It has been four months since we lawfully requested invoicing from 2007 to the present from RM Staffing & Events, as well as payroll information from the City of Rye. Our requests have gone unanswered and ignored by City Manager Scott Pickup. He has misinformed, mischaracterized and the public regarding those requests. For months he has refused to share information with council members and RGC Commissioners. Even as the RGC scandal exploded in his face, and now investigations mount, he refuses to release the public records sought.
MAKING A HABIT OF HIDING PUBLIC RECORDS
This is not the first time Mr. Pickup has been caught with his pants down regarding the concealment of public records. Who can forget the astonishing bold-faced lie he told to the city council, on public television, earlier this year regarding the recording of the fireman's workshop meeting? 2 min vid here. An honest Rye TV employee eventually lost his job for exposing the fact that the city manager lied about the meeting not being recorded.
In the ten minute video posted above, we use audio recordings of our August meeting with Mr. Yandrasevich, raw video taken at the Rye Finance Dept and Clerk's Office (left), and video of NYS Open Government Executive Director, Robert Freeman–who visited Rye in March–to begin tearing down the wall that Mr. Pickup has built between himself and the truth behind his efforts to conceal public records.
CITY MANAGER CONTINUES TO CONCEAL RYE GOLF CLUB RECORDS
At the 7:13 into the video Mr. Pickup says, "The person who was responsive to that FOIL request [our June 28th RGC FOIL] was Scott Yandrasevich." At 8:50 into the video, Mr. Pickup looks the camera (and the public) in the eye and says again, "The person who was responsible under the FOIL law [Mr. Yandrasevich] did meet with you..." The only problem is, the Rye Golf Club Manager is in no way, shape or form a designated Records Access Officer under the City of Rye's FOIL Procedures–see Section 2. That's one lie.
In the next breath, or at 9:35 in the video, Mr. Pickup tells another doosy, he says, "The clerk is not responsible for that [Rye Golf Club FOIL] information."
FOIL LAW CONTRADICTS CITY MNGR'S STATEMENTS
Unfortunately for Mr. Pickup, the city's FOIL Procedures read, "The City Manager shall be the Records Access Officer responsible for assuring compliance with these regulations, and designates the following persons as additional records access officers." After listing the City Comptroller, Assessor, Bldg. Inspector, Engineer, Planner and Police Commissioner, the regulations stipulate:
"The City Clerk [is a designated Records Access Officer] for all records in the office of the City Clerk and for all other records of the City of Rye not previously mentioned." That would make her responsible for the Golf Club FOILs.
THE GREAT ENEMY OF THE TRUTH
John F. Kennedy once said, "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic." Mr. Pickup's continued lies rely on the fact that most people don't know acute details about FOILs and the law. He also relies on his bully pulpit to spread disinformation and half-truths.
TAMPERING WITH PUBLIC RECORDS IS A FELONY CRIME
Rye is a city of laws, not of men. Yet, with a wink and a nod from Mayor French and a council majority, the man who occupies the office of the City Manager has been allowed to create a culture of contempt and conceit toward the law and the people of Rye.
According to NYS Law section § 175.25, tampering with public records in the first degree–which includes knowingly concealing a public record a is a class D felony, punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine up to $7,500. Yet, Mr. Pickup faces no repercussions for failing to assure compliance with FOIL. And the city suffers dearly.
As Mayor French likes to remind us, the City of Rye has a city manager form of government. LD10580 believes that the foundation of this government is weak, crumbling and can no longer support the full weight of the daily operations of the city.
MAYOR FRENCH SAT ON RM STAFFING INFO FOR MONTHS
Speaking of the Mayor, it was he who admitted being alerted to possible conflicts of interest regarding Rye Golf Club and RM Staffing months before the story broke. Although, according to the City Charter, he has the right to review all books of all departments and to compel testimony under oath, the mayor did nothing. Here is the email between the mayor and councilman Sack from July.
With a wink and a nod from Mayor French and a council majority, the man who occupies the office of the City Manager has created a culture of contempt and conceit toward the law and the people of Rye.
City Manager Pickup had knowledge of, defended, and attempted to thwart the public outcry over a multi-million dollar conflict-of-interest which contributed to the mismanagement–and potentially illegal financial dealings at RGC.
Mr. Pickup continues to stonewall the public's access to public documents which just might uncover more damage done to the golf club or the City of Rye. Info that would be damaging to him.
CITY MNGR MEETS WITH OWNER OF RM STAFFING
Yet he sits in closed door sessions with the RGC Commission, meets in private with the owner of RM Staffing (at Rye Golf Club, right now: 10/24/12; 12:00pm) and has control over the club that has erupted in scandal under his supervision–and with his blessing of the relationship.