The Honeymoon is Over
New administration faced with déjá vu


February 18, 2011

tartaglion_schubertJust when Rye City Council meetings had turned black and white, some of the city’s most colorful characters may be ready to spice up the picture. Last week’s meeting was eerily similar to those in 2009 that provided a carnival-like frenzy of discontent. During that year, Douglas French (R), as a mayoral candidate, labeled council meetings as a form of “entertainment” that he would handle differently if elected. And when former Mayor Steve Otis (D) lost a re-election bid to French that November, many of the city’s critics rejoiced. Popular belief was they would now have their day in the sun under a new administration. That hasn’t been the case. Two of Rye’s biggest combatants, Bob Schubert and Ray Tartaglione, have resurfaced recently due to the new inistration’s Apparent unwillingness to remedy their situations.

Tartaglione, a seasonal resident of Hen Island, sued the city last year claiming Rye didn’t address health and Environmental violations on the island. But the court dismissed the case earlier this month. Disappointed that the current mayor and City Council appear poised to begin what he claims is another game of “pass the buck,” he is set to unveil a new campaign. Although not quite ready to un-retire Mr. Floatie, his infamous 9-foot feces mascot, Tartaglione said one could expect its presence if things don’t change prior to the November elections.

In the meantime, viewable from a 20-foot long billboard that will be pulled by the FloatieMobile Van, a public service message will feature six of the seven members of the Rye City Council seated on commodes in front of Rye City Hall. Councilman Joe Sack (R) is being excluded from the campaign due to Tartaglione’s belief that he is the lone council member willing to discuss and debate the merits of an alleged Hen Island cover-up in public.

“It’s not that the city won’t take action,” French countered, adding that the island is currently closed. “The city believes the county is in a better position to handle this matter. They’ve agreed to look at new violations. We’re now out of court and we can move forward.” Though French said he wasn’t surprised to learn of Tartalgione’s latest tactics, he felt that the campaign was premature. “Our institutions reflect the community and I think we need to reflect our institutions,” he told us. “People who sit on the council are part of that…I think people that live in this community need to show respect. [Some] people have a different approach [but] we’ll continue to govern to reflect the will of the people and continue to respect our community.”

As for Tartaglione, he pitched his case again to the county last week hoping a new administration on the county level, and a new set of eyes will see things differently. Tartaglione has long claimed the county covered up and buried the case while former County Executive Andy Spano (D) was in office. He even took the county to court, but ultimately lost that case as well.

But gaining traction at the county level may prove a tough road since the new administration includes Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett (R), Rye City attorney at the time the Schubert and Tartaglione sagas unfolded. A phone call to the county was not returned as of press time. Schubert once engaged in a shouting match with Plunkett, but has been under a gag order since filing three lawsuits back in the summer of 2009 pertaining to the destruction of his wetland garden. The resident alleges the city improperly allowed a eighboring construction to go through without permitting. Schubert, who turns 88 in April, spoke out in disgust last week for the first time since the new majority City Council took office.

Upset with their refusal to engage him in a dialogue Schubert, a Forest Avenue resident, criticized the council last week for its “stonewalling” attempts in line with the prior administration. “This is like Germany,” he cried. “I’m being persecuted. This is like Germany… bunch of crooks. Wait until all the depositions become known and you all see what went on in the City of Rye. Thank you very much mister mayor…you sure took my check in a hurry.” French said the difference between 2009 and today is the city is now a defendant in a $5 million civil rights lawsuit leaving city officials to remain mum. “So we cannot speak on this issue,” he explained. “We came to office as defendants in a lawsuit.” The city is awaiting a judge’s ruling on its motion to dismiss the lawsuit.


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