A Peek at the 2017 Peekskill Local Election… and Water Meters

Water Meters

The weather may be saying otherwise, but Spring has come to Peekskill and in an election year for local offices that means politics becomes a major focus. This will be the first local election since we launched InsidePEEK so we are looking forward to bringing the tidbits and facts not covered by the media – and we will do so right up until Election Day.

Let’s begin by looking at the local offices up for election in 2017. On the Republican side, Mayor Catalina is in his second 2-year term and has already announced he is running for a third. Councilmen Joe Torres and Vincent “Boo” Vesce are completing their first 4-year terms. So far, Torres has expressed he is running for re-election while Vesce has remained non-committal on his plans. Drew Claxton is the only Democrat whose term is ending this year and she has also remained non-committal on her plans but we have received numerous messages that she will not be seeking re-election. This is significant since that would mean that the entire Democratic slate would consist of new candidates. We use the word ‘new’ very loosely, as you will soon understand.

Through multiple sources InsidePEEK has learned that the Peekskill Democrats are having a tough time finding candidates. It seems their illegal and unethical ways have made many people wary of getting involved. That leaves them with having to look back at past failed candidates and office holders.

Let’s look at what we have discovered so far:

Conventional political wisdom is to have a sitting council person (whose term is not up for election) to run for mayor. That way, if they lose, they don’t lose their council seat – we have been told it is considered “a safe seat.” That leaves the Dems three choices for a mayoral candidate; McKenzie, Rainey or Talbot – all bad candidates for various reasons. Early on, the choice by both the party and herself was McKenzie but she has realized too many unethical moves and with the probability of sensitive information becoming public during a campaign, she has backed out. Because of Talbot’s cluelessness and lack of knowledge of everyday issues, the party never considered her. For example, a recent council meeting was cancelled because she was going to have to preside over it due to Claxton and Catalina’s absence. The Democrats were petrified she would screw things up so they had the meeting cancelled. Safe politics for them, bad government for Peekskill citizens.

That leaves only one option – Andre Noodle Noo Rainey. It looks like he will be the Democratic Party nominee for mayor. Be prepared to see and hear a lot from him soon. He spends most of his time in the Kiley Center with children but sooner or later he will have to address adult issues if he wants to run for mayor. He is also going to have to answer for his questionable actions. A number of readers have reached out to us claiming they will be coming forward with information, photos and even legal documents (such as Restraining Orders) if he decides to run. InsidePEEK will bring any and all credible and factual evidence forward at the appropriate time.

Well, if the prospects for mayor aren’t bad enough for the Peekskill Democrats just look at who will be running this year for common council! At the top of the list is former failed council member Marybeth McGowan. Multiple sources have made it clear she is running and she has been showing up to meetings and events for the last month or two as she attempts to get herself known to the public again. She lost her election four years ago and wants revenge. Plus, as with most of the Democrats in office, she needs her position back to help circumvent the city laws and codes for her trolley business. She was able to pull some strings as a councilwoman to get a new home for herself and the trolley but she needs more. So, being in office will give her the leverage to get the trolley hired for more city-related events. More on that soon.

The Dems are also looking to rehash another failed former council member – Andy Torres. They feel, as with McGowan, that Andy was caught up in the anti-Mary Foster wave four years ago. They need a Latino candidate and like that Andy doesn’t ask questions and just votes the way they tell him to. Like McGowan, he will have to defend the votes he took in the past that devastated the financial stability of the city and wasted $11 million in reserves.

Let’s also look at the latest debacle caused by the all-Democratic Foster Administration (which includes Claxton, McGowan and Andy Torres) – THE NEW WATER METERS!

In their infinite wisdom, the Foster Administration decided to make every homeowner replace their water meters with new technology. Fair enough, but they failed to do the research required to do it properly to the BENEFIT of the homeowner instead of to their DETRIMENT. Now, as the Foster-Claxton-McGowan-McKenzie-Torres plan is being implemented, homeowner’s water bills are blowing up into the thousands of dollars! Why? Because while replacing existing meters the city is discovering that the remote electronic read-out connected to the meter is inaccurate. They claim the interior meter reads correctly but the attached remote outdoor meter (the one the city reads to determine billing) is inaccurate. Many if not most of these meters (which were installed by the city) have been in place for decades. The Democrats solution? Make every homeowner pay the difference! That’s right – go back as many years as possible to calculate the discrepancy and unfairly bill the homeowner – which in some cases runs into the thousands of dollars! They are also making condo owners pay for the meter itself!

Mayor Catalina and the two Republican Councilman, Joe Torres and Vincent Vesce think it is unfair and unacceptable to bill homeowners for a mistake made by the city – especially to go back decades. It is not the homeowners fault that the city installed supposedly inaccurate remote meters. Catalina, Joe Torres and Vesce are demanding that the council vote to prevent the unfair back-billing and move forward with the new meters with more accurate readings for the future. InsidePEEK agrees with this approach and urges the Democratic Council members to support Catalina’s proposal.

The water meter issue is just one of many failed and unvetted ideas that the Democratic Council Majority have put in place over their years in power. It is hard to believe that bringing back the same failed candidates will help them in the election. They already have a huge challenge proposing Peekskill have a Mayor Noodle.

Is it possible they even bring back Mary Foster? We have been told she can be seen daily in every coffee house from Croton to the new Kurzhal’s in Peekskill. She makes the rounds, with her usual coffee cup in hand, going as unrecognized by the average resident as she was while in office. Nah, they couldn’t be THAT desperate.

Advertisements

Peekskill Judge Melissa Loehr Caught In Ethics Code Violation

loher-at-bench

Well, that didn’t take long. InsidePEEK has been informed of a serious violation of ethics by Peekskill’s new Associate Judge Melissa Loehr. We have been reporting on the unethical and partisan manner in which both Peekskill judges have been selected and the reasons for their selection – protection for their family and friends and political advancement of careers. How right we were!

Recently, Loehr’s daughter was scheduled to appear in the Town of Cortlandt Court on three occasions – she never showed up. When she was finally forced to appear before Judge McCarthy, she was charged with a routine $300 bail for release. We leave out her name and infraction because this story is not about that – it is about what happened next.

Upon discovering her daughter’s situation, Judge Loehr did what all judges know is inappropriate, unethical and a serious violation of the judicial code of conduct – she called the Cortlandt Court to seek special favor for her daughter! She first called as the mother and asked for the name of the presiding judge for her daughter’s case and was upset that bail was set for her daughter. She didn’t like the explanation she received about her daughter’s situation and then asked “do you know who I am” and identified herself as a Peekskill City Court Judge – all in an authoritarian tone as to scare and intimidate the court clerk. Loehr’s daughter must have known this would happen – she acted in a defiant and disrespectful way toward the judge during her hearing. She knew mommy would be ‘taking care of it’ for her. It didn’t work and now has backfired.

This story has been corroborated and verified by court personnel.

It is disturbing enough to have judges who are ultra-partisan but to have judges who blatantly disregard ethics and law to show favoritism to family, and in such an open way, is unacceptable.

Unless a defendant is a member of the Peekskill Democratic Party, a friend or family of a member, or a potential voter for Democratic candidates – you have little chance of fair treatment in the Peekskill City Court. There have been many cases – too numerous to mention – where the Peekskill judge waived fines that were required or, in some cases, even counseled the defendant from the bench on how to avoid a guilty charge and/or penalty!

If you are ever scheduled to appear in front of either of the two Peekskill City Court Judges and are not ‘connected’ as described above – request a change in venue or you may surely regret it.

The situation at the Peekskill City Court is not good for the City of Peekskill. It is embarrassing for the city and makes a mockery of the judicial system and NY court oversight. How can whoever is in charge of the Judicial District allow this behavior to continue? We know Judge Johnson has been reprimanded for his negative treatment of court employees and has been the source of over $200,000 in lost fine fees. Now Judge Loehr has shown the same pattern in just her first month on the bench!

We at InsidePEEK think it is time for a higher authority to intervene and clean up the Peekskill City Court. The Mike Morey, Drew Claxton, Mary Foster, Vivian McKenzie, Marybeth McGowan, Andy Torres, Kathie Talbot, Darrin Rigger, Andre Noodle Rainey political cabal damage must be repaired – for the sake of the citizens of Peekskill. Johnson and Loehr must go.

Related Posts:

https://insidepeekblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/peekskill-council-democrats-continue-unethical-ways-with-associate-judge-selection/

https://insidepeekblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/peekskill-dems-corruption-spreads-to-associate-judge-selection/

Arnie Paglia and the Peekskill Dem’s Division Street Corruption

paglia_div_st

With all the inquiries and comments we have received, it is time to expose another player in the world of Peekskill Democratic Party politics – Arnie Paglia. You may have seen him over the years speaking at the podium at Common Council meetings or maybe you even ate at his restaurant, The Division Street Grill. You know, that place that people only go to one time because of how horrible the food is. Yes, the same place that was trashed on a national TV show “Restaurant Stakeout.” The title of the show is even called “Division Street Disaster.” More on the restaurant later.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/restaurant-stakeout/400-series/division-street-disaster.html

Paglia has a history of directing and influencing Democratic elected officials. He gets involved in their campaigns, tells them what to believe, and then uses his influence with them to protect his illegal activities and code violations in the downtown. You see, he owns multiple properties in the Business District besides his Division Street restaurant. He owns two properties on Bank Street. One had a terrible fire a few years back because of illegal wiring and other violations – but nothing happened to him because he was protected by then Mayor Foster and the all-Democratic council. He then purchased the former Hugo’s Restaurant on Brown Street along with a partner (with whom he had a serious falling out with soon after the partnership began). Foster and the Council even directed over $170,000 in ‘grants’ to him to renovate the building – see what we mean by influence? Not surprisingly, after 5 years of ownership and financial gifts he still hasn’t opened the restaurant. Word is he is looking for new partners. His bad reputation is making it hard for him to find any. Oh, he has had offers from people who want to buy the building from him but he refuses to sell. He actually thinks he can be successful there. Maybe he has a plan to get more funds from his political friends.

Paglia even lies about his home address so he can vote in Peekskill elections and proclaim he is a Peekskill resident when speaking at meetings. He actually lives in Cortlandt Manor and uses his restaurant address as his home! Mayor Catalina recently highlighted this fact in a Council Meeting at City Hall. InsidePEEK will be monitoring the investigation that Catalina requested take place concerning his residence.

It is laughable that Paglia continues to believe he is knowledgeable about the restaurant business and business in general. He constantly attacks the Peekskill downtown Business Improvement District (BID) saying they are ineffective and that it was so much better when HE was in charge of the BID. However, InsidePEEK has learned that when Paglia was BID president he was forced out because approximately $30,000 of BID funds was unaccounted for by him. Rather than press charges against him and bring negative attention to the City, the BID Board at the time created a mutually agreed upon solution for him to quietly leave his position and keep the matter quiet. He probably assumes that so much time has passed he could get away with it. InsidePEEK has had numerous messages confirming the story.

Another tool Paglia uses to keep control over the Democrats is to host their fundraisers in his restaurant. They have even had their Election Day operation coordinated from there. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement – they both make money that is not officially claimed. The records at the Division Street Grill are not very complete – just ask the many employees (especially chefs) that don’t get paid their proper wages, or don’t get paid at all. Paglia’s newest tool, Councilman Noodle, has been holding fundraisers there for quite some time and has never claimed the proceeds from the events. InsidePEEK will be reporting more about that in a future post.

So the next time you see Arnie Paglia on TV speaking at a meeting you will know why. When you see him standing in his empty restaurant you will know why. When all his street tables are empty at a downtown festival while the other restaurants’ are full, you will know why. When Mayor Catalina has no patience for his ‘commentary’ at meetings you will know why. And eventually, when you see his restaurant boarded up, you will know why.

Coming soon in Future Posts:
Do We Really Know Andre “Noodle Noo” Rainey?
The Continuing Exploitation of Power by Drew Claxton

Peekskill Democratic Party in Chaos

Dems in Chaos

Things are not going well behind the scenes with the Peekskill Democratic Party these days. There seems to be a lot of finger pointing and confusion on how to deal with with the ongoing corruption investigations and exposed ties to The Preservation Company.

Adding to the chaos was the resignation of their long-time chairwoman, Marina Ciotti. From what we have been told by InsidePEEK readers close to the Democratic Party, one even a former member, is that there is an inner struggle on staying loyal to a leader, no matter what wrongdoing was committed (as they usually do), or is it time to do what is best for the party and cut ties with the person and rebuild the party’s image. Ciotti wanted to cut ties with the corruption and move forward. She felt she had taken enough bullets over the years for the party and didn’t want to continue on the current path of destruction. She was at odds with Claxton and Morey and it became too much to deal with – so she quit. This left pseudo-chairman Morey with a problem. How was he to find someone to continue running the party in the mold he created and willing to be controlled by him? More on that later.

Another issue to contend with is Drew Claxton’s replacement when she steps down. Oh yes, she will step down. Word has it that Morey and Claxton are looking for the best time and method for her to bow out gracefully. InsidePEEK believes it will be impossible for it to be done gracefully – that time has passed. Her arrogance continues and is grating on everyone’s nerves and causing too much negative focus on the City, so her leaving office will be met with cheers – from both sides of the aisle. One thought is they could wait for that early morning knock at the door from the law enforcement. That would give them the most time for her to attend meetings and maintain the majority. They have loose ends to tie up before there is a stalemated council. They have already started doing this with their recent Ethics Board appointee. We know, it sounds like an oxymoronic statement to talk about the sitting Dems voting on an ethics board appointment but it happened. More on that in a future post.

No, Claxton and Morey know the best time to leave will be sooner rather than later. They know more revelations of her activities are on the way so they may regret waiting too long. Claxton has recently made public she has health concerns that are requiring attention. While it is unfortunate that she has serious health concerns, Morey is not one to let a tragedy or any situation go to waste. It is one of his signatures. So, expect Claxton to step down in the not too distant future for health reasons. It is a perfect cover for the true reason and one that can gain that graceful exit they are looking for – or at least as close as they can get to one.

So what happens next? Will a replacement get appointed or will a Special Election take place this November? InsidePEEK predicts neither will happen. There will remain 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans on the Common Council – a stalemate for sure. Theoretically, it may be possible for a compromise candidate to emerge that would gain the 4 votes needed for appointment but it is unlikely. One of our readers suggested that new member Andre ‘Noodle Noo’ Rainey may do the right thing and participate in a fair process that would produce a viable replacement. Based on what we have determined so far, InsidePEEK doesn’t believe Rainey would set himself apart from the party pressure. He was considered an independent person at first, whose lack of experience would be an asset for putting people ahead of party. That has not been the case. He has fallen in under Morey’s system and has let himself be steered awry by a certain restaurant owner who has financially controlled Rainey’s every thought and decision.

So what is the Democrats’ plan? InsidePEEK has been informed by very reliable sources that they hope to cause a Special Election this fall. Just as InsidePEEK predicted in an earlier post, this is a Presidential election year and would provide a local voter turnout favorable to the Democrats, something they cannot do on local election years. It also must be a woman candidate since Hillary Clinton will most likely be the Presidential nominee. Conventional wisdom by our readers is that Marybeth McGowan is the obvious pick since she is all of a sudden showing up to meetings. It is possible, but InsidePEEK wonders about this. We realize this may indeed come true but we question why then didn’t she run this past fall? She narrowly lost the previous election so it is likely she wants to redeem herself and her ego. Then again, InsidePEEK was informed she didn’t run because of a multitude of issues connected to a business she is involved in. This, even before the Claxton corruption story broke. So, now she may have concerns that her own questionable actions could become public. Running for office with a party that has been exposed from top to bottom as being involved in illegal activity is not a good framework to run for office in. Especially since McGowan was part of that same governmental body that was in power while these activities were taking place. There is also the Mary Foster connection, a definite political albatross.

InsidePEEK is told another candidate lurks in the wings waiting for her chance to emerge. We will unmask her soon enough once we fully obtain more information about her background. What we have been told so far is not good so we need more time to corroborate and verify. There is time since InsidePEEK believes there will be no agreement among the deadlocked council to approve a local election. So she won’t be needed for another year.

Getting back to the pressing issue that faced the Democratic Party in Peekskill – a new chairperson. Morey was challenged to find someone who was politically ambitious but willing to take his direction. He has found that person – and it is bad news for Peekskill. InsidePEEK readers who are connected to or were previously part of the local party described how Morey, and then later on Rigger, transformed the Democratic Party into a negative, partisan only and lack of progress party that changed Peekskill politics in a negative way – possibly forever. One of our readers wrote, “… we used to hold elections and even when they would get contentious, we could always come together afterward and move forward. Morey changed that.” Morey has made his living entirely in the political arena. He trained in Washington DC and brought those tactics to Peekskill. He only wanted to make a name for himself and move up the political ladder. He has done that – but at what cost to those around him and the City of Peekskill?

Finally, he has found someone in his own mirror image, a protégé who will continue in his style. His name is Terence ‘TJ’ Rogers, a 40-year-old political operative and employee of the Westchester County Board of Elections. He is not from this area and came here through his work for Congressmen John Hall. So here we go again. Get ready for more of the same.

Peekskill Email Scandal Uncovered

Claxton_Dem-email

Long before Hillary’s email issue came to light the City of Peekskill had their own email scandal by elected officials. In fact, it cost the City $1 million in a settlement plus approximately $1 million in outside attorney fees, all for a lawsuit that was brought against the City due to the secret plan by certain council members and citizens to illegally ignore the rights of the plaintiffs of the suit.

What Drew Claxton and Mary Foster didn’t realize before they erased critical emails and illegally destroyed evidence was that every email has both a sender and a receiver of the message. Just because it is deleted, it doesn’t mean the person on the other end didn’t save it. That is what did them in. Claxton and Foster thought they could hide their involvement in the illegal plan to deny the constitutional rights of the plaintiff by eliminating the evidence of communications with their political supporters living near ‘The Cove’ development project.

The problem is that the project, no matter what one’s feeling is about it, went through the proper legal process to obtain the property and all the approvals connected with its construction. Yes, the developer was caught adding additional height to the building that was not part of the approved plans. Appropriately, the City placed a Stop Work Order on the project until the situation was corrected. Once any fines and additional punitive measures were complete, the developers would have the right to complete the project – but only according to the plans previously approved by the City’s Zoning and Planning Boards. Claxton and Foster didn’t see it that way. They had promised their supporters in the neighborhood that they would stop it at all costs and turn the property into a city park. It didn’t mater that the property was legally owned by someone else and had the legal approvals for the size and scope of the project.

DMAC Adverse Decision cover

Click on image to read entire document

In the September 2012 Adverse Decision by Southern District Court of NY, both Councilwoman Drew Claxton and Mayor Mary Foster were determined to be “grossly negligent in the destruction of emails in question” and that the destroyed emails “would have been favorable to the plaintiffs case.” Meaning that Claxton and Foster obviously destroyed the emails because they knew they would help the case against the City. In fact, in one of her emails Claxton stated, “litigation could be imminent.” So she knew full well that a lawsuit was coming based on what they were perpetrating on the developer. Even more evidence she purposely deleted the emails.

Of course Claxton and Foster pleaded ignorance and that “nobody told” them to save emails. Sound familiar? The judge did not buy it one bit, stating that they both were in a “culpable state of mind” and performed a “willful destruction” of evidence. They were also admonished for using private email addresses for official government-related business. There are specific email use and retention laws and policies that must be followed by elected officials. Claxton and Foster ignored them completely.

Needless to say, the City was going to lose a very expensive lawsuit caused by Claxton and Foster’s (and the Democratic Majority on the Common Council) actions. Also, both Claxton and Foster were now facing individual charges of destroying evidence. The only way out was to offer a settlement to the Plaintiffs and hope to make a deal to not proceed with the additional charges. Luckily, the Plaintiffs wanted the nightmare created by Claxton and Foster behind them and accepted the City of Peekskill’s lucrative settlement.

Until now, the details of this episode were kept from the public. Thanks to one of our readers InsidePEEK was provided the judge’s decision (attached to this post) showing the outrageous actions by Claxton and Foster. It should have caused both of them to be unqualified to continue as elected representatives in government.

Peekskill’s Email Troubles Continue Today

There seems to be a new email controversy created by two new council members in connection to recent events.

It has been widely reported that two city employees have been recently suspended due to circumstances not yet disclosed. Disturbingly, the emails generated by the City Manager to council members announcing each suspension were shared with a press contact. Within minutes of being received both emails were forwarded to an online press outlet and immediately made public. Confidential personnel issues, including the individual’s names, were inappropriately made public. At the very least this type of breach of confidentiality of employees is unethical and may even be illegal. Regardless, the actions of those who shared the information will likely trigger another lawsuit against the city by either the union representing the employees or the employees themselves.

It should be simple to determine who forwarded the emails. If Councilwoman McKenzie or Talbot forwarded the email to the press it should be indicated on the City server system. Wait, could that be why the IT employee was suspended without reason? Could it be that the majority doesn’t want the other council members or public to know what they did?

We are all eager to know the truth.

%d bloggers like this: