April 9, 2014
Alphonso David State of New York Executive Chamber Albany, New York 12224
Dear Mr David:
In connection with your letter of March 28, 2014, I submit facts relevant to the Scarsdale Public Library matter in which you are inquiring on behalf of Governor Cuomo.
The “Intervention Form” executed by Inspector Benachi Okpokpo recites that on February 28, 2014 he walked around “the roadway leading to the Village library and interviewed “both management staff at the Village Hall and library employees. The interviews revealed that there were some potholes along the roadway to the library which was (sic) brought to the attention of the management at which point a local contractor was hired to temporarily repair the potholes until the weather temperature was consistent enough to allow for proper repaving of the roadway. The contractor patched the potholes but subsequent snow falls and plowing of the road caused a few of the potholes to re-appear. At this time no violations found (sic).”
Significantly, the Inspector’s report does not disclose what he saw when he walked “around the roadway”. His description of it depends wholly on Village management staff at the Village Hall and undescribed library employees. He was told that there were some potholes along the roadway which were temporarily patched by a contractor. The snow and plowing undid a few of the patched potholes.
More significantly, the Village management staff apparently did not provide the inspector with a copy of my January 31, 2014 letter to the inspector’s office which states that in September, 2014 I had filed with the Village, pursuant to law, a notice of the dangerous and unsafe condition that notoriously had existed for years in the rapidly deteriorating roadway, that in October the Village Manager’s office misled me by letter to believe that the dangerous condition of the roadway had been corrected, and that thereafter, on December 3rd, I visited the roadway and saw that nothing had been done to change its grossly unsafe condition of which I took about 33 photographs copies of which were given to the Scarsdale Inquirer. The road was as unsafe as it was on September 13th, the date of the notice of defect received by the Village. My offering of copies of those photographs to the Village Mayor was met by silence. Should you desire to see them I will send the set of photographs to you. If they prove anything, they prove that the inspector was led by the Village staff up the yellow brick road. If the inspector had read my complaint in the January 31st letter on file in his office, he would have seen that it alleged my possession of the 33 photographs showing the defective condition of the road. He could have compared the photographs to the roadway described by the Village staff. Further, I believe that the Village records may contain claims by two library employees of personal injuries sustained by them in their use of the library road. If that is so, the inspector might have learned of them had he inquired of the village management or indeed of the library employees.
What was the condition of the library road on December 9 when the Village Manager emailed the Mayor concerning it? The Village management staff did not show that letter to the Inspector. In it the Village Manager stated to the Mayor, “We paved it about 10 years ago, but it is in bad shape now.”, surely a hands down entrant for the understatement of the century.
Last, the Village management staff did not disclose to the Inspector the history of this wrestling match with a Village Board that consciously endangered its residents for a substantial period solely to withhold the payment of its cost until the adoption of the next budget. Thus my above letter of January 31, 2014 to the inspector’s office stated (Italics added):
“The Board’s and Village Manager’s subsequent answers to my written protest against the unsafe work condition of the librarians and their assistants is that these workers must await the Spring when a new budget may be adopted, this the answer from those who for years have knowingly failed to provide in their budgets for the correction of the scandalously deteriorating condition of the roadway. However, the duty of the Village to make the road safe is an immediate one. The duty is absolute and unconditional. It is not discretionary. The Labor Law of New York knows of no delay when life or limbs are at stake.”
As that letter of January 31st painstakingly pointed out, there is an issue of criminality in the Board’s making of that choice. I enclose a copy of the January 31st letter.
I thank Governor Cuomo for his interest in a matter small compared to his major concerns. The roadway is small, the library employees who supported my claims are not numerous, and the legal issues will not fix the public’s attention. Yet, Governor Cuomo has seen to it that an inquiry should be made into whether what occurred here in a small village reflected a standard of governance with which he is becoming identified.