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A Leaky Ceiling, Civil Liberties and Residents' Tax Dollars
Abuse of civil liberties can occur at the local as well as national and state levels. Village residents should be on guard as civil liberty violations impact all residents and can lead to costly lawsuits and damages.
Case in point, the story of a leaky ceiling and how the Village of Mamaroneck decided to handle a possible code violation.
Following a tip that work might have been completed without a permit, Village staff took photos of a property owner outside his home without his knowledge.
The Village Manager then distributed those photos along with this email to ALL Village of Mamaroneck employees and the Board of Trustees.
Why were photos of the resident and an email sent to the entire Village staff - is that the best use of staff time and did it advance any work on this matter? And why include the Mayor and Board who have no authority over building permits or approving investigations of possible zoning code violations?
The interior work in the home turned out to be only the dismantling of a wet ceiling to uncover a water leak and NO plumbing work was performed.
We are moving forward to the greatest extent possible with all possible legal action. Thank you BOT [Board of Trustees] for your support. 7/30/21 Village email.
But even if a leaky pipe had been repaired, no permits were required - see VOM Code Section 126(4)(B)(8) and the 2020 Plumbing Code of NYS Section 101.2 Exception 1.2. Incorrect application of the Code is a violation of residents’ rights. Selective enforcement and misinterpretation of the law puts every resident at risk of their civil liberties being violated.
Reading the Village Manager's email, it certainly seems that the Village administration is eager to add to the Village’s legal fees to resolve this case of a leaky ceiling: "We are moving forward to the greatest extent possible with all possible legal action." Would Village residents realize any benefit from legal costs to resolve this situation?
The property owner with the leaky ceiling is a frequent and outspoken critic of our Village government. He has been referred to as the “Foil King” due to his frequent requests for public records and his tone and language have been cited as offensive. Did those factors play any part in the Village's handling of this matter?
Threatening legal action in order to pressure individuals critical of the Village administration or disliked by people in positions of authority is contrary to democratic principles and puts taxpayers at risk for money damages as well as attorney’s fees.
Note: The Mamaroneck Project found numerous inaccuracies in the Village Manager's email.
Regarding the reference to the “illegal plumbing work already done”, the property owner had a licensed plumber certify this work and applied to the building department for a plumbing permit in October 2019.
The plumber certification document is available on the Zoning Board of Appeals public agenda materials for July 22, 2021 meeting at https://mamaroneck.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/
The Mamaroneck Project Point of View
We are bringing this story to your attention to shine a light on:
the possible misuse of taxpayer resources,
the eagerness of the Village to resort to legal action and its costs to taxpayers,
and the incorrect application of laws possibly tied to the activism of a resident.
We believe all residents of the Village should consider the disturbing implications of officials choosing to photograph and admonish certain individuals in front of all Village personnel - no matter the allegation of wrongdoing. This appears to be a modern-day version of pillorying a resident in the town square.