The Noam Bramson Ethics Transcripts Part VII: A Failed Coup

The Noam Bramson Ethics Transcripts Part VII: A Failed Coup

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (August 16, 2022) -- On April 8, 2022, Council member Albert Tarantino testified in the Noam Bramson ethics investigation.

Tarantino laid out his theory of the case on the Mayor’s response to the appointment of Kathleen Gill as Deputy City Manager. Unlike Hyden, he did so in bits and pieces.

What follows is Tarantino’s testimony on the Mayor’s failed coup, without comment, exactly as it appears in the transcript, but not in sequence. I have added a few topic headers to make it easier for readers to follow.

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The Gill issue came out of the blue

TARANTINO: . ... nobody ever anticipated the second part of this happening the way it happened and how fast after the first part so, you know, it all ties together in what the plan was. It is obvious from a political strategy there was a plan and that's what you saw.

Q. When you referred to the first part and the second part, the first part being the question of the mayor's appointment to the commissioner's position and the second part being rescinding Kathleen Gill's appointment to be deputy city manager.


Noam was being vindictive

TARANTINO: The other part of it almost came across in a way that is a little bit vindictive that, you know, I didn't get this so this other person, who works very closely with the city manager, you remember, she was acting -- yes, she was acting city manager a number of times so she works very closely with Chuck and I work with both of them. A lot of times things are referred to Ms. Gill, so whatever Chuck is doing he knows she has some input or had some involvement in it in that she is his right-hand person. So it appeared to me that this was, you know, sort of I am going to get her out of the way also and that's what I got offended by. It just wasn't-- you know, it was overstepping. Again, not your position, not my decision to make, not his decision to make, it was the city manager's decision to make and we have been told this from the day I got on council. If you don't like what the city manager is doing, if you don't like the way he is running you get into an executive session, four votes and you replace that person but we have never had that before because we were very happy with the work he was doing.

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Noam playing the long game

Q. What was your thinking as to why the mayor would want to rescind Kathleen's appointment as city manager?

TARANTINO: I will just want to read this to see if I put it in. Well, because, number one, there was the issue with a new city manager. You start to put it together that there was this push to get a new city manager right away. There was a need, you know, which I didn't see, a need to start the RFP by April of this month and maybe have somebody in place by June or so and, you know, that was a little suspicious to me because one of the things I looked at is what are we going to do with two city managers, number one. Number two, if I am somebody and I live in Texas or I live in wherever, Florida, some other place, Chicago and I apply for this job and they were going to hire me, you know, am I going to sit around until January to start the job? There might be other jobs out there between now and then so, you know, why would we start so soon to this process? Then when I heard the thing about Alisa Kesten you start to put two and two together in that it was obvious that there was a belief by many in the city that when Chuck left, Kathleen Gill may very well be the choice to be the city manager simply because of her level of experience, and being that we are in the middle of a major build-out in New Rochelle, we are in the sixth or seventh year of the 10 year plan, her experience is invaluable. So I think that this was this consensus, that she was the front runner, and when it came out about, you know, looking into the not-for-profit sector, bells went off because you didn't even try in the city manager sector. You know, I understood if you did an RFP and it came back and there was nobody qualified that came forward from that sector you would expand it into maybe something else, but it was like it was specifically targeted toward the not-for-profit before we even knew whether or not there were qualified people in the city manager sector and that was a red flag to me.

Noam thwarted on 4 votes by Lopez and Fried

Q. I want to ask you a question. In the e-mail you say, "Chuck, after speaking with some council members." Which council members had you spoken with at that point?

TARANTINO: That was Martha and Liz.

Q. You say, "It has come to my attention that the mayor has reached out to them to persuade them in going to you with four votes to force, to rescind the appointment of Kathleen Gill." Okay.


Q. To the best of your recollection, what did Martha say specifically about going to Chuck to rescind that appointment?

TARANTINO: Well, what she said was, again I have to remember this. That day there were a million conversations.

Q. Sure.

TARANTINO: What she basically said was that she had spoken to the mayor and that she did not support rescinding the position as deputy city manager and that's what I got out of it, you know, the exact wordage but that's what it was about, and when I spoke to Liz, Liz was more specific in that she made it very clear to the mayor that she wants nothing to do with any changes in what Chuck had done, you know, so with that my assumption is, and I knew and I heard later that he had gone to two other council members, and in my conversation with Chuck he did mention, Chuck did mention that he told him that he had three votes, and what I found very odd is that why would you tell Chuck that you had three votes if the intention wasn't to intimidate him? And that's where this all comes into, is that, you know, as a councilmember for all these years, one of the things that you always heard is that well, all we need is four votes and, you know, you can change things so, you know, that's always been what everybody knows so, you know, I, during my years, I had never seen this happen where everybody went and said we got four votes to do this or we have five votes to do this, this was the first time so this concerned me because I would say to myself this had to be a violation of some sort because it is intimidating, you are intimidating the city manager, and I got to tell you, in conversations that I had with Chuck on the phone he was concerned. You have to remember, Chuck has a contract that runs through December 31st. We extended it last year. If he left tomorrow he gets paid, but I think the most important thing for Chuck in my conversations with him, he wants to go out on his own terms. He wants to leave -- you know, like the baseball player that does 15 years or a football player, this was his Tom Brady year.

Chuck said 4 votes

Q. Specifically what I am interested in

and the Board is interested in is this. The actual words referring to having a certain number of votes, I have three votes, I have four votes, who did you hear or who were you told uttered those words?

TARANTINO: Chuck. Chuck told me.

Q. Chuck told you that?

TARANTINO: Chuck told me that he had three votes.

Q. That the mayor told him he had three


TARANTINO: That he was short.

Q. Did any of the other council people

tell you that the mayor said he had any X number of votes?

TARANTINO: No, no, I never discussed that with any of them.

Q. Did you ever hear from anyone that the mayor had said to any of the other council people I either have X number of votes or I have the following people who agree with me, I already have so and so who agrees with me?

TARANTINO: Well, yeah, just from Chuck again.

TARANTINO: Chuck knew that, you know, that the votes that obviously -- the one that he had was Sara Kaye that she was in support of the mayor and he also mentioned Yadira as the other.

Q. Chuck told you that's what the mayor told him, that he had Sara Kaye and Yadira?

TARANTINO: That would give him the three votes he was talking about.

Q. Including his own vote?

TARANTINO: Yes, absolutely.

Q. That would be three votes to go to Chuck and ask him to rescind Kathleen's appointment?

TARANTINO: Right, whatever way they were going to do it. Obviously when you go to the city manager with four votes, if you go with three it doesn't mean anything, but usually when you can go to the city manager with four votes, you know, you have leverage to get what you want because what you are doing then is obviously telling him I got four votes. The only thing those four votes can do is get rid of him. They can't get rid of Kathleen Gill or Salgado, they can only get rid of him and that's the message that was conveyed and he saw it, that's why I got those multiple phone calls that day because he was concerned about it, you know, and later on, like I said to you that evening, when he said on the last call I got about 5:30, 6:00, he said to me the mayor said he was going to meet with some of the councilmembers to discuss this and made him more concerned because he was concerned he was going to try to get other members to agree with him so, you know, then it sort of -- after Saturday and I sent out that e-mail, things of course over that weekend quieted down.

Q. I would expect so.

Q. -- did you become aware of any efforts on behalf of any of the people on the council to influence Chuck not to appoint Kathleen as acting city manager when he retires?

TARANTINO: Well, he appointed her as deputy city manager.

Q. So she will automatically become acting?

TARANTINO: She will automatically become acting if she was still in that position and we did not have a new city manager.

Q. Right.

TARANTINO: I did not have that discussion with anybody.

Q.Okay. So I guess to ask the question another way, after you wrote this e-mail, did you become aware of any continuing efforts to try to have her appointment as deputy city manager rescinded?

TARANTINO: Only that I wrote it because the day before Chuck told me that the mayor was talking about bringing in councilmembers to have further discussion on this.

Q. Right.

TARANTINO: So it would have been before I sent this and that's why I sent this.

Q. Got you. Do you know if he actually ever then brought those council people in to do that?

TARANTINO: I have no idea. No, I have no idea. They wouldn't tell me. I don't think so. Honestly, I don't know.

Noam Coup Collapse

Q. Were you aware of any continuing efforts being made after this complaint was filed to try to get four council people to pressure the city manager to rescind

TARANTINO: Kathleen's appointment? After this, no.

Q. After?


Alisa Kesten as City Manager

TARANTINO: What he did, he asked them if they would agree with him that there should be a recision of the appointment of Kathleen Gill as deputy city manager.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: What was the reason?

TARANTINO: We knew the reason would be he didn't want her there. It was obvious he didn't want her there because of what was going on. I mean look, if you follow -- we are in this political arena every day so I know all the ins and outs so a lot of it is almost like second nature. You feel what is going to happen next and what happened here was while there is a push to become commissioner of development, there was also the ability if you can get the right people in the right places, especially after hearing about looking for somebody for city manager with a not-for-profit background, well, most people with a not-for-profit background are very different than what your normal city managers are so Noam knows a lot of people in the not-for-profit world, and as it turned out there was a name that cropped up and, you know, the name didn't come from me, it didn't come from a lot of other people I know, it came from Democratic committee members that knew about the name.

MR. BLUMENTHAL: I am going to ask you if you knew of those names, any of those names of the Democratic committee members who proffered that suggestion, Alisa Kesten?

TARANTINO: You know why, I didn't get it directly from them, I got it from their friends and, you know, it would have been a question-- you would ask Liz.


TARANTINO: Or Martha they were at those meetings.


TARANTINO: They don't invite me to those meetings.

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