COUNCIL MAJORITY DROPS LAWSUIT AGAINST BOARD OF ETHICS

0:00 In a statement sent to local media August 2, Mayor Josh Cohn and Councilmembers Carolina Johnson, Julie Souza, and Ben Stacks explained that while […]

Published August 3, 2023 12:24 PM
2 min read

0:00

In a statement sent to local media August 2, Mayor Josh Cohn and Councilmembers Carolina Johnson, Julie Souza, and Ben Stacks explained that while they “are confident they could win in the court of law” they have decided to withdraw their lawsuit and “instead pursue a different path to find a long-term solution and ensure this deeply broken process cannot happen again.” The process they refer to is the opinion from the Board of Ethics in February, questioning the appropriateness of their decision to hold a special City Council meeting calling for a moratorium on clear cutting of trees when a great number of trees were about to be removed from a property abutting the mayor’s home.   

The foursome stressed their many years of service to the community, “the countless hours” they have “sacrificed”.

They reiterated what they have said in public: Suing the Board of Ethics, a volunteer City committee, was their only recourse to clear their names because the Board would not respond to their calls and emails challenging the opinion, which they claim is “misguided, misinformed, and factually wrong.”

In recent weeks, longtime political leaders from both parties have met with the Councilmembers to iron out a compromise to what was a regrettable and community-dividing lawsuit. Earlier this summer, the four Councilmembers had passed a resolution to have the City pay their legal fees. The public outcry prompted them to change their minds.

The new path to justice outlined by Mayor Cohn is the formation of an independent panel, which will include someone with expertise in municipal ethics to review and “modernize the city’s Code of Ethics… to ensure our situation never happens again.” 

All of the residents we heard from soon after the news was released on August 2 expressed “relief” that the lawsuit was abandoned and their desire that the City Council refocus its attention on flood mitigation, preserving Rye’s landscape, and putting an end to outsized residential development through more changes in the City’s Zoning laws. 

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