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Rye Council to Retain Special Counsel for RGC Probe

City officials have voted to retain a special counsel for potential legal proceeding related to RGC investigation.

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The Rye City Council will hold a special meeting today to discuss retaining a special counsel to assist the city council in a potential Section 75 proceeding, which relates to disciplinary action for civil service employees.  The law states that a Civil Service employee may not be removed or disciplined unless incompetency or misconduct was shown after a hearing on the charges. Rye Golf Club manager Scott Yandrasevich, who is currently under investigation, is protected under Civil Service laws. 

On Wednesday night, the council approved a transfer of  $106,000 from the general fund contingent account to a legal account.

After the recent accusations that Yandrasevich misappropriated funds and had a conflict of interest with the club’s staffing company, RM Staffing, city officials voted to hire an outside counsel to conduct a full investigation in October.  The city did not handle the investigation internally because they had concerns about the city manager’s handling of the situation when allegations first became public.

At the Dec. 19 city council meeting, a discussion of the $300 RGC dining room minimum soon turned to the broader issue of RGC management and the ongoing investigation.  Mayor Douglas French again emphasized that the situation is “very, very serious.” The elected officials are working hard with the outside counsel they hired to conduct the investigation, French said. The conversation also covered the need to evaluate the club’s enterprise fund structure and how suspicions about RGC management were left unchecked for months, possibly years, before a serious investigation was launched.

“It will take all of us to accept some responsibility,” said Councilman Peter Jovanovich, indicating past and present administrations, commission members and staffers are all responsible for the club reaching this point. Jovanovich said he was unhappy with an auditor’s response to a question about RGC in 2010, but accepted it anyway.

RGC Commission Chair John Duffy said he had ideas something was awry earlier this year when he heard RM was staffing a club in Norwalk, but did not investigate either.

“In July, we were asking the wrong questions because we did not have the right knowledge,” Mayor French said, referring to the time when vague accusations of improprieties first surfaced.

“I am not blaming the commission at all. What I am saying is the enterprise structure didn’t give enough information,” French said, adding that the commission did not have accurate information, so the city council did not have accurate information. Essentially, Duffy and French agreed that because RM Staffing seemed to be running the club more efficiently than the previous staffing agency, questions that maybe should have been asked, were not.

Now that the investigation is happening, Golf Club commission members reported RM was billing the club from between $60-80,000 bi-weekly over recent months, and they did not know why.

“This is a serious, serious matter that requires a lot of effort and we want to make sure we do our proper due diligence,” French said.

Officials said Civil Service laws prevent them from discussing the investigation or Yandrasevich’s status any further.

“There are no charges brought and we don’t have any assumptions as to what results of investigation is going to be,” Councilwoman Laura Brett said.

The council also said they were not able to give a date on when the investigation might end. 

Jim Amico December 21, 2012 at 06:39 PM
"The city did not handle the investigation internally because they had concerns about the city manager’s handling of the situation when allegations first became public." FALSE! The City did lean towards themselves & Commissioner Connors leading the investigation......The City didn't because "WE" the public were against it, mainly because that would have meant our City Manager Scott Pickup having access to the investigation!!! “It will take all of us to accept some responsibility,” said Councilman Peter Jovanovich, indicating past and present administrations, commission members and staffers are all responsible for the club reaching this point. Jovanovich said he was unhappy with an auditor’s response to a question about RGC in 2010, but accepted it anyway." FALSE! Nice try Councilman. Did this just come back to you about 2010, why haven't you spoke of this before now? Past Administrations are irrelevant other than the common donominator....MR. SCOTT PICKUP!!! ALL OF US??? WHY ALL OF US??? The majority of the blame should be put right where it belongs....on MR. SCOTT PICKUP!!! Had Mr. Pickup done the right/legal act there would have never of been a reason for anyone to have something to overlook...City Managers are suppose to protect us not rob us!!! Councilman, if you want to fall on a sword for Pickup then you go right ahead and do so, doesn't mean others are so willing!
RyeDad December 21, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Dear Mr. Amico: There is avery simple solution to find out who knew what, when. NYS Law allows the City of Rye to question City of Rye employees under oath about their conduct. Pickup and Connors can be forced to testify under oath about their involvement. If they refuse to testify they will be fired for insubordination. This is contained in Article 75 of the NYS Civil Service Law: Investigations POL § 61 Frequently, charges are preceded by an investigation by the appointing authority. It is well established that an appointing officer has the right to question an employee with respect to matters involving or affecting job performance and that an employee is obligated to answer such questions. Refusal to answer constitutes insub- ordination. The appointing officer may question the employee under oath, and have the questions and answers recorded. Any employee, including managerial/ confidential, who appears to be a potential subject of disciplinary action, has, at the time of questioning, a right to representation and shall be notified in advance, in writing, of this right.
dita von struedel van trappyodel December 22, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Do you have any other activity other than inserting yourself into all of these Rye issues? Maybe you should get a job
RyeDad December 22, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Has the investigator hired with our tax dollars questioned Pickup and Connors under oath yet? If not, why not? Is this an investigation or is our $150,000 being used to find a way to cover everything up? Dear Mr. Amico: There is avery simple solution to find out who knew what, when. NYS Law allows the City of Rye to question City of Rye employees under oath about their conduct. Pickup and Connors can be forced to testify under oath about their involvement. If they refuse to testify they will be fired for insubordination. This is contained in Article 75 of the NYS Civil Service Law: Investigations POL § 61 Frequently, charges are preceded by an investigation by the appointing authority. It is well established that an appointing officer has the right to question an employee with respect to matters involving or affecting job performance and that an employee is obligated to answer such questions. Refusal to answer constitutes insub- ordination. The appointing officer may question the employee under oath, and have the questions and answers recorded. Any employee, including managerial/ confidential, who appears to be a potential subject of disciplinary action, has, at the time of questioning, a right to representation and shall be notified in advance, in writing, of this right.

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