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Singing Duck, Screaming People

Emotions ran high at the Peekskill Common Council meeting Monday night.

Monday night’s Peekskill Common Council meeting started with cab owners angry ove, and ended shortly after Peekskill Police escorted out angry members of the Committee for Justice (see video attached to this article). In between a man with a singing duck was asked to leave the chambers. Read about the cab insurance public hearing . Below is a round up of other things that happened at the meeting. 

Fowl Concerns

Peekskill resident George Ondek spoke against the City’s plan to raise taxi insurance during the public hearing. During the public comment session, Ondek returned to the podium carrying a stuffed duck, the same one he had with him during the last Common Council meeting. Ondek repeated his opposition to the city’s proposal to charge condominium complexes garbage collecting fees and to a conversation the city had with the school district about finding ways to limit the number of Canadian geese at the waterfront. Ondek also criticized members of the Council for being absent at recent city meetings.

Mayor Mary Foster explained that the city has taken no action to limit the geese and that the only time it had been discussed was during with the school district last month.

As Ondek left the podium he turned “on” the stuffed duck, which played music. As laughter broke out in the room, and council members struggled not to smirk at the ordeal, the mayor told Ondek “Turn the bird off George,” and to take it out in the hall. Ondek took the duck out of the room to wait for it to stop singing before returning.

A Cortlandt resident also spoke out against any plans of limiting geese at the riverfront and explained that he and his grandchildren enjoy visiting the Riverfront Green and watching the geese.

“We are not killing the birds, we are not hunting the birds,” Foster said. “We haven’t put anything in place that is attacking or killing our geese but we would like to have a lot less geese poop to clean up,” Foster told the resident.

The resident responded, “We invaded their territory…they were here first.”

“Sick and Tired” of Asking for Help

Next, an angry Dunbar Heights resident, Sandy Allen, took the podium and criticized the Council for not helping her. She has come to other Council meetings complaining her car had been vandalized repeatedly and nothing had been done to stop it. She also complained that Peekskill Housing Authority Director Harold Phipps is still working in that capacity. The Peekskill police have said they investigate her complaints when they are filed. Allen said an investigator came to her house the day after she last spoke to the council, but said she had not seen him since. 

Allen also said that she has lost her job as a result of speaking at recent Council meetings. She said Phipps fired her because she had said she is on disability during her last public address to the council. Allen also said the Peekskill Housing Authority gave her 60 days to move out “because of what I said last time I was here,” she said, directing her comments specifically to Councilmember Don Bennett. Bennett is a city appointed board member on the Peekskill Housing Authority. He said he had heard that had happened.

“I am sick and tired of coming in here,” Allen said.

Threats of Legal Action Against the Council

A Peekskill woman said the council is attempting to breach contracts with condominiums by imposing a garbage fee in order to raise money to pay for “pending lawsuits.” She also complained about the city’s plans to use eminent domain tin order to build the fire house, talked about impeaching the council, and asked for "The Cove" (an abandoned structure off Route 9 overlooking the Hudson, not the restaurant) to be abandoned.

Also, a Peekskill man, Christopher Berkett, said he was wrongfully arrested for something he did not do in June 2011.
“I stand before you to say I am innocent,” Berkett said. He indirectly threatened to sue the city. 

Davis and Mayor Tell Each Other “Time is Up”

Darrell Davis was the last member of the public to address the Council. He complained that Harold Phipps is still working at the Peekskill Housing Authority and mentioned he has listed in the past. He then started mentioning a “legal action against the PHA” and asked the council if the city had received a “notice of claim.”

The Mayor said the council had not and the Corporation Counsel said that she had received a notice of claim last year for “an occurrence at the housing authority with which the city was not involved, therefore there has not been a 50H hearing on that particular matter.”

Davis pressed for details that the corporation counsel said she could not remember.

He then took out a sheet of paper that he refused to submit to the city clerk and started listing charges allegedly brought against Phipps: sexual discrimination, inappropriate billing and pressuring employees. He did not say who allegedly brought these charges against Phipps but said that the corporation counsel, Harold Phipps, William Florence, City of Peekskill, City manager and others were listed as defendants.

“We warned you and you are implicated…you are listed as a client of the law firm that is defending the PHA and apparently the city,” Davis said.

As his time to speak ran out Davis refused to leave the podium.

“Your time is up,” Foster told Davis.

“Your time is up!” Davis replied.

Foster called him out of order and asked the police officers present to “control the noise” as the Council moved on to new business. The police escorted Davis and his supporters out of the room as Davis yelled out “you are crooks and liars.” (You can view this in the video attached to this article).

The council moved on to new business and passed all resolutions.

At the end of the meeting, once Davis had left the room the Mayor addressed the public, saying "if a claim is filed or erroneously filed, the corporation counsel handles it" and the council does not necessarily know about it.

All resolutions were passed.

Also at the meeting:

-Heroes to Hometowns

John Donohue explained the Heroes to Hometown program and announced a meeting open to the public this March 3. Read more about the program .

-Public Hearing on Abatement process

The city also held a public hearing on their proposed changes and addition to “property abatement procedures” in the City Charter.  The addition would require owners to maintain their properties and allow the city to place a tax lien on the homes of owners who fail to comply city regulations within 14 days after receiving proper notice from the city. (Read the full legislation in a PDF attached to this article).

Tim Wahl asked the council to send out the new requirement so people know ahead of time.

Peekskill resident Gennita Rodriguez said the city owns the sidewalks and should be responsible for them, not residents. Rodriguez called the new litigation absurd.

The council closed the public hearing after the two residents spoke.

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Anabasis Bob March 01, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Don's got a lot of nicknames. "Sleepy", "Doodles" and we should now add "Smirking". I think Sandy accused him of repeated smirkiness. Will the real Don Bennett please stand up?
Val Overton-Moore March 01, 2012 at 10:53 PM
If you can recall the Feb 13th Common Council Meeting Miss Allen, called Dunbar Heights a "Hell Hole" and called HUD, the Peekskill PD and the Peekskill Housing Aurhority a "joke". We thought she would be gratefulr for them not to renew her lease,so she can move to a new place with a better quality of life, and not to mention a place where her cars would no longer be vandalized. #justathought....
john gilleo March 02, 2012 at 02:49 PM
as for dunbar heights being a hell hole is crap these are like garden apartments you have your own yards to plant what you want if you make enemies you bound to be a target mind your bizz and you will be ok been here 13 yrs never had trouble even slept with my door open
Spruce Bringsteen March 02, 2012 at 04:18 PM
True dat. I would kill for a Dunbar place with my own yard. Why all the complaining from the residents? I WANT A DUNBAR MAN-CAVE NOW! Grow some hemp. Blow some herb. Chill. Phipps out.
leesther brown March 02, 2012 at 05:57 PM
What's going @Peekskill Housing Authority ain't got ish to do with Phipps.......This is generations of the same old,same old..#differentdaysameshhhh...As much as folks hate to hear the truth things are not getting any better and there are those that are against the ideology of PublicPeace/Dignity and Order,instead the more Strife and Grief they will claim to "cause" for you.If we don't change our direction we will end of exactly where we're headed...#inaditch...You can only do what you can do,but if we do that each day we can sleep nights and do it again the next day.. Be your own hero,someone who can overcome what society put in your way and defy peoples expectations....#ignorance...What you make of your life depends on how you living...#bethechangeyouwanttosee...

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