Peekskill Democratic Party’s Underhanded Attempts To Stop Primary Exposed In NY Supreme Court

PU Wins

We don’t mean to brag but we love it when we are proven right. In fact, we haven’t been proven wrong yet. That’s because we only report on the truth and support our stories with evidence. To be fair we have to admit that when it comes to the Democratic Party in Peekskill, it is too easy. Just take the latest City Council Primary brouhaha for example.

https://insidepeekblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/18/corruption-by-peekskill-dems-to-prevent-primary-exposed/

In our last post, we exposed the corrupt process used by the Peekskill Democrats to select their candidates but, more importantly, we showed how the county party works to underhandedly extinguish any challengers to the party choices by using their operatives planted in the county Board of Elections. We even exposed that former Peekskill Democratic Party Chairman TJ Rogers works at the BOE and was involved in the attempt to disqualify the petitions submitted by the Peekskill United candidates for council, Luis Segarra and Robert Sullivan. The methods Rogers used under direction of Morey and Rigger were so far-fetched and outright false that the Peekskill United team had no choice but to challenge the corrupt ruling in court. Make that 3 different courts in fact!

NYS Supreme Court

First stop was in the White Plains Courthouse and more Democratic Party control. After a hearing that required multiple recesses, the Democratic Party Judge ruled that the petitions in question remain invalid. Why? Well, you won’t believe it.

At the heart of the argument were 60 signatures obtained by a college student intern working to help the Peekskill United candidates. As a registered Democrat, she worked diligently to gather those signatures and she felt good about being involved in the electoral process. Well, the Democratic Party didn’t see it that way. A young and energetic college student working for the Peekskill United team? And a registered Democrat to boot? No way! The Democrats needed to find a way to stop those 60 signatures from being valid. If declared valid, the minimum required signature threshold would be met and a Primary would take place.

The Peekskill Democrats, through their campaign Chairman Matt Clausen and the BOE Democratic Commissioner claimed the college student in question was actually not a registered voter in NY, therefore the signatures she gathered were not valid. If that were true they would have been correct in their claim. Except, she WAS and IS a registered voter in NY and the Peekskill United legal team provided original documents on file with the NYS Board of Elections that proved it. Uh oh, now what?

After a two day recess the court met again. Here is the strategy the Democrats came up with over those two days of recess – claim the person didn’t actually sign her name properly on the BOE paperwork. What? The PU team had no choice but to put the person on the stand and ask her under oath if that was her signature and of course she said it was – because it was. The judge then claimed that one of the letters in her last name looked like an ‘E’ but should be an ‘O’ to be her proper name. She explained, under oath, that that just happens to be the way she signs her name. It may resemble an E to some but it is the way she writes the O in her name – and has done it that way all her life. Well, the judge wasn’t accepting that and even said, out loud, in court – “you better learn how to spell your name.” He then promptly declared the petitions invalid. What?! Yup.

Appellate Division of the NY State Supreme Court

The Peekskill United team had no choice but to appeal to the NYS Supreme Court Appellate Division. The ruling in Westchester Court was just too ridiculous to let stand. It was not right and it wasn’t fair to their intern who worked so hard for them. It also wasn’t fair to the 500 Democratic registered voters in Peekskill who signed the PU petitions, and it certainly wasn’t fair to ALL the Democratic voters in Peekskill.

BOE Appellate

Westchester BOE Letter to “take no position” in the appeal.

It was off to Brooklyn for the Appellate hearing on August 22nd. This time the matter would be heard by a court of 5 judges. It was also far removed from the corrupt Westchester County Democratic Machine. In fact, the Westchester BOE had no choice but to come clean and submit a statement saying the BOE “takes no position on this appeal.” Well, of course they didn’t. They didn’t want to get embarrassed and further exposed for their underhanded ways.

It didn’t take very long for the 5 judges to unanimously overturn the Westchester Court’s decision, declare the petitions valid, and allow the Primary to take place. It showed how the entire challenge by the Peekskill Democrats was a joke and a sham. So, now it was time to plan for the Primary, right? Wait just a minute.

Appellate Post1.jpg

AppellatePost2

READ FULL APPELLATE DECISION AND ORDER

NYS Court of Appeals

We told you there were 3 courts involved in this. We didn’t realize this was occurring until recently – both sides remained quiet about it. This one took place in Albany on August 30th.

In one last Hail Mary attempt the Peekskill Democrats thought it worth a try to appeal the Appellate Court’s ruling. Mind you, it was a unanimous 5-0 decision that was very clear on the record of evidence it wouldn’t be overturned. But, the Dems just had to try. Funny how they didn’t make a fuss in the press over it as they normally do. No prior warning or claims that they’d be vindicated in Appeals Court. They had their tails between their legs already from getting shut down at the Appellate level so why risk further embarrassment and exposure? It was free so why not – that’s what one of our readers who is close to the Peekskill Dems sent to us in a message. They didn’t care about dragging Clausen’s name around in the mud. He is just a figurehead for the campaign and expendable anyway. Plus, the NYS Dems have lawyers on the payroll that do this sort of thing to keep local political committees happy and beholden to them. The problem with this type of system is that the lawyers involved are not very good and do not commit much time to cases – especially sure losers like this one.

The Court of Appeals works differently than the first two – there actually has to be some merit to the argument for the court to hear the case. To help sift through the frivolous cases and save the judges valuable time so they can focus on serious cases there is a preliminary step to obtain “leave” to proceed to the full court. On the day of the hearing the Peekskill case’s first step was in the Morning Preliminary Review, if deemed with merit, it would proceed to the full court in the afternoon. If not, the process stops and the case goes no further. Well, guess how the Peekskill Democrat’s case fared? Yup, it was thrown out within minutes. Goodbye, stop wasting our time. Good luck with the Primary.

Enter Mike Morey, Darrin Rigger and the Peekskill Democratic Party Spin Machine. They are totally unhinged over the turn of events regarding the Democratic Primary that will take place on September 12th. Time to combine damage control with skewing the facts of what took place and make it look like the Peekskill United candidates are the bad guys. Yes, really… that is what they are attempting to do. Just go on social media and you will see some outrageous claims by the party faithful. They all have the same talking points and they are sticking by them. They just happen to be foolish and so nonsensical that most people are laughing at them.

The serious issue at hand is the Primary itself. It is definitely happening and it is important. The Democratic Party is nervous because they know their candidates are weak and outright unqualified to serve. The Peekskill United candidates are highly qualified and very committed to the City. We have seen some recent posts by the PU campaign that highlight Segarra and Sullivan and are very helpful to get to know them – go see them for yourself. The Peekskill Democratic candidates are nowhere to be found. From the information we have gathered so far, they have very questionable issues associated with them that will surely become public soon enough. They are laying low so they can avoid scrutiny before the Primary.

It is obvious the Peekskill Democrats are approaching the Primary in a stealth way. They mean to get people to vote for their candidates by convincing the registered Dems that the PU candidates are not really Dems. Yes, we know. There couldn’t be a Primary if they weren’t registered Democrats but the Peekskill Dem Party never lets fact or truth get in their way.

We will not make a prediction on who will win the Primary. It is just too difficult to gage. There is already a Primary taking place for Democratic County Executive so there are other factors in play. What we CAN do is give out warnings. First warning is to the Peekskill United team – watch out for the inevitable cheating. The Peekskill Dems are notorious for it. There will be felons voting, those who don’t live in Peekskill anymore voting, those taking other’s identities voting and noncitizens voting. Poll workers will be telling voters who to vote for. They will even sit down with them and help them fill out their ballots. The Party controlled local trolley will shuttle people around – some even to more than one polling place. It has happened every election in Peekskill.

Our final warning is to the City of Peekskill Democratic voters who are not connected to the party machine. Do the right thing for the city, yourself, and your family and vote for Segarra and Sullivan on September 12th.

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Peekskill Dems Create Political Circus of Judge Loehr Scandal

Loehr at Car Post.jpg

Caught in their deliberate and calculated acts of political favoritism, the Peekskill Democratic Party is doubling down. They are taking the advice of their political directors (aka, Morey and Rigger) and desperately attempting to change the focus of Judge Loehr’s inappropriate acts by throwing around accusations of their own. Their minions have been unleashed on social media calling those exposing Loehr as “political” and even bringing up anti-immigration issues as a defense. The public is not buying it.

Mayoral candidate Noodle Noo is leading the charge along with candidates for council, Fernandez, Agudelo and Smith. They have made a political circus out of the issue, hoping it will wane public interest and scrutiny. Based on the overwhelming responses we received at InsidePEEK over our post exposing Loehr’s failure as a judge and her personal relationship with Noodle, nothing will change the public’s minds on this issue. If fact, a concerned group of citizens has come together and created an online petition to remove Loehr as judge. See below:

https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/calling-for-the-resignation-of-judge-melissa-loehr

Loehr Petition

Click on the link above to sign the petition.

The outrageousness of the Peekskill Democratic Majority’s hand-picked judge forced Mayor Catalina to hold a press conference to outline the issue, beginning with Loehr’s selection. He described how he requested the judge interviews be held publicly. He knew what the Democratic Majority planned on doing – to select their political and person friend (Loehr) over the much more qualified candidates. Catalina was not granted his request so the interviews were held in private. Based on Catalina’s description of that interview we know exactly why the Democrats wanted to keep it private!

Catalina asked Loehr “what do you think is the most pressing criminal justice issue in Peekskill” her answer was “police profiling and misconduct” – wow! Catalina also asked her “what is your most satisfying career case to date” she replied “getting a criminal client off on a technicality” – double wow!

After News12 covered Catalina’s press conference they tracked down Judge Loehr as she ran from the court and tried to get into her car before commenting – she didn’t make it. When asked about her actions she said, “I can’t comment, I can’t be involved with politics.” Really?! What a joke! She should have thought about that a long time ago!

We showed in our previous posts how Loehr was absolutely unqualified for the judge position. (See links below). Her father’s influence in the Democratic Party and the Peekskill’s Democrats requirement to obey his request put her on the bench. But there is another key fact that will help us understand Loehr’s skewed view of law enforcement and the law. She is a Legal Aid attorney in the Bronx. So how do these two conflicting positions jibe in Loehr’s mind? She spends most of her time getting criminals set free to continue their illegal activity, then spends time on the bench where she is supposed to be impartial and objective – which clearly, she is not. It is not hard, then, to understand why she let perpetrators of a violent crime go free without bail in Peekskill.

The article below may help explain what we mean:
http://nypost.com/2017/07/22/the-bronx-has-the-lowest-conviction-rate-in-the-city/

Back to the Circus

As mentioned above, the Peekskill Democratic slate is desperate to flip the switch on this unnerving issue. They know that Noodle Noo Rainey, a sitting councilman, is eyeballs deep in this corruption. Not only did he lead the fight to have Loehr selected, his personal relationship with her has also been exposed.

So, what do they do? How can Morey and Rigger design a strategy? Of course! – since two of their candidates are Hispanic and the crime victims are Hispanic, let’s show our support for them and, oh by the way, throw in there that anti-immigration may be a cause for the public backlash against Loehr and the Dems. It may sound like a good strategy but it is not working – in fact, it is backfiring on them.

We will not display it here for obvious reasons, but the Democratic slate thought it would be a good strategy to publish a photo of them with the victims’ families. They also publicly stated their names! Now they have put the entire victims’ families in harm’s way! This egregious and extremely irresponsible exploitation for political gain is beyond the pale. We can only hope that perpetrators of the original crimes or their friends do not retaliate against these innocent people. Shame on Rainey, Fernandez, Agudelo and Smith.

In a recent Letter to the Editor, outgoing Councilman Vincent ‘Boo’ Vesce called for an outright apology from his Democratic Majority colleagues. He correctly pointed out that the city was in the position it now faces at the courthouse because of blatant politics. According to Vesce: “While many may not want to hear it, the problems stem from the political games and patronage displayed time and time again by the Democratic majority on the Common Council.”

Vesce ended his strong statement:

“They owe this community an apology, and I would hope that at least a couple of them realize that listening to their party faithful and playing political games does nothing but hurt our residents. I also hope that this community is paying attention and does not allow this type of governing to continue within our great City of Peekskill.”

Read the full statement here:
http://www.peekskillpost.net/councilman-vesce-peekskill-democrats-owe-community-apology/

There seems to be another possible reason behind Loehr’s action to set the attackers free – one of them was a former boyfriend of her daughter! A number of readers sent us this information and it has also appeared in various social media posts. Mayor Catalina mentioned it in his press conference. News12 also mentions it in their coverage. While there has been no smoking gun evidence that proves this allegation, there has been no denial either. We include it here because there are many sources claiming to know and it was stated publicly without rebuttal. Besides, we already know Loehr violated ethical protocol by calling the Cortlandt Court to get her daughter out of trouble after her arrest. It seems plausible that she would use her own power to help her boyfriend.

https://insidepeekblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/peekskill-judge-melissa-loehr-caught-in-ethics-code-violation/

We at InsidePEEK believe Judge Loehr cannot survive this latest, and serious, breech of ethics and judicial procedure. Can the Judicial District Administrator remove her for cause? Probably not – but they can put pressure on her to resign and help bring confidence and integrity back to the Peekskill Court.

Here is what a few of our readers think about this issue:

“Looks like the evidence is too much to overcome. Why doesn’t she just leave and do Peekskill a favor?”

“Thank you InsidePEEK for bringing this to the public’s attention. You are providing a valuable service to the community by keeping us informed.”

“Omg, how was that photo taken without them knowing? Whoever sent that to you had guts!”
(*this statement is referring to the photo included in our previous post on Rainey and Loehr)

“When you elect a clown you get a circus, that is all I can say about this Noodle guy.”

“As a registered Democrat in Peekskill I am very saddened to see what was once a proud party turn into such an embarrassing spectacle of fools. How did this happen?”

“How can anyone have faith or confidence in the Peekskill court after this?”

“I didn’t realize the Peekskill Democrats were so against the Latino community! How can anyone in in that community in Peekskill consider voting for them!

Based on the uproar and continually growing social media activity surrounding this issue we at InsidePEEK do not see this going away any time soon. We will closely monitor the situation to see if any further posts are needed. Stay tuned…

Related links:

https://insidepeekblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/peekskill-dem-judge-loehr-sets-violent-criminals-free-without-bail/

https://insidepeekblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/peekskill-judge-melissa-loehr-caught-in-ethics-code-violation/

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/

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/

Dem Strategist Morey Knocked Out, Peekskill Court Compromised

morey-knocked-out-post

While Peekskill was enjoying another New Year’s Eve celebration downtown, the Peekskill Democratic Party Svengali’s night didn’t go very well.

According to various reports Peekskill Democratic Party mastermind, Michael Morey, was doing what he does best – being obnoxious, overly political and taxing people’s nerves at a local party that evening. In the eyes of one of the other party guests Morey went too far so the guest let Mikey have it – with a single punch. In a split-second Morey was out cold on the floor. The extent of any physical injury is unknown at this time.

Morey initially did not file a police report (did he feel he probably deserved what happened?) – and he surely didn’t want the story to become public knowledge. That only lasted a day or two. He was encouraged by others go to the police and file a report – he did. InsidePEEK is attempting to get a copy of the report.

THAT IS JUST THE BEGINNING! The real story takes place after the report is filed. The ‘slugger’ of Morey was arrested but, unfortunately for him, he is not a close friend of the Peekskill Democratic Party. InsidePEEK has reported repeatedly over this past year about the Peekskill City Judge appointments and the reasons they were selected by the Democratic Majority on the council – mainly to protect their friends, family and potential voters. There is so much criminal activity within their party that they cunningly used their voting power to appoint their friends as the judges. We at InsidePEEK predicted that the influence would show itself but we didn’t realize just how right we were.

Normally, Judge Johnson would not assign bail for such an incident – he has a history of rarely doing so. He could have imposed the ‘set’ bail for such a charge: $2,500. Since this was a case involving his close friend and mentor he imposed a higher than usual bail at $3,500. Why? Let’s face it – he would not even be judge without Morey. Besides, these types of incidents don’t typically cause an arrest to be made, just a hearing and then the lawyers take over.

InsidePEEK has received numerous messages about this incident and the story is far from over. It would be in the best interest of the ‘slugger’ to hire a good lawyer and demand a different venue for the case. He will NOT get fair treatment in Peekskill – that has already been shown. A good lawyer will also take Judge Johnson to task ethically for not recusing himself from this case. The administrative judge for the district will surely be contacted to look into this matter – he has had cause to investigate the Peekskill court numerous times since Johnson took over. To put it lightly – things are not going well at the Peekskill City Court.

InsidePEEK will bring updates when they are available.

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 Dems’ Corruption Spreads To Associate Judge Selection

HereComesTheJudge

While most of us are enjoying summer vacations, the Peekskill Democratic Party majority on the Common Council looks to quietly advance their acts of deviance and pander. What better time to fly under the radar? Especially with the continued exposure of Drew Claxton and Vivian McKenzie’s corruption and unethical behavior.

The latest ruse has to do with the selection of a new Associate Judge for Peekskill. A few years ago the all Democratic Council under Mary Foster chose to throw out a long-time successful and admired sitting judge who was approaching the end of his career in order to appoint a totally unqualified person to the seat. Why? Because they had political payoff to give one of their major operatives throughout their campaigns; a person who was not qualified for the position but who had obtained hundreds of signatures on candidate petitions for them and attended public meetings to openly support the Democratic candidates. He ran for council in 2011 but had to withdraw. He even became a news headline in 2013 for picking a fight with a member of the public! (see article and video below) As the saying goes when speaking about these Democrats – only in Peekskill.

Read the Lohud article here:
http://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/2013/12/09/peekskill-lawyer-involved-in-near-brawl-at-center-of-judgeship-tussle-videos-/3931289/

Watch the video of the meeting:

Well, they are about to do it again! Yup, they have a hand-picked replacement for Associate Judge that will be appointed in September. Michael Morey and Darrin Rigger have directed the council majority to pick Melissa Loehr for judge. Why? Because the ‘Democratic Party’ says so. The directive has come down from above.

The problem is, one of their own wants the job – and he has made it very clear he wants the job. Colin Smith is a local lawyer and serves as a member of the Peekskill School Board. He is a Peekskill native and graduated from Peekskill High School. He has been an open and active supporter of the Peekskill Democratic Party and especially helpful to Noodle Noo during his campaign (yes, as we have pointed out before, there is a councilman named Noodle –remember, only in Peekskill).

The other problem is there have been over 20 applicants for the position. Some are very qualified for the job – but that doesn’t matter. Each member of the council was asked to pick their top 5 choices as a means to make it look like there was actually a process being used. It is laughable since all the Democratic Council members selected Loehr as one of their 5 but some did not have Colin Smith on their list. Get the picture? The Democrats are masters at masking their pre-determined outcomes by hiding behind whatever “committee” or “procedure” or “charrette” sounds good to them – remember the Paramount Committee we exposed in a previous post?

So, who is this Melissa Loehr and why would the Peekskill Democrats pick her over one of their own – and over much more qualified candidates? That is, why other than being ordered to by Morey and Rigger? Thanks to a few of our readers supplying us information and with a little research of our own, we discovered a few things about Ms. Loehr. She moved to Peekskill from Putnam Valley and has donated numerous times to the Peekskill Democratic Party and individual local Democratic candidates. She is a Public Defender of the Legal Aid Society who works out of the Bronx and was recently appointed by the Democratic majority to the City of Peekskill’s Ethics Board. She refused to answer Mayor Catalina’s questions during her ethics board interview and her conflicts are numerous and troubling.

Read Mayor Catalina’s comments in the Peekskill Post article:
http://www.peekskillpost.net/catalina-says-democrats-will-push-unqualified-appointee-fill-judgeship/

It probably doesn’t hurt that Loehr’s father is a NYS Supreme Court Judge. He is formally a Westchester County Court Judge, Civil Service Commissioner of Yonkers and was Mayor of Yonkers in the early 1980’s.

InsidePEEK will be paying attention and watching what happens in early September when the Peekskill Council votes on a new Associate Judge. We urge all residents to watch closely too. It should be entertaining to say the least – well, it won’t be for Mr. Smith. That is, unless one of the Democratic Council members breaks ranks and does the right thing.

 

Claxton’s Poor Attempt At Paramount Damage Control

Burning Final

Our recent post on the disappointing state of Paramount Hudson Valley in Peekskill seems to have hit a nerve with those who thought they pulled one over on the citizens of Peekskill. Funny how when the facts and background that was never made public before are suddenly brought forth, those involved get offended and begin lashing out. Then the cover up kicks in. It’s always the cover up that gets ’em.

Thanks to the Peekskill Post news site, we have learned a key clause to the sweetheart lease deal that Morey & Claxton gave Red House Entertainment. We thank Mr. Fumagalli for providing it but he has the wrong understanding of what it means, otherwise he would have pressed Claxton for the truth. He mistakenly took her comments (about the lease and the ‘negotiations’ that created it) as truth.

First, let’s discuss the clause that was referred to in the Peekskill Post article:

“The rent for the premises (the “Rent”) shall be equal to five percent (5%) of (i) the adjusted gross box office receipts (i.e. gross receipts less sales tax, fees paid off-the-top to distributors of digital content (distributor fees), booking agents, ticketing agents, credit card companies and related service providers and the like) of Tenant from actual performances (live or filmed) produced and sold by Tenant and (ii) gross margin (i.e. net sales less actual cost of goods sold) of Paramount Hudson Valley, Playing at the Paramount or Peekskill branded merchandise sales. Rent shall specifically not include any portion of (x) box office receipts from performances produced by any other third party to whom the premises may be rented (including but not limited to any tax-exempt entity which may so utilize the premises), (y) any other merchandise sales or (z) any revenues received from food or beverage (including alcohol) concessions.”

The title and premise of the article reads: “Paramount pays rent based on percentage of gross ticket sales for ‘original productions’” This is not accurate– it is based on “the ADJUSTED gross box office receipts (i.e. gross receipts less sales tax, fees paid off-the-top to distributors of digital content distributor fees…).” This means that AFTER all the fees and related costs are made, which includes full payment to Red House, if there is anything left over THEN the City will get 5% of it. The problem is most shows are not “ORIGINAL PRODUCTIONS” and those few that are don’t make any money so there is nothing to receive 5% of (see example at the end of this post). As we stated in our previous post, this lease is a total sham.

InsidePEEK has learned that Claxton has been “out of control,” (as one of our readers informed us), about the selection committee and truth behind the process being exposed. Her desperate lies in the Post article seem to confirm that. She falsely claimed that the City, under the previous operators, was paying $70,000 a year in utilities. This is not true. While the City did give an annual stipend to the Paramount of roughly $40,000 at one time, it had been slowly reduced to zero, which was agreed to in the previous lease. To state that the previous operators were receiving $120,000 a year from the City (as Claxton did in the Post article) is laughable and totally false. InsidePEEK has been provided information that Claxton and Morey are now stating it was $160,000. If we wait a few more days maybe they’ll even jump it up to more, they can’t help themselves. The lies keep compounding.

The fact of the matter is that we may never know how much Red House has cost the City. Mayor Catalina keeps asking for a full accounting beginning with the lease that was granted to Red House, but the Democratic majority’s appointed City Comptroller has been directed not to provide it. It has been suspected that the full Democratic Council under Mayor Foster misrepresented the Paramount financials all along and that it would take a professional forensic audit to get the true picture.

Here is the ‘money’ line from the article: “Claxton said she does not know how much money the city gets on an annual basis from Red House…” What a joke. She doesn’t know? Claxton likes to say, especially at budget time, she is a finance person who works with numbers all day – and she doesn’t know? In fact, that $40,000 phantom revenue stated by Claxton has been listed in the PROPOSED budget every year since 2013 but when the ACTUAL budget numbers are obtained, there was NO payment made to the City.

Thanks to another reader we were provided Morey’s attempt at damage control through a statement on social media. It seems that Morey and Claxton are working from the same talking points they created. Among other falsehoods, he is totally misrepresenting the Tarrytown Music Hall proposal. He claims Red House asked for no subsidies – this is totally false. In fact, Red House had at least a full year of paying no utility bills. The city picked up the tab. Tarrytown Music Hall only requested a short grace period to get up to speed with the conditions of the debt being assumed and the condition of the physical plant. Red House didn’t have to worry about that since they were promised no utility bill and that the City would make good on the debt.

It soon became clear who was paying the bills and it wasn’t Red House. Some complained of the wasted energy at the Paramount. One of our readers informed us of an incident they witnessed first-hand; “it was only a few weeks after the Paramount reopened under Red House and on very hot day when I was in the vicinity of the Paramount and saw the front doors propped open. I was curious so I went to look inside and see what shows may be coming. I felt a rush of cold air as I approached and thought it odd the doors would be open with the air conditioning on. As I went a little further inside I overheard a conversation between two people near the ticket booth. One person asked the other (who must have been a representative of Red House) why the doors were open while the air conditioning was running. The response was – “we don’t care, the city’s paying for it. Then he smiled and walked away.”

We received an interesting comment from one of our readers who is not connected to the Paramount situation but has experience in theater and entertainment operations: “after what background I already know and reading the latest information regarding the City of Peekskill’s relationship with Red House Entertainment I think the approach may be wrong. It is safe to state that it is nearly impossible for such an operation to survive from ticket sales, there must be other revenue. Red House being a ‘for profit’ operation makes it even more difficult. Usually not-for-profits have access to grant opportunities and it is not unusual to have municipalities contribute to such venues. It happens more than you may realize. In the case of Peekskill and the obvious failing situation there it may be beneficial for the city to run the operation. It seems to me that Red House is nothing more than a glorified booking agent. They probably hired one themselves. Since the city pays for most of the cost of operation of the building they might as well hire their own booking agent and reap the rewards of any profits. Owning the building is a huge advantage. They would have no rent or taxes, just the cost of maintain the building and the booking of shows.”

InsidePEEK felt that this was an interesting take and worth sharing. We do not know if this would be possible but probably worth a look. It can’t be any worse than what is going on now.

One thing we do know is that Red House has, in fact, reached out to Tarrytown Music Hall for help. It is not clear if Tarrytown would be interested since Red House is offering a partnership, not a transfer of operations. From what we have been told Tarrytown Music Hall runs a tight ship and a partnership of any kind seems unlikely and especially not with those at Red House. We can only hope something is done. Peekskill cannot afford to have the Paramount go dark again.

InsidePEEK realizes that the Paramount issue may be difficult to follow. A recent email sent out by Red House after the Michael McDonald concert may help explain why Claxton and Morey’s economics simply don’t add up:

Dear Valued Patrons,

First off, we would like to begin by thanking you for helping make our 86th anniversary such an overwhelming success. It really was a fantastic evening and that is thanks to all of you. With your contributions and support, we were able to raise close to $6,000 for Paramount Hudson Valley Arts!
 
Kurt Heitmann
CEO Red House Entertainment LLC

They are bragging about raising CLOSE to $6000. That means on a best day, high ticket price, and sold out house, they cleared only $6000. That may sound like a lot of money to some but for an operation that costs somewhere between $300-400,000 a year that is not very much. That means the Paramount would need 50-60 shows like the one they had with McDonald. As we know, most shows are not even close to sellouts, or have high ticket costs. This analysis supports the statement above by one of our readers.

Let’s assume the McDonald concert was an “original show.” According to the lease, that means the city should receive $300 (5% of the adjusted gross). That means that for the City to receive the $40,000 that Claxton claims they received last year, they would have had to have 133 such shows!

In our last post InsidePEEK included a link for the article announcing the selection of Red House by Morey’s committee where they stated the following:

“Red House plans to hold about 80 events the first year if chosen by the Peekskill City Council to run the venue, increasing to around 200 events the following year. The group plans to run as a for-profit and non-profit hybrid, using profitable shows to help fund arts shows. The group estimates about $1.8 million in revenue, with losses of about $370,000 in its first year of operation.”

They have not even come close to the shows or revenues they promised. In fact, its cost to the City has been considerably more than the previous operators. The City Council should have allowed Tarrytown Music Hall take over then, and they should make sure it happens now.

Paramount Theater May Be In Trouble

Paramount_The End

In our last post we indicated we would be visiting the sweetheart deal former Mayor Mary Foster and her Administration gave to the present operators of the Paramount Center, now known as Paramount Hudson Valley. Although we have not yet obtained a copy of the lease there have been many responses to our post (more on that later) including interesting information concerning the Paramount.

We followed up on a number of leads and feel we don’t need to wait for a copy of the lease. Why? Because it looks like Paramount Hudson Valley may not be in operation much longer. So before they possibly close up shop we want to bring forward what our research has produced.

Before we begin, we want to give kudos to a local news outlet, Peekskill Post, for their recent article regarding the possible lease violation committed by the operators of the Paramount. Ironically, it is not one of the violations we discovered. It remains to be seen how the present Mayor and Council react to the discovery.

Read the Peekskill Post Article here:
http://www.peekskillpost.net/paramount-may-have-violated-stipulation-of-lease-with-city-banning-adult-entertainment/

To understand the disturbing story regarding the present state of the Paramount we must first look at how the organization that was awarded control of the operation, Red House Entertainment, came to be. More importantly, we must understand the ‘committee’ that selected this group that was slapped together just in time for their selection. Here are the members of the “Peekskill Paramount Committee” that was used to ‘steer’ the award to the pre-selected operators: Democratic Party strategist Mike Morey (yes, the same Mike Morey we have discussed in previous posts), Democratic Councilwoman Kathy Talbot, Democratic Cortlandt Town Board Member Richard Becker, Democratic Mayor Mary Foster, Former BID Director and friend to Red House members Jason Angell and then Acting City Manager Brian Havranek, who did whatever Foster told him to do. Never has there been a more obvious pre-determined outcome to a selection process.

Even the Chamber of Commerce knew the fix was in. Hard to believe but the representatives of the business community were excluded from the process. Read about it here:
http://peekskill.dailyvoice.com/neighbors/letter-gateway-chamber-should-be-on-paramount-review/557199/

The question becomes, why? Why go to such lengths to create such an obvious and corrupt process for selecting the operators of the Paramount? The first obvious reason is control. Nothing drives the Morey-Foster-Claxton cabal more than power and control. Come to find out, to no one’s surprise, Morey has a close connection to the Red House members. They are all from Putnam County and are connected to some of Morey’s Democratic political clients. This was a classic case of political payoff. This is the terrible truth behind most of the actions of the Peekskill Democratic Party.

Two other groups were interested in being considered to run the Paramount. One was called the “Paramount Phoenix Group,” a most unoriginal and corny name. This group was headed by local restaurateur Arne Paglia, who has absolutely no experience running a theater so his bid was understandably thrown out right away.

Read the article from 2013 outlining the selection of Red House (note Morey sitting at the far right in the photo):
http://peekskill.dailyvoice.com/news/paramount-committee-recommends-red-house-entertainment-to-run-theater/566383/

The other organization interested was the highly successful Tarrytown Music Hall. InsidePEEK was recently informed that Tarrytown Music Hall was moments away from taking over the Paramount 9 months earlier! Yes, the previous Paramount Center for the Arts organization had been in months long conversation and negotiations with them to seamlessly take over the operation of the theater! Tarrytown was ready and willing to take over immediately and honor any outstanding debt left by the previous group, including advanced ticket sales for events that ultimately became cancelled.  Tarrytown Music Hall was in a perfect position to do this; those ticket holders that got burned would have two venues to select replacement tickets from!

Morey-Foster-Claxton would not have it. This was their chance to get total control and power over the Paramount while also allowing Morey to provide his political patronage. They preferred to let the Paramount go dark for 9 months and suffer serious physical deterioration just so they could trick the public into thinking they were actually the saviors of the theater.

With their friends of Red House now selected, it was important for them to put in place a lease that would assure their success, even if it meant the City (which really means the citizens of Peekskill) pay for the operation. That’s right, the Foster Administration used taxpayer funds to pay the expenses of running the theater. They had to – the lease was a farce. They had to manipulate to make it look like Red House was a success – which was the farthest thing from the truth. Red House soon became difficult to work with. They put a poor schedule in place and failed to generate excitement for the theater. They continually criticized the previous operators in public and fought with many of their neighbors in the downtown. Their lack of experience combined with their poor business and public relations sense became a recipe for disaster. If Mayor Foster was not thrown out of office in 2013, the City would still be paying the bills. Some of our readers suspect they still are to a lesser degree. For example, the Peekskill Common Council majority recently authorized $15,000 be spent on the Paramount air conditioning equipment that was not properly maintained by Red House.

So what is the condition of things at the Paramount today? InsidePEEK has learned that the Paramount Hudson Valley/Red House Entertainment is on the verge of collapse. The termination of the organization may be imminent. This is not good news for the great City of Peekskill. The success of the Paramount, no matter who operates it, is a key for the success of the downtown and the many businesses that rely on it.

InsidePEEK has also learned that there may be good news – that there have been secret negotiations by Red House to once again entice Tarrytown Music Hall to assume operation of the Paramount. How ironic. The very organization that would and could have taken over four years ago and delivered true success, is now being asked to save it once again. We can only hope the negotiations are successful and we can once again have a thriving operation at the Paramount. Let’s also hope that Claxton, McKenzie, Talbot and Noodle let it happen this time.

As we referred to at the beginning of this post, our pervious entry received a record number of responses. Thank you to all our readers who sent us their thoughts on the information provided, both positive and negative. Now more than ever we at InsidePEEK understand the importance of providing the information and facts related to issues that are either unknown or purposely ignored by the general media. InsidePEEK stands by the information we provide. It is carefully researched and corroborated through various sources. We realize that learning truths can be unnerving sometimes but can also be empowering. InsidePEEK believes it is better to be an informed citizen who can have all the facts presented related to the issues affecting their day-to-day lives.

Claxton & McKenzie Continue to Embarrass Peekskill

Claxto_Mckenzie_Still at it

Disgraced and embattled Peekskill Councilwoman Drew Claxton and ethically challenged Councilwoman Vivian McKenzie are at it again. Their tag team approach of attacking fellow board members and members of the general public have reached new lows.

It seems that the quiet lull created by the beginning of summer has convinced both Claxton and McKenzie that their legal and public relations battles are over. Nothing could further from the truth. In fact, the investigations are continuing. As more and more facts emerge, the investigations continuously extend. It will take months but more will be coming out on Ms. Claxton’s dealings and those she did business with.

Before we get into the lies, deceit and embarrassment to the good citizens of Peekskill perpetrated by these two so-called government officials, we need to clarify what is likely to be the single most self-serving ruse ever inflicted on the pubic – the FAKING of being sick to gain sympathy and shelter from criticism. Yes, Drew Claxton did not recently have cancer as she led people to believe and as the Democratic Party minions spread. At the height of her public exposure for illegal grant funds she obtained and the laws she violated, she devised (along with her advisors) a plan to turn a routine colonoscopy into a case of cancer. Cries went out to back off while she battled her ‘disease.’ Have sympathy it was said, have a heart was said. We even received emails about it. It worked – until now. Claxton herself exposed her ruse recently in a meeting by stating she had missed meetings being away in Florida and California. She was not in the process of treatments as the public was led to believe but rather gallivanting and visiting family. She not only further lost the public trust by such action, she totally abandoned her responsibilities as an elected member of the City government. She should be ashamed of herself.

On top of her criminal acts of obtaining grant funds and orchestrating an illegal meeting and budget vote (each alone are grounds for resignation), she premeditated a way to remove herself from the public eye to let things cool down surrounding her actions. Her mentor and advisor, Michael Morey, taught her well and most likely helped in the planning of the whole thing. It almost worked. Now, she can expect a renewed outcry for her resignation.

In recent weeks, both Claxton and McKenzie have been attacking members of the public wishing to give donations to the City, including the Peekskill Rotary Club! Hard to believe but the focus of City government has been arguing over trees and gazebos, not moving forward projects waiting to begin. Projects, like the Abby (St. Mary’s property) and Gateway on Main Street, that will bring the city much needed revenue. The Peekskill Democratic Party has been against many projects from their inception and, thanks to former Mayor Mary Foster and her majority Council, they were all stopped in their tracks. Developers have millions of dollars invested and want to see their plans move forward. The Democratic Party appointees to boards such as the Peekskill Planning Board have made sure there have not been enough members in attendance to be able to vote on items. It has been months now that this sleazy tactic has been used by the Democrats to prevent approvals. They know the community wants these projects to move forward so voting against them in public would be a political liability. So they use the usual deceptive tactics they are known for.

It has become common knowledge that McKenzie plans on running for mayor next year. She has become very vocal and has attempted to make her voice one of the loudest. The problem is she has exposed her lack of understanding and knowledge of the issues by doing so. She has been desperate to deflect away from her breech of ethics for sharing a confidential email to the press. At one point she attempted to falsely implicate a fellow council member of doing business for the City and getting paid for work done at the Paramount Center. She asked for invoices be produced from the previous two years. Mayor Catalina then requested that the invoices to be produced should go back farther than just two years, up to seven years. Well, not only did the maneuver by McKenzie backfire when it was proven no such payment was made to her Council colleague – by looking back that far, MacKenzie knew it would be shown that she herself was the one who committed the violation. (Yes, her business, Kathleen’s Tea Room, was the beneficiary of funds for catering Youth Bureau events – while she has been a sitting councilwoman!) Unbelievable! No wonder her continuous probing for Paramount related invoices abruptly ceased.

So not only has she violated the ethics code by exposing confidential email, she has garnered personal financial gain through her position as an elected official. Wow – and she wants to run for mayor?!

Here is the critical underlying mistake that will surely come back to bite the Peekskill Democrats: they made the Paramount Center a focus of discussion. Something they know should never happen as it would expose their actions related to the new operators. Seeing the opening handed him, Mayor Catalina asked to review sweetheart lease the Democrats gave them – he continues to be prevented from doing so. Why? InsidePEEK is attempting to obtain a copy of the lease to bring you the details in the future. We have received numerous emails on this issue and one of our readers strongly suggested we look into the matter stating: “the members of the committee that selected the present operators are all Democrat elites who have close ties to the hastily formed organization that was awarded the lease.” Sounds interesting to us. Expect more details to follow once we obtain it.

Finally for this post, we need to mention the most recent ‘you can’t make this stuff up’ moment. It involved Councilman Noodle (yes, there is a City of Peekskill Council member that goes by the name Noodle –and no, that is not what we are referring to). It was brought to our attention that Noodle was forced to attend the June 27th Common Council meeting by his Democratic Party bosses because they needed his vote to turn down the aforementioned gazebo donation. He was not planning on attending because he contracted the highly contagious Conjunctivitis, aka ‘Pink Eye.’ He at least had the sense to want to stay away from a public gathering but his handlers refused to let him – so he wore sunglasses to the meeting.

It’s sad to see the level that the Peekskill City government has sunk to – continuous ethics violations, deceiving the public about illness, preventing much needed projects from advancing, sweetheart deals for friends, fights over gifts from the public, Noodles, Pink Eye and sunglasses. What could be next?

Claxton Thinks She Can Ignore The Law

umbrella connections

Since when does the guilty party in a theft get to determine their own method of making restitution and punishment – or lack thereof? Is a bank robber who gets caught allowed to just give the money back and go on their merry way? Of course not. Does someone who gets caught cheating on their taxes get to just pay back the money without any penalty or any criminal charges? No way.

Well, that is what Drew Claxton and The Preservation Company (TPC) want you to believe they can do after getting caught knowingly distributing and accepting funds illegally. They want everyone to think since they admitted to the wrongdoing and offered to pay back the ill gotten funds that all will be forgiven and law enforcement will say thank you and leave them alone. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.

Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina, an attorney, knows that something is wrong with this picture too. To his credit he first reached out to The Preservation Company to work out a path forward for all involved. Instead, he was greeted with political attacks and insults from The Preservation Company, Drew Claxton and other individuals connected with the Peekskill Democratic Party. Catalina correctly attempted to protect the City of Peekskill and collect as much information as possible to get a clear picture of what had occurred and if there was any exposure to the City.

Now, The Preservation Company and Claxton want everyone to think that just by paying back the NYS agency originally providing the grants and then Claxton reimbursing TPC will make everything go away. These are funds that were disbursed 8 years ago! In a recent press release addressing this issue, Mayor Catalina points out that there are actually NYS laws that must be followed under these types of cases. Not only must the illegal grant funds be repaid but interest must also be paid – 8 years’ worth.

InsidePEEK joins Mayor Catalina in asking about the terms on Claxton’s repayment of the funds. Why would Claxton pay TPC instead of directly to the State? Is it a one-time payment or over a period of time? How long? By paying TPC directly is Claxton now attempting to avoid paying interest? Did the TPC payment made to the State agency include interest? TPC President Alan Steiner may be a Putnam County Judge but he is not the judge on this case. Steiner, TPC and Claxton are obviously trying to get out in front of all the investigations underway and also counter the seemingly daily bad press and revelations of new wrongdoing. It won’t work.

Catalina reminds everybody that several investigations are currently underway. We know that the Westchester District Attorney’s Office is conducting a thorough investigation. The NY State Attorney General’s Office is conducting an investigation into the agency involved in the grant and may also be looking into TPC and their parent company Hudson River Healthcare (HRHC). They may also be looking into Claxton. Since there is extensive fraud involved the US Attorney may also be investigating. The NYS Comptroller’s Office announced this week they will be conducting intensive audits throughout the agencies involved in distributing grant funds.

All these investigations take time – many months at least. The Claxton corruption is just the beginning. It is a very tangled web indeed. The Journal News recently reported that Peekskill Democratic District Leader Lynne Nayman, a former TPC employee was a recipient of her own grant and TPC Director Jeannette Phillips’ daughter, also an employee of TPC, received a grant improperly. Emma McKinney, HRHC’s own ‘Credentialing Supervisor’ received two grants and stated to the Journal News recently, “we are all under the same umbrella.” That is some big umbrella – HRHC, TPC and the Peekskill Democratic Party. There are many more still to be named. More grants, more violation of the rules and more embarrassment for the City of Peekskill.

All this while we wait for the results of the recent lawsuit brought by a private citizen against the Democratic Council Majority for their illegal meeting and budget vote in December. Then there is the ongoing investigation of Councilwoman Vivian McKenzie for illegally sharing a confidential email containing privileged employee information with her political mentor Mike Morey (who then immediately shared it with the press).

These issues won’t be settled anytime soon. With more information yet to be exposed to the public and investigations with no end in sight, the citizens of Peekskill will unfortunately have to live with the microscope on their community. All the more reason Claxton should step down immediately. She should put the community first, not herself.

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