Timeline of Mayor Noam Bramson pursuing New Rochelle Development Commissioner Position

Drinking from a firehose so you don’t have to!

Timeline of Mayor Noam Bramson pursuing New Rochelle Development Commissioner Position

The following is a timeline of the events investigated by the New Rochelle Board of Ethics of my ethics complaint filed on March 20, 2022 resulting in an Advisory Opinion released on June 16, 2022 which sustained the allegations in my complaint.

I will be updating the timeline as I gather more information, mostly through additional FOIL requests but also (hopefully) witnesses coming forward to add details. The timeline is a large, living document so I decided to post it separately and link to it from articles in the series so it can be updated without breaking the continuity of the articles in the series.

The timeline is anchored by known dates like a particular meeting date or a date on a specific record. I am fleshing out the timeline by grouping different sections of testimony from different witnesses under the dates and events in the timeline. As best as I was able, given imperfect recollections of some witnesses and that some witnesses were not telling the truth or that some dates are likely unknowable, I arranged every witness account of a specific event on the timeline in proximity to that event and other accounts of the same event.

There are still a good number of unknowns or approximations of dates which I will continue to refine as I complete the series, The Noam Bramson Ethics Transcripts. I might know a general period of time like a month or season but I intend to nail down exact dates wherever possible.

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  • When is exact date when Kathleen took over as Acting Development Commissioner?
  • On what exact date did Chuck seek input from Tarantino, Lopez, Idoni, Altieri, Pappalardo, Korn, Apicella, Weingarten (also gets input from Hyden) May 2021 to February 2022?
  • Did the City Manager tell the Mayor about they many people he consulted who thought the Mayor as Development Commissioner was not a good idea? That no one he consulted thought it was a good idea? That most hated the idea?
  • When did the first Development Commissioner search end?
  • On what exact date was the meeting where the Mayor as Development Commissioner was first raised in April May 2021? (Discussion 1)
  • On what exact date did Noam tell Chuck he was intrigued to be Development Commissioner (Discussion 2) in May 2021?
  • On what exact date did Chuck first tell Noam NO? (Discussion 3) about June 2021?
  • On what exact date did Chuck tells Noam no in Noam’s office when Kathleen was uncomfortable and asked to be excused (Discussion 5) in Summer 2021 after 7/15 lunch.
  • On what exact date did Chuck ask Kathleen to ask Toomey for a opinion on charter (same day as meeting when Kathleen asked to be excused)
  • On what exact date did Chuck tell Noam no in Noam’s office (Discussion 6) in Summer 2021?
  • On what exact date did Noam asks Chuck to reconsider when Chuck says he will and Chuck says submit resume but Noam declines (Discussion 7) in November 2021?
  • On what exact date did Al and Chuck talk about Noam in Summer/Fall 2021?
  • On what exact date did Adam discuss applying for Development Commissioner with Chuck and Kathleen about August ot September 2021?
  • On what exact date was Luiz Arágon’s consulting contract terminated?
  • Noam says former Development Commissioner Luis Arágon raised Mayor as Development Commissioner but Noam did not engage. Why no follow up by ethics board on Luis Arágon?
  • On what exact date did Martha meet with Chuck who tells her Noam wants Development Commissioner?
  • On what exact date does Martha tells Yadira Chuck told her Noam wants Development Commissioner?
  • On what exact date did Adam first hear Noam wants Development Commissioner?
  • On what exact date did Ivar tell Martha Noam wants Development Commissioner? January 2022?
  • On what exact date was lunch in Pelham with Al and Chuck? Receipt? May 2021?
  • On what exact date was first follow up call to Al lunch in Pelham with Chuck?
  • On what exact date was Al’s annual meeting with Noam when he asked Noam if Noam wants to be Development Commissioner (Jan 2022)
  • On what exact date does Noam go to Chuck to try get their stories straight? (March 2022)
  • On what exact date did Ivar tell Al about Noam wanting Development Commissioner?
  • What is the exact date the RFP for the second search was sent out, what the deadline?
  • Why is there a Development Commissioner job posting on the City website dated 9/25/21 with a deadline of 10/30/21?

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Noam Bramson Ethics Transcripts Timeline (first published 7/13/22)

Answers Added 7/14/22

  • 1/5/21 Job Posting for Development Commissioner
  • 1/15/21 Lunch with Noam, Chuck and Kathleen
  • 1/24/22 Job Posting for Development Commissioner
  • 2/2/22 Adam Salgado submits resume
  • 2/15/22 GovHR delivers 35 resumes (on the same day as a Council meeting Chuck gave the resumes to Noam who tapped them and said “I am clearly the best candidate”, later Al asked for the resumes and Chuck said Noam had them and Chuck would give them to any Council member who asked; this then is the day Chuck decided to write the memo. A week later, on 2/22/22, Chuck requested ICMA ethics opinion, which he got on 2/24/22. Toomey opinion given to Chuck on 2/15/22. Chuck handed memo to Noam on 3/4/22. Note: CSDNR Mid-Winter recess was 2/21-25.
  • 2/15/22 Vince Toomey memo received by Chuck (Chuck asked Kathleen for verbal opinion on charter from Toomey in Summer 2021 after meeting where Kathleen withdrew from the discussion).

11/19/20: Luiz Announces Retirement

MR. SALGADO: ...when my predecessor first announced his retirement, I mentioned that I wanted to put my name in the hat, throw my hat in the ring for the development commissioner position. And he didn't think it was a good idea. And he suggested that I would be -- if I didn't get it, I would be vulnerable and perceived as competition if somebody else was to get it. And he also mentioned that he was being retained as a consultant after he retired and was going to run the department with Kathleen and the mayor; that the three of them were going to continue running the department after he retired.

Q. Your predecessor was Luiz Arágon?

MR. SALGADO: Yes, Luiz with a Z.

Q. So Commissioner Arágon told you

he didn't think it was a hot idea for you to apply because why?

MR. SALGADO: That I -- he was concerned that if I didn't get it that I would be perceived as competition for the successor, and that at my stage of my career because I have about ten years or so before retirement that in this climate it would be safer for me to keep my head down and not apply for it.

Q. It was -- he told you he had already been retained as a consultant to --

MR. SALGADO: To work with Kathleen and the mayor to run the department.

Q. Okay.

MR. SALGADO: And then he set up meetings, you know, we had meetings and recurring meetings.

Q. Did he convey to you the idea that the mayor would be the commissioner?

MR. SALGADO: Not exactly, no, no. Just that he was going to work with the mayor and Kathleen.

Q. To run the department?

MR. SALGADO: To run the department.

Q. And after he retired before you were appointed, was Kathleen the acting commissioner?

MR. SALGADO: Yes, Kathleen was appointed acting commissioner.

Q. Was it understood in the department that she would remain acting commissioner until a new commissioner was appointed?

MR. SALGADO: Correct.

Q. Whoever that might be?

MR. SALGADO: Uhm hhm, yes.

12/31/20: Luiz Official Retirement Date

1/1/21: Luiz Month to Month consulting contract begins

1/1/21:?Kathleen made Acting Development Commissioner

MR. SALGADO: Well, after Kathleen was named acting commissioner, we had had our one-on-one with Chuck and Kathleen and myself. And I had mentioned what Luiz had said. And Chuck stated that was not his vision for how the department would be run post Luiz' retirement.

MR. PHIPPS: Repeat that. I'm sorry.

MR. SALGADO: We had met with Chuck. We had our first sort of one-on-one you know within a few weeks of Kathleen being appointed the interim commissioner of development. And I mentioned to Chuck that Luiz said that he was going to be a consultant and run the department with Kathleen and the mayor. And Chuck said that was not his intention and that was not his planned way of running the department; that I was going to be the deputy and I was going to support Kathleen as the interim commissioner. And Luiz was a consultant, but he was not in a leadership role; that he was reporting to me essentially.

1/5/21: Job Posting for First Development Commissioner search. Left open until filled.

JUNE-JULY 2021: Chuck quips Noam should apply for Development Commissioner; Noam says both Chuck asked Noam to seriously consider Development Commissioner position and it started with them joking about it (Discussion 1).

MR. STROME: ....about a year ago. We had an unsuccessful search for a replacement to commissioner of development who retired. And at a mecting, at the end of the meeting I mentioned to the Mayor that we were having a hard time finding somebody to take the position and just sort of quipped, "Why don't you consider applying?”
MR. BRAMSON: We literally joked about initially, you know, started as almost a joke...
MR. STROME: ...my recollection is that it started with the comment, offhanded or not it came from me, maybe you should apply because I was quite frustrated that we hadn't had a good recruitment. I figured it was a good job. He then came back to me and said-- I was a little surprised but he came back and said yes, this might be something I might be interested in so I said okay, we'll give it some thought. There was some discussion among myself and others on the staff, high level people and I was struggling with it from shortly after the beginning because it is very unusual and I was kind of kicking myself for starting this process but I accept responsibility for that.
MR. BRAMSON: So the city manager had been disappointed with the outcome of our initial search for development commissioner, felt that the candidate pool included plenty of competent planners but that is something we had already an abundance in our development department. What it lacked was a more forceful leader who could communicate the city's visions to relevant constituencies and serve as more of a face for the city's development goals.
MR. BRAMSON: The city manager approached me to suggest that I take a serious look at the position. That suggestion had a certain plausibility. I have been immersed in development issues throughout my service as mayor. It has probably been my primary focus. I worked closely with prior development commissioners. I have relationships with real estate professionals with whom development-- the department of development works — on a regular basis. It is common for me to present for the city in the context of seeking grants that are related to the development in the context of gathering real estate professionals, regional planners, et cetera, et cetera. Because of that the city manager thought this was something I should look at seriously. On the other hand, I think we were both aware that an appointment of this kind would be highly unconventional, potentially controversial and there was a lot about it that would be odd and would have to be sort of thought through very carefully. So I was initially quite skeptical of the suggestion and expressed that to the city manager. It would require a pretty comprehensive redefinition of who I am professionally as well as the oddity of going from being nominally the head of the organization to being a subordinate which is a strange transition.
Q. ...Just last Friday you were quoted in the Journal News saying something that you had actually just said again and that's what I thought was interesting. You were quoted, "I think over the course of these discussions I would say Chuck went from sort of encouraging to being skeptical and I went from being skeptical to being encouraging." You said that again today?


Q. Could you be a little more specific about what you mean by your becoming, going from skeptical to becoming encouraging?

MR. BRAMSON: Well, I thought to some degree I explained that but I am happy to elaborate further. As I said, when this concept was first raised my reaction was too largely dismiss it. I felt it would be a very sort of unusual change in my career track. It is not a role I ever envisioned for myself (LUIZ TOLD ADAM MAYOR WOULD BE RUNNING DEV) and wasn't clear to me that I was frankly prepared to give up all the things about being mayor that I really enjoy and find satisfying and it was just difficult to wrap my mind around it.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: He brought it up to you, you didn't bring it up to him?

MR. BRAMSON: Correct.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: From your perspective, again I am taking your words at faith. He mentioned it to you. He brought it up, whatever the terminology is, and you just responded to him and it just kind of —

MR. BRAMSON: David, that is exactly right. That is how the conversation was initiated. It was an ongoing off and on conversation from that point forward, consistently amicable and consistently focused on what is best for the city. You know, one can reasonably make judgments about whether it was wise to consider this course of action but that's entirely different from saying it is unethical, this course of action and, you know, I think that is what is at issue here, whether there was an ethical transgression and I don't see how that — if you believe Mr. Cox's account of things (MY ACCOUNT WAS SUSTAINED IN THE ADVISORY OPINION), how you can reach that conclusion, but based on what actually transpired, I don't think there is any ethical transgression at all.

JUNE-JULY 2021: Chuck and Al Discuss Noam Development Commissioner over Lunch in Pelham (RECEIPT?)

Q. ...am I correct you had similar conversations with Councilman Tarantino?

MR. STROME: The first one was more formal and then after that just occasionally, yes, I had lunch with him to really gauge his reaction if I would consider it and then a few more after that but they were informal.

Q. Meaning they weren't scheduled?

MR. STROME: Correct. I didn't — you know, we talk on other issues and he would ask me what is going on with this.

Q. And did you share with him how you felt about


Q. Did you share with him internally how you felt in terms of the pressure you were feeling?


Q. Okay. And on one occasion you did that over lunch?

MR. STROME: Well, the lunch was to — was prior to my initially telling the mayor no, and as I said I was going to just broach the subject. I told the mayor I was going to do this, broach the subject with some elected officials to get their reactions so I cover all the bases so that lunch was prior to me telling the mayor, you know, and then there were other conversations over the eight months after that initial declining to make the appointment.
MR. STROME: I had lunch with Councilmember Tarantino specifically about this, told him how uncomfortable it was making me feel and I am just not sure if that lunch was before or after the original no. It was probably before because I was talking to those folks before I told him the ultimate decision, the first decision...
MR. TARANTINO: Chuck called me and said I would like to go out to lunch with you, so we set a date and I met him for lunch. I believe it was in May and we went to Sergio's in Pelham, a good lunch, and he explained to me what was going on that, you know, the mayor was pursuing the issue of commissioner of development and he was going to talk to me and a few other people to get their input into what he was looking at just to get a better understanding. I believe he already had his own feeling towards it but he wanted to see what I thought and I, of course, said it is silly to even consider it. I said what he has got to do is just say no and be done with it, and we ate lunch and he said, you know, I have to go think this over, how to handle this because it was a concern of how to handle it.

JUNE-JULY 2021: Al and Chuck talk again after Pelham lunch.

MR. TARANTINO: ...we had another conversation and he told me that, you know, part of what happened is, that he in a flippant way said when they actually had sent out RFP for the job and the quality of the people that applied was not great so he mentioned it to the mayor. The mayor was concerned about who — what resumes they were looking at. He said why don't you take the job and I think that helped the ball rolling in the concern about, you know, I guess the mayor's thoughts that maybe this is something, but according to what Chuck told me he was very clear after that to him that no, I wouldn't consider, you know, you as a commissioner of development.

JUNE-JULY 2021: Noam tells Chuck he is intrigued by Development Commissioner, Chuck says he will think about it (Discussion 2)

MR. BRAMSON: ...when I had a chance to reflect on it more fully and when I had a chance to get advice from a small circle of people whose opinion I trust, I became intrigued by the possibility of being able to delve more fully and concentrate more fully on the aspect of local policy making which I have the greatest interest, while setting aside aspects of my current job that maybe I have less interest in at this stage in my life. So that is how I became sort of more interested in the possibility.
MR. STROME: I don't remember how long after he came into my office to tell me that it was - If he was intrigued by the idea and suggested we consider it further.

Q. Okay. And did you respond to that?

MR. STROME: I said I would and I did over a few weeks...
MR. BRAMSON: I thought about it carefully. As I said I had conversations with my wife and with a few other close friends to get their guidance, and after a few weeks I came back to the city manager and indicated that I was in fact interested. I concluded that perhaps I am feeling a little exhausted by politics. This is an example of why I am feeling exhausted by politics, while at the same time I continue to feel passionately about development and planning in the city, and so this was an opportunity to minimize one and embrace more fully the other. So I told the city manager, you know, I am interested, let's see if we can make this work. The city manager at that time felt that it was important for him to do his due diligence and to seek input from professional colleagues in management roles. He did so, and either as a result of those conversations or perhaps as a result of just his additional reflection, I think it is fair to stay as I became more enthusiastic (and the) city manager became somewhat more skeptical so our roles to some degree sort of reversed in the conversation. Nonetheless we continued to discuss the possibility.
MR. BRAMSON: To be clear, although these conversations were extended they were not constant. Weeks or months would go by without us mentioning it to each other and there might be something like what is going on with this?

JUNE-JULY 2021: Chuck tells Noam no (Discussion 3)

MR. STROME: ...don't remember how long it was, and then at some point, I don't remember when, I told him that I did not think it was a very good idea so l wasn't prepared to make that appointment.

7/15/21 Lunch with Noam, Chuck and Kathleen (Discussion 4)

Q. And the time that you told him you didn't think it was a very good idea, okay, how many, approximately how many times did the two of you discuss it?

MR. STROME: Formally once. We had a lunch to discuss it. And a few times informally, but not often.

Q. Okay. At the lunch can you tell me, as best you can recall in words or substance, what he said to you and what you said to him?

MR. STROME: I said at that point I was very skeptical that it would be a wise appointment told him I thought the optics were very bad, that there would be a lot of people who would think that this was a political payoff and as a professional manager I don't want to go down that road. And he told me, in his opinion, that the optics don't matter. If he was the best person for the job, I should appoint him. And that was really the focus of the lunch.

Q. At that time was there any discussion about whether or not he was the best person for the job?

MR. STROME: Well, he thought he was, which is fine. I didn't express an opinion at the time, because we were not in the middle of a hiring process, we were in between. So the first one was over, we had not begun a second search. Which was what I intended to do in the second search was hire a recruitment firm to assist us in that effort.

Q. In addition to your discussions with the Mayor about his possible appointment to the position, did any other person discuss it with you in terms of suggesting that he would be an appropriate candidate?

MR. STROME: Kathleen Gill was involved in the beginning. She was at the lunch and she felt uncomfortable the day after the lunch or a couple of days after the lunch. She told the Mayor and myself that she would like to withdraw herself from this discussion. So after that lunch it was just him and me.
MR. STROME: At one point I was very much leaning in not going in this direction and cutting it off, and Kathleen Gill and I had lunch with the mayor where I expressed my concerns about the optics of it and how I didn't think it was really something that we could proceed with, and his response was the optics aren't really important. If you think I am the best person for the job you should consider hiring me.
Q. Now, you had mentioned that there was a point in time when you and the corporation council had lunch with the mayor. There was a time that you and corporation council and the mayor had lunch together to discuss this. And at that time there was a discussion as to whether or not this would be a good idea, am I correct?

MR. STROME: Correct. The purpose of the lunch, from my perspective and I believe Kathleen's prospective, was sort of indicate to him that it really wasn't a good idea to pursue this any further.

Q. And I know that you ultimately got an opinion from outside counsel. Did the corporation council offer an opinion as to what she thought about the legality of that.

MR. STROME: She said she had some concerns, and as a result I asked her to contact the outside attorney (WHEN?). I felt it would be better to get an opinion from an outside attorney on a matter of this because she works here and works closely with myself and the mayor. I didn't think it would be appropriate or fair to put... position... to have an opinion on that... for outside counsel for an opinion.
Q. We understand that there was a time that you and the city manager and the mayor had lunch to discuss the mayor's possible appointment to the position of commissioner.

MS. GILL: Yes.

Q. Do you recall that?

MS. GILL: Yes.

Q. Do you recall who said what to whom in substance during that lunch?

MS. GILL: Yes. That was prior to the meeting in the mayor's office and the purpose of the meeting was to go off-site and have a conversation about whether this was something that the city manager could really consider. The city manager, I believe, raised concerns about optics, either he raised them or I did. We were both saying that we were very concerned about how it would look. I am not sure if at that point we were talking about the charter, I am not sure but it was certainly concern about how it would look. The city manager was concerned that it would look like in the last year of his — that he was sort of giving the mayor something and that there might have been a quid pro quo and he was very concerned about how it would look to the greater community but also to his peers, fellow city managers, the concern being that hiring a political person into a professional administration.

JULY 2021: Chuck tells Noam no in Noam’s office, Kathleen uncomfortable, asked to be excused (Discussion 5)

MR. STROME: The next meeting was a meeting with Kathleen and myself and the mayor where Kathleen said that she was uncomfortable being involved in these discussions. She thought there might be some charter implications and she withdrew and wasn't involved anymore after that.

MR. STROME: Shortly after that, I can't remember how long, I went to the mayor and said I am not comfortable doing this, I do have charter concerns and some ethics concerns but I am not comfortable doing it.
Q. Now, you had mentioned that there was a meeting from which Corp Counsel excused herself, is that right?

MR. STROME: She said she was uncomfortable being involved in a further conversation about this. I believe she mentioned she had some charter concerns and she said she didn't want to be involved in the discussion anymore and that was shortly after the lunch. That is my recollection of the timeline.

Q. Okay. Did the mayor suggest to her that if she was feeling uncomfortable that maybe she should step out?

MR. STROME: No, because she just stepped out. I don't think —- you have to ask him.

Q. Okay.

MR. STROME: I don't think he understood her discomfort but it didn't matter, she wasn't comfortable and she had some concerns so, you know, in the end it was going to be my decision anyway, so...

MR. BLUMENTHAL: Peter, may I cut in?


MR. BLUMENTHAL: When Kathleen said that she has charter concerns, how frequently did she offer her, I will say, her legal opinion? I don't want to say summarily, I don't mean it in that context but it was ignored. I mean I think you said in the prior hearing or whenever, part of the investigation, you said the mayor sort of didn't take it and said I don't think that is an issue.

MR. STROME: I am not sure it was her opinion. I cited specific language in the charter which I read, so he dismissed my concern which was there is a section of the charter that says no member of the city council, and as you all know a mayor is a member of the city council, shall be appointed to the city manager during their term of office, and I said I would deduce from that that they wouldn't be appointed to any commissioner type position because the assumption would be that no city manager would appoint an elected official to a management position. That's the reason there is a city manager in the first place.

Article VI Section 39 No person elected to the Council shall, during the time for which he is elected, be chosen as City Manager.

MR. STROME: ...his immediate reaction to that was he did not agree, and when Kathleen had mentioned — I didn't have real significant conversations with Kathleen on her charter concerns, she said she had them, I had them, mentioned it to him. He disagreed with my position on that and I said so I am going to get a legal opinion on that to see what it means. So that's when I asked Mr. Toomey-- I asked Kathleen to ask Mr. Toomey for the opinion on the charter.
Q. One of the questions is this: There has been testimony about a meeting that you and the mayor and the city manager had together from which you were excused.

MS. GILL: Yes.

Q. Do you remember that meeting?

MS. GILL: Yes.

Q. Could you tell us what happened?

MS. GILL: Yes. The meeting was in the mayor's office and we were discussing this possibility of Chuck appointing the mayor to the position of commissioner of development, and at that point I had done a little bit of research. I was also concerned that there might be a violation of the Chuck's professional ethics and I was very concerned about the optics of it in the greater community. So I expressed all of those concerns and I said I would like to step out of the meeting. If this isn't going to end here I really don't want to participate in it any further and I was excused from the meeting.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: Who heard your concerns?

MS. GILL: The mayor and the city manager.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: Was there any response by either of them?

MS. GILL: The city manager expressed similar concern. He was very uncomfortable about his professional ethics. He also was concerned about the charter, the language of the charter.

MR. PHIPPS: That was expressed at that meeting?

MS. GILL: Yes.

MR. PHIPPS: By the city manager?

MS. GILL: I believe that he was agreeing with my concerns.

MS. GILL: After the meeting the city manager asked me to talk to the outside attorney, Vince Toomey, and have him really look at this issue and research it.

MR. PHIPPS: And your feelings now?

MS. GILL: With respect to?

MR. PHIPPS: The charter.

MS. GILL: —-

REDACTED (Discussion of Toomey opinion, redacted based on attorney client privilege)

MR. BLUMENTHAL: Were there many cases in this term in your present role where you expressed, where you deemed to be a legal opinion where the legal opinion was not necessarily heeded? Nothing about the mayor, city council, any other —

MS. GILL: I understand. None come to mind.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

Chuck asked Kathleen to ask Toomey for an informal opinion on charter in summer 2021 but it was not put in writing until 2-15-2022.

SUMMER 2021: Chuck tells Noam no in Noam’s office (Discussion 6).

Q. Okay. Do you recall when the next time was, the occasion to discuss it with him?

MR. STROME: I think it was a few weeks after that and I told him that I was unable to make the appointment. I didn't think it was the right thing to do and I was going to move onto the second search.

Q. Where did that conversation occur?

MR. STROME: In my - I told him in his office.

Q. Was anyone present when you told him that?

MR. STROME: Just him and me.

Q. And in words or substance, what did he say to you and what did you say to him?

MR. STROME: I said what I just said.

Q. Right.

MR. STROME: And he said he was disappointed and wanted to think over what I had said to him That's what I recall.

OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 2021: Noam asks Chuck to Reconsider, Chuck says he will; Chuck says submit resume, Noam declines (Discussion 7)

Q. Okay. And did there come a time that you and he discussed this after that?

MR. STROME: Yes. I don't know if it was a couple of days or a week or two later, he came and asked me to reconsider.

Q. And, to the best of your recollection, can you be more specific as to what he actually said when he asked you to reconsider?

MR. STROME: He said he thought that this was the right time for him to move into a different area of government, from politics to administration, and it was the right time for the city and that he thought he was the right person for the job. And my response was, I really wasn't comfortable with that appointment, but as a friend and colleague, I would give it some thought. I also, I am sorry, I also suggested that if he wanted to be considered further. he should submit his resume through the application process with the recruiting firm, and he declined to do that.

Q. Did he provide any explanation as to why he wasn't going to do that?

MR. STROME: No, he didn't. You have to ask him.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: Approximately when is this, this meeting, for example?

MR. STROME: I would say it was three or four months after the topic was first discussed.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: Approximately eight, nine months ago, approximately?

MR. STROME: That might be a little closer, I am not sure. I'd have to go back and look. It was shortly after we hired the recruitment firm to do the second search, so whenever that was. (NOVEMBER 2021).

MR. BLUMENTHAL: Sometime in the second half of last year?


MR. STROME: A few days later, I believe it was, he came back to my office and asked me to reconsider. Reluctantly I said yes saying that perhaps if the second round of recruitment provided no appropriate candidates it could be a consideration. I suggested he take part in the application process by submitting a resume. He said he did not want to do that, and then there was really no formal conversation after that but he would bring it up, how is your search going? How many candidates are there? Why was it taking so long? And then we went through the process.

MR. PHIPPS: What is interesting that the mayor was interested in the position, however, he never applied for the position. Applying for the position is an act, is that correct?


MR. PHIPPS: But he did not apply to the position so how could he have gotten it, you just would award it to him, is that common?

MR. STROME: Not common but not never done before.


MR. STROME: For instance, I have hired former colleagues city managers for positions here when they became open without having to go through an interview process because I knew them so I can understand him saying no to going through the application process. Why do you need to have a resume? You know me. I have worked with you for 23 years. Maybe that his motivation. In fairness to him he wanted, you know, he didn't want what is happening now to happen and I did too. I didn't want this happening now too, to keep it as quiet as possible, and by the simple application I believe that becomes a public record so maybe that's what he was thinking. So that's really kind of a distinction without a difference. He didn't formally apply but he clearly applied informally saying he wanted the job.

MR. PHIPPS: If you were to appoint him, the city would be in a fix because the part of the charter is you have to review people. You knew him, he has never worked in that position, although as a mayor of the City of New Rochelle there is much development.

MR. STROME: Correct.

MR. PHIPPS: So he cannot show you the 10 years of qualifications.

MR. STROME: It would be hard to argue that if you went strictly by qualifications laid out in the city charter, which I have never gone strictly by, they are sort of a guideline but it would be hard to argue that he met any of the qualifications.


MR. STROME: For the position, but I don't believe, maybe I am wrong but I don't believe that that automatically disqualifies everybody. I hired former city managers as public works commissioner. I now have one in the human resources department. I just hired that person because — but in those cases if you are a manager you are sort of involved in everything and I guess you can make the argument that the mayor is involved, certainly is involved in development. Developers for right or wrong, go to the mayors of communities first. Whether they are a strong mayor or city manager, they go. They want to talk to the mayors, so I can't say he has had no experience in development, but if you go strictly by the 10 years of planning and this, then you have a hard argument to make.

MR. PHIPPS: I have the trouble with not wanting to apply. It is a hot button issue and you are not one to speak to meet not all, at least some of the qualifications to apply.

MR. STROME: Well, you know, formally apply, why he didn't want to, I am only guessing. So that's something you have to ask him if you really need to know why. He didn't want to take part. All I know is, I said maybe you should get your resume in as we go through this process because I did suspect, and you saw in the ethics opinion that I got from ICMA, it did say that the hire, whoever it is, should be after a thorough review process based on the qualifications and experience of the candidate, and if you don't participate in the process, then it is hard to say you followed the ethics code by hiring somebody outside of that process. In those other cases where I hired managers, I knew everybody. Do I think I could have done it? Yes, but without the qualifications it is very hard.

MR. PHIPPS: From what little I know--

MR. STROME: I know where you are going with that, I think. The fact that he was still in the office of the mayor —


MR. STROME: -- makes it first optically very difficult. You know, if he had resigned as mayor or had not run and was a year or two out then that's a whole different story, but to do it while someone is in the position of mayor what made this whole thing complicated and difficult.

MR. PHIPPS: That's the charter also.

MR. STROME: Yes. Listen, I kick myself every time I think back and say maybe you should apply. It was probably a dumb thing to say but it was said so I can't dispute that I said it. You can argue I initiated, at least in the beginning, the development thing and I think as I said the first time, it gets tricky and it changes when I said no and then it continued. What happened up to that point was my initiation but I did try to end it early and it kept going.

Q. Now, did there ever come the mayor initiated a meeting with you and advised you that he thought that the position that you were taking was standing in the way of his career?

MR. STROME: When he asked me to reconsider he did say this was a pivotal moment in his career but I wouldn't say it is fair for me to say that he said I was hindering his career, but he made it clear to me that this is a direction that he wanted to go and that he would like the position, so I guess I could have assumed that I was hindering his career but I wouldn't put it in those terms. He just let me know that he really wanted the position and so you would have to ask him if I was hindering his career.

Q. All right. Did he ever say to you in words or substance, this is my career, I need an answer by the end of the year?

MR. STROME: He never gave me a deadline on when he needed an answer. Although he might have indicated because of the fact that he is up for election next year that that would be the timeline. I don't think he ever demanded anything. In the end I don't recall him ever saying I need an answer from you.

Q. Okay.

MR. STROME: I will say this. He did tell me that he was also going to be applying for another position outside of the city which I encouraged him to do and he told me that he was a finalist and then came to me I am withdrawing myself from that position because I really want to be the development commissioner. This is where his heart is but there was no demand behind that. It was just informational.

Q. Now, as I understand it, before there was a meeting with the mayor, with the corporation council and yourself to discuss his desire to be appointed to the position of commissioner.

MR. STROME: So after the lunch and after the meeting that I told him no, there was only one other formal meeting which is when he came and asked me to reconsider, and after the lunch there were no meetings with the corporation council on this particular subject. The discussions, though, happened informally. He would mention it to me, "Where are you with the recruitment?" He asked me for my advice on his seeking this other position. He came to me to tell me that he was withdrawing from that application process and he would ask me for updates on the development commissioner job, what was taking so long for the recruitment firm? It wasn't a malicious question. It was summertime. People don't apply for jobs in the summer so it was really going to be a fall recruitment so there really were no formal meetings scheduled to discuss this but it kept coming up and I meet with the mayor once a week so it would come up. He would occasionally ask me how it was going in those weekly meetings, among other things.

Q. You referred to formal meetings and informal meetings. What is the difference between them?

MR. STROME: So lunch was probably the only scheduled formal meeting on this subject because we scheduled a meeting to specifically talk about this subject. Every other time was basically I would go into his office or he would come into my office and just bring it up. It wasn't a scheduled meeting. It never appeared on my calendar as a meeting to discuss a position of development commissioner, so the lunch, however, did, so I call that a formal meeting when you set something up.

Q. I just want to understand. So a formal meeting would be one that was preplanned and scheduled?

MR. STROME: Correct.

Q. While informal would be--

MR. STROME: Came up in the context of another meeting or just sidebar, whatever you want to call it.

SUMMER-FALL 2021: Al and Chuck talk about Noam as Development Commissioner

MR. TARANTINO: ...in further conversations, since I have had probably more than a dozen conversations with Chuck Strome over the last year, maybe double that, I can't be sure because I never wrote anything down so a lot of it is just from memory and I have a pretty good memory on this stuff, but he came to me and said, you know, he keeps on asking about it and I said well, just say no and put an end to it and he said well, you know, he is the mayor and, you know, I have to deal with him, and I says it doesn't matter, you are the city manager, this is not his responsibility to decide who is going to take the job like that, it is yours so just say no.

MR. TARANTINO: This went on for a little longer and the mayor kept on approaching him and, you know, at some point he said to the mayor well, why don't you submit a resume if you are really interested and the mayor told him I don't wish to submit a resume. I believe that was because — it is obvious you submit a resume, everyone knows you have an interest in the job at the time so the mayor continued to press him. He kept on saying no but did say to me that it is very hard to say no to the mayor.

MR. TARANTINO: Chuck told me that the mayor was still, you know, asking him for the job as commissioner of development, and during the conversation he also said to Chuck that, you know, if he was given the job he would want a five year contract and I sort of laughed at it because I thought it was — we don't give contracts to commissioners. I believe the only contracts we have given are to city managers and they have a clause in there which they are in a six month period. In a six month period they can be finished so I thought it was kind of interesting and I had written that down because I had remembered we had a laugh out of that because it was just wow, not only he wants the job, now he wants five years guaranteed...

AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 2021: Adam discussed applying for Development Commissioner with Chuck and Kathleen.

MR. SALGADO: I notified Chuck and Kathleen going to submit my application that I was for the commissioner of development position...

9/22/21 Development Commissioner posted on city website

SEPTEMBER 2021: Luiz Arágon consulting contract terminated

Q. And how long did that arrangement last?

MR. SALGADO: About I would say until -- well in terms of him remaining a consultant?

Q. Yes?

A. I mean he remained a consultant I think until September of last year (2021) but it wasn't -- we weren't meeting with him very often. His utility had sort of dwindled once Kathleen and I started working in earnest and once I started to make the connections with the developers and with the contracts and I had already had that history in the department so a lot of -- I knew the developers already. I didn't really have to establish too many relationships, but you know there were some decisions that were made that were in the previous -- in Luiz' sort of purview, so once that sort of information was sort of passed, we relied on him less and less. But we terminated the contract in September.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: When you say you terminated the contract, you used the word we.

MR. SALGADO: Kathleen and myself.

10/13/2021: RFP for Development Commissioner recruiting firm

MR. SALGADO: when I found out they were going to hire a recruitment firm and that they originally they were going to hire a recruitment firm and they told me that I should apply...And there was some weeks between when they told me they encouraged me to apply and when I actually did apply.
MR. BRAMSON: Fast forward a few months, the city manager thought it would be wise to have a second search for a development commissioner, felt that that process might produce a better candidate. In the event that it did not produce a better candidate, then it might make more sense to reconsider my potential appointment. I agreed with that logic. The search process was somewhat delayed because of the completely unrelated difficulties with our human resources commissioner that you are all very familiar with (IE, COX ETHICS COMPLAINT CHRISTINE DODGE)

10/25/21:,Proposal from GovHR

11/5/21: Recruiting contract routing sheet with approvals

11/8/21: Recommendation to hire GovHR

11/13/21: GovHR contract signed

NOVEMBER 2021 - FEBRUARY 2022: Noam keeps prodding Chuck on Development Commissioner

Q. After the meeting you had where he requested that you reconsider, did you have occasion to discuss the subject with him again?

MR. STROME: Just informally he would ask me how the search is going, how long it is going to take and how the process was going, but no formal conversations about it (BETWEEN NOVEMBER 2021 AND FEBRUARY 2022)

JANUARY 2021: Finalize job specs, design print brochure.

JANUARY 2022: Chuck seeks input from Tarantino, Lopez, Idoni, Altieri, Pappalardo, Korn, Apicella, Weingarten (also gets input from Hyden)

Q. You mentioned that you did give notice to the city council about this possibility. Do you recall who they were?

MR. STROME: I spoke - I had intended to speak to two, I had asked them to speak confidentially, which I knew was not going to be the case but did it anyway. I spoke to Councilman Tarantino and Councilwoman Lopez. And then Council member Hyden had heard about the idea and he proactively approached me, so I ended up speaking to three. I had only intended to speak to one democrat and one republican.

Q. Do vou recall what Councilwoman Lopez' reaction was to the concept:

MR. STROME: Not positive.

Q. Can you be more specific?

MR. STROME: She said. I don't think that would be a good idea.

Q. Do you recall what Councilman Tarantino's reaction was to the concept?

MR. STROME: It is going to be a terrible idea.

Q. And Councilman Hyden's response, reaction?

MR. STROME: Pretty similar to what Councilman Tarantino said.

Q. Now, during the course of your conversations with members of the council about this, did anyone raise the issue with you about the charter provision that prohibits members of the council from approaching the city manager concerning employment decisions?

MR. STROME: No, no, I am sure they had no idea that that section of the charter existed, so they didn't bring that up, no.

Q. In any of your conversations with the Mayor was that subject discussed?

MR. STROME: I told him I thought there was a charter problem with an appointment of that kind. At what point I don't remember, but I did tell him that. Prior to writing the memo, I had told him I thought there was a charter and that I was going to get a legal opinion on that from outside counsel.

Q. Did he express any reaction to that?

MR. STROME: He did think. he felt there was no problem -

Q. Did he —

MR. STROME: — with the charter.

Q. Did he explain why he thought there was no problem?

MR. STROME: He said he didn't read it the way I was interpreting it.

Q. Okay. Did you speak to former mayors, by any chance?

MR. STROME: I spoke to the county clerk. He's a person from county government. I spoke to him because he was a former mayor. Also, at one point he was a city manager in another community, so I thought he would have a good perspective.

Q. What was his reaction to the concept?

MR. STROME: He said that the Mayor was probably qualified but would have to resign his position for a while before accepting a job of this kind and expressed his doubt that it could be done while he is sitting mayor, in office as mayor.

Q. And was any discussion about the charter

MR. STROME: No, no.

Q. You mentioned you discussed this with other city managers. Are you comfortable telling us who you spoke to?

MR. STROME: Spoke to Steve Altieri, who is the retired Town Administrator of Mamaroneck: Steve Pappalardo, the retired manager of Scarsdale; and Peter Korn, who was my predecessor here.

Q. What did Peter Korn think?

MR. STROME: All three of them pretty much thought I was crazy to be considering it in the first place.

Q. And did any of them express reasons as to why they were opposed to it?

MR. STROME: They all expressed the sentiment that ultimately I came to, that it was not proper for a professional government executive to make a political appointment per se to a commissioner, to a professional job. He thought it would look like -- particularly since my situation is I am retiring at the end of the year, they felt it would look like a sweetheart deal on my way out the door and that it would have a bad impact on my professional reputation.

Q. Am I correct that those managers were all previously employed in positions like yours, where there was a strong manager, a weak mayor form of government?

MR. STROME: Well. Mr. Korn was here, so the same form of government. In Scarsdale it is a village manager form of government. In Mamaroneck it is a town administrator, which is slightly different. The administrator has less executive authority than a manager but, you know, it is very similar.

Q. Did you have an opportunity to solicit the thoughts of anyone actually in the real estate industry?

MR. STROME: I spoke with Joe Apicella and Mark Weingarten. Joe is a developer for MacQuesten Development Company. And Mark is, I am sure you know, is an attorney for -- I don't know the firm's name. It has got a lot of names.

Q. DelBello--

MR. STROME: Donnellan, DelBello, and he represents many developers in Westchester County, legal representative.

Q. What was Mr. Apicella's opinion of this concept?

MR. STROME: He said it would not be good for the city, it would look like I was giving somebody a gift on the way out the door.

Q. Okay. And what was Mr. Weingarten's opinion?

MR. STROME: Less negative but the same. He respected the Mayor, the Mayor could probably do the job, but optically it was not going to be an easy thing to do.

Q. In arriving at your conclusion that this was not something that you were comfortable doing, did you have a concern about the charter provision that establishes the council manager form of government for the City of New Rochelle?

MR. STROME: Yes, if you read the memo, the major concerns other than the optics were the charter. But the number one concern was I was not going to subject myself to violating my professional code of ethics.

Q. And as you already testified, you did solicit an opinion from the ICMA?


Q. Am I correct that you have been the city manager here for 25 years?

MR. STROME: Twenty-three. February of 2002 I was the acting manager, November of 2002 I was named permanent manager. So it is 22 1/2 I have been in this role.

Q. And you have been a member of the ICMA for —

MR. STROME: Thirty-five years.

Q. Thirty-five vears. Okay Based upon your experience as city manager and a member of ICMA, what do you believe the cthies of your profession require when you are filing a high level administrative position?

MR. STROME: That a thorough review process take place and that the candidate selected meets the basic qualitications for the job, and that it is a transparent process.

Q. And within your responsibilities as a professional manager, what role does merit play versus politics?

MR. STROME: Politics has no role. Merit-based appointment. Doesn't eliminate in my mind somebody who's a politician who may be qualified, but they have to be qualified and they have to go through the process, the hiring process.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: For your decades of being in the industry and have spoken to other city managers where up — I would this type of thing may have come —

MR. STROME: I never have. will tell you when I talk to the managers I told the mayor that I talk to a few elected officials, a few managers and a few developers and the managers were ready to slap me in the face for even considering it so nobody that I know of has been — you know, the tenet that most concerns me... a tenet of the ethics code, I shall not participate in any political activities while I am in service. This is on the borderline there. They didn't cite that one but I don't think anybody has had this experience.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

MR. PHIPPS: This is something that is--

MR. BLUMENTHAL: Groundbreaking.

MR. STROME: I think it is all circumstantial about — I don't mean circumstantial in the legal term, I mean circumstances are what they are. It is different because of the people that are here, the time that they have been here and I find it all very unfortunate and disheartening but, you know —

MID-DECEMBER 2021: Chuck tells Ivar Noam wants Development Commissioner

Q. Okay. Now, based upon-- we understand Councilman Hyden was one of the councilpeople you consulted?

MR. STROME: No, he consulted me. My intent was to consult with Councilmember Tarantino, who is the Republican, and Councilmember Lopez (DATE?) who was a Democrat to just get their feelings which I did, and Councilmember Tarantino I think passed it along to Councilmember Hyden so I didn't proactively speak to him, he brought it up to me.

Q. Now, as I understand it he has a gallery?

MR. STROME: He does.

Q. And you are one of his customers?

MR. STROME: I used him several times.

Q. Drawing your attention to December of 2020, okay, did you discussed this.

MR. STROME: '21, I think.

Q. '21. I apologize. Let me rephrase that, withdraw and rephrase the question. Did there come a time that you discussed the issue with him in his gallery?


Q. And when was that?

MR. STROME: I think it was twice, December when I ordered the Christmas gift I was getting for somebody and then in January because he had to touch it up, so twice.

Q. Okay. That would be--

MR. STROME: '21 and then January of '22, I think, were the times.

Q. Okay. And who brought the subject up?

MR. STROME: It is probably mutual. He might have asked me what was going on and I don't remember. I will tell you that on some occasions I took the initiative to unburden myself with all this discomfort I was self-inflicting upon myself.

Q. Did you tell him that you repeatedly told the mayor that you couldn't do this and nevertheless the mayor continued his efforts?

MR. STROME: I would say everything in that is accurate except for the word repeatedly. I told the mayor once that I couldn't do it and he continued after I told him no.

Q. And did you express to Councilman Hyden how you felt about it?


Q. What did you tell him?

MR. STROME: Basically what I told you a couple of minutes ago, that I was feeling pressure because of the circumstances around myself, his position, the mayor. Again, I don't want to cast (aspersions) that there was direct pressure but there was certainly indirect pressure.

Q. In terms of this pressure, of course nobody knows how somebody else feels or what they intend, but so the question is about how you felt.


Q. Which you described. Did you ever —

MR. STROME: I can perhaps put it in a — I believe I have been clear on this, that a continued conversation after I originally said no was unfair to me and felt after that. I should have been resulted in everything that I think that the conversation over, in my opinion, after I said no, and the fact that it continued at his request bothered me and made me feel pressure. That's the best way I can describe it.

Q. Did you ever learn that Councilman Hyden actually confronted the mayor on January 21st of this year?

MR. STROME: Yes, he told me he was going to and told me he did.

Q. Okay. How did you feel about that?

MR. STROME: I felt pretty good. I felt the more people that told him it wasn't a good idea the better for me.

Q. Okay. Fair enough.
MR. STROME: ....I saw Councilmember Hyden a couple of times in his store because I was buying some things for Christmas and he mentioned it to me and I expressed to them how uncomfortable I was and I felt some pressure that he really wanted this job and I was not comfortable giving it to him and that made me very uneasy. So I want to be clear.
MR. HYDEN: ...the first time that I remember hearing about this whole issue was back around in mid December when Chuck Strome came into my gallery -- my business. I was -- he had -- he wanted me to create a painting for his -- for his lady friend for Christmas for a Christmas present, and Chuck came in, and we were talking at that time. And I remember Chuck at that time saying to me he was very concerned because he was being pressured by the mayor to, in some fashion or another, get him appointed to the commissioner of development job. Chuck was troubled by that. I think I have to go back and say that, in a sense, Chuck -- I've known Chuck for a long time, and he's a very decent person, a very ethical sort of guy, but is not one who particularly likes to rock the boat. He's always been content, I think, over the years to let Noam pretend to run the city. He doesn't like the limelight, never has, and I think their -- that kind of balance worked for them for a long time. Noam can be, you know, out there doing all the public things. Chuck would actually run the city. I think it worked -- I think it was a good arrangement. I think it worked fine for both of them. I think when Chuck first mentioned this to me, I was kind of shocked about it, and I said I didn't understand that was possible because, from what I understood, the city charter didn't permit that in any case. If Noam wanted to resign his seat or wait until the end of his term and then wait a year -- which I understand is what the charter requires -- that would be a different story. But I didn't understand why he would be pressuring Chuck to give him a job that he wasn't able to give him. And I think Chuck was feeling very uncomfortable about it and didn't quite know how to handle it. He had told Noam, he said repeatedly that he couldn't do it, there was no way to do this. And that's the first time, I believe, that I heard about it this. I do recall -- that was around, I think, as I said, mid December.
MR. HYDEN: I do recall -- you know, I speak to all the other members of council periodically about all kinds of different issues, and I did speak to Al Tarantino shortly after that. Al said the same thing that Chuck had told him, a similar story that he was very concerned that Noam was pressuring him for this position, and Al thought it was totally inappropriate.

1/11/22: City Council COW Meeting

1/11/22: Al has annual meeting with Noam and asks Noam if Noam wants Development Commissioner. Noam does not say no.

MR. STROME: ...when he talked to Councilmember Tarantino he did not say no because he knew I talked to Councilmember Tarantino.

Was there some meeting or event where all these people would be at? Democratic Party meeting or City Council meeting (RLM was 1/18/22)

1/18/22: City Council RLM Meeting

1/20/22: Chuck tells Ivar Noam wants Development Commissioner

MR. HYDEN: Chuck came back to the gallery on January 20, (2022) and I can explain exactly to you why I know that date to be correct. He came back into the store to actually ask me to do another painting because the first painting was successful, but he wanted a second one to give to somebody else or one of the other members in the family and if I could repeat it, and that was January And again, he said to me the same thing, that he was being pressured by Noam to find a way to get him this position, and he kept telling him he can't do it. There's no way we can do this...

JANUARY 2022: Noam asked about Development Commissioner by Al, Ivar, Luiz

MR. BRAMSON: ...there were a couple of occasions in which people raised it with me and I was rather taken aback by that because I have the impression that these conversations were private until and unless the city manager and I made a joint determination that we would move forward, and in those cases I simply switched the topic without engaging.

Q. Do you recall the people who raised it with you?

MR. BRAMSON: I do. I just have some discomfort with the notion that I am perhaps betraying confidences when I do this but is it truly relevant to your inquiry?

Q. Yes.

MR. BRAMSON: The people who raised it with me were Councilmember Albert Tarantino, councilmember Ivar Hyden and former Development Commissioner Luis Arágon, and in each case, as I said, I simply did not engage. I was astonished to have the issue raised.

Q. When Councilman Tarantino — tell me in words or substance how he raised it with you?

MR. BRAMSON: I think he said something like to the effect, this was — in addition to the regular meetings we may have all the time we have sort of once a year at the beginning of the year I make a point of sitting down with each councilmember to talk about our priorities for the year, and he said something along the lines of so what is this I hear about your becoming development commissioner? And I think I responded well, that is an interesting idea and then moved on so that was the extent of it.

Q. And with Councilwoman Hyden?

MR. BRAMSON: Almost identical.


Q. In words or in substance what do you recall him saying to you and what do you recall saying to him?

MR. BRAMSON: Almost identical to the conversation with Albert Tarantino. (TRANSCRIPTS SAY OTHERWISE)

Q. Almost identical. Any difference?

MR. BRAMSON: I didn't take a transcript at the time and my recounting of the conversation with Tarantino was an approximation so I would offer the same approximation.
MR. BRAMSON: The city manager as indicated in this memo chose to discuss this with two members of the city council.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: That's how the word got out?

MR. BRAMSON: And with others, and I can only assume that is the process through which it got out.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: He was sort of caught off guard with the question?

MR. BRAMSON: To be clear, the city manager and I always understood if the two of us actually decided simultaneously that we should proceed with this, there never was a moment where both of us at the same time were ready to turn the key.

MR. BRAMSON: If we did reach that time we knew full well this would require extensive consultation with members of the council and other interested parties, this isn't something that would be dumped onto the city organization or the community, but in my opinion we had not reached a point where the subject of discussion was ripe.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: Lets go in retrospect. Again, this is not as much for this investigation, but if you both decided that was the right way, the right thing for the city, you know, now in retrospect would you say would that be the right path? I am not asking — the same issues would have arisen because again, whether it is Cox or other people would have said oh wait, you are jumping the line here, you put pressure, and I am not saying you did, please, I don't want to be misunderstood, but could that have ever come up? Chuck certainly knows the code pretty well. You know the code certainly ten times better than I do, but would that ever come up if you both agreed? Couldn't that have been an issue that, you know, someone who does not have the city's best interests in mind?

MR. BRAMSON: It might have been, and I think the way this has actually played out certainly gives some weight to that view, and I think the ICMA opinion, as I said, is dispositive. My regret is we did not seek it earlier in the process so yes, I think a good case can be made that this was a flawed concept from the get-go.

1/21/22: Ivar asks Noam about Development Commissioner; Noam denies interest.

MR. HYDEN: ...on January 21, I had my annual meeting with the mayor, which we have in January every year to talk about the year -- what do we want to do this coming year, what's going on, what are your concerns, what are your thoughts. And at that meeting in the mayor's office on the 21st, I asked Noam straight up if the rumors -- that's the way I put it -- if the rumors I had heard about his seeking this position as commissioner of development were true, and Noam looked at me straight in the face and said, "Where did you hear that? I can't -- oh, no. That's not true at all." And I was really kind of taken aback by that because I had -- the day before, Chuck had been in and telling me about this and also the month before that. At which point, I realized that whatever Noam was going to tell me, and that during the rest of that conversation, was going to be just a lot of nonsense. And the conversation went on for about an hour about other things that was -- I dropped it at that point. I didn't say anything else about this issue...
Q. ...When Councilman Hyden reported back to you that he on January 21st had confronted the mayor with this issue, did he report to you what the mayor said to him?


Q. What did he tell you the mayor said?

MR. STROME: He said the mayor told him he had no interest in the commissioner of development position.

Q. Okay.

MR. STROME: Something like that.

Q. When you heard that, how did you react to that?

MR. STROME: I said surprising because it is not true. It didn't change what I was going to do or how I felt. I was surprised that he would tell him that but I will say this: We agreed at the beginning of the process to try to keep this as quiet as possible so I did not tell the mayor that I was going to talk to Councilmember Hyden. I told him who I was going to talk to but it surprised me that he would not tell him the truth. I don't know, you have to ask the mayor why he would say no to something that was obvious. He might tell you it is because Chuck never told me he was going to talk to Councilmember Hyden, but whatever, because my understanding is when he talked to Councilmember Tarantino he did not say no because he knew I talked to Councilmember Tarantino but I don't want to dip into areas that are not of my knowledge but I was surprised. I mean in fairness I was surprised, but if you really want to know why he told Council member Hyden no you should ask the mayor that question.

Q. I was asking you about how you felt when hearing that.

MR. STROME: Whether he expected him to ask him about it or not, I am surprised that he did not tell him he was interested or denied that he was interested in the position.

JANUARY 2022: Ivar talks to Al about Noam wanting Development Commissioner

MR. HYDEN: And subsequent to that, I did have conversations informally with Albert -- Al Tarantino. I told him what had happened at the mayor's meeting. I honestly don't remember. I --

JANUARY 2022: Ivar tells Martha Noam wants Development Commissioner

MR. HYDEN:...it is possible that I also mentioned this to -- to Martha Lopez at that point, but I'm not sure. I know that Martha and I had conversations about this at some point, and I'm not sure what the dates were, but it was around -- probably around the same time that, you know, we were concerned -- I was concerned. And Martha and I get along well, and I was, you know, mentioning it to her and what her opinion of all this was. It was just more or less a casual conversation. And at that point, I'm not sure -- at that point, I'm not sure Martha even believed it to be true because it was just so out of the blue. It just didn't make any sense to anybody. Why would you pursue something that was not possible?

JANUARY 2022: Ivar tells Yadira Noam wants Development Commissioner after first Council meeting of 2022

JANUARY 2022: Ivar tells Martha Noam wants Development Commissioner

JANUARY 2022: Ivar tells Sara Noam wants Development Commissioner

JANUARY 2022: Martha meets with Chuck who tells her Noam wants Development Commissioner

JANUARY 2022: Martha tells Yadira Chuck told her Noam wants Development Commissioner

JANUARY 2022: Adam hears Noam wants Development Commissioner

MR. SALGADO: ...there was a buzz that the mayor wanted the job. I'm not going to -- I mean there was a buzz. I can't remember any specific conversation that I had with anyone about it, but I would say early in the year because if you recall, they did more than one posting for the job. So there was the first posting they issued right away and they didn't get any leads. And then the second one was issued, and that's when I sort of started to hear scuttlebutt from a variety of sources asking me did I know was it going to be him, things like that. What's my -- you know do I think we will work well together, just it was sort of gossip honestly. It wasn't anything specific.

Q. Given the gossip that you heard, did you have any concerns in applying for the job that might put you at odds with the mayor?

MR. SALGADO: I was definitely concerned. I was definitely concerned. I know that, you know, every month we have to go before council and we have to make presentations for a variety of zoning changes or if we want to introduce new programs or request funding for certain things we have to sort of convince the council. And the mayor sits at the head of that body. And I was concerned that that was going to be tough.

1/25/22: Job Posting for Development Commissioner posted on city website

1/28/22: Development Commissioner posted on LENSA

2/2/22: Adam submits application for Development Commissioner position

MR. SALGADO: ....when I finally did submit my resume, I mentioned it to Chuck. And Chuck mentioned to me that he was concerned about how the mayor would treat me publicly if I was to get the job. He was concerned and I guess wanted me to be aware of that and to have that information before I went ahead and applied for the job because he was concerned and he had mentioned that the mayor wanted the job.

Q. Do you recall any other conversations with anybody dealing with the possibility that the mayor might want to apply for that position?

MR. SALGADO: Not directly but... (tells story from 2020 of Luiz telling Adam not to apply for Development Commissioner, that Luiz, Mayor, Kathleen will run Development)

2/7/22: Development Commissioner application deadline

2/8/22: City Council COW

2/15/22: City Council RLM

2/15/22: Vince Toomey memo received by Chuck (exempt from FOIL based on attorney-client privilege exemption)

2/15/22: GovHR delivers 36 resumes for Development Commissioner position to Chuck on the same day as a Council meeting. Chuck gave the resumes to Noam who tapped them and said “I am clearly the best candidate, later Al asked for the resumes and Chuck said Noam had them and Chuck would give them to any Council member who asked; this then is  day Chuck decided to write the memo, a week later, on 2/22/22, Chuck requested ICMA ethics opinion, which he got on 2/24/22, and handed to Noam on 3/4/22. Note: CSDNR Mid-Winter recess was 2/21-25.

MR. MEISELS: ...As we understand it you did conduct a fill the position of commissioner of economic development?

MR. STROME: We hired a recruiting firm to do it for us.

Q. And based upon their efforts you received resumes?

MR. STROME: That is correct.

Q. And as I understand it the mayor asked to review those resumes?

MR. STROME: Yes, in fairness as did Councilmember Tarantino. I provided them to both of them and I would have provided them to any council member who would have asked with the caveat that it is for information only.

Q. And based upon his review of them did he express the opinion that he was more qualified than any of the applicants?

MR. STROME: He did, not any of the applicants. I think I provided him with the finalists (NO) There were a number of applicants. I don't think I gave him all 70 (35 not 70), but whatever the watered down list was. I can't remember if I gave them all but it doesn't matter. The finalists were obviously included in the resumes I gave him. I mean he sort of tapped the resumes, “come on, it is obvious I am the best candidate”.

Q. Now, in terms of the timeline of this, did that occur-- that occurred before you wrote your memo?

MR. STROME: Right before.

Q. Okay. So would it be fair to say that you wrote your memo probably about five or six weeks ago?

MR. STROME: To be fair, that conversation happened a couple of weeks before that, prior to the interviews that we conducted.

Q. So that would mean that that would have occurred probably sometime in February of 2022?


Q. And that would, am I correct that would be a little more than a year before you had your initial conversation with him?

Q. Now, there did come a time, am I correct, that you decided to write a written memo to him explaining your thought process?


Q. Now, it is undated. Do you recall when you wrote that?

MR. STROME: Yes, it was recently. I want to say it was probably four or five weeks ago.

Q. Okay. And what were the circumstances that caused you to believe that writing that memo was appropriate?

MR. STROME: I felt I could better - well. I had - through the process, I had advised him of this at the very beginning, that I was going to talk to some people and get their input. And I said I was going to talk to people, a couple of council members. I had only intended to speak to people on the city council, some people from the county government, a couple of city managers, colleagues of mine and a couple of developers. And one of the manager friends suggested to me that I ought to get an opinion - I had already had my concerns about the charter, implications of this, so I asked our legal department to get an opinion from our outside counsel as to whether it was a violation of the charter for me to make that kind of an appointment, and I got that. And then my manager friend said you should check with the ICMA, which is the International City Managers Association. We go by a code of ethics. There are 12 tenets on the code of ethics. And they - he suggested that I ask them for an opinion as to whether it would be a violation for me, of our code of ethics, of our professional code of my ethics. I got that opinion that stated it could potentially violate three tenets of the code of ethics and subject me to public censure, which is basically a violation advertised to our profession, so I certainly was not comfortable putting myself in that position. So having done that research, I felt it was better to put it in writing and explain it rather than try to do it orally, probably because I was more comfortable not having the conversation, just putting it in writing so that he could see why I was closing the door on the idea when I did. And the memo is self-explanatory if you read it.

2/22/22: Chuck requests ICMA opinion

2/24/22: ICMA Opinion received by Chuck

February-March 2022: Chuck tells Al he has “the report”

MR. TARANTINO: So finally this was going on month after month after month and, you know, conversation, he said I have to figure out a way to get the point across. You know, it is not easy sitting in a room telling somebody no that I have worked with for so many years, so he decided, he told me he was going to reach get a legal opinion and he was also going reach out to his city managers, I believe city managers association and see what they say and he was going to lay it all out to them. So then what happened is, three weeks went by or so and he got the report from them. He then said to me well, I have it, the report, he told me, he called me that he had the report and I said what are you going to do now? Well, I am not going to talk about it, I am just going to hand it to him for him to review and hopefully that will put this to an end, and he gave it to the mayor and after that, you know, he did mention to me, you know, the mayor told him that — I think he gave it to him on a Friday (March 4, 2022) and he thought that that would be the end of it and he said-- the mayor said to him and he was a little surprised by it well, I am going to review this over the weekend and we'll have a discussion about it on Monday, so he was still a little upset about the fact that it was still going on.

2/28/22: GovHR sends Chuck list of 3 finalists (including Adam Salgado)

MR. STROME: They had narrowed down the resumes and (the Mayor) asked for a copy of the resumes which I gave to him because this is the conflict that I had. He is the mayor, and not that he has any say, but I always had shown the mayor a few other times that we hired development commissioners, mayors happen to be interested in development, who the finalists were just for their information and I did the same with the police commissioners and some other high level commissioners. He said-- he tapped the resumes and he said it is obvious I am the best candidate and that's when I decided I had to write the memo to cut this off.

3/4/22: Chuck handed memo to Noam

MR. BRAMSON: At the same time the city manager sought a formal opinion from the ICMA, the International City Managers Association. That opinion, as you know, concluded that my appointment might violate certain professional standards for a city manager.
MR. BRAMSON: The city manager shared that opinion with me. I accepted it as conclusive. If I felt any frustration it was perhaps we should have sought it earlier in the process because it would have saved us many months of thinking through this possibility but that was that.
Q. You mentioned a memo that you received from the city manager. I am going to show you what we marked as Exhibit B for identification. Is that the memo that you are referring to?


Q. Okay. You have reviewed that memo? I gather.

MR. BRAMSON: Yes. I have.

Q. Okay. Is there anything in that jumps out to you in that memo particular that you think is either not completely accurate or completely inaccurate or doesn't accurately reflect what occurred between the two of you?

MR. BRAMSON: Yes, I think this is an accurate statement of the city manager's (perspective) and I don't dispute any factual component with it.

3/8/22: City Council Meeting. Chuck formerly announces retirement to council in exec session, superexec follows

MR. TARANTINO: So again I don't remember the exact time frame, but after that happened, if I remember correctly, after that happened we had a council meeting (MARCH 8) and in our council meeting Chuck announced-- before the council meeting Chuck announced that he was going to retire this year, so at the council meeting Chuck, well, had just announced there was a move immediately go into executive session to discuss a new city manager....

3/17/22: Chuck picks Adam, sends Salgado & Gill press release

MS. RAMOS-HERBERT: ...And I said, "You know, I will say I was a little eyebrow-raised that you didn't tell us like you always have. I was, like, a little upset to find out in an e-mail as if we weren't just together on Tuesday...and he said, "With respect to not telling you," he's like, "in hindsight, maybe I should've called each of you to give you a heads-up to have the conversation." He said, "I didn't tell you guys in executive session because I thought it would be awkward with the mayor there." And I said I understand that, and then that was the end of it.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: ...We heard from a number of the City Councilmembers. It was unusual for you to announce that kind of position selection both of Adam and Kathleen in a memo notifying them in closed chambers.

MR. STROME: That's correct that it was unusual. On the Adam one in particular. The reason I did that was because it would have been exceedingly uncomfortable to do that with the mayor's interest in the position, and some of the councilmembers I honestly believe had no idea that he had an interest. And I have to be honest, the it would have been unusual for me to hire a commissioner of development and not talk to them about it first but there were circumstances in this case that made that uncomfortable to me...
MR. HYDEN: The next thing that I think is of importance is on March 17, which is when Chuck sent out the memo that he sent out to city council appointing -- appointing Adam Salgado to that job, to commission of development, and appointing Kathleen to deputy city manager. That was on the 17th that we got that e-mail. And I remember thinking to myself, "Good. This is appropriate because we had finished the national search." None of the candidates were as well qualified as Adam, and I thought Adam was doing a terrific job since Luis had left. I had a lot of faith in him. So I wrote back in response to Chuck's e-mail saying that I strongly supported both appointments. That was the same day. That was on the 17th of March.

3/17/22: Chuck picks Adam, Noam tells Adam to work with Luiz

MR. HYDEN: I do know (Noam) wanted Adam's job. I mean, he wanted the job that Adam actually got. I know that to be the case, so I'm sure he wasn't happy about that. In fact, I know that 'cause Adam actually told me that the morning after Chuck sent the memo -- the e-mail to the council saying that he was appointing Adam and Kathleen, that Noam came into Adam's office that morning. And again, this is another weird thing. He said something to Adam about, "Well, now that you're the commissioner of development, you know have to work with Luis Arágon." And Adam said, "Work with Luis? Luis no longer works for the city. We've terminated his contract, we've terminated his consultancy. So what do you mean work with Luis?" "No. Luis still knows a lot of stuff." Luis -- you know, this is kind of a general thing, and Adam was shocked by the comment and went to Chuck that morning and said, "Noam just came in and said I have to work with Luis." And Chuck says, "That's crazy, that's nonsense," and called Luis and said, "You know, you have no business being involved here in New Rochelle at this point." He was really furious about it. So I don't know. Again, what is that about? I don't understand that. Why would Noam say to Adam you have to work with a guy who is gone? I don't understand. I really genuinely...
Q. Did you ever hear from any source that the mayor had planned that if he had become the commissioner, he would have retained Luis to compensate for his lack of experience --

MR. HYDEN: Of course that makes perfect sense. I mean, honestly, all of this stuff starts spinning around, and then you think why would somebody do this? Then you realize if he were able to get that job or maybe he had already been discussing it with Luis. I have absolutely no information that that was the case. But maybe he was discussing with Luis prior to Adam being appointed. I really don't know... Luis is brilliant. He was largely responsible for all the success we had in this downtown development, but also, he's another person who's an extreme narcissist, and all kinds of -- I mean, you know, there were some questions about things that went on that maybe shouldn't have. I don't know. I'm not privy to those things, but there was some feeling that he overstepped his bounds in certain areas, and that was one of the reasons why we discontinued his consultancy. But that's Chuck that knows the answers to that. I don't know the reasons for that.
MR. SALGADO: When I was appointed the mayor had come in to my office that morning and he said I know what you may have heard. Despite what you may have heard, I'm delighted by your appointment was his words. And he said I think you need to -- I think you should call Luiz and make it right. And I said —

Q. What did you understand that to mean?

MR. SALGADO: That Luiz was upset that I wasn't relying on him as you know an advisor like sage counsel type person and that we let his contract expire and I wasn't utilizing him for his knowledge. I think he felt left out. And I didn't know he was upset at me because I had no conversations with Luiz. So it was interesting to hear it from the mayor.

Q. Right. And did you do about that?

MR. SALGADO: I said that I think if anyone -- I told him I think Luiz owes me a call if anything. And so I did, I got a call from Luiz, a congratulatory call.


MR. SALGADO: And he told me I was likeable.

MR. MEISELS: That's true.

MR. SALGADO: Thank you.

MR. MEISELS: You are.

MR. SALGADO: That's why I got it. He wasn't effusive at all. It was a little weird, but thank you for calling me to tell me I was likable.

Q. Did you feel uncomfortable before Luiz called? First, what the mayor said I will use the words making it right and secondarily, when the call comes in, I mean, how does that make you feel and what does that make you think going forward? Are you supposed to make use of his services or is that an instruction coming from on high? Is that helping you with your job or is it just merely a suggestion? And again I don't want to inject myself into your brain at that time, but what are you thinking then?

MR. SALGADO: I'm thinking it is uncomfortable because I knew Luiz was upset that we terminated his contract. And I know Luiz for a long time. You know, I worked with him on and off over the years in different contexts. So I know he's very proud and I know it must have been hard for him to see someone who was you know under him or that he oversaw step into a role that he had occupied. So I knew it was not going to be an easy call, and I was uncomfortable with it and I honestly was -- I was uncomfortable. I did it. You know, I answered the call, and at least I felt I had to stand my ground. But I was definitely uncomfortable. It was awkward.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: That part I get. But when the mayor is making his suggestion to you either you should call or whatever, how are you reading that instruction?

MR. SALGADO: I'm reading it that the mayor has a specific point of view about the direction that we should be going in and that is embodied by how Luiz ran the department. And I don't know that he is -- I mean, our sort of tenure, Kathleen and I the first year and what we are continuing here is really kind of looking to expand diversity, expand opportunities for segments of the population that had previously felt maybe sort of separated from the development. So we were, you know, stepping up our commitments to minority and women owned businesses. We expanded the affordable housing requirement. We changed the impact to support that, minority women owned businesses. We amended the zoning for the downtown and embraced a lot of the climate goals and resiliency type policies. And I know that was not what Luiz was interested in. So that's how I took it as a commentary on the direction we were going.

Q. Were you under the impression that the mayor expected you to continue using Luiz as a consultant or was he suggesting that you continue to use Luiz as a consultant?

MR. SALGADO: Yeah, I do. We had meetings with the mayor on a regular basis when we first you know started to -- when Luiz first retired it was Chuck would invite us to his weekly meetings with the mayor. And Kathleen and I would go and you know he would make comments -- he was a fan -- insinuating like don't throw the baby out with the bath water type of the some of his stuff was good and we you know. And so I got the impression that he was in accordance with a lot of those policies in the previous direction. He was a supporter.

3/17/22: Noam makes calls to Sara, Liz, Yadira and Martha about concerns with Gill appointment

This includes the 3-way phone call which begins as a call between Martha and Noam, Yadira joins the call.

3/18/22: Noam makes a second call to Liz about concerns with Gill appointment

Liz was a firm “no” on 3/17. Noam calls her back on 3/18 and asks she “keep an open mind”. Liz says she will not.

3/18/22: In an email exchange Noam confirms to me he wanted Development Commissioner in an email

3/18/22: I amend my FOIL based on Noam email and obtain Chuck meno to Noam

3/19/22: Martha learns Noam lied about Liz supporting the Mayor on Gill

Ivar tells Martha that Liz does not support Noam. Martha calls Yadira to tell her what Ivar told her. Martha calls Liz and Liz confirms Noam lied to her on the 3-way call.

3/19/22: Noam shows up at Liz’s house at 7:30 am in the morning.

Martha testified Liz told her on a phone call that Noam came to hear house early in the morning. She said “Saturday” but Martha’s testimony was scattered at times so she may have meant Martha called Liz on Saturday.

3/19/22: Noam calls Sara and Yadira to tell them he wanted Development Commissioner, my story is coming

How Noam knows I have a story coming is a mystery to me because I did not tell him until about and hour before I published the story on Sunday night. He did not say he called Martha or Liz.

3/20/22 I send questions to everyone, publish story, file ethics complaint

Most people do not reply except Liz (briefly, to say no comment) and Luiz Aragon (denies any involvement, statements later contradicted by witness testimony in the ethics hearings).

3/20/22 I send questions to everyone, publish story, file ethics complaint

Noam sends a long email to Council stating his version of events regarding his actions in response to the Gill appointment in which he describes what his testimony will be to outside counsel (the Ethics Board). It is an example of witness tampering by Noam.

3/21/22 My ethics complaint received by Clerk

March 2022 Noam goes to Chuck to try get stories straight

4/1/22 Chuck is first interview in ethics investigation

4/4/22 Noam, Al, Liz interviews

4/8/22 Sara, Yadira, Martha, Ivar. Yamuder interviews

4/12/22 Chuck second interview

5/2/22 Adam interview

5/6/22 Marc Jerome interview

6/16/22 Advisory Opinion released

6/17/22 DA requests copy of Advisory Opinion

6/24/22 DA/Grand Jury Subpoena for records

6/24/22 I file Ethics Complaint against David Blumenthal

7/1/22 Records returnable on DA/Grand Jury Subpoena for records

7/7 I obtain Transcripts from City


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