Editor's Note: the following is an opinion piece sent to Patch by Geoff Loftus, President of the Edgemont Community Council. Have a letter you want to share? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or blog about it.
On October 1, the Edgemont Community Council's Board of Directors met and unanimously voted to ask for your resignations due to your actions regarding the Fortress Bible Church.
As the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit wrote in unanimously affirming the district court's decision against the Town:
“The district court found that Town staff, including at least one Board member, had intentionally destroyed discoverable evidence despite specific instructions not to do so.”
“The district court's comprehensive findings demonstrate that the Town disingenuously used SEQRA to obstruct and ultimately deny the Church's project.”
“We find sufficient evidence...to support the district court's finding...that the Town was acting in bad faith and in hostility to the project such that it would not have allowed the Church to build any worship facility and school...”
“The Town attempted to extort from the Church a payment in lieu of taxes, it ignored and then replaced its Planning Commissioner when he advocated on the Church's behalf, and Town staff intentionally destroyed relevant evidence.”
“...we conclude that on the record before us there was no rational basis for the Town's actions.”
The original judgment of the district court followed a 26-day trial, during which Mr. Feiner testified and the judge found Mr. Feiner's testimony, particularly with regard to his supposed concerns about "traffic safety" to be "not credible."
The district court also found that Town officials, including Mr. Feiner and Ms. Juettner had, through their actions over a period of years intentionally violated the constitutional rights of the church, in violation of the church's rights to religious freedom under the First Amendment and to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that, as a direct, immediate, and reasonably foreseeable consequence, their actions will cost Greenburgh taxpayers millions of dollars in damages, none of which, because their actions involved intentional violations of federal law, will be covered by insurance.
As you may know, New York State Public Officers Law Section 36 provides for the removal by a court of elected town officials "for any misconduct, maladministration, malfeasance or malversation in office."
The cases in New York that have interpreted this statute state that removal from office under this statute requires a showing of either "self-dealing, corrupt activities, conflict of interest, moral turpitude, intentional wrongdoing or violation of a public trust." See Salvadaor v. Ross, 61 A.D.23d 1163 (3d Dep't 2009). In the Fortress Bible case, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed findings that Mr. Feiner and Ms. Juettner engaged in intentional wrongdoing in violation of the constitutional rights of a church, resulting in millions of dollars in damages. Such conduct clearly meets the requirements for removal from office under Public Officers Law Section 36.
Please do Greenburgh the ultimate service and resign from your posts. This continued, willful misuse of the power of your positions is a terrible detriment to the community and should not continue.
For the Board of Directors,
President, Edgemont Community Council