BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
Things are getting interesting in Clarkstown and Stony Point too.
On Tuesday, three taxpayer advocates from Clarkstown–blogger Michael N. Hull, Thomas G. Nimick, and failed 2011 GOP supervisor candidate Ralph Sabatini–served the Town of Clarkstown, the town board and Supervisor Alex Gromack with a lawsuit asking for return of taxpayer monies allegedly squandered through wasteful political patronage appointments in the Town Attorneys Office.
Influential local attorney Dennis Lynch, whose firm Feerick Lynch MacCartney handles nearby Town of Stony Point’s attorney duties, is named as the claimants’ attorney in the papers.
On Friday, Hull released a blog on Patch which revealed via double-hearsay that a fellow client of Dennis Lynch had told Lynch they’d been threatened by Supervisor Gromack due to the Clarkstown lawsuit. Specifically Gromack had promised that, “the gloves are coming off.”
The information on Hull’s blog was posted in the early a.m. and then around 5 p.m., Supervisor Gromack fired back, revealing the alleged person referred to in Hull’s article to be the supervisor of Stony Point and returning volley against Lynch.
Gromack said, “On April 11, 2013 I called Stony Point Supervisor Geoffrey Finn as a courtesy to inform him that because of [the lawsuit], I could no longer attend meetings of the Town Supervisors Association where Mr. Lynch or any member of his firm was present. This is because neither I nor the town attorney would be able to speak in their presence inasmuch as we could not be confident that what was said in this forum would not be manipulated or mischaracterized by the firm and then used against the town if litigation ensues.”
The longtime Clarkstown supervisor then took it further, digging his elbow into Lynch’s ribs by pointing out,”That if Clarkstown was forced to defend the work performed by its deputy town attorneys and the salaries paid to them, we would in turn be required to compare their performance and salaries to their counterparts in the other Rockland County Towns, including Mr. Lynch in Stony Point.”
In doing so Gromack hit a potential sensitive spot, as the fees paid to Mr. Lynch and his firm have long been a bone of contention in Stony Point and, in fact, throughout the Rockland County political community. A common attitude expressed by political and legal insiders in Rockland is that “Dennis Lynch is making a fortune in Stony Point” and occasionally even that “Dennis Lynch is running Stony Point.”
For his part, Stony Point Supervisor Geoff Finn doesn’t seem to want any part of the fight. He told the Rockland County Times, “No matter how quiet I stay, I get dragged into this nonsense.”
Finn would not even confirm he was the person cited in Hull’s blog, as Gromack’s release implied. “You’ll have to take that up with Mr. Lynch,” Finn said, as the reported hearsay came through Lynch to Hull’s blog.
Finn further emphasized, “Mr. Lynch’s outside business has nothing to do with the Town of Stony Point.”
Hull’s Friday AM blog said that, “The law firm that is representing Clarkstown Residents Opposing Patronage [the name of the three-man group filing the lawsuit] informed me that Supervisor Gromack had called one of its clients and had stated that the ‘gloves were now coming off.’ The client to whom Supervisor Gromack spoke is prepared to back up what I have reported about the Supervisor’s comments.”
If indeed this “client” is Finn, then Hull’s blog is not accurate, as Finn has expressed an unwillingness to participate in the discussion or back up Hull’s claims.
Hull found the information given to him by Lynch disturbing enough that he requested Gromack resign from office. “Supervisor Gromack apparently regards what he refers to as ‘those taxpayers’ as his’enemies’ instead of ‘citizens’ who are exercising their rights to petition their government for transparency in its actions.
“I call upon Mr. Gromack to resign immediately as the supervisor of the Town of Clarkstown.”
Gromack and his board do not want to audit their Town Attorneys Office as requested by Hull and friends. The impetus for the request for the audit is the fact that the town had in January 2012 hired since-deposed Bronx GOP Chairman Jay Savino, one of those caught up in the corruption scandal rocking New York State, in spite of the protests of many in the community.
Activists such as Hull did not want a political insider from the Bronx hired for the position, in what appeared to be an instance of political patronage. This was 15 months before the corruption scandal would ultimately hit, but Hill, Nimick, Sabatini and others stated their concerns over Savino’s ethics as well as how the board went about hiring him.
The Clarkstown Attorneys Office has been a source of patronage spending in the past, such as in the case of former Independence Party Chairwoman Marsha Coopersmith, who was paid about twice as much as Savino for the same job.
Hull, Sabatini and Nimick are interested in finding out if other similar savings are available within town government.
As for Lynch, he has had a bone to pick with Gromack in recent years, it seems. He also represented another case accusing Clarkstown of corruption and patronage in 2010/11.
Lynch’s representation of Stony Point began when his friend Phil Marino was supervisor. Marino is a Catholic deacon and Lynch has worked for the Roman Catholic Church on a number of legal items. Under Marino, Stony Point eliminated the position of town attorney and hired Lynch’s firm as an outside “special counsel.”
When Supervisor William Sherwood won the 2009 Stony Point supervisor election he was chomping at the bit to remove Lynch, whom he considered excessively influential in town affairs as well as overpaid. However, ultimately, Lynch won a war against Sherwood, as he enjoyed surprising support among the town board, and ultimately Sherwood’s regime was toppled in the following election with the victory of pro-Lynch stalwart Finn.
Lynch knows a good municipal fight when he sees one; he once won $8 million from Orangetown for local developers John and Pat McGee.
These days Pat McGee is one of the largest developers in Stony Point and recently had been working to bring in a renewable energy power plant to Holt Drive.