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.