Citizens v. The Village of Mamaroneck
Over the last few years, several lawsuits have been brought against the Village by citizens frustrated by what they found to be a lack of good government. The cases cited below involve residents who questioned the legality of certain actions by the Village. They turned to the courts after the Village failed to respond to requests for information or review of its procedures. None are seeking monetary rewards.
McCrory and Tiekert v Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees
Index No: 17-1772
Decision Dated: February 5, 2020
Case asked that Village officials and staff understand and comply with New York State Open Meetings Law. This law is designed to ensure government transparency so that the public may participate in policymaking. The Village is legally required to comply with NYS Open Meetings Law.
Remedy Sought: Trustee/Staff Training in proper procedures under Open Meetings Law.
Money Damages Sought: NONE other than reimbursement of $305 filing fees.
History: In 2017, two Village residents lodged several complaints with the Board of Trustees that Village Mayor Norman Rosenblum and the Trustees were not complying with NYS Open Meetings Law ("OML"). The residents requested that the Mayor, Board and Village staff take free OML training offered by the NY State Committee on Open Government. Frustrated by the lack of response to this request and by what they considered were continued OML violations by the Board of Trustees, the residents eventually filed a lawsuit against the Village.
After Mayor Tom Murphy was installed in office in December 2017, the Board of Trustees under his leadership voted against taking the OML training to settle the suit.
In the initial court review, the Supreme Court did not find in favor of the petitioners, citing lack of standing. In other words, the court didn't review the actions of the Mayor and Board, but dismissed the case because it determined that the petitioners didn't have sufficient legal interest and injury to participate in the case.
Then in February 2020, the NYS Appellate Division reversed that decision. This higher court determined that the petitioners did have standing.
Below is a link to a video in which both McCrory and the Village argue the question of standing before the judges of the Appellate Division on March 28 2019 - case starts at 1:02:30.
Matter of McCrory v Village of Mamaroneck Board begins at 1:02:30
Goldstein v. Village of Mamaroneck
Index No. 50599/2021
Decision Dated: June 11, 2021
In August 2020, Goldstein requested records from the Village pursuant to the NYS Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL"). FOIL is a critically important law that provides the public with the right to access records maintained by their government. For democracy to function, the people must be able to learn what the government is doing and hold it accountable.
When the Village failed to respond to this request after 4 months or provide a date as to when the records would be turned over, Goldstein turned to the courts for assistance and filed a lawsuit.
Remedy Sought: Specific documents related to recusals by Village officials
Money Damages Sought: NONE
History: The Village collected records relevant to Goldstein's request, but then didn't turn them over to her. Although Village staff had already assembled the requested records, Village management claimed it would be overly burdensome to release them to Goldstein. Goldstein then filed a lawsuit in an effort to obtain the records.
The trial court found that the size of the task was not a reason to deny Goldstein's request. They also also pointed out that the Village delayed its response to the FOIL request and never responded to Goldstein’s appeal letter.
But it also determined that Goldstein had not described what she was seeking in sufficient detail, and so found in favor of the Village.
As the Village has still not turned over the records it has already collected, Goldstein is appealing the decision of the lower court regarding specificity of the FOIL request.
Currently, the BOT continues to refuse to turn over the requested records and put an end to the ongoing litigation.
McCrory v. Village of Mamaroneck et al.
Index No. 2529-19
Decision Dated: May 18, 2021
Case asked whether the installation of new water lines should be paid for by Village taxpayers or by the residents living on the private street where the work was performed. On behalf of Village taxpayers, petitioner questions the use of public funds for this purpose.
Remedy Sought: Determination of who is responsible to pay the $3.3 million expense to replace the Flagler Drive water lines.
Money Damages Sought: NONE
History: The Flagler Drive homeowners’ association has claimed ownership of the lines in publicly filed documents. No clear evidence exists that the water lines are owned by anyone other than the residents of Flagler Drive.
Before initiating the lawsuit, McCrory requested that the Board of Trustees obtain a free opinion from the Attorney General of New York to determine who was responsible for paying for the installation of the new water lines. However the Board of Trustees, under the leadership of Mayor Tom Murphy, refused to ask the NYS AG for an opinion regarding the $3.3 million project.
The trial court in its response found for the Village only on procedural grounds and did not review the merits of the case. It instead issued a finding that McCrory lacks standing to challenge the matter. In other words, it found petitioner didn't have sufficient legal interest and injury to participate in the case. McCrory has filed a notice of appeal of that decision.
The Village Board of Trustees voted on June 14 to demand reimbursement from McCrory for the legal fees it has spent to defend its argument that Village taxpayers should pay for the water lines without first getting an AG opinion for paying for the project.