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.