: the tradition that appointments be made across party lines in the interest of fair and impartial outcomes.
It is not enough to say your intent is fair and impartial – that is not measurable – in Rye we have traditionally required that the outcome be just. Last week's sham appointment was anything but. Mayors Dunn and Carey followed this honorable tradition. Mayor French and our council sneered at it. They presume to know better than our former mayors.
Last week, 5 Republicans retained for themselves the power to name a crony in June, rather than let the voters decide in a November election, 5 short months from now. They clung to the power, but cast aside the responsibility, to act in the best interests of Rye.
None of the Republicans on our council swore fealty to the GOP when they placed their hand on the Bible and took their public oath of office, yet it was sadly evident last week that that was where their loyalty resided.
The "appointment" of Julie Killian, after her massive multiple donations to the GOP, almost 70 thousand dollars in less than 2 years (2 years which coincide almost to the day with her newly minted interest in public policy), leads to the perception that the Rye City Council serves a master other than the people of Rye. If Julie had to run for the seat, her bizarre pattern of contributions to some very right wing candidates would have been exposed to the people of Rye. Our council closed rank to ensure she would not be scrutinized.
Republican or Democrat, I believe voters would find the beliefs of some of the candidates Julie funded to be far to the right of our values in New York. Julie has stated she is not partisan. Her record, her associations, her contributions, are very partisan and frankly disturbing.
Julie supports, for example, a candidate who compared welfare recipients to scavenging raccoons eating beetles attracted to dead rats. You can't make this stuff up - and I didn't. Julie sent this guy a big check - in Nebraska. She has sent big checks to New York's most far right conservative congresswoman, Ann Marie Buerkle, who is proudly anti-choice, anti-gay and anti-environment. I wonder if EAGR knows that?
It is important to look at a candidate's behavior, not just what they say. An appointment allows Julie Killian to avoid that important scrutiny. In Rye, she talks about soup kitchens. In the privacy of her home she writes checks to candidates who exacerbate the need for soup kitchens.
The fact that all 5 Republicans on the council glossed over those contributions show they are more deeply partisan than the mere "volunteers" they claim to be.
I note with irony that Doug French and Joe Sack, who can't even agree on the time of day, who seem to enjoy regular cat fights in public, nonetheless were able to hold hands and sing Kum ba yah inspired by the purity of this vote.
This deal, the subject of at least two emergency triple XXX secret meetings of the Rye GOP in recent weeks, reflects the worst of local hyper partisan politics. As much as they will sputter and get all indignant and swear politics had nothing to do with it, I ask you this; if politics were not at play, why did the GOP meet not once, but twice, in a panic, when I, along with Bob Zahm and Catherine Parker and Suki van Dijk, objected publicly to the scheme? The Rye GOP is political, right? Would they be interested at all, let alone worried, about a simple "volunteer" appointment?
We will have to take it to the voters in November, when we have an actual election, not a back room deal. The power of incumbency however gives Julie Killian an unfair advantage. On a level playing field, Julie's political associations and her limited record would make her election doubtful. This mayor and this council voted last week to make sure the playing field was not level. Even if you have no interest in politics, you can see the fundamental unfairness in giving one candidate a 5 month head start.
Until then, and beyond the election, I will work to see our charter revised so this kind of shameful behavior, which further erodes what little legitimacy our council retains in the eyes of the public, is illegal. I'd like to see our local council elections be non partisan, where a woman or man can run on their abilities and their reputation, not on their contributions to the GOP.
Our Rye City School Board conducts their elections is this manner. I think the reverence in which our School Board President Laura Slack, and former President and members Josh Nathan, Bob Zahm and Young Kim, are held, stands in stark contrast to the circus atmosphere at our council meetings.
Respect begets respect. When cynical sham "appointments" occur as they did last Wednesday, where public comment and debate are shut down, and Rye citizen and candidate Jason Mehler is not even allowed 30 seconds to address the council, it is evident why this council has lost respect. By contrast, Laura Slack is far and away one of Rye's most beloved citizens. Can our mayor say that?
It is too much of a coincidence that a GOP mega donor comes out of nowhere, despite having seldom set foot in the chamber before February, when Suzanna Keith announced for the second time her intention to abandon the council, and in May that mega-donor is the pre-ordained "most qualified" candidate for the seat. The Rye Record, the Republican majority's PRAVDA, even announced the appointment prematurely, then quickly pulled the story without so much as an editor's note, which any real journalist would include.
I know the Republicans on the council will react to this Op Ed by proclaiming in a self righteous tone that it was not pre-ordained, not at all. Adults who think for themselves know that you can say anything you want from the bully pulpit of an elected office, and as sure as Rye floods in the Spring, politicians will say all sorts of things to their own benefit. I don't expect this circus to be any different.
Denying it, while attacking my motives and my integrity, won't change the facts, which speak for themselves, so bring it.
I'm confident many Rye voters will see through the shameful behavior by the Rye Council last week. When we actually hold a Democratic election, if not this year then next, as this year's may already be too compromised, voters will remember. If this council of "volunteers" would have us believe Julie Killian merely wants to "volunteer" to serve Rye, not to use this council appointment to launch her right wing political career, then I have a bridge over Central Avenue to sell you, unless Julie's already bought that too.