BY MARC MOSS
Fred Brinn, in his capacity of mayor of the Village of New Hempstead, has filed a lawsuit against three the Village Board of Trustees claiming that actions taken by a majority of the Board were illegal and wasteful of village resources.
In papers filed this week in Rockland Supreme Court, Mayor Brinn alleges that three members of the Board of Trustees that were elected last March have taken actions impermissible under New York Law.
In papers obtained by the Rockland Times, Mayor Brinn alleges that Trustees Adam Reich, Shalom Mintz and Avrohom (Abe) Sicker called an illegal special meeting on March 13, 2017. Brinn alleges he and Deputy Mayor Bruce Minsky were not informed of the actual meeting or why the meeting was scheduled.
At the special meeting, the three board members passed a resolution hiring Dennis Lynch, Esq. and his firm as “special counsel” to the village. The crux of the lawsuit is that New York State Village Law confers upon the mayor the right to hire all non-elected officials and employees of the village, subject to the Board’s approval.
Mayor Brinn refers to statutes and prior case law to demonstrate his claim that the Village Board cannot take away the statutory rights conferred upon a mayor. When asked about this claim Mayor Brinn said, “All elected officials are required to uphold the laws of the State of New York and the Village of New Hempstead. I can not stand idly by and watch the three members of the Village Board waste village residents’ precious tax dollars.”
Mayor Brinn also opined that the hourly rate approved by the three-member majority is too high. Mayor Brinn further stated, “The village currently has a village attorney who we budgeted for. All members of the Village Board previously approved the current village attorney. There is simply no need for special counsel, let alone one that will strain village resources.”
One of the matters the three-members hired Lynch specifically for was an application for a religious school containing temporary trailers proposed to be built on Summit Park Road within the village. The application has caused a division amongst the board since Trustee Sicker works for the owner of the proposed school. Also, Trustee Mintz has children that attend the school.
According to documents obtained, the mayor has called for the recusal of the two trustees from voting on the application based upon a conflict of interests, but neither has recused themselves from voting on the application. Mayor Brinn said the village has been extremely cooperative with the applicant during the process to date, scheduling special meetings to accommodate the applicant’s requests.
Mayor Brinn thinks this school would be a great addition to the community and only has the highest regarding for the school’s principal Rabbi Aron Fink. A review of the village file indicates Mayor Brinn previously voted in favor of the school when it previously sought village approvals.
Mayor Brinn’s attorney Jay Heinrich, Esq. declined comment, stating that it would not be proper to comment on pending litigation. The lawsuit has been referred to Judge Sherri Eisenpress who will ultimately decide whether the actions taken by the three-member majority of the Village Board were legal.