Rockland County Times Exclusive
Councilman Daniel Friedman (D) of Ramapo continues to ratchet up public pressure on Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence (D).
The Rockland County Times has obtained a letter from Friedman addressed to NYS Attorney General Eric Schneidermann and NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, imploring both men’s offices to investigate the conduct of St. Lawrence. Town Attorney Michael Klein is also noted in Friedman’s letter, which contains nine points of contention against St. Lawrence, including “expenditure of taxpayer monies not authorized by the Town Board,” “instructing town personnel to perform work activities not related to the job functions they were hired to perform” and “taking unilateral and inappropriate action with regard to various government contracts.”
On March 4, Friedman and Councilman Patrick Withers confronted St. Lawrence and Town Attorney Michael Klein, alleging that the supervisor, with Klein’s assistance, altered the roles and salaries of two new staff hires voted on by the town board.
Since that confrontation, Friedman and St. Lawrence have only become more at odds.
Read the full contents of Friedman’s letter to Schneidermann and DiNapoli below:
Attorney General Schneiderman and Comptroller DiNapoli,
I am writing to both of you jointly because you have each demonstrated a keen interest in rooting out and preventing public corruption and abuse of taxpayer funds. The Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau as well as the Comptroller’s Division of Local Government and School Accountability have investigated malfeasance of all sorts and have been successful in restoring integrity and accountability to local governments across New York State.
As a Councilman in the Town of Ramapo, I have worked with my colleagues in government on numerous issues. While we may sometimes disagree on issues, when a compromise is reached and a matter is voted on, that vote is a sacred agreement that cannot be violated.
For some time, I have had growing concerns about the actions of our Supervisor, Christopher P. St. Lawrence, as well as our Town Attorney, Michael Klein. Onseveral occasions in recent months alone, these officials have flagrantly violated the votes and will of the Town Board as well as state laws relating to public contracts, and in their respective capacities, took official governmental actions that disregarded the Town Board’s authority as well as New York State law.
In my capacity as a Councilman, I tried to work to correct that by raising these issues at workshop meetings of the Town Board, and in private meetings with the Supervisor and Town Attorney. On multiple occasions, I was given false assurances and was outright lied to about the issues at hand.
Today I am taking the highly unusual but only available option I have left, and am asking both of you to investigate my own government.
It is painfully apparent to me at this point that I can either provide silent acquiescence to these acts, or take the action necessary to correct these violations and prevent them from reoccurring. I have no doubt that if continued unchecked, these officials will only further violate the will of the elected Town Board, and act without the board’s authority.
Today, I am asking your respective offices to investigate, at minimum, the following:
- The role of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence in instructing town personnel to perform work activities not related to the job functions they were hired to perform;
- The roles of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence and Town Attorney Michael Klein in violations of numerous resolutions approved by the Ramapo Town Board;
- The withholding of information by Ramapo Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence and Town Attorney Michael Klein relevant and necessary to the business of the Town Board;
- The role of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence in taking unilateral and inappropriate action with regard to various government contracts;
- The role of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence in awarding numerous government contracts without Town Board approval, a bid or even an RFP process;
- Ramapo Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence’s violations of the Town’s Corrective Action Plan submitted to the NYS Comptroller in response to the 2012 audit;
- The deliberate and ignorant disregard for the failing financial health of the Town of Ramapo by Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence and his refusal to address or even recognize key financial issues when they are presented to him during Town Board meetings;
- The state of financial unsustainability of the Ramapo LDC under the leadership of its Chairman, Ramapo Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence, andthe general lack of oversight of the Ramapo LDC;
- Any expenditure of taxpayer monies not authorized by the Town Board, but authorized and expended unilaterally by Ramapo Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence.
I am imploring you to intervene immediately for the good of the public and taxpayers, and for the sake of good government. I am also asking that you investigate matters as widely as you see fit, as I am sure that there are other violations that I am not even aware of due to the nature of the administration of Ramapo Town Hall. In fact, it was only in recent months that I became aware of the violations stated in this letter and confirmed them following my own inquiries into those actions.
I am available to assist you in any way I can, and will provide valuable information and elaborate on the above referenced issues, but time is of the essence. It is my hope that together we can put an end to this abuse of power in Ramapo Town Hall.
Ramapo Town Councilman