Calling all Westchester County Republicans.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT.
Did you know that none of you are qualified to run against Steve Otis (D) for the state legislature this fall?
That’s right – Westchester County Republican Party Chairman Douglas Colety apparently thinks any Republican candidate has zero chance against Mr. Otis despite the documented malfeasance, frauds and theft of taxpayer millions initiated during his time as Rye City Mayor.
Chairman Colety, it must be noted, owes his position at least in part to NYS Pataki-Machine operator Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett, currently assigned by the machine to guiding the political fortunes of one Robert Astorino in his quest to best Mr. Andrew Cuomo for the state’s highest political office. And this 'Plunkett factor' here may explain a lot.
By way of background, in 2002 Mr. Plunkett arrived as Rye City Corporation Council seemingly out-of-the-blue, installed in the job by then Rye City Mayor Steve Otis who unceremoniously canned the then city attorney without notice. Mr. Plunkett, who had handled Rye’s Home Depot lawsuit defense work on retainer, was an unusual choice for Rye. He didn’t join the city staff as an in-house attorney full time - nor did he relinquish his law firm partnership at the high-billing Thatcher Proffitt & Wood (a firm then known for its political connections and political contributions to select candidates).
Between 2002 and 2008, Mr. Plunkett and Mr. Otis managed Rye’s litigation expenses up to astounding levels. According to public records obtained through Freedom of Information Requests, Plunkett’s firm collected $772,070 for legal services in this period from Rye - on top of another $407,708 Plunkett collected in city salary, benefits and pension contributions during this same period.
Some of the litigation matters underlying these record charges were mundane, but others were extraordinarily out-of-pattern for Rye (The Osborn Home Tax Re-Assessment Ambush) - and some were simply cruel and outrageous, manufactured apparently only for the fees they could generate while protecting local political donors (Schubert’s Pond).
Mr. Otis’s personal involvement with multiple municipal “controversies” in Rye should be enough to sink any candidate no matter how gerrymandered his district nor how many secret privileges he bestowed upon key local election allies during his tenure. But there is now one other much bigger thing that is uncontested – and that is the discovery and of the largest theft of city taxpayer monies in city history – AKA The Rye Golf Club Swindle – all matters about which were approved for takeoff while Messer’s Plunkett and Otis were in charge of the Rye City Treasury and the Internal Legal and Financial Control Systems of Rye.
So what is a Mr. Colety to do? Field a candidate like William Villanova, whose personal integrity and GOP party loyalty were his greatest strength and his greatest unacknowledged liability in his unsuccessful prior run against Mr. Otis? Many pressed Mr. Villanova to bring up Mr. Otis’s Rye record to no avail. Might a new Colety approved candidate be ordered likewise to ignore Mr. Otis’s tangible track record in Rye – or to say it’s now just a matter for the District Attorney to sort out – and that other matters about the Plunkett/Otis era in Rye are ‘side shows’ or ‘phony scandals ‘or ‘old news’ or just ‘distractions?’
Apparently – two weeks and counting – in the Matter of Steve Otis (D) for NYS Assembly, - Mr. Colety has punted.
And the Rye Golf Club’s now missing $2M+ - remains still fully unaccounted for.