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. 

teach1 June 12, 2012 at 11:40 PM
It is RECUSE not recluse!
Liz Giegerich June 13, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Teach1, thanks so much for pointing out my silly mistake! It has been corrected.
like it is June 13, 2012 at 01:57 PM
This is not the first time it was brought to the attention of this Administration about the conflicts that came with Bernis Nelson.
Patty Villanova June 13, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Tina Bongar is to be commended for her diligence. Too bad Foster, Klaxton and the rest of the regime were too busy pursuing their own interests (whatever they may be) rather than looking out for the citizens of Peekskill. They say "if the shoe fits, wear it"; I guess shoe was getting to be a little tight for Mrs. Nelson.
Spruce Bringsteen June 13, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Bernis the Furnace has burned out! Imploded if you will. It was only a matter of time. Where there's smoke, there's fire. The corruption of City Hall continues. There is a cancer growing on Mary Foster's City Hall. The NYS Department of Justice and perhaps the U.S. Justice Department need to step in.
leesther brown June 14, 2012 at 08:43 PM
OK! Enough of that BS Patty, Tina along with Klaxton,Bennett and Foster and a whole host of others have done irreparable damage to city,including the re-zoning of the Westside that the city paid for. And while we at don't you Patty do Para-legal work for Siverberg and Zalantis?.......#bongarain'tnohero
leesther brown June 14, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Answer the question? LOL! Koolaid really,you want to go at it on here?....Don't push me I'm close to the edge....#yougotpeeped....
leesther brown June 14, 2012 at 10:43 PM
The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it.
billy June 14, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Liz Giegerich June 15, 2012 at 03:22 AM
A comment has been deleted. Please abide by our terms of use. Peekskill.patch.com/terms. Thanks.
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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