The Noam Bramson Ethics Transcripts Part V: Plan D and the BID

The Noam Bramson Ethics Transcripts Part V: Plan D and the BID

NEW ROCHELLE, NY (August 15, 2022) -- The New Rochelle Board of Ethics spent a little time on the Mayor’s sudden interest in the composition of the Downtown Business Improvement Board after I published an article about a lunch meeting, what some at City Hall took to calling “Plan D”. It was not a part of my ethics complaint.

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Having heard in April about a lunch meeting in February, just before the City Manager requesting an ethics opinion from the International City Managers Association, I called Marc Jerome, Monroe College President and Chairman of the Board of the Downtown Business Improvement District, and asked him about it. What he told me was consistent with what my City Hall sources said — that the Mayor requested the meeting and told Jerome he wanted new people on the BID Board.

Bramson’s Plan A was said to be to get Strome to appoint him Development Commissioner with Plan B to replace Strome with his former campaign manager, Alisa H. Kesten who would then appoint Bramson as Development Commissioner, where a Plan C is for Kesten to serve briefly as City Manager then step down to make way for Bramson to ascend to City Manager.

Over the years, Bramson has shown little interest in the BID Board since the New Rochelle BID was created in 2000. Despite this, at the Mayor’s request, the City Manager arranged for Jerome, to meet with the Mayor. The two City officials met with him over lunch at Spadaros on East Main Street.

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Jerome told me Bramson was dissatisfied with the current membership of the 13-member board and wanted Jerome to do something about it: replace three members.

My article, published April 24, explains the details: Plan D: Why Is New Rochelle Mayor Pushing to Put Friends of Noam on Downtown BID Board?

The concern at City Hall was the Mayor was seeking effective control over the BID Board, as I explained in my article.

By hand-picking three board members to replace three current board members — a Resident Representative to replace James O’Toole, a business owner to replace either Sebastian Aliberti or Louis Panico and a property owner to replace either Ciro Chechile, Edward J. Hart, Joel Gendels or Robert D. Kahn, Bramson would be in a position to completely reshape the BID Board to place it under his effective control with the pending retirement of City Manager Charles B. Strome. Bramson could replace Albert Tarantino as the New Rochelle City Council Representative with a Democratic loyalist on Council and would control two more seats — the New Rochelle Commissioner of Finance and City Manager — through his plan to replace Strome with Kesten. Bramson might believe he could get support from Joseph Apicella or Joseph Graziose (of RXR), who sat on a recent Bisnow panel with Bramson.

With 7 votes on the BID Board, Bramson would have a back-up plan if he did not get the Development Commissioner job: to land a $150,000 part-time job as Executive Director of the Downtown Business Improvement District, a Plan D.

The deposition was brief — less than 20 minutes based on the length of the transcript of the Q & A (19 pages) — and took place over Zoom on May 6, 2022

The deposition began with Jerome confirming I interviewed him.

Q. And am I correct that the three of you then did have the arranged lunch?

JEROME: We had a delicious Italian

lunch at Spadaro, S-P-A-D-A-R-O, in

New Rochelle.

Q. And in that regard Robert Cox was accurate.

JEROME: He interviewed me. He called me. I just spoke to him about that. All the information comes from me. I called him directly.

Q. Now I understand why he was so accurate.


Peter Miesels then asked him about something I did not ask about — Karel Littman.

Q. During that discussion, did either Mr. Strome or the mayor reflect that there was some dissatisfaction with the executive director?

JEROME: They reflected that -- they expressed that some members of their staff, you know, Mr. Strome's staff had had, you know, that working conditions could be better and improved.

Peter Miesels asked Jerome about something the Mayor would never broach directly in a meeting like that — so naturally the answer was “no”.

Q. Were you -- were you left with the impression that the mayor might be interested in that position of executive director?


Q. Was there any discussion at all about any employment other than being mayor for Mr. Bramson?


Q. ...Would it be fair to say that at no time, not just the lunch, at any time, you did not discuss the possibility of the mayor becoming the executive director?

JEROME: It is fair to say. At no time have I ever discussed with the Mayor or anyone else the -- the mayor or Strome that there was a possibility of the mayor becoming the executive director. That discussion has never happened.

Q. Okay.

Just as naturally, David Blumenthal appears to want to insinuate something nefarious occurred in my calling Jerome.

BLUMENTHAL: On that last comment said that you never discussed it with either Chuck or the mayor himself. But I want to make sure you never discussed with anyone that -- of the mayor's possibly ascendency to the executive director role, is that right?

JEROME: I don't believe I discussed it with anyone other than it is possible that Mr. Cox suggested it to me in my follow-up phone call with him, you know, prior to his story about the -- the BID. I only learned of the issue after the lunch. And I actually only -- I was even unaware of the ethics complaint against the mayor prior to the lunch. So I was not aware of the matter of the mayor and the commissioner of development issue.

BLUMENTHAL: So fair to say that the -- Robert Cox reached out to you, you never reached out to him, right?

JEROME: Yeah. I think he reached out to me.

BLUMENTHAL: I don't think I have any need for any further clarification.

I did not “suggest” anything. Jerome was unaware of my ethics complaint or that he was the last of 12 people to meet with the ethics board, so I told him what had been going including the Plan D theory.

As Blumenthal, and others, appear not to understand how journalism works, allow me to explain.

When I have multiple sources telling me there was a lunch meeting with the President of the BID Board where a Mayor who has shown no interest in the BID Board for 22 years suddenly injects himself into the governance of the BID Board, I pick up the phone and call Marc Jerome. I confirmed the lunch meeting in all the details I reported, as Jerome confirmed in his deposition.

There is nothing unusual that “Robert Cox reached out to you, you never reached out to him, right?” It’s what I do every day to report out a story. Sources tend not call me asking to be interviewed. That Marc Jerome was unaware of the theory at City Hall that Bramson had an ulterior motive is not surprising in the least, despite the ham-handed effort by Blumenthal to suggest otherwise.

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