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OPEN LETTER: Why Did Mayor Noam Bramson Appoint a Blithering Idiot as City Clerk?

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OPEN LETTER: Why Did Mayor Noam Bramson Appoint a Blithering Idiot as City Clerk?

April 30, 2015 - 10:23
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The answer to that question is simple -- the Mayor wants a reliable political operative working in the sensitive position of City Clerk so that he can control as much as possible the public's right to know what is going on in the government he purports to lead. The position is also used to block press access to information that Mr. Bramson does not want made public and to punish his political enemies as is his common practice. Mr. Bramson can often be heard mouthing sentiments in favor of open government and transparency but where the rubber meets the road -- public access to public records -- the true nature of the Bramson regime is evident. So long as Mr. Giles or a person like him continues in the role of City Clerk, it is Mr. Bramson's deeds -- in this case, foisting an incompetent buffon on the public -- which ought to form the basis for New Rochelle residents to judge Mr. Bramson's committment to government transparency not the words which so readily drip from his silver tounge.

What follows is an email sent to the City Manager today regarding yet another example of Mr. Giles affecting to not understand the New York State Freedom of Information Law, refusing to provide responses to FOIL as required under the law, and refusing to provide records promptly and in the fom required under the law, and at fees (or lackthereof) as required under FOIL.


To Charles B. Strome, City Manager of the City of New Rochelle.

on this day, April 30, 2015
 
This is an appeal of a constructive denial of my request of a public records request. I cannot even be sure what exactly is being denied because the communication I received from the City Clerk does not specify what his LETTER is responding to.
 
I have no idea why Mr. Giles continues to be confused as to even the most fundamental aspects of the New York State Freedom of Information Law. I have suggested in the past and continue to suggest that Mr. Giles undergo a course in FOIL 101. The alternative is that Mr. Giles is willfully violating the law. To be charitable, I will operate in the belief that Mr. Giles is not a criminal but merely an idiot.
 
In this case, the law is blindingly clear that A FOIL REQUEST MADE BY EMAIL MUST BE RESPONDED TO VIA EMAIL.
Despite the clear and otherwise universal understanding of the law, Mr. Giles has once again improperly responded to my FOIL this time not responding via email request MADE BY EMAIL and then refusing to acknowledge or respond to MY email demanding he respond by email to my FOIL request and provide electronic documents at no charge.
 
Mr. Giles has failed to state even what FOIL request he is responding to (I make many FOIL requests and the responses I get always indicate what a response is responding to, not the case with Mr. Giles).
 
The law also requires, essentially, that if reproducing the documents can be done on a scanner/copier and if electronic copies are requested (and they always are in my case) then scanned documents (typically as PDF files) must be made and sent to the requestor AT NO CHARGE.
 
I have asked whether the City of New Rochelle has a scanner/copier and, if so, why it was not used to reproduce the records I seek as required under the law. I have no answer from Mr. Giles at all.
 
It becomes tiresome to have to bother with Mr. Giles inability to follow a law that is central to his function as the City Clerk. Quite frankly, it is embarrassing to the City of New Rochelle to have such a person in that role. I realize that Mr. Giles is an appointed flunky of the Mayor and not a civl servant and does not report to the City Manager. It is a patronage position in which Mr. Giles provides a daily reminder of why the Civil Service was created in the first place — to prevent people like Mr. Giles from occupying the position he currently occupies.
 
I would encourage the City Manager to put on the agenda two discussion items for consideration by City Council.
 
1. Appoint a Deputy Public Records Office. If approved by counsel a COMPETENT, HONEST NON-PARTISAN person should be tasked with the job of fulfilling FOIL request not a political hack. That way Mr. Giles can continue to sit on his brains, collect his overly generous salary and not be disturbed by things like adhering to his obligations under New York State Law to provide public records upon request.
 
2. As was done with the Civil Service Commission after Beverly SIlverman was involved in financial improprieties (putting her family into a no-show civil service test proctoring jobs) and after Domenic Procopio was caught (by me) receiving Combat Veteran STAR property tax exemptions and STAR exemptions to which he was not entitled, the City Council should AMEND THE CITY CHARTER to make the job of City Clerk a position appointed by the City Manager not the Mayor* at which point Mr. Giles can be replaced with a competent person (and I have a recommendation if the City gets to that point).
 
From time to time, I publish these sorts of exchanges so the public can be acquainted with Mr. Giles utter incompetence as Records Access Officer of the City of New Rochelle. I intend to do so in this case.
 
I would prefer not to be required to adopt a hostile tone but I have had too many occasions over the years where Mr. Giles delays for months by lawful FOIL requests in a manner similar to what he is now doing here. These appear to be partisan attempts by Giles, under the direction of Mayor Noam Bramson, to interfere with my reporting news and information  to the public and thus a violation not only of the New York State Freedom of Information Law but my civil rights under the New York State Constitution and the First Amendment of the United States both of which Mr. Giles swore to uphold.
 
I would like the records I sought produced forthwith, in electronic form, at no charge, sent to me as PDF attachment via email.
 
Thank you.
 
Robert Cox
Publisher and Managing Editor
 
*The New Rochelle Charter states that the City Council appoints the City Clerk but as a practical matter the position is appointed by the majority political party on City Council. In this case, that is the the Democrats with Mayor Bramson as the de facto leader of both the party and the City Council.

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Bob, I have found in the City of New Rochelle you can only have any 2 of the 3. Meaning you can have Competent, Honest but Partisan

or

Competent-DisHonest and Non-Partisan

Or 

Incompetant and any of the other two options.

Clearly wishing for all 3 is out of the question. Choose 2 would be the best you could hope for.

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Ken

While I appreciate your sentiment I am only always going to demand that a City Clerk being comptent, honest and non-partisan. And if they are not then I will do everything in my power to expose them. In this case, Bennie is incompetent for sure. I think some of his answers are dishonest but it could be just a manifestation of his incompetence. I have no doubt he is a partisan who is seeking to protect Noam and the Dems just like Brian Sussman is a partisan seeking to protect Noam, Bennie and the Dems.

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My comments regarding Bennie Giles, Noam Bramson, the City Council, the City Charter and FOIL, were not Partisan, at all.

I merely corrected your misunderstanding of the City Charter. Bennie Giles was made City Clerk by a vote of the City Council. Our Mayor has only one of seven votes on the City Council. The members of the current City Council vote independently, as proven by the demise of the Forest City Echo Bay farce.

I encourage cooperation among Democrats and Republicans, when it is in the interest of the People, and discourage any partisan politics that causes government dysfunction. New Rochelle, being a tolerant, enlightened community, cooperation quite often occurs in our city government.

It is absurd that you have stated it is partisan of me to state that “Personally, I find Bennie Giles to be a very good City Clerk”, as it was clearly stated as my personal opinion. It is absurd if you found anything partisan in my describing our Mayor as non-executive, with only one of seven City Council votes.

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In reality, where the New Rochelle Charter states that "the City Council appoints the City Clerk", that means the City Council appoints the City Clerk. Consistent with the City Charter, the City Council appointed Bennie Giles as City Clerk.

Clearly, the Leader of the New Rochelle Democratic Committee is Chairman Arnie Klugman, while the senior elected government official on the New Rochelle Democratic Committee is Westchester County Clerk Tim Idoni, our former Mayor. So, Noam Bramson is neither de facto nor effective leader of the New Rochelle Democratic Committee.

However, Noam Bramson, as Mayor, is presiding officer of the City Council, a non-executive position. Noam Bramson is our Mayor, not because his Party is in the majority on the City Council, but rather because the Mayor was popularly elected by the majority of New Rochelle's voters. He will be up for reelection this year, and will probably again be reelected by a large majority of New Rochelle's voters.

Mayor Bramson is not the de facto leader of the Democratic Party, but he is the actual (not de facto) leader of the City Council but not due to the Democrats being the majority on the City Council. The Mayor only has one vote on the City Council, just like the other City Council members.

It is also important to recognize that the 53% of New Rochelle Voters are registered as Democrat (and rising), while only 20% of New Rochelle Voters are registered as Republican (and falling).

Personally, I find Bennie Giles to be a very good City Clerk.

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Brian,

The article is about Bennie Giles role as Public Records Access Officer; Bennis is a criminally bad Public Records Access Officer. That conclusion is based on years of dealing with him and is well documented in past and current articles. I suspect there are plenty of folks reading this article who are nodding their heads because they know exactly what I am talking about. Perhaps they will add their comments here.

 

 

 

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There is nothing 'criminal' in our City Clerk's actions as Public Records Access Officer. What statute are you referring to, that describes delays in providing FOIL records as being criminal?

At most, you have a CPLR Article 78 NYS Supreme Court action to file, based on issues of arbitrary and capricious, but you would most likely lose that civil suit.

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