A Cart Before the Horse Goes Nowhere

Dear Mount Vernon Friends and Family,

A cart before the horse goes nowhere. This is a common sense maxim; however, the City Council simply will not acknowledge this fact.

The Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the City of Mount Vernon seeks penalties of over $150,000,000 for Ernie Davis’, Maureen Walker’s, Marcus Griffith’s, Andre Wallace’s, and Lisa Copeland’s inaction on stopping pollution from going into our waterways. The filing of this lawsuit should have been a wake-up call to the current Council and Comptroller. It was not.

Instead of setting aside their provincial political views and collaborating on a solution, they sought to distract with irrelevant items. In fact, they walked out on you. They walked out of the meeting and held a spectacle of a press conference to bemoan that work may have not been done, again failing to realize that “a cart before the horse goes no-where.”

When I became Mayor, I immediately got to work on setting the priorities for the city. This included making Mount Vernon safer, improving quality of life, bringing back Memorial Field, and fixing our broken infrastructure. I presented numerous budgetrequests to allocate city monies toward each end to no avail. Despite the obstacles, I understood that our need for progress outweighs the ignorance being forced upon us and soldiered on to accomplish the vision of a better Mount Vernon.

Meanwhile, they ignored each affordable solution to our various problems. They wasted time pursuing short term political points over long-term policy needs. Three Court Orders confirm that their only answer to my efforts to fix the broken system was obstruction and sabotage motivated by political animus.

They conspired to answer environmental compliance mandates with defiance. For example, it took a year-and-a-half and multiple lawsuits to get the Council and Comptroller to acknowledge and pay a hefty fine because Ernie Davis and Maureen Walker allowed illegal dumping at Memorial Field. Clean up work was supposed to happen in 2017, except Walker and the Council refused to fund the work.

The same pattern of refusal, rejection, and reneging on obligations remains their practice on addressing broken sewers.

If the Council had a sincere disposition to seriously entertain the responsible plans put before them on fixing sewers, then the preparation of necessary plans would have taken weeks to finish. This is what Rotfeld Engineering said in every month of 2017 to the City Council and DOJ. If the Council had been consumed with fervor to strike an effective blow at stopping the looming “Tax-Armageddon,” then they would have passed the 2016, 2017, and 2018 budget requests to fix what’s broken and avoid paying for unnecessary tax hikes.

This budget infographic is from Fall 2016 and shows that we requested investments in our infrastructure. The Council and Comptroller repeatedly rejected these budget requests. Now we face an extreme and unnecessary cost — $150 million penalty that will harm property taxes. They must do their job and fund solutions so we can work to defend the future of our city.

They never accepted new ideas. Perhaps, I should have known that a barren mind is like arid soil, it cannot grow anything useful?

The task before us is to do the required work. It is immaterial who presents the solution; what is material is the presence of an ability to make events happen. The deeper truth is that the Council’s call to prepare solutions distracts us from our primary task of fixing what’s broken. There is never any value in debating blame especially since they will not provide any money to do the work that needs to be done. This means that we are being counseled to put the cart before the horse.

As Dr. Martin Luther King taught, we have to put the horse (power) before the cart (of solutions).

My challenge to Mount Vernon is to develop strength from this troublesome situation with the Council willfully ignoring the DOJ. We must not be naive to passively wait for the Council to collaborate with us. Nor should we be misled by the fables they are suddenly publishing.

Take time to review the economic plans, proposed re-organization, and march forward to protect the future. Click here to get the facts on fixing our sewers.

Do NOT be silenced!

Attend the upcoming City Council meeting on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, at 7:00 PM at City Hall. You must call 914–665–2351 or 914–665–2352 no later than 2:00 pm on July 11 to sign up to speak to them that night. Otherwise, they will be able to ignore your voice and raise your taxes without abandon.

Join us at the Council meeting this upcoming Wednesday at 7:00 PM and hear our attorneys and federal officials tell the Council the real truth and consequences of their continuation down a path of defiance. With your support in convincing the Council and Comptroller, I believe we can affordably and responsibly get through this costly and tenuous situation.


Mayor Rich Thomas

What you can do:

  • Call the City Council at (914) 665–2351 and Comptroller Reynolds (914) 665–2442 and tell them enough is enough! Tell them do their jobs, so we can do ours.
  • Click here to share this on Facebook.
  • I strongly urge you to call 914–665–2351 and put you name on the list to speak at this Wednesday’s City Council Meeting at 7 pm at City Hall.