Bernis Nelson's last day as Peekskill Corporation Counsel was Tuesday, June 26.
The night before she left, Nelson told the Common Council and the public that she submitted her resignation letter following the after a resident "attacked" her and she was "not allowed" to respond with a public statement. Read her full statement given at the June 25 Common Council meeting below.
Prior to Nelson's statement, the council accepted the appointment of Mark W. Blanchard of Harris Beach Attorneys at Law as acting corporation counsel.
Mayor Mary Foster welcomed Blanchard and Councilwoman Drew Claxton thanked Nelson for her service.
"I'd like to thank our current corporation counsel Bernis Nelson. She has been wonderful to work with and I have really enjoyed having her on board and will miss her dearly," Claxton said.
You can view Nelson's statement here and read her full public statement below:
I wish to make a statement upon the public record as to why I have resigned as corporation counsel of city of Peekskill.
The reason I have resigned is not because I do not love Peekskill. I have loved Peekskill for many years. And the reason I came back here 14 months ago is because I wanted to do my very best for this community.
And I have worked many long hours. In the beginning I worked 90-100 hours a week for the first two months. Since then I have worked 60-70 hours a week. What happened two weeks ago was unacceptable to me as a legal professional.
I have been admitted as an attorney for 30 years. I am rated AV by my peers, which is the highest rating of ethics and ability. And I also have quite a bit of humility, so I don’t wear that as a badge.
However, two weeks ago, I was maliciously attacked by someone in the audience. That is something which many of us municipal attorneys experience often in our jobs and we understand it and we take it.
However, in this situation, I was not allowed to make a statement regarding the recusal that I voluntarily made before I entered the city's employ and disclosed during the interview process, that I would not work on any matter related to the to DMAC Fourmen lawsuit or any other related maters, nor would I work on any matter related to the White Plains linen matter, because I had represented it in due diligence as to planning and zoning matters.
I recuse that and did no work on any of those matters. They have been handled by other members of the staff. And we had present, the meeting in question, staff to handle those matters if legal advice was sought.
No legal advice was sought on any of those matters.
Two weeks ago, when I was attacked I was not allowed to respond or to make any statement upon the record. That is unacceptable to me as a legal professional. I went downstairs, I left this meeting, because that is unacceptable, and I five minutes later composed a letter or resignation, which I delivered immediately following the meting to the city clerk.
There are people who may say I am thin skinned. I am not running away. I have never run away from anything. However, I belong to the municipal law section of the state bar association. I am on its executive committee and I will not allow any legal prof to be treated in a way in which their ethics and their ability and their professionalism is impugned.
And I have therefore resigned because I will not serve under those conditions.
See more articles out of Monday night's Common Council meeting: