Sherwood Vindicated!

Rockland County Times Editorial

Figures a former justice of the New York State Supreme Court would know if a lawsuit is frivolous or not.

William Sherwood, a longtime state Supreme Court judge and one-term supervisor of the Town of Stony Point (2010-11), told Stony Pointers throughout 2011 that school tax equalization lawsuits being pursued by Dennis Lynch, the town’s special counsel, Geoff Finn, then-councilman and current supervisor, and Stephen Cole-Hatchard, long ago councilman and volunteer advisor at the time, were not legitimate and would only make the town look bad before the state judiciary.

The majority of the board would not listen to him, however, only Councilwoman Luanne Konopko was sympathetic to his pleas. Ultimately the board voted unanimously to pursue the lawsuit due to political pressure Lynch and co. had stirred up.

Neither did the majority of Stony Pointers listen to Sherwood– they voted him out of office last fall. Surely part of the reason Sherwood lost popularity was due to negative press from a local daily newspaper in regards to the lawsuits over equalization rates. Sherwood was portrayed as fighting against his own town’s interest.

Well surprise, surprise, it turns out Judge Sherwood was right all along. Not only were the lawsuits dismissed, they were dismissed for seemingly embarrassing reasons.

The first part of the lawsuit seeking to reduce the Town of Stony Point’s relative tax burden to the Town of Haverstraw was dismissed due to the “statute of limitations” expiring, while the second part of the lawsuit was dismissed because it was filed in the wrong court.

According to inside sources, Stony Point’s own tax certiorari attorneys had told the Lynch, Feerick, McCartney law firm that the case must be brought in Appellate Division, but knowing better, Lynch decided to bring it in NYS Supreme Court. And so the case was ultimately dismissed.

The question remains before voters and townsfolk; what was the point of hiring a former justice of the NYS Supreme Court as town supervisor if you weren’t even going to trust him with basic legal knowledge?

In other news, Supervisor Finn has indicated that he plans to appeal this year’s steep school tax hikes in the Office of Real Property Tax Services. The town did not lose any money in the failed lawsuits, as Lynch had offered to do the case on a contingency basis, only getting paid if he won.

Note– the dismissal of the case dates back to April 16 of this year, but was not brought to the public’s attention until this week. It has not been mentioned at any town board meetings, so far as Rockland County Times reporters recall.