GUILTY: New Rochelle Ethics Board Finds Mayor Noam Bramson Violated the City Charter, a Misdemeanor

GUILTY: New Rochelle Ethics Board Finds Mayor Noam Bramson Violated the City Charter, a Misdemeanor

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (June 17, 2022) -- The New Rochelle Ethics Board has concluded that New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson violated the City Charter, a violation of New York State General Municipal Law, a misdemeanor crime.

The report concluded Mayor Noam Bramson did pressure City Manager Charles B. Strome to appoint him as Development Commissioner and did canvass Council members to rescind Strome’s appointment of Kathleen Gill as Deputy City Manager, but did not violate the charter in seeking to appoint an unqualified person, Alisa Kesten, to the position of City Manager.

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The next step is for the City Manager to decide on whether to make a criminal referral to the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office. That decision could come as early as today.

Not mentioned in the report is an analysis and conclusion regarding the allegations against other Council members, especially Sara Kaye and Yadira Ramos-Herbert, for agreeing to vote to remove Strome if he did not rescind the Gill appointment.

Never intended to be part of an ethics investigation, there remains the bigger question of Bramson using his elected office to obtain something of value — the $210,000 a year Development Commissioner job. That is a question that may be taken up by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.

A discredited addendum submitted by David Blumenthal was included in the final report.

City Clerk Michelle Oliveros recused herself from the investigation leaving just two members, so Blumenthal was in a position to stymie the work of the Board by sitting on his hands. He did so.

Blumenthal initially accepted the report drafted weeks ago by attorney Peter Miesels, the Ethics Board’s lawyer, but after inappropriate ex-parte discussions with Barry Fertel, who was acting on behalf of Noam Bramson, Blumenthal refused to sign the report for weeks.

After holding the work of the Ethics Board hostage for close to two months, Blumenthal ultimately agreed to sign the report on the condition he could include an addendum to the report.

On the first charge, Blumenthal agreed that Bramson committed “a clear and undeniable technical violation of the Charter” then adds “I find it difficult to excoriate him” for what he did. The role of the Ethics Board is not to censure or denounce or criticize — the meaning of the word excoriate — but to draw a conclusion from the facts. What Blumenthal is offering Bramson is a “guilty with an explanation” excuse, while agreeing that Bramson violated the City Charter.

On the second charge, Blumenthal found it “troubling” that, as he puts it, the Mayor canvassed other Council members regarding the selection of Kathleen Gill as Deputy City Manager. He did not simply “canvass” Council members about Gill, but called to propose demanding Strome undo her appointment as Deputy City Manager.

Blumenthal said, “little good could have come out of these phone calls” and they were “not prudent” and, had he lined up four votes, “would very likely have led to a Charter violation” but gave Bramson a pass.

This is nonsensical.

The question before the Ethics Board was whether Bramson attempted to pressure the City Manager to rescind his appointment of Kathleen Gill. Blumenthal agrees he did so but contends that because Bramson failed to line up four votes it somehow does not count.

On the third charge, Blumenthal concurred with the report.

Even with Blumenthal’s equivocation, the report documents that Bramson violated the City. Charter.

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