Corruption By Peekskill Dems To Prevent Primary Exposed

No Primary

One thing about the Democratic Party political machine, especially the one in Peekskill, is that they do not like to be challenged. They like being in control and selecting the candidates they want to run for office – those who will obey their orders and do what they are told. So, when the two Democratic registered candidates on the Peekskill United slate filed petitions to run as Democrats, the Peekskill Democratic Party knew they could not let that happen. They could not let Luis Segarra or Robert Sullivan create a primary – their inferior, hand-picked Dem Party candidates would likely lose. So, they set to work to have the challengers’ petitions disqualified through the Board of Elections ‘objection to petitions’ process.

Another focus of the Peekskill Democratic Party has been to bring national politics to the local level. Their personal attacks, unethical, and criminal behavior have been epic in recent years but now they have taken a page directly out of the DNC playbook. Working closely with the party leadership in the Board of Elections and the Westchester County Democratic Party Chairman, and with help from a Dem-friendly county judge, they are pulling the same inside fix that was directed at Bernie Sanders last year. Just like the DNC, the Peekskill Dems are stacking the deck against any and all challengers registered within the party.

The facts: the Democratic Commissioner of the Board of Elections and the Westchester Democratic Party Chairman are the same person. The county judge hearing the case grew up alongside that chairman in Mount Vernon. Oh, and Peekskill Democratic Party operative and Mike Morey protégé, Tj Rogers, works in the Board of Elections and helped ‘review’ this petition challenge! Get the picture?

It just so happens that two of the candidates from the Peekskill United slate running for common council are registered Democrats. A refreshing and interesting development, right? A political campaign based on uniting people locally and not beholden to a political machine? Not as far as the Peekskill Democrats are concerned. Why? Aren’t they for everyone working together across party lines for the betterment of their community? Actually, no, they are not interested in any such thing.

A previous post at InsidePEEK explained that the two Peekskill United candidates wished to give the registered Democratic voters a choice in the election. It is their right as Americans to do that and it is something that should be applauded – regular citizens wanting to get involved in their community. It’s called a ‘Primary’ and they happen all the time. It’s part of the democratic process but not in Peekskill Democratic Party politics – and nobody better try! Just ask Peekskill United candidates Luis Segarra and Robert Sullivan.

Primary Wiki

Once the Peekskill Democrats discovered that Segarra and Sullivan were circulating petitions to challenge the candidates hand-picked by the party, they panicked. The Peekskill Democratic Party put into motion a plan that comes naturally to them – a process of cheating, lying and manipulating the public – and, as we explained, they have a lot of help.

https://insidepeekblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/peekskill-democrats-to-have-a-real-choice-with-september-primary/

By the way, Segarra and Sullivan were not the only ones looking to create a Democratic Primary. Yup, there were two others unhappy about the ‘chosen’ slate. Mike Kane, a Democratic District Leader and someone who has run for office in the past was completely looked over – and he wasn’t happy about it. We mentioned in a previous post that we were informed he was visibly upset at a council meeting this Spring and we surmised it was because of inner-party squabbles. Come to find out, he discovered he would not be selected to run for the council. He immediately announced he was seeking a Primary. He collected signatures and even obtained the endorsement of the Working Families Party, so he was going to be on the ballot no matter what. Then, a funny thing happened on the road to the Board of Elections – Kane’s petitions were never handed in. On top of that, he “declined” the Working Families Endorsement. So, what happened? Word is Morey and Rigger got directly involved to stop him – and made him a promise to take care of him in the future. We will have to wait and see what that turns out to be. Kane is a die-hard party hack so it wasn’t easy to back him down. The other person attempting a Primary was a resident of Bohlmann Towers who didn’t get very far with her petitions before she was stopped.

Once the threat from inside the party was extinguished, Morey and Rigger had to find a way to stop Segarra and Sullivan, who had over a hundred more signatures than is required to create the Primary. The only thing the Democratic Party could do was work inside the Board of Elections with their cohorts and find bogus ways to disqualify enough signatures to drop them below the required number. The problem was, there were plenty of valid signatures. Unfazed, the Dems went to work and challenged enough signatures to disqualify – they knew their friends in the BOE would rule in their favor. The Peekskill United candidates were forced to go to court and challenge the BOE ruling.

They quickly discovered that the fix was in there too! Bernie Sandered again! To understand how impossible it had become – the judge ruled that 60 signatures would remain invalid because they were obtained by a college student who wasn’t registered as was claimed by the Peekskill Dems and the Democratic BOE Commissioner. That sounds fair except the Peekskill United legal team produced the proof that the college student WAS REGISTERED and that the petitions should then be valid. Certified BOE documents were presented as proof but the judge ruled them irrelevant. Why? Because the Peekskill United candidates were only 28 signatures short of the minimum number required so if the 60 were allowed to be valid then a Primary would take place – the Democratic Party couldn’t let that happen.

Fooling and deceiving voters is always the priority for the Peekskill Democrats in each and every election. They are very good at it. Just imagine how great Peekskill could be if they decided to put all of their planning and energy into doing honest and positive things. How great would it be if they stopped the partisan antics and worked together with colleagues? Ok, time to snap out of it, that is never going to happen in Peekskill. How foolish of us to even think of such things.

So, what happens now? InsidePEEK has been informed that the Peekskill United candidates are outraged over this miscarriage of justice and plan to seek relief in the appellate division. We understand this court resides in Brooklyn – so hopefully justice will prevail there. Stay tuned.

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 Dem Party Slate – Beware!

Dem Slate Beware

Last week the Peekskill Democratic Party announced their slate of candidates for this year’s election – and it is not good for Peekskill. In fact, it is downright scary. Unless, of course, your views include making Peekskill a Sanctuary City, bashing Israel, police, firefighters and the United States of America – and support socialism, communism and are against the rule of law.

Make no mistake – this is not your mother’s Democratic Party any more. The radical liberal alt-left has fully arrived in Peekskill – and they want full power.

During this past week we did some research of the new candidates and sifted through the many emails we received offering information and comments. We have a lot more to do but here is what we found so far:

Andre “Noodle Noo” Rainey for mayor. We know, it always causes a laugh or chuckle to see that someone with such a nickname is running for office. It is embarrassing enough that he barely won a council seat just under two years ago and now thinks he can be mayor. We have written about Noodle before and there is much more to come out regarding his legal issues but we’ll leave that alone for now and move on to the council candidates – where even more serious issues lie.

https://insidepeekblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/noo-news-arrest-warrant-issued/

https://insidepeekblog.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/paglias-thanksgiving-eve-brawl-in-peekskill/

Vanessa Agudelo, candidate for council, is probably the least known of the slate but is probably the one with the most disturbing background.  She proudly calls herself a “Community Organizer,” which is troubling enough but she has been a fixture at many protests and has been very active in the Anti-Israel movement. She is all about causing unrest and protecting those who break laws, disturb the public and taunt law enforcement. A troubling choice.

Ramon Fernandez, candidate for council, is relatively new to Peekskill and works as a taxi driver in the city. He ran unsuccessfully for school board in the past. Ironically, the Peekskill Democratic Party worked against him in that election, which makes us wonder why he would get involved with them now. Perhaps it is their common wish and goal to make Peekskill a Sanctuary City. Fernandez has, “almost overnight” (as one of our readers described him), gone from a mild-mannered taxi driver to a belligerent, nasty, and hypersensitive person. He has been appearing at council meetings just to bash and fight with the mayor – and to get noticed for the election of course. He is obviously being coached but he is also picking up the undesirable traits of his trainers. Not a good sign.

The third, and most puzzling candidate for common council is Colin Smith. Yes, the same Colin Smith who thought he was chosen to be the City’s Associate Judge but was passed over by the Dems for Melissa Loehr (see link to post about this below). He was upset and embarrassed to be publicly humiliated in such a way – and by his supposed friends. Now, as one of our readers stated, he is “being played” by the Democrats because he is such a ‘party first’ guy. “Like good Democrats are trained to do,” stated our reader, “Colin has put politics over doing the right thing and even over his own reputation.” Boy, that is true party loyalty! We at InsidePEEK are still asking – why? Why would someone let themselves be so embarrassed and then join those who embarrassed him? Sure, they gave him the City’s Hearing Officer job as a consolation but it is nothing like being a judge. And by the way, why has he not resigned that position now that he is a political candidate? He should be required to step down immediately due to the conflict it causes. God help any Republican or Dem Party enemy who goes before him with a ticket.

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

Colin’s candidacy especially poses a huge issue for the school district (he is a member of the Peekskill Board of Education) – and they are not happy about it. Some connected to the district have informed us of the concern of administrative staff and even some of Colin’s fellow board members. It opens up ALL the controversy, malfeasance, corruption and poor student performance that has plagued the district while Colin has been a board member. InsidePEEK has received numerous submissions outlining the district trouble that Colin has been involved with – some we read about previously in the press and some we haven’t. We were told there is much more to come so we will wait and gather the facts. Even now there is a serious investigation by the DA’s office that Colin will have to answer for. We will bring it all to you during the campaign.

In an earlier post, we predicted who some of the candidates would be. We were correct about Noodle but obviously wrong about McGowan – well, kind of. McGowan had every intention of running but backed out once she realized InsidePEEK had the information regarding her Grove Street transactions and issues with an entity she has financial ties to – Stella the trolley. We also were informed that another candidate wanted to run for council, Michael Kane. He was rejected by the party and he was not happy about it. In fact, he was seen being openly angry and arguing with party leaders in public. Mary Foster also wanted to get back in the good graces of the party but was told that there was “no way” the party would support her. So, she will be used or “played” to borrow one of our reader’s terms, to raise money. In fact, we were informed that she is planning a fundraiser at her Peekskill home soon.

As of the publishing of this post the Peekskill GOP has not yet made their slate public. We know from recent articles that Mayor Catalina has indicated he and Councilman Joe Torres are running for re-election and Councilman Vesce is not. That leaves two open spots for new candidates to fill. We will highlight the GOP slate once it is announced.

Other races this year include the county-wide elections for County Executive, County Clerk and County Legislators. We know that present County Executive Astorino, Clerk Idoni and Legislators representing our area, Testa and Borgia are running for re-election. The County Dems have chosen State Senator George Latimer to run against Astorino but he may have a primary challenge from County Legislator Ken Jenkins. Once we have all the races sorted out with announced candidates on both sides, InsidePEEK will give our take on each.

InsidePEEK has also received inquiries regarding the races in the Town of Cortlandt. We have not decided whether we will report on those races as of now. One of our contributing members is from Cortlandt Manor and is urging us to do so, as are many Cortlandt residents. Tell us what YOU think.

From all indications so far, it seems that this election season will be a doozy. Please send us any and all information you feel will be helpful in our coverage. Remember – all submissions are strictly confidential.

McKenzie Property Tax Scandal Exposed, Doesn’t Pay and Hides Facts from Public

McKenzie Taxes.jpg

We thought we already knew why Vivian McKenzie couldn’t run for mayor – there were too many issues she didn’t want to become public. At least we thought we knew all the reasons – you’re not going to believe what we discovered!

Before we dive into the latest scandal there is a question we at InsidePEEK have been asking ourselves – what is it with these Peekskill Democrats? Why does the illegal, unethical and malfeasant behavior persist? Why do they think they can get away with such behavior? We refer to a comment by one of our readers who posed the same question – “They have been allowed to get away with things for too long. They had full control and hid everything.”

McKenzie has been in hot water before. She should have been forced to resign over her illegal exposure of a city employee by sharing a confidential email with the press. Thanks to having the majority on the council and friends in high places she got away with it – and that’s the problem. Being protected by equally unethical and power hungry ‘friends’ has emboldened McKenzie, Claxton, Rainey, Talbot and others to put themselves over the constituents they represent.

https://insidepeekblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/mckenzie-forwarded-emails-to-political-operative-violated-employee-confidentiality/

This time McKenzie has gone too far – and she has a newly exposed friend who helped her.

InsidePEEK has learned that Councilwoman Vivian McKenzie owns 3 properties in Peekskill. One is her 979 Main Street business, Kathleen’s Tea Room, and also 2 homes (McKenzie was recently overheard admitting one of the homes is in her sister’s name but really owned by her). People are allowed to own real estate, we at InsidePEEK realize that. BUT – the owners are required to pay the taxes on that real estate – even council members. McKenzie doesn’t seem to think so.

Last fall the City of Peekskill conducted an “In-REM” sale of property. The process is basically a seizing of property that has been delinquent in paying property taxes for at least two years. The law allows the City to follow a specific legal process to take title to the property so it can be sold with the City recouping its lost tax revenue.

It just so happens that McKenzie’s Main Street commercial property turned up on the “In-REM” list for not paying taxes – or did it?

InsidePEEK has discovered that although McKenzie’s property was on the ‘internal list’ it never made the list distributed to the council and the public. Normally, the entire list of delinquent properties is discussed by the council and staff to determine which, if any, properties were legally able to be retained by their owners through a process of paying back the taxes in arrears by a prescribed date by law. Somehow, McKenzie’s property that should have been listed wasn’t. Why? How?

It turns out McKenzie had her friend, City Comptroller Ann Scaglione, remove her property from the list before it was made public! We at InsidePEEK are not sure if that is illegal, but we are sure it is unethical. But that is not the whole story.

Bridgewater-header

How could this agreement happen without three members of the council knowing? Was the down payment made?

Scaglione, without the Republican council members’ knowledge, made a private agreement with McKenzie. The issue of making such an agreement may or may not have been done according to the specific legal process, but it was not done according to the city’s established process, nor by the ethical standards of treating a council member as every other citizen would be treated. Did the City Corporation Council need to approve the agreement? Did she even know of the agreement? It is a legal document but there is no signature by the Corporation Council on the document. We find that odd in this day and age, especially for a municipality. The City’s lawyer should have initiated the document. On top of that – did the City Manager know? Did he approve such a deal? We hope Mayor Catalina will be able to obtain all the facts and expose the entire scandal and the employees involved. The Democrats once again abused their power in office to take care of one of their own. Remember, Scaglione was hired by Foster and the all Democrat council to help deceive the public on the City finances. And speaking of City finances – it is rumored that Scaglione was telling fellow staff that she is looking for another job to get out before those deceptions come to light. More on that we get the details.

Bridgewater-signatures

Why didn’t the Corporation Council sign this agreement? Did she even know about it? Did the City Manager know? Is it legal?

That is all bad enough but it is not the full story!

InsidePEEK has obtained a copy of the City’s agreement with “VG Bridgewater Inc.” (the legal name of McKenzie’s holdings). In the agreement, McKenzie agrees to pay the City back over two years for a total of over $24,000 in unpaid taxes – does everybody in this position get this type of agreement? We are not sure about that.

Wait, there is still more!

InsidePEEK has also obtained a copy of the pay schedule to the City. At least they did that much. It contains a shocking revelation – McKenzie may have defaulted on her November 2016 payment! She has one payment left at the end of May. Will she pay it on time?

Bridgewater-PaymentsHL.jpg

Did McKenzie default on her agreement and get away with it? How can we believe the payments were not only made according to the agreement but whether they were ever made at all?

Here is the final, and maybe the most disturbing thing in this whole sorted story – while in default herself and side-stepping the disclosure process, McKenzie publicly never said anything while she voted to seize fellow citizen’s property for not paying property taxes. How could she do that in good conscience? She hid her own circumstance while willingly not affording others the same benefits she used for herself. A most shameful act. This raises another question – was her vote a serious conflict of interest? Does it open up the City for a legal challenge by those who lost their homes and disqualify the vote? We do not know but perhaps we will learn soon.

A side note regarding McKenzie is the excessive garbage throughout the downtown. It is unsightly, dangerous and embarrassing for the city. McKenzie has berated members of the public over it and continuously complains about it. All while she remains the worst culprit of the problem! The garbage in front of her business is troubling. InsidePEEK was sent photos by one of our readers who pointed out her hypocrisy on the issue. Does she have an illegal apartment above her business? The explosion of these apartments has happened in the downtown ever since the zoning change two years ago. The honest businesses downtown are suffering because of business owners like McKenzie and the misinformed and destructive policy decisions made by her and her fellow Democratic council members.

The bigger question is what can be done with McKenzie? Is there a legal process to have her removed from office once and for all? She has become a liability for the City and her political party. Her business is suffering from her actions along with her nasty demeanor and treatment of the public at meetings. She should resign and move on to take care of her business and family. But then again, if she leaves office how could she continue to protect herself from the law? A difficult situation indeed.

McKenzie, Talbot Vote Against Police; Claxton Absent Again

drone-post

All they could do was look down in shame as they voted.

At the December 12th Common Council meeting the members had an agenda item to accept a donation of an “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” aka a drone for the Peekskill Police Department. Seems like a good idea, right? Not to Kathy Talbot and Vivian McKenzie. They voted NO to accept this important asset for the police. Drones have been deployed by police agencies all across the country. They save lives, make policing safer, more efficient and assist in helping with many actions, including searching for missing persons. Perhaps that is why Talbot and McKenzie voted no – they don’t want enhanced police in Peekskill. The only reason Claxton didn’t vote no is because she wasn’t there – AGAIN. More on that later.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to the citizens of Peekskill. The Peekskill Democratic Party has been notoriously against the police for a long time now. Claxton has made sure of that. So, for the pattern to continue is just more of the same.

McKenzie wants to be mayor and has been desperately working on making herself increasingly more visible by being a disrespecting voice of opposition to Mayor Catalina in every meeting. Her past skeletons of ‘challenges’ with law enforcement will surely come out if she chooses to run for mayor in 2017 as has been reported. It looks like she needed to keep her ‘street cred’ with her supporters with such an ill-advised vote.

Talbot has become nothing more than a serial protester. Give her something to protest and a sign to hold and she will surely be there. InsidePEEK has been informed that she still takes her cues from former mayor Mary Foster and receives regular texts during meetings from her giving direction for comments and questions. When it came time to vote on the drone donation she paused at first – she knew it was the wrong thing to do but eventually voted against it. It is time she stops getting a pass from criticism because of her ignorance and simple nature. She was elected to make Peekskill a better place to live, not a less safe one.

council-mtd_dec-12_2016

The backdrop to the meeting was an issue all too familiar in Peekskill – the absence of Drew Claxton. It came to the forefront during the work session prior to the council meeting over the scheduling of the ground breaking ceremony for the new central firehouse. Claxton wants the event planned around her schedule so she can TRY to be there. After a long and embarrassing discussion, it was decided the scheduled date and time for the event would not be changed.

To Mayor Catalina’s credit he was prepared for the discussion because in the few days leading up to the meeting there had been a series of angry emails from Claxton over the issue. The irony of the evening was almost comical – Claxton was absent from the meeting! InsidePEEK has been informed that this has been an issue during Claxton’s entire tenure. She misses many council meetings throughout the year – especially when controversial votes are to be taken. Seems she didn’t want to go on record voting against the drone but knew she couldn’t vote in favor of it (it would alienate her from many in her political party). So, she avoided the vote altogether – something she has done many times. During the work session McKenzie loyally attempted to continue the lie exposed months ago about Claxton’s health. Her health had nothing to do with her absence.

Catalina reeled off event after event that Claxton did not attend. As is her habit, she misses most community events – year after year. Catalina read from a list of important events from the previous year that council members are expected to attend – Claxton attended NONE of them. In fact, the Democratic members of the council missed most of them too. So why was the scheduling of the firehouse groundbreaking so important? They never cared about attending events before. Catalina never got a satisfactory answer, just snide remarks and disrespectful interruptions from McKenzie. It was another embarrassing moment for Peekskill.

At least one good thing happened on the 12th – the four remaining council members voted in favor of the drone. So, in spite of the Claxton-McKenzie-Talbot anti-police stance, the police department will be getting that drone.

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 Saved by Statute of Limitations – For Now

Drew_Statute of Limit

The Westchester County DA’s Office recently announced that they will not “pursue criminal charges” against Drew Claxton for her acceptance of grant funds she was not eligible for. InsidePEEK has learned that this is not because Claxton was innocent, but because the Statute of Limitations for her crimes has been exceeded. It was nine years ago that she was awarded grant funds by The Preservation Company and the Statute of Limitations is five years.

Claxton may have gotten lucky with the DA, but her troubles are not over. Although the Statute of Limitations for her crimes saved her locally, the same is not true for her on the federal level. Federal fraud and public corruption charges can be brought up to five years after a person leaves the office in which they committed those crimes. Claxton is still in office of course, so her federal Statute of Limitations hasn’t even started.

The State and Federal investigations continue against Claxton and her conspirators. We know that a few State Agency investigations, including the NYS Affordable Housing Commission are ongoing against The Preservation Company for their disturbing pattern of giving grants to various members of the Peekskill Democratic Party and their family members or associates. InsidePEEK has obtained many of these records and will be making them public once a complete record is in hand.

The Preservation Company has already publicly admitted they have not properly followed the law in awarding grant funds, even those given to Claxton. They had returned the $34,427 to the state in hopes to prevent further investigation and eventual charges. It has not worked.

One question many of our readers continually ask, and InsidePEEK joins them – has Claxton returned the illegal funds to The Preservation Company? Since TPC returned the money to the State, shouldn’t Claxton also return the funds? Can someone rob a bank then, when caught, just give the money back without paying any consequences?

Claxton has a lot to answer for and the public will not stop wanting the answers. It was bad enough she faked being sick to gain advantage but she still has her actions as an elected official to answer for – illegal meetings and budget vote to raise taxes (for which she lost a court battle over), improper treatment of City staff and constant attacking of members of the public.

Claxton should be required to step down from public office. The Charter says so and the members of the public demand it. We at InsidePEEK are wondering why her own party is not making her leave. We know that the Peekskill Democratic Party feels they can get away with just about anything, but as long as Claxton is in the public eye, many of their party members and family will caught up in the unfolding corruption related to grant funding. There is much more information to come out.

How will Claxton vote on this new policy proposed by Mayor Catalina to prevent future grant scandals like the one she caused? Read the latest Journal News article:
http://www.lohud.com/story/news/investigations/2016/08/04/grant-peekskill-nonprofit-scandal/87357920/

Claxton may have obtained a momentary sigh of relief over her Statute of Limitations good fortune but she is not even close to being out of the woods legally and will forever be ethically scarred. How long must the citizens of Peekskill keep paying for her misdeeds? When will she?

Boak’s NY Senate Campaign to Challenge Murphy Clouded in Scandal And Controversy

Boak_de Blasio

Looks like NYC Mayor de Blasio’s hand-picked candidate against NYS Senator Terrence Murphy is in serious trouble – both ethically and financially.

Steeped in scandal and controversy, Alison Boak and her campaign are caught up in the fundraising investigation surrounding the illegal contributions de Blasio funneled in 2014 to the Democratic Party in Putnam and elsewhere. See our previous post on this issue:
https://insidepeekblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/dems-exposed-in-illegal-campaign-funding-scheme-in-ny-senate-race/

InsidePEEK wonders why Boak would hire the political consultants Red Horse LLC to help run her campaign. Why is this significant? Red Horse is tied into the de Blasio scandal from the last Senate race. They have been subpoenaed by both federal and NYC prosecutors as part of the ongoing criminal investigation. We know she is aware of this because she refused to comment when asked about it when the subpoenas were issued in May. So why use them in the first place? It looks like de Blasio gave her no choice.

It seems like even members of her own party don’t like her alliance with de Blasio. She has had 8 fundraisers but has raised only $52,000. Not very much, especially when compared to Murphy’s $280,000. It doesn’t help that Boak has been a failed candidate in the past – in 2009 for Pound Ridge Town Board and in 2013 for Town Supervisor. She was able to gain a seat on the Town Board in 2011 because she was unopposed, but was thrown out in 2015 when she ran for re-election and faced an actual opponent who exposed her record.

So how does she expect to have enough campaign funds to continue this race? There is no real support from the people that know her and her campaign has no direction or momentum. Could there be another de Blasio plan to funnel money into the Democratic Party coffers throughout the district as was done two years ago? InsidePEEK wouldn’t be surprised since de Blasio has been defiant about his actions of the past. Time will tell.

Then there is this sticky issue regarding Boak’s Florida rental home. There are reports claiming she has neglected to pay state and local taxes and has had her Florida Rental License suspended. InsidePEEK has learned there is a Florida Police Report from 2015 that may shed some light on the issue. Once we have more details InsidePEEK will share them in a future post.

At the start of the 2016 campaign season InsidePEEK predicted Terrence Murphy would handily win re-election. At that time there were 3 candidates looking to challenge him but none, including Boak, had the experience, record or popularity of Murphy. Since that prediction we at InsidePEEK feel even stronger in our assessment. Murphy has excelled as a first term NYS Senator and has worked hard to change the culture of Albany and bring needed reforms in many areas. The people of District 40 will want him to continue.

It seems logical to us that the State Democratic Party has decided to overlook this particular district race this time around. They know the hundreds of thousands of dollars they spent two years ago cannot be repeated on a race they cannot win.

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.

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