New Rochelle Board of Ethics determines Mayor Bramson violated city charter twice

The board found Bramson overstepped his authority when he pressured outgoing City Manager Chuck Strome to appoint the mayor as the city's economic development commissioner, according to the newly released report.

Jonathan Gordon

Jun 21, 2022, 8:50 PM

Updated 705 days ago

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The New Rochelle Board of Ethics has determined Mayor Noam Bramson violated the city charter twice.
The board found Bramson overstepped his authority when he pressured outgoing City Manager Chuck Strome to appoint the mayor as the city's economic development commissioner, according to the newly released report.
The position had been open since the end of 2020 and pays roughly double the mayor's current salary.
"Regardless of his intentions, he did violate the charter in making and pursuing this request of the city manager even though he did not initiate the dialogue. In addition, it was inappropriate under the Code of Ethics for him, while an elected official, to seek appointment to an administrative position and he should have recused himself from consideration of his appointment," according to the New Rochelle Ethics Board.
The investigation also found Bramson violated the city charter when he tried to gain enough support from the City Council to fire the city manager if he didn't rescind appointing Kathleen Gill as the deputy city manager.
The original complaint says Bramson didn't want Gill to replace the outgoing city manager because she wouldn't have picked Bramson as the economic development commissioner.
"The mayor’s actions, regardless of his intentions, brought pressure to bear on the City Manager. This constituted a violation of the Charter giving the City Manager the unconditional authority to appoint a Deputy and prohibiting any member of Council to request the removal of an employee," according to the New Rochelle Ethics Board.
The report didn't find evidence Bramson intended to violate the charter or that he didn't believe his appointment was in the best interest of the city.
The mayor sent a statement to News 12 that says, "through nearly thirty years of public service, I have always been committed to the highest standards of integrity. I am glad that the members of the Board of Ethics concluded that I perceived my actions to be “in the best interest of New Rochelle” and that “[t]here is no evidence to suggest that the Mayor intended to violate the Charter.”  While I disagree with several statements in the findings, I appreciate the Board’s constructive criticism and will be more cautious in my conversations about personnel issues going forward.  With the ethics review now completed, I will do my part to strengthen constructive relationships with colleagues in City government and to ensure that we are fully focused on the people’s business."
The city manager has sent the report to the Westchester District Attorney's Office. News 12 has reached out to the DA, which  released the following statement: "We are reviewing the Advisory Opinion of the Ethics Board of the City of New Rochelle. We have no further comment at this time."
The board didn't find enough evidence to support a third complaint against the mayor, which accused him of trying to appoint an unqualified person to the city manager position. 
A city council meeting was held on Tuesday night at New Rochelle City Hall, but the mayor didn't address the report during or after the meeting.


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