Withers supports in 3-2 vote
PRESS RELEASE FROM DANIEL FRIEDMAN
During the annual reorganization meeting of the Ramapo Town Board, Councilman Daniel Friedman publicly raised questions about a contract that was placed on the agenda for a lobbyist for the town. The lobbying firm, State Street Advisors, run by Keith Sernick, had been awarded a lobbying contract in the past with the town. For 2014, he was paid $5,000 a month, and the new 2015 contract called for a 20% increase in his pay, to $6,000 a month.
When the contract was proposed during the town board meeting, Friedman pointed out that in July 2014, he had emailed Town Attorney Michael Klein and Supervisor St. Lawrence to schedule a town board discussion about the work that State Street had done for the town during the 2014 legislative session, and asked that Mr. Sernick detail his accomplishments for Ramapo. At that point, Friedman pointed out in his emails, State Street and its principal, Mr. Sernick, had been paid $30,000 for the first six months of 2014.
On July 9th, Keith Sernick stated he would “make himself available” for such a discussion, but then failed to appear at the following board meeting – or any subsequent meeting.
Two months later, on September 28, Friedman once again emailed the Supervisor and copied the Town Board. In addition to mentioning other requests for information from the supervisor, Friedman once again noted the absence of any information or evidence that Keith Sernick provided any service of value for the town, and his refusal to return phone calls or attend a board meeting was troubling. Friedman wrote:
“Since my initial request for a simple report on his activities, Mr. Sernick has racked up almost $15,000 in bills for the Town of Ramapo. While I can understand that scheduling issues can occur during the legislative session in Albany, the session ended in June, so there is no legitimate reason not to provide our Town Board with a simple report.
The absence of a report, the failure of Mr. Sernick to respond to my phone calls and to evade them, and the failure of Mr. Sernick to attend three consecutive meetings to explain what he has done to earn over $100,000 since last January, should raise serious concerns by you and the Town Board.”
No response to Friedman’s September 28th email was ever provided by Supervisor St. Lawrence.
“I have been raising concerns about this particular contract for months, and the behavior of Chris St. Lawrence and Keith Sernick prove that this is clearly a no-show gig for a personal friend and supporter of the supervisor’s that has now cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Friedman said. “The fact that Chris St. Lawrence is giving Mr. Sernick $72,000 – 20 percent more than last year – after he did nothing at all and refused to justify his contract to the board, is a double slap in the face of taxpayers. Taxpayers deserve better than a Boss Tweed-like government that unapologetically gives taxpayer money to favored individuals who do no work.”