Current News Topic
Civil Liberties and a Village Complaint
Mamaroneck Village Manager, Jerry Barberio, filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") complaint on Nov. 19, 2021 against the Village of Mamaroneck. Mr. Barberio claims that due to his status as a male, heterosexual and of Italian origin, he has been harassed by Village Trustee Dan Natchez and two of Trustee Natchez's friends, and the Village has done nothing to remedy the hostile work environment created by this harassment.
According to the complaint, Trustee Natchez offered Mr. Barberio use of a spare bedroom in his home when Mr. Barberio was first hired in 2019 and was commuting from New Jersey. Mr. Barberio informed Mayor Tom Murphy that he interpreted this offer as a sexual advance on the part of the Trustee, although he provides no reason in his complaint why he came to that conclusion.
In addition, Mr. Barberio complains that Trustee Natchez asked him to have lunch in a public restaurant.
Apparently Mayor Murphy didn't agree that these actions rose to a level that required further inquiry and told Mr. Barberio to simply stay away from Trustee Natchez.
In his EEOC complaint, Mr. Barberio states that Trustee Natchez - in retaliation for Mr. Barberio not making use of the spare bedroom - then enlisted two friends (Stuart Tiekert and Gina Von Eiff) to criticize him and ask him accusatory questions at public meetings and by email.
Mr. Barberio considered Mr. Tiekert's and Ms. Von Eiff's criticism to be harassment and tried to enlist the other members of the Board of Trustees to make them stop. In July 2021, Mayor Murphy asked the Board to consider a proposed resolution condemning criticism of elected officials by members of the community which has never been approved.
Mr. Barberio also took the opportunity in filing the complaint to refer to a closed police investigation that was reported by a resident who observed Trustee Natchez taking photos at Harbor Island Park and another incident during an election when he took a photo of a campaign lawn sign. It would seem that including these two events have nothing to do with the hostile work environment charge, but could be effective in prejudicing readers of the complaint against Trustee Natchez.
Mr. Barberio filed a police report himself when Mr. Tiekert apparently looked at him in the lobby of the courthouse when both were attending a public meeting.
Making the Complaint Public
Evidently someone in the Village government is responsible for a reporter from LoHud learning of Mr. Barberio's EEOC complaint, as it's existence had not been made public before the reporter made a FOIL request for the document. The FOIL request was listed on the Village's website which then brought the complaint to the public's attention.
The Mamaroneck Project Point of View
All Village residents should be alarmed by what appears to be an effort to diminish the public’s perception of an elected official and two critics of our local government to stifle citizens’ participation in government.
Mr. Barberio doesn't seem to understand that, as unpleasant as it might be at times for officials, the right to complain or petition the government without fear of reprisal is fundamental to our constitutional rights. It was enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution in 1791. Mr. Barberio, seems to think he should be able to serve as a Village official without having to hear from residents or Board members unhappy with his performance. Apparently Mayor Murphy, in proposing a resolution condemning "unwarranted, unfair and unkind criticism by members of the community" is also unfamiliar with the first amendment.
The two residents named in the complaint have been well known frequent critics of Village government and its officials for years before Mr. Barberio came to town. To think that they are now leveling criticism at the Village Manager in a scheme to retaliate against him for not responding to alleged sexual advances from a Trustee is beyond belief.
Going back to Mr. Barbiero's EEOC complaint, interpreting the offer of the temporary use of an empty bedroom and a public lunch meeting as a sexual advance raises the specter of homophobia or a deliberate misunderstanding of the situation, either is very disturbing in regards to a public official.
We are also concerned by the fact that Mr. Barberio would file a police report regarding a resident doing nothing more than standing in the lobby of the Village courthouse when attending a public meeting.
Readers are encouraged to review TMP's August 2021 article "A Leaky Ceiling, Civil Liberties and Residents' Tax Dollars". This article reports how Mr. Barberio distributed photos taken of Mr. Tiekert in his front yard without his knowledge which he then sent to ALL Village of Mamaroneck employees and the Board of Trustees.
No one in the Village is safe if we have a Village Manager who launches ugly smear campaigns against his critics and an elected official. Mr. Barberio's actions and his unsubstantiated accusations will most likely cost the Village significant taxpayer money.