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In order to update voters on the state of the investigation into robocalls, the Mount Vernon Forward team released this statement today from attorney Danielle Browne, one of the candidates for City Council.


“Late last week, investigators from Attorney General James’s office contacted me in response to the letter we submitted to request an investigation into the disgraceful and illegal robocalls plaguing Mount Vernon households. The investigators requested audio files of the offensive robocalls in question, and we have provided the Attorney General with the material. We do not yet know who originated this gross disinformation attack, as there is no legally required committee or expenditure filed with New York State.


“As this investigation continues, we ask Mount Vernon residents to remain calm and resolute, focused on working together to create a better future for our city. We recognize that in the context of the Attorney General’s ongoing efforts to probe disinformation and robocalls in our state, that we will probably not have a resolution to this case before the June 22nd primary. But I am committed to full cooperation with the Attorney General’s investigation, however long it takes.”


Mount Vernon Forward also noted the recent intervention by the Attorney General into a national robocall case targeting Black voters for intimidation and disinformation. Via Law Street News:


New York state’s chief law enforcement officer Letitia James announced that her office was granted permission to participate in a case brought by robocalling victims and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation against two well-known conspiracy theorists who orchestrated a voter intimidation scheme last year. [Link to full story]


In keeping with our pledge of transparency and openness in public life, the Mount Vernon Forward team of Cathlin Gleason, Ed Poteat and Danielle Browne will provide updates on this case as we receive them.


A good government coalition dedicated to reforming politics in Mount Vernon has tonight asked New York State Attorney General James to investigate mysterious robocalls that libel honest Mount Vernon citizens and cast a pall on the open Democratic primary election in the city.


“The unidentified calls contain deeply racist and sexist language that attacks the entire community of Mount Vernon, and calls into question the issue of election law in the city,” said the Mount Vernon Forward coalition in a joint statement.


“We believe elements close to certain Mount Vernon candidates may be responsible for these ads. We call on Attorney General James to investigate, and we ask that our Democratic leadership - specifically Mount Vernon Democratic Chairman Reginald Lafayette and Westchester County Democratic Chairwoman Suzanne Berger - immediately denounce these disgusting Republican-style attacks.”


None of the calls reference a legal constituted political committee under New York State law.


“We are running an open and above board campaign for public office,” said the Mount Vernon Forward team in a statement. “We formally request that our opponents in the City Council race condemn these tactics - Janice Duarte, Andre Wallace, Delia Farquharson, Lauren Carter, and Nicole Lucio must stand against base racism and vicious misogyny and join with us in asking Attorney General James to step in.”


The MV Forward slate noted that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security are already investigating similar “intrusive” robocalls in Michigan. Those calls are also being investigated in New York State by Attorney General James, who said she had already sent subpoenas to investigate the source of the intrusion, according to the Washington Post.


“We can never forget that illegal robocalls sent the mob to the U.S. Capitol,” said the Mount Vernon Forward coalition in a statement. “Now we’re seeing the same disgraceful tactics in Mount Vernon. Dark money groups used robocalls to attack American democracy. Now they’re using racism and misogyny in Mount Vernon. This must stop.”


The Mount Vernon Forward team for City Council - Danielle Browne, Cathlin Gleason and Ed Poteat - has issued the following statement on the city’s financial crisis and the creation of Financial Control Board legislation.


Over the last week, we have seen all too clearly why a unified City Council is so vital to the future of Mount Vernon. We need actual citizen legislators on our Council - a team of diverse and experienced residents committed to writing legislation that benefits our city and deals with this financial crisis. The days of political posturing, endless factions and daily infighting in City Hall must end.


Most of all, members of the City Council must actually show up for work! They must commit to transparency and openness - to conducting the business of the people in the presence of the people, not in the backrooms of the political bosses.


With respect to the issue at hand, Mount Vernon Forward supports the creation of legislation empowering the creation of a Financial Control Board by the State. We deeply appreciate the leadership of our State Legislators in being willing to bring this issue to Albany. And we support the Mayor’s goal of immediately placing the city’s broken finances - thanks to the Comptroller’s intransigence - temporarily under the review of a State panel.


To be clear, if a majority coalition led by Browne, Gleason and Poteat held the gavel in City Hall, we would also amend the legislation to include these provisions:


  • The FCB’s role should be time-limited and created in consultation with elected city officials; when the city’s bond rating is restored, the agreement should stipulate a full return to Mount Vernon control.

  • The Financial Control Board should be comprised of four members from Mt. Vernon, one member from the County, and four members from the State; the term of service should be two years instead of three years.

  • The criteria for the FCB rejecting a year’s financial plan from the City should be better defined. For example, if the City based its revenue projections and expense projections on a CPI increase from the last year's actual receipts, then the FCB should have no grounds for rejecting a financial plan from the City.

  • All contracts or capital improvements paid for by bond proceeds should have robust MWBE (minority and women owned businesses) and strong local representation.

  • The City should retain the power to negotiate collective bargaining agreements with labor.

  • Public housing, the school system, and our independent library should be explicitly exempted from the legislation.

This is what actual legislative leadership looks like - coming together to craft legislation that moves our City forward. We call on the current City Council leadership to follow our lead. And we promise that - if elected - the Mount Vernon Forward slate will always work collaboratively to put the citizens of our city first, and the political bosses last.


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