To: Michael Spano, Mayor of City of Yonkers (NY)
Resignation of Yonkers Mayor Michael Spano
We, the undersigned citizens, public workers, and stakeholders of Yonkers, hereby call on Mayor Michael Spano to resign from office, effective immediately.
Why is this important?
Far from a mandate in the recent election (November 2015), Mayor Spano received a paltry 16,041 total votes out of just under 100,000 eligible Yonkers voters. In other words, only 20% of eligible Yonkers voters actually endorsed a second term for Mayor Spano. The overwhelming majority of Yonkers residents were NOT in favor of reelecting Mayor Spano, as demonstrated by his exceptionally poor polling numbers.
1. Yonkers Public Schools are underfunded, under-performing, and under threat. Mayor Spano presided over a $44 million budget accounting error in 2014-2015. Eight schools have been classified by New York State as struggling. Unable to obtain the appropriate level of funding himself, Mayor Spano had to accept a $25 million last-minute bailout from New York State for the 2015-2016 school year. Three of every four Yonkers public school students are classified as economically disadvantaged; class sizes exceed the statewide average; there are too few guidance counselors, social workers, and librarians; a number of schools are physically deteriorating; and the sudden resignation of Yonkers Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Yazrulo raises serious ethical and legal concerns.
2. According to a recent report by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the Yonkers School District misplaced more than $225,000 worth of equipment between July 2013 and April 2015.
3. Beginning earlier this month (December 2015), Mayor Spano has decided to target disability payments for disabled Yonkers firefighters, many of whom are struggling with severe injuries or life-threatening illnesses including stage 4 cancer, serious burns, 9/11-related illnesses, and crippling job-related injuries. His attempt to reduce their disability payments will cost taxpayers untold amounts of public money in costly litigation fees as well as additional and unnecessary pain and suffering for disabled firefighters.
4. Five of the city's seven municipal unions have been working without a contract for at least five years. The Yonkers Uniformed Fire Officers Association, for example, still does not have a contract.
5. Despite perennial budget deficits in the City of Yonkers, the part-time Yonkers City Council recently voted unanimously (7-0) to give themselves a 35-40% pay increase. The vote took place on December 8, 2015, the last City Council meeting of the year. At least one member of the City Council has been in office for only two years (Council Member Corazon Pineda-Isaac). Mayor Spano’s complete silence on the matter can only be interpreted as his unqualified endorsement of their pay increase.
6. With a population of 200,000 inhabitants and a billion-dollar budget, Mayor Spano has failed to implement a viable, sustainable economic model that moves the City from deficit to surplus. The Mayor has failed to attract long-term, growth-based business investment. As a result, the tax base is diminishing as the City can no longer attract home buyers and renters due to poor employment prospects, substandard City services, and under-performing schools.
7. Taxpayer money is spent in an opaque manner with little-to-no accountability, justification, or public input. Public Affairs, the office responsible for the Mayor’s public relations, has increased its budget from $335,000 in 2014 to $1,241,000 through 2016. Constituent Services has increased its budget from $482,000 to $582,000. City departmental expenses are projected to increase $7million annually through 2018. Healthcare costs for City employees are projected to increase 7% annually.
8. Taxes have gone up. The income tax surcharge has increased from 15% to 16.75%, and can be increased to as much as 19%. Water usage fees have increased 10%. City sales tax has increased from 8.375% to 8.875%. Since 2011, red-light camera fines (another form of taxation) in Yonkers have raised nearly $14 million, with about a third of the money going to the company that runs the program, but with no demonstrable increases in safety. Yonkers also has the highest municipal parking fees in Westchester County and some of the highest parking fines in the region.
9. Under successive Spano administrations, patronage has become rampant. We are especially concerned about undue influence on and conflict of interest regarding Yonkers politics and policies by Mayor Spano's brother, convicted felon and tax evader, Nicholas Spano. Hiring practices lack transparency and frequently rely on an insider network of family and/or friends. Candidates often lack the necessary skills and credentials to fulfill basic job requirements. Pay raises are granted arbitrarily without justification or public input. In 2014-2015, the following people were among those within Mayor Spano’s administration that received substantial pay increases:
Steven Levy — deputy mayor; $160,000 to $175,000; increase of 9.4%.
Susan Gerry — deputy mayor; $165,000 to $175,000; increase of 6%.
Denise Egiziaco — chief of staff; $120,000 to $140,000; increase of 14.2%.
Christina Gilmartin — communications director; $110,000 to $120,000; increase of 8.3%.
Eddie Ayala — promotion to assistant communications director; $80,000 to $85,000; increase of 6.25%.
Jason Baker — promotion from assistant communications director to special assistant to the mayor; $85,000 to $105,000; increase of 23.5%.
Shanae Williams — assistant; $47,000 to $60,000; increase of 27.6%.
Saida Jereis — assistant; $47,000 to $60,000; increase of 27.6%.
More recently, the current Head of Constituent Services, Gail Burns, has been named as the Yonkers Parking Authority Executive Director, which carries a salary of $150,000 per year over the course of four years. The basis for hiring the current head of Constituent Services to run the City’s Parking Authority remains unclear.
10. City streets have become more dangerous. Despite increases in the budget by $127 million under the Spano administration, violent crime for the first six months of 2015 has more than...