The Rye City Board of Ethics "meets as needed." So says the Rye City website describing the function of its various Boards and Commissions. "This five member board consists of the City Manager, Corporation Counsel, and three members of the public. They render advisory opinions on specific situations to officers and employees of the City with respect to General Municipal Law and the City’s Code of Ethics."
But this occasional body has met monthly since the beginning of the year.
At the opening of Thursday afternoon's Ethics Board meeting, Chair Elizabeth Matthews indicated the board would not take questions from the public or make a statement following their meeting. Tne board quickly went into executive session to interview RyeTV employee Andrew Dapolite.
Though Dapolite brought former Mayor John Carey as his legal counsel, Matthews said that Carey could not remain in the room with Dapolite during their discussion. Carey politely took exception to his exclusion, but left Dapolite to answer questions from the three board members: former Councilwoman Elizabeth Matthews, former Mayor Ted Dunn and Judge John Alfano.
The Board also includes 2 ex oficio members: City Manager Scott Pickup and Corporation Counsel Kristin Wilson. Neither was present, both have recused themselves.
At March's meeting, the board invited attorney Vincent Toomey –currently serving as the City attorney in several ongoing labor contract negotiations– to serve as its counsel and Pickup is named in Dapolite's account of misconduct at RyeTV.
, Matthews indicated the body would invite involved parties to talk to them in executive session. Despite that neither city manager Scott Pickup nor RyeTV employee Nicole Levitsky were present for today's session.
Matthews said that following this meeting, the committee may decide to hear from other parties in the future.
Rye Patch spoke to former Mayor Carey as he waited in an anteroom of the Mayor’s Conference Room in case his client RyeTV employee Andrew Dapolite wished to speak with him.
to the City Council alleging misconduct regarding the misrepresentation of the existence of a video recording of a January Council budget workshop meeting.
Carey described the three documents he submitted to the Ethics Board on behalf of his client: Andrew Dapolite’s original letter or complaint, a letter Dapolite wrote in response to an employment reprimand he received and a prepared statement he will read to the Ethics Board today describing the process he used to retrieve the video recording of the January budget workshop meeting from the RyeTV file servers.
Mayor Carey confirmed that Dapolite had been contacted about leaving his employment at RyeTV but quickly added, “Those discussions are over.” Carey was adamant there would be no scenario where Dapolite was compelled to exit his position, saying his client would leave RyeTV “over my [Carey’s] dead body.”
In January, the Board reconsidered lingering questions about the conduct of Mayor Doug French, who the Board exonerated of impropriety regarding improper receipt of tax exemptions and dated building violations and dismissed charges he may have consequently received exceptional treatment from other city employees.
For its last two sessions, the Board has taken up a complaint initiated by RyeTV employee Andrew Dapolite and forwarded to the board by Mayor Doug French.
In January, the City Council held a budget workshop to discuss proposed changes to the governance of the Rye City Fire Department. The City Charter has since been changed to require both the paid firefighters and the volunteer Board of Wardens to report to the City Manager. Previously, the city charter proscribed that the volunteer Board of Wardens report directly to the City Council.
At a January 25 budget workshop, fire consultant Barry Nechis of New Rochelle attended the meeting and gave his opinion of the city manager's proposed re-alignment. At that time, Councilmembers Catherine Parker and Joe Sack also submitted a report canvassing the fire fighters about their assessment of the proposed charter changes. Mayor Doug French said it would not be appropriate for Parker and Sack to continue the review, surprising Parker and Sack who volunteered to work together on the review during the December council meeting.
Near the end of the workshop discussion, Councilwoman Catherine Parker asked if the workshop was being broadcast and city manager Scott Pickup said it was not being recorded.
RyeTV employee Andrew Dapolite alleged in his February complaint letter to the City Council that the budget workshop was, in fact, being video recorded and that he was told to conceal the existence of recording by fellow RyeTV employee Nicole Levitsky. Once the existence of the recording became known, Dapolite alleges he found the audio level of the recording had been deliberately manipulated and lowered.
After submitting his complaint letter, Dapolite says he was reprimanded for his work conduct and contacted about exiting his position.