Dear Mount Vernon Friends and Family,
“History teaches that there is such a thing as being too late,” said a 103 year-old senior at the Doles Center. She added that, “If you are too late getting to the bathroom, at any age, or if the stall is not stocked with basic necessities, you are susceptible to an embarrassing and uncomfortable way home.”
This is not the type of conversation any senior should have and it’s a disgrace that I share these details with you. We ought to be discussing how we are using the $800,000 budget for repairs at the Doles Center to acquire new ergonomic seats, replacing the boiler so the building has reliable heat, providing cutting edge technology to enrich educational programs, or transforming the weight room with first class equipment. Instead we are grappling with a $35,000 demand letter from our toilet paper provider, Cintas, to pay bills that stretch back to March 2018.
If you are questioning what is going on and why all the drama in Mount Vernon, join the club. When I ran for Mayor, I knew it was going to be tough; however, I did not expect to face a hydra of shameless obstruction. On one level I am dealing with the City Council who has remained united in not funding the administration for virtually three years. (Recall the saga of eliminating funding for the Police Commissioner and 20 cops.) On a lower level, the Comptroller has decided to not process or pay any bills.
I have explained these “twin sins” to seniors at the Doles Center, business owners on 4th Avenue and anyone else who would take time to listen throughout the city. Tow Truck Pete and Larry have both offered insight as well as real estate brokers John Goad and Rey Hollingsworth. Dozens of residents have taken me up on touring City Hall and to witness the depth and breadth of the “sabotage” and “political animus” I am facing in my quest to fix the broken system for the people of Mount Vernon. Each stakeholder has come back with one decisive answer: Mayor — Do not turn back now, FIGHT for what’s RIGHT and WIN!
Mount Vernon Buildings Department: A Snapshot
The forces pulling the strings above City Hall Obstructionists would like for you to forget the facts and become discouraged by the ugly confrontations. They would like for you to throw up your hands and give up. If you give up, like the obstructionists want you to, and if the “Lawyers for the People of Mount Vernon” STOP WORK like the Comptroller is demanding they do… then the taxpayers would assume the following risks and certain increases in expenses:
- Approx. $6 million in undocumented loans by prior administrations would be recalled by the federal government and charged to Mount Vernon taxpayers for a minimum 12% property tax hike
- Approx. $3.4 million would go to the County of Westchester within six months for potential mismanagement by prior administrations at Memorial Field representing a 7% property tax hike
- Approx. $3 million in monies due to Salvatore Gizzo for former Mayor Clinton Young’s failures will be added to the tab for another 6% percent property tax hike
Combined, that is a 25% property tax bomb ready to explode on our doorsteps! Even Council President Lisa Copeland agreed with my decision to deal with these tax threats at various Board of Estimate and Urban Renewal Agency meetings. On September 18, 2018, after hearing more details, Copeland specifically said, “I support you.” (Click here for link and fast forward to 16:19–22:44.)
Keeping matters under control are the “People’s Lawyers” that I directed the Corporation Counsel to retain to protect the people of our great city. These are just three examples of real fiscal threats in litigation that the Comptroller is refusing to acknowledge and pay the bills for. There are other issues where the City Council has exposed the taxpayers with respect to the Sewer Crisis. In addition to calling the Department of Justice’s lawsuit demanding millions in penalties a myth, they are at it again by straying out of their legislative lane in an attempt take executive control of the project — again! They did this on Memorial Field when they sued me in June 2018 to stop me from testing the illegally dumped dirt. While they lost on policy, they cost us precious time and treasure as the environmental regulator penalized us an additional $10,000 and is deliberating on whether to invoke a $7,500 per day penalty for not moving faster since July 2017.
Our City Charter is clear, I have an obligation to protect the taxpayer and I am taking every legal step to accomplish that mission. If you expect me to sit back and remain quiet or complain to fake profiles on Facebook, then you elected the wrong person to be Mayor. I offered a vision for a better Mount Vernon and despite the obstruction I have largely delivered on that promise — crime is down 31%, property values are up 10%, and the economy grew by 11%. Quality of life is getting stronger and you can count on me to never take a weak position against or surrender our bright future to those who deal in dark parts of our past.
Mount Vernon is a beautiful city with a rich history. I was born and raised here and understand how important it is for our families to get our community back to a place where we can rely on the city to provide youth sports, safer streets, and jobs in abundance. We traveled backwards for a quarter century, and we are finally inching our way forward. To get back on top will require a fight, and I am proud that seniors, business leaders, and ordinary residents have joined me in this war for love of City to win over jealous hate and political hypocrisy.
I believe we are not too late and right on time to fix what’s broken. My challenge to you is to join the moral movement to make Mount Vernon work responsibly again!
Mayor Richard Thomas
Mayor Richard Thomas #forthepeople #protectmv