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Tempers Flare at Rye City Council Meeting

RYE, N.Y. – Tempers flared at Wednesday's Rye City Council meeting as members of the council publicly addressed the board of ethics' decision regarding allegations surrounding Rye Mayor Doug French's 13 Richard Place residence. At last Thursday's meeting the Rye Board of Ethics ruled that French did not receive preferential treatment in the city's investigation of building violations and his wrongful receiving of the STAR tax exemption.

Council members Joe Sack and Laura Brett objected to the lack of transparency with the board's process and Sack repeated his request for an independent review.

"I think the process has been flawed and the developments that have taken place have only exacerbated that," Sack said.

However, it wasn't until French directly asked both Brett and Sack to expound the facts of the misconduct they wish to see independently investigated that tensions began to spark.

French alluded to what he said was unknown financing of a campaign ad produced by Hen Island advocate Ray Tartaglione. The ad, which does not feature Sack, depicts doctored images of council members sitting on toilets in front of city hall with the caption, "Some people don't care where they dump their sewage."

"Why is it that a certain council person, while the rest of us are humiliated on the van, why is Joe Sack not on the floatie mobile?" French said referring to a replication of the ad placed on Tartaglione's van. "So if we are going to look at the mayor and staff relationships, let's do a 360 degree review and look at the relationships between the accuser and people on this council, and then I think the people of Rye will get a full understanding."

Sack said he resented the insinuations made by French.

"How disgusting Doug, how disgusting you are to try to slime people like that after what you've just been through," Sack said. "That's just absolutely outrageous. I understand you are under a lot of pressure and that it has taken its toll on you personally, but that's no way to act."

Sack ended by saying French's attempts to "drop bombs" is completely wrong.

"You've taken an ugly situation and you've made it exponentially worse," Sack said. "You should be ashamed of yourself, you're supposed to be the mayor of this city and this is how you act? It's absolutely awful."

Deputy Mayor Peter Jovanovich, who at the request of French, brought the original complaint to the board of ethics, attempted to return civility to the meeting by rereading a statement asking members of the council to return to legislative proceedings.

Council member Laura Brett also said she resented French's implications and said her objection was strictly with the process.

"I honestly have no agenda here,” Brett said. “I agree that we have much more important things to take care of, but the city's integrity is also very important thing as well, and unfortunately some criticisms of this process I did unfortunately agree with.”

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