[Editor's Note: Trustee Ryan read this statement and another on the appointment of the Village attorney at the reorganization meeting of the Mamaroneck Village Board on Monday, December 7. By a vote of 3-2, the board appointed Christie McEvoy-Derrico as Mamaroneck Village's part-time attorney.]
Dismissal of Attorney:
The dismissal of the Attorney requires three votes to pass. The previous Board was still in office when the Attorney was advised that her last day of employment by the Village of Mamaroneck would be December 7. Yet it was only that Mayor and that Board that had the authority to dismiss her in mid to late November, the time she was given notice, and that Board did not vote to do so. So who did vote to dismiss her?
My understanding of what happened is that the Mayor Elect who was still Mr. Rosenblum told the Village Manager to terminate the Village Attorney effective December 7. Mr. Rosenblum was not sworn in, was not officially Mayor, had no right to give the order since her dismissal would require three votes and the only time he could call for a vote would be at this reorganization meeting, tonight, December 7.
The Attorney does not report to the Village Manager, yet it was the Village Manager who was asked to terminate her. So actually, the way it appears to me is the order to Mr. Slingerland was illegal and the transmittal of that order to Ms Insardi from Mr Slingerland was improper since neither party had the authority to fire Ms Insardi.
In the interest of a smooth transition, Ms. Insardi asked that her dismissal date be extended. That request was denied. Unfair, not only to Ms. Insardi, but to the incoming attorney, and to Village residents as well.
Because of attorney/client privilege, it was unethical for Ms. Insardi to share ongoing case information until the new attorney was sworn in. That’s why she asked for the extension. What will it cost in time for the new attorney to play catch up on what couldn’t be discussed with her before her official appointment. And let’s not forget that with a part-time attorney, time is money.
And let’s talk about time and money and part time attorneys. In 2004-2005 the Village paid $527,089.12 to our part-time legal firm, $805,534.78 in 2006-2007, and $321,249.39 in 2007-2008, and that number is lowest because we terminated the part-time law firm in 2007. Ms. Insardi’s salary is $130,000 per year. There were no additions to the Legal Department Staff when she was hired. A full-time secretary was already employed. According to Mayor Rosenblum, the dismissal of Ms. Insardi will save the Village $100,000. I’d like to know how he came to that conclusion.
In addition to giving legal counsel to the Mayor and Board of Trustees, the Village Manager, the Board of Ethics and other Village department heads, Ms. Insardi represents the Village in civil litigation and related work as required. She also attends meetings of the Harbor and Coastal Zone Management Commission, the Ethics Board, and the Planning Board. She is never not available for Department Heads or Board members who have questions We get 100% of her attention- she works for only this Village. I don’t know how many hours a week she works, but I can guarantee it is often close to 50 and she does all of that for that $130,000 salary.
Ms. Insardi was one of over 40 applicants for the Village Attorney position and was chosen because her experience on land use issues and her expertise in municipal law surpassed our expectations and more than fit our needs. Recommendations were stellar. What process was used to select the new attorney?
MOST IMPORTANT, in a democracy the work of the people is done in public to assure transparency. Maybe when Mr. Rosenblum asked the Village Manager to give Ms. Insardi notice he knew he would have the votes to dismiss her on December 7, but to do so before that date, without a public vote and without input from his entire board and the public was unfair, unjust and not good for the Village.
So the answer to my question- who did vote to dismiss Ms. Insardi is that no one did. The action came before Mayor Rosenblum had the authority to do so. There was no democratic process; there was no transparency.
I vote NO for all the reasons above.