The Issue of Ethics

This letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.

To the Editor,
The honesty and integrity of our elected officials matter. They matter a great deal.

As with any effective leader, there were those who disagreed with some of the actions Greg Schmidt took as mayor. But never, ever, did anyone question his honesty, his integrity, or his ethical behavior.

By contrast, Mayor Leo Wiegman has a long history of well documented instances in which he has lied to the public, as well as to his fellow board members. In addition, he falsified his time records (also well documented) in order to force Croton taxpayers to pay over $22,000 for his health insurance, adamantly defended his “right” to these benefits, and only relented when public pressure became too great for even him to withstand. Croton United would be pleased to provide anyone who doubts this with full documentation.

And with his becoming Executive Director of Sustainable Westchester and his ownership of the Croton Energy Group, there is at least the appearance of conflicts of interest if not actual conflicts themselves.

But, of course, Mayor Wiegman rarely loses his temper, so, according to the Wiegman Dems, that makes all of these actions perfectly OK.

And what were the reactions of Trustees Andy Levitt and Maria Slippen when the mayor’s actions were exposed? At best, total silence, and at worst, support for the mayor, which only encouraged him to commit further breaches of the public trust. Perhaps that’s why they’ve become known as Leo’s Lap Dogs.

Worse yet, under the mayor’s tutelage, they, too, have begun to mislead the public. Mr. Levitt with his erroneous statements regarding the village’s bond rating and tax rates during Mayor Schmidt’s administration. Ms. Slippen with her claims of credit for initiating the televising of board work sessions, when she and her colleagues forcefully opposed it, again until public pressure became too intense. And if I understand correctly, it was Ms. Slippen who was the prime mover behind the new policy that prohibits you, the citizens of Croton, from directly questioning board members at public meetings.

Upon election, Greg Schmidt, Bob Anderson, and Ken Walsh will reinstate your right to question the board. Might some such exchanges become heated? Probably. Might voices on both sides get raised from time to time? I expect so. For the very essence of democracy is the discussion and debate of strongly held ideas and opinions.  But they will never lie to you, nor will they ever divert your hard earned tax dollars to their personal benefit.

So who do you want to represent you? To be the face of Croton to the outside world? A man of unquestioned honesty and integrity, or one who will do almost anything to get his own way, even if he repeatedly steps over the ethical divide.

And who do you want as trustees? Those who will insist that all village officials be held to the highest ethical standards or individuals who will condone anything their leader does, however questionable it might be.

The choice is yours. Exercise it well.

The honesty and integrity of our elected officials matter. They matter a great deal.

Joel E. Gingold