Mt. Vernon mayor blames City Council for DOJ lawsuit
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas blames his City Council for an impending lawsuit against the city by the Department of Justice.
The DOJ claims the city violated the Clean Water Act in a systematic refusal to obey environmental consent orders.
"As the Department of Justice stated, the difference between Flint, Michigan, and Mount Vernon is willful intent," says Thomas.
Holding up sewage-filled water from the Hutchinson River, Mayor Thomas called the council dysfunctional, saying it's been sabotaging his administration.
In a letter to the city, the DOJ states that the city is on the hook for a significant monetary penalty, which Mayor Thomas says is likely to run well into the millions.
"Now that we're going to be penalized significantly, I can't promise taxpayers that their taxes will not go up significantly," says Thomas.
News 12 spoke with City Council President Roberta Apuzzo, who denies the mayor’s claims that the board has been obstructing progress.
"We know the work has to be done. We know that it should have been done a while ago, but this is our council now and we're trying to get it completed,” he says.
That answer apparently wasn't good enough for the Mount Vernon mayor's brother. He pressed up behind the council president and made himself part of News 12’s story, shouting at the crew and forcing them to end the interview.
Mayor Thomas responded to the incident, saying, “This individual does not speak for nor represent the views of the administration. We do not condone his actions."
Apuzzo says she's confident the lawsuit will not be filed and that taxpayers shouldn't be worried.