City Corporation Counsel Walks Out of Council Meeting

Bernis Nelson left after the Mayor told her not to respond to a citizen who accused her of having a conflict of interest.

City Corporation Counsel Bernis Nelson walked out of last night's Common Council meeting after she was accused of having a conflict of interest under a state law and the Mayor told her not to respond.  

“No, Bernis. We don’t need a response,” Mayor Mary Foster said to Nelson, when she tried to respond to the accuser, Peeksill resident Tina Bongar.

Nelson was then heard faintly over the microphone saying “cant take this…I’m sorry, I'm leaving…I’m getting out of here.” She packed up all of her work documents and hurriedly left the Council chambers. Nelson returned a short while later.

Bongar accused her of having a conflict of interest under the General Municipal Law of the State of New York Chapter 18 for advising the Mayor and Common Council on their resolution and vote for a with regarding the Scenic Hudson Park at the on June 4, 2012, during a work session.

Bongar wrote in a letter submitted to the council June 11:

“Based on the constructive relationship we have established with the Division of Public Integrity, NY State Attorney General’s office, I will request an inquiry into this conflict of interest. This is based on the knowledge that you were previously “of counsel” to Silverberg Zalantis LLP, the law firm currently representing DMAC in a federal law suit against the City of Peekskill and our ad-hoc neighborhood group, the Westside Neighborhood Assn.”

Bongar asked Nelson to recuse herself from any further discussion of the Peekskill Landing bid before Nelson walked out.

Last Friday, Nelson told Patch that she disclosed to the city council when she was hired that she would have to recuse herself of all dealings with the Fourmen Construction lawsuit against the city because she was of council with Fourmen’s law firm when the suit was filed. She did not specify if she had to recuse herself from all matters relating to that company. 

billy June 14, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Liz Giegerich June 15, 2012 at 03:22 AM
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Michael Bongar June 20, 2012 at 03:16 PM
I am confused. I did not hear any accusations. Rather I heard that it was to avoid a conflict of interest.
leesther brown June 20, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Don't forget why we are in a lawsuit to begin with.
JoAnne Sarlo June 20, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I have been a resident of Peekskill since 1999 and the Common Counsel Meetings lately have been down right embrassing. The City's Corporation Counsel walks out what a joke I work for attorneys and I don't know any that are that thin skinned. Would she walk out of a court room like that? There is no respect. Don't like what you hear you can just walk out. What a Mickey Mouse operation. I thank Tina for bringing this to our attention or like everything else it would be swept under the rug. Peekskill needs CHANGE!!!!


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