The New York Post is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to “end the Third World-like political chaos” that has overwhelmed Mount Vernon.
For months, Mount Vernon City Hall has been in chaos, with the City Council, President Andre Wallace and Comptroller battling Mayor Richard Thomas.
On Monday, July 8, Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas pleaded guilty to fourth-degree attempted grand larceny and second-degree offering a false statement for filing. As part of his plea deal, he agreed to resign from office as of Monday, Sept. 30.
Two days later, on Wednesday, July 10, the Mount Vernon City Council unanimously voted on legislation to remove Thomas from office immediately, giving him 24 hours to vacate City Hall. City Council President Andre Wallace was named the interim mayor, while Councilwoman Janice Duarte became the council president.
Citing a section of the city council that calls for elected officials to vacate their office if convicted of a crime, the council also passed resolutions authorizing the city comptroller to stop paying Thomas’ salary, and he was ordered to turn over any city property that he possesses.
City Comptroller Deborah Reynolds, who has been at odds with Thomas since taking office in January last year, said that Thomas’ time in office is over, and that this was the last paycheck he will receive for his role in that position.
On Friday, July 19, Thomas received his last paycheck, while Wallace was paid in full.
As part of the political jostling, Wallace has suspended two of Thomas’ most staunch allies in Corporation Counsel Lawrence Porcari and HR Commissioner Nina Crispino earlier this week. Lou Migliore, who makes an $80,000 salary as a special advisor to Thomas, also reportedly had a paycheck withheld amid the confusion.
The two are still working, despite their purported suspensions.
In response, newly sworn-in - and former - police commissioner Shawn Harris was arrested on his first day back on the job by Mount Vernon police for alleged trespassing.
In March, Thomas unexpectedly ousted Harris from his position, announcing that he had been “released” as of March 13. He was replaced temporarily by Mount Vernon Lt. Robert Scott. There were no details released about why Harris was let go.
Harris was the deputy commissioner of parking when Thomas appointed him acting police commissioner in the spring of 2016. He was then named commissioner in January 2018.
In an editorial posted last week, the New York Post called for Cuomo to remove Thomas from office amid the current chaos.
“Someone needs to end the Third World-like political chaos that’s descended on the state’s eighth-largest city,” the paper wrote. “Cuomo can clean up the mess by exercising his legal authority to suspend Mayor(?) Thomas and so allow Mayor(?) Wallace to lose his question mark. (A new mayor will be elected in November, anyway.)”
Running on the Republican line, Wallace will square off against Democratic primary victor Shawyn Patterson-Howard in November, who is expected to win due to the Democratic majority of the city’s registered voters. Thomas has already conceded to Patterson-Howard.
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