New Rochelle’s Development Commissioner and his team with no sound plan for both assessing and setting goals … (not to do so is like asking a doctor to diagnose your symptoms without adequate diagnosis and testing).

This is a world-wide disease and remedial action must begin at home and now that New Rochelle is a City; its form of government must conform to that fact, as should its school district, and most important, it must abide by the rule of law set forth in its Code and Charter.

Two perceptive citizens of New Rochelle were onto this relatively early and posted their findings on the Talk of the Sound. Whether read or not, the real disappointment was that critics of the City did nothing to embrace these findings, think outside of a narrow box, and bring it in a non-confronting way to the community. Citizen Gross wrote an extensive blog on March 24, 1912 that indicated the roles, relationships, and responsibilities of the Ceremonial Mayor, City Council, and City Manager. Among many other findings, he indicated the role played by the Secretary of State, Cesar Perales, in Albany who indicated the three forms of government a municipality could practice in our State. For decades, the New Rochelle Mayor was covered by those duties explicit in the role of the Ceremonial Mayor. Two maybe three subsequent referendums have turned down at the ballot box the Referendum for a “Strong Mayor.” The differences are telling; they both affect budget, transparency, and community participation.

However as we matured into a full blown City and as our financial and business management plans were set on shaky premises and a decided lack of property tax commercial income, it pointed out the absolute foolishness of those business plan choices that could provide remedial action to begin the long climb toward proper zoning, financial and management systems that were not fee based, reassessments not driven by back-end Certiorari and mostly, some of the worse choices made by a management team and a ceremonial mayor who’s Charter duties should have given him only marginal new powers and little need for a war chest or the right to appoint three members to a select committee whereas his Council colleague were restricted to one. There is more, but there is also the fine Citizen McCaffrey who, building on the earlier work by Gross, prepared an excellent blog for the October 11, 2013 copy of TOTS.

By Bob McCaffrey on Fri, 10/11/2013

The City Charter A Mystery Inside an Enigma -- You Decide!
By Warren Gross on Wed, 03/14/2012

Both are well worth reading; actually required reading for citizens in any community. The Charter is the rule of law and can only be changed by Referendum, most usually through the ballot box.

There was and perhaps still is a valuable United Citizens Group of New Rochelle who reminds me of the lads in powdered wigs during my time. This group should be given credit for stopping the totally misconceived and thoughtless project called Echo Bay. Sadly, although 6 of the 7 Council Members voted Nay, they were weak in their reasoning about the fox in the henhouse. That fox was Forest City/Ratner. Ceremonial Mayor Bramson gave a face-saving speech affirming his support and frankly, it sounded more than a little Dis-ingenuous or should I say, argy bargy to this author, My sense is that he did this to assuage Forest City/Ratner knowing that within weeks the showmanship 3 million or so dollars to compensate for expenses, would be removed from the table and kissing and making up was the order of the day.

Why? My sense is that if the naysayers would have concentrated on the developer, his likely plans, and not the radical reduction of the project, the State of the City would likely have contained much fewer Transit Ops and Waterfront Residential hopes and dreams which is Echo Bay Deja vou.

The mantra is a decaying city is always back to basics. You heal, fix, unite, bring aboard the community and so, before listing the relatively few responsibilities covered in the City Charter, I am going to strongly suggest we follow the third of Secretary of State Perales models which is very city friendly and would do much more to break down the North – Everyone Else Border. Rare is the City that has a Ceremonial Mayor; they exist in smaller municipalities. Cities and large towns either have the aforementioned Strong Mayor or MUCH MORE PREFERABLE.

A Model where each of the seven council members elects who they wish to be Head of the City Counsel, They push this out a step further by insisting that a change in the School District law in the NYS Assembly opens up direct voting within each district for their school board member. What often happens is that the Council man puts up a candidate and invites the community to endorse his or her choice or enter one or more to run against his choice. The Councilman at Large, the Ceremonial Mayor is also invited to select someone from the City to sit on Council and no further candidate is needed to oppose him or her since the candidate would come from a part of the City which has its own selection or selections.

Now with all this said I am going to list what the Charter says are the major duties, roles, relationships of the Ceremonial Mayor. I will follow up later in the month on the same criteria on City Council Members.

The Administration for The City of New Rochelle claims that Talk of the Sound does not reach many people. I think it reaches more than they think. I feel that it is for this exact reason The City of New Rochelle is reluctant to release information to Talk of the Sound. Nor do they recognize or admit Talk of the Sound is a legitimate news source. From where I stand, many people from New Rochelle and from outside of New Rochelle do in fact recognize Talk of the Sound as a legitimate new source.

I do think that if members of any Neighborhood Group, United Citizens, even some City Council Members finds what I have written useful, they should print this and the Posts I will write and discuss them. But I would also look at earlier contributions from Gross, McCaffrey and the others that have spoken or written on the topic of The City Charter and Codes. They have become a valid and powerful voice for the community with no vested interest but to create a better community and a greater New Rochelle.

After all, you have nothing to lose but your apathy. If you want to change government, do not spend so much time on cartoons, flags, impassioned speeches on Tuesday evenings. If you do, demand that your issue is noted and that The City Council should respond to the general public at the next meeting of The City Council. There is nothing that prevents a City Council Member from requesting during the Citizens to be Heard on the record that an item brought forth by a citizen be placed on the agenda as a discussion item at the next meeting. My observations are that Citizen O’Toole is handy with the identification of meaningful issues but he must demand by reports to the community that the issue on Maple Avenue, one I remember as being particular harmful, is presented to the community.


The mayor shall serve a term from four years from the first of January following his or her election. H will present the State of the City Message (Nota Bene – not prepare, present). He will preside over the Council, represent the City in inter-government relations, and perform other duties as specified by the Council or allowed by the Charter. Nota Bene – It is not unusual for a City the size of New Rochelle to submit the forms to change its form to one where the Council decides who presides over the Council meeting. And, upon further conversations with others pro and con for how the City is managed, no one can find or recall any written indicator of other duties and specified by the Council.

He will be recognized as head of the City Government for all ceremonial purposes, by the courts for the serving of civil processes and by the Governor for purposes of military law. In times of public danger or emergencies, the mayor shall, IF AUTHORIZED BY VOTE OF THE COUNCIL, take command of the police, maintain order, and enforce the law. During his absence or disability, the duties of mayor shall be performed by another member of the Council.

THAT’S ALL FOLKS………………Citizen Mc Caffrey has proffered specific information on salary which can be prepared against other council member’s salaries, as well as the entire City Manager expense line.

You now have information and knowledge, which is power. It is your right and responsibility to use this power for the betterment of the community and The City of New Rochelle. Shortly I will present the duties of the City Council which should strike you as those practiced by most organizations with a board of directors. Some of their duties will surprise you.