L to E: Transparency?  The town administrator’s contract was supposed to be for six months

Monday, May 19, 2014
by Robin Murphy

Dear Editor:

Although I voted for Rob Greenstein as well as the other Team New Castle candidates, Adam Brodsky and Lisa Katz, I have been disappointed that their promises to bring “small business mindset” and “a new approach” to New Castle town government have so far been empty.  The appointment of Jill Shapiro as Town Administrator—with no attempt to invite other candidates to apply—raises serious questions.

The residents had been told that Mrs. Shapiro, a ten-year Town employee, was being appointed to that role for 6 months to provide some continuity and knowledge of what had been going on in town hall while the new board got situated.  It was said that this appointment could be renewed based on a vote by the full Town Board.  But through FOIL [Freedom of Information Act] requests, it’s come to light that this contract is actually a 2-year term with a one-time 6-month review provision.

We are about a month and a half away from the end of the 6 months, yet there has been no discussion by the Board of plans to open up the position to interview other qualified candidates.  For an administrative position in Bronxville, 12 qualified candidates were recently interviewed before a final candidate was selected.  There is nothing to indicate that our town would not elicit similar interest from qualified candidates if we were to hold an open (and transparent) interview process.  While Supervisor Greenstein applauds the work Mrs. Shapiro has been doing and publicly states that she is one of his very best decisions so far, I am unable to see on what basis he makes this statement.

Jill Shapiro seems like an amply qualified town clerk but frankly, if she remains as Town Administrator, it is a blown opportunity for the town of New Castle.  Not only does she not have the basic educational prerequisite for that position, but she lacks the leadership, people skills, budget skills, and the policy background of Administrators in forward-thinking towns.

The Town Administrator should be a best-practices, lead-by-example person, someone capable of engaging the public as well as one who connects and motivates personnel.  Logistics, process improvement practices, problem solving abilities, consensus building, and the ability to listen and work with others, needs to be encoded in the DNA of a successful Town Administrator.  In her years of service to our town, Mrs. Shapiro hasn’t demonstrated that she possesses these necessary skills.

The Town of New Castle deserves to have our staff performing at their highest level. That means addressing mistakes in the past and putting policy in place to ensure things like misuse of town property (vehicles and equipment) and harassment (anti-Semitic, sexual, or other) are not tolerated in any way.  Unless we have a Town Administrator who rolls up her or his sleeves and is proactive, not merely reactive, we will continue to see morale at Town Hall and other departments remain at what appears to be an all-time low and service quality diminish.

Leadership cannot be by proxy. It needs to be top-down. A void of leadership leads to more problems. Right now, we seem to be going down that road. For example, simply replacing one failed DPW Commissioner with one who had previously held this position—yet was replaced because of problems when he was the head—is not impressive.  Again, where is the transparency?  For this job too, no open search conducted?

Openly seek the best administrator

A public (e.g., New York Times advertisement) open call to fill the Town Administrator position would likely bring in plenty of qualified applicants with the necessary skill set, qualifications and experience on the planning level. Our town deserves that process to play out. If the job is put out publicly, Mrs. Shapiro should be invited to interview. But there should be a committee put together to evaluate this position and give New Castle residents the most qualified person to hold this job.  As it stands at this point, the application process for intern positions with our town government is more open and competitive than that of Town Administrator or DPW Commissioner.  This does not sound like the “new approach” many of us voted for last fall.

The Town Board and Supervisor need to remember that although they won our votes last fall, they are expected to continue working for our vote every day of their tenure.

Sincerely,
Robin Murphy

____________________________

Related:  Was Jill Shapiro appointed town administrator for six months or for two years?, NCNOW.org, 5/19/14


Comments(43):
We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

Well said team new castle has been nothing short of a disaster. Transparency should also mean giving people the chance to apply for the job.  Much like it wasn’t done for our poor lost town counsel

By Well said robin on 05/19/2014 at 11:30 pm

This should come as a surprise to no one.  Greenstein named his pal Stuart Miller as prosecutor and when asked, gave no real answer as to why he was chosen.  He hand-picked people (including himself) for committees while excluding board nmembers from the process.  He hand-picked town counsel without any process.  He did the same for Shapiro and the DPW head.  The train station restaurant proposal “process” was a charade.

And don’t get me started on them doing the end run around the master plan for Chappaqua Crossing.

So much for an end to back room dealings.

By Business as Usual on 05/20/2014 at 7:18 am

How many other people did the Town board interview for the position of Town Administrator?

By HR nightmare! on 05/20/2014 at 7:31 am

Robin,  Sometimes you miss the mark but on this you are accurate.  I might add that the new Town attorneys were not the result of any process.  FOIL their bills.  You will see how much they are costing the Town.  They are Rob’s friends.  No transparency.  No process.

By right on on 05/20/2014 at 7:38 am

On Jill’s contract, the difference is semantics.  The idea always was to give her and others a 6-month tryout, and that’s Jill’s contract does.  It certainly was easier than negotiating and drafting two contracts.

We could not do the same with Mary because the Town Law provides that Town Clerks have 2-year appointments.  We were not at liberty to make Mary a 6-month appointment.  Making the others “holdovers” was the easiest way of giving them the 6-month tryout.

BTW, Jill Shapiro’s tryout was a huge success! She is great! We are lucky to have her.

By Rob Greenstein on 05/20/2014 at 8:27 am

Dear Ms Murphy,

“Team New Castle” acted like a bunch of bullies using deceptive tactics during the entire election process, why are you surprised they are acting no different now in office?

By We Got What We Elected on 05/20/2014 at 10:04 am

We have 5 board members right? Were all involved in this decision or was this a party line decision?

By Josh on 05/20/2014 at 1:49 pm

To Rob G - semantics is what gets you and yr board - and, by association, our town—in trouble. We don’t want representatives who operate by semantics.  How about honesty instead of your perpetual spin?

By Spin Dr. G on 05/20/2014 at 2:05 pm

If you don’t belive that Rob G. has not lined Brodsky and Katz to vote with him then I have a bridge.  Katz and Brodsky know there have been complaints about Ms. Shapiro’s appt with our Town but Rob will bully them ino voting for her to continue.  Not sure how Mottel and Chapin will vote but they will not be bullied into what Rob wants.  New Castle can do better.  This Board should do better.

By it is a done deal on 05/20/2014 at 3:05 pm

Rob Greenstein,

When you hire people for your law firm, do you just give people a 6-month tryout because you know them, or do you actually interview people and determine the best candidate?  I’ll bet I know the answer.  It’s easy to hire someone because they’re “qualified”, but don’t we want the best qualified for our town?

By we deserve better on 05/20/2014 at 3:26 pm

Thank god this administration only has a two year term.

By Long Time Resident on 05/20/2014 at 6:23 pm

I would not say we are lucky to have Jill. There were no other choices made available to the community. This was a backroom deal. I think Jill is the lucky one to not have to compete for a taxpayer funded job. Must be nice…

I wonder if this “tryout” thing is common in other towns?

Sounds like the board had no plans of hiring anyone else from day one. Otherwise wouldn’t they have been open and looking for someone else just in case the “tryout” didn’t work out?  So of course Jill has been a huge success! There was nobody else interviewed! 

By Not feeling lucky on 05/20/2014 at 6:32 pm

Rob Greenstein,

On what basis are you determining that Jill Shapiro’s try out was a huge success?  Please share on what criteria you make that statement.

By JPM on 05/20/2014 at 9:41 pm

How was Ward-Willis chosen ?  What was the process ?  Who else was interviewed ?  As a tax paying resident, I have been disappointed with his behavior at meetings.  He is rude and dismissive to questions.  It is clear the he was a poor choice.  He may be Rob’s friend, but he should not be the town’s attorney.

I would like to know why his bill for the train station negotiations, not including May is $9,200.00.  How could this be ?

By Ward-Willis as slippery as Rob Greenstein on 05/21/2014 at 11:08 am

It’s a shame that Team New Castle isn’t on a 6-month trial basis.  If so, we’d have a new board in about a month.

By too bad on 05/21/2014 at 12:17 pm

I’m glad that I’m not the only one troubled by the lack of an interview process for this and other positions at Town Hall.

Rob, I saw that you accused me on Facebook of “disliking” Jill Shapiro.  I assure you that’s not that the case.  Rather, my concern is not with Jill Shapiro personally but with your lack of transparency, making a crony appointments (we are well aware that this wasn’t the only one), as well as my confidence that we could and should hire an Administrator with better skills and talents than we have now.

The 2-year contract between the Town and Jill Shapiro states that her “review and evaluation shall be in accordance with specific criteria developed by the Town and Shapiro.”  I have requested to see this information, however the Town Clerk does not seem to be able to find it.  Please let us know if it does indeed exist.  Furthermore, as you feel strongly that Ms. Shapiro is excelling at her job, please enlighten us on what she’s done during her job so far that that supports your statement that “Jill Shapiro’s tryout was a huge success! She is great! We are lucky to have her.”

By Robin Murphy on 05/21/2014 at 11:12 pm

Town Clerk could not find it??? Either she is incompetent or it does not exist.  The Town needs professional management at the helm.  Greenstein and his Board owe this to its residents.  Jill Shapiro was a logical choice during the transition but not as a permanent appointment.  Rob’s constant plugs saying how great she is is telltale that she is less than right for this position.  She appears from watching her role on TV that she is really his administrative assistant, not a Town Administrator.  Town Administrator’s serve the entire Board and its residents.  They are not aides to the Suoervisor.  Let’s get the Town the best Administrator we can.  The Board owes this to it’s residents.

By Right again Robin on 05/22/2014 at 4:57 am

For the person who was wondering how town counsel was chosen, here was Greenstein’s description of the thorough process from a few weeks ago:

NCNOW:  There have been questions lately about the hiring process for Keane & Beane.  How were they chosen?

Greenstein: We chose them for their reputation.  We did not have an RFP.  You don’t need an RFP.

By sounds familiar on 05/22/2014 at 4:35 pm

It is pretty sickening to learn the sorts of comments that Rob Greenstein makes on Facebook.

By Resident on 05/22/2014 at 6:45 pm

What is the big deal about this bureaucratic, non discretionary job?

This less than ‘tempest in a teapot’ is uncomfortably similar to the 40 attempts to repeal Obamacare. Both are a monumental waste of time.

By questioner on 05/22/2014 at 8:19 pm

Waiting for someone == greenstein under an alias at least == to sing the merits of jill shapiro.  anyone think that she has shown herself worthy of the contract she’s been awarded?  come on, speak up.

By where are the cheerleaders? on 05/22/2014 at 8:28 pm

You don’t need to RFP for counsel.  That is true.  But the Board should have sought proposals anyway.  The law firm has a reputation alright.  The one I heard is that charge tremendous fees.  Also Rob, during the election had already pick this firm. They came to one of his election forums I was told.  More of the same with Rob.

By really? on 05/22/2014 at 8:29 pm

I am not on facebook but IF Rob makes comments about Robin not liking Jill, this is just plain dumb.  It doesn’t matter who likes who.  The point is that a Town Administrator needs to be professionally trained.  It is not a popularity contest.  Ridiculous Rob.

By Get the real thing! on 05/22/2014 at 9:15 pm

Has Ms.Shapiro the close friend of the former TA taken on the role of protector for her son? The TA says the DPW employee was not out of line with town policy when he drove his plow over to another town to buy lunch. Hmm, why not ask the dpw mechanics what the cost is to repair a plow each time this worker intentionally drops the blade while driving down the yard as he is known to do. As it wasn’t against town policy when dpw worker Martinez, son of the TA’s sect’y took a town car w/o permission, went for a ride when he was working for the recreation dept. Disciplinary charges-a promotion to the hwy dept. Also, a dpw employee entered rehab for a second time, known for his bully behavior, employees have asked to not work with. His behavior is overlooked because of favors in looking out for the former TA’s son. What an insult and a disgrace of the goings on in our town hall with all the backroom deals. Perhaps Ms.Shapiro is thought to be a huge success because of the advice she receives from the former TA, a friend, for watching out for her son. Ms. Murphy is correct, replacing a failed commissioner with another who was removed for problems, is not an improvement. DPW workers say they were promised by the former TA that the former commissioner would never return to DPW because of micro-managing, low morale, etc. Complaints were given by dpw workers to the former TA, deputy TA, and board members, leading to the removal and demotion to deputy commissioner. DPW has a hwy foreman and a water foreman that report to the commissioner. Why the cost of an ass’t to the commissioner, and a sect’y to the commissioner? Why are the hwy and water foremen always joined by the ass’t and the commissioner? Why aren’t they left to manage their workers? Isn’t this micro-managing! Rob, no one said your job would be easy. Please consider that we moved to vote a new team to weed our the conflict, strife and nepotism that still exists.

By By here we go again on 05/22/2014 at 10:54 pm

Here’s what Rob wrote (taken from Facebook) in response to Robin posting that at last week’s board meeting, Rob and Jill each said the contract is for only 6 months while it is actually for 2 years: 

Robert Greenstein Robin, we were focusing on the fact that we can cancel her contract - with or without cause - after 6 months. You don’t like Jill, I get it. But I think she is doing a fantastic job, and we are lucky to have her! All my decisions should be so good. Have a good night.

By On Facebook on 05/23/2014 at 12:18 am

I find it curious that Robin Murphy declares herself the arbiter of who is or isn’t qualified to be town clerk. What exactly makes her such an expert on everything in this newspaper? And I also find it curious that Robin Murphy criticized Jill Shapiro’s “people skills.” I have been at town bord meting where Robin has rudely booed and hissed at the speakers, and if that is not poor people skills I do not know what is. Seems to me Robin is the pot that is calling the kettle black
Jill Shapiro appeares to be doing a fine job; I have not heard of any complaints about things she has mismanaged. Let’s not waste our time on this when we have so many more important issues to address in town.

 

By The pot calling the kettle black on 05/23/2014 at 8:50 am

Robin Murphy is sharing her opinions, you can decide whether they are meaningful to you or not.  If she were being hired to manage the town, her people skills may be appropriate for this discussion but she is not.  Jill Shapiro is. 

As far as time being “wasted,”, it is Robin’s time being spent on this and that is her prerogative. 

If, however, you think interviewing candidates for a top Town position is a waste of time, then my opinion is different from yours. Even if Jill Shapiro is doing a good job, interviewing to make sure we have the best is worthwhile and New Castle deserves that.

By To Pot on 05/23/2014 at 12:21 pm

Sorry Pot calling the kettle black, but Jill is picking up where Penny left off in protecting her son.  Town residents need to wake up!  The public works department is no better now than it was before.  Jill is very close friends with Penny and she will make every excuse for her son.  She already has!

By Ami on 05/23/2014 at 4:29 pm

No matter what Greenstein says, Jill Shapiro is not qualified to be supervisor.  This was another back room deal by Greenstein.  It was not even brought to the full town board.  We need to open the process and issue a RFD for the position. In effect, Greenstein has made a private deal with Shapiro for his own purposes.

Once again, Greenstein sells out the town for his very suspect and questionable reasons.

By Resident on 05/23/2014 at 4:32 pm

“Pot-kettle”:  Robin is not the public servant.  One could say that our current Supervisor had similarlar behavior from the floor prior to becoming Supervisor but that is not the issue.  The issue is that no search was made nor does it appear will be made for someone with the appropriate credentials, experience and know how and as a result, the Town will lose out from this in the long run.

By The town losses on 05/23/2014 at 4:39 pm

Pot,

What you say about Robin is complete B. S.  She has never behaved in that fashion at any meeting.  You must be Rob Greenstein, or you are taking a page out of his play book to smear anyone who challenges him.  That is his history.

If you have not heard the complaints about Jill or her appointment, both from inside and outside town hall, you are not listening.

By resident too on 05/23/2014 at 5:27 pm

Certain DPW guys, Ani, don’t like management to do their jobs.  Obviously Jill is on top of things and knowing her I know she would never play favorites.  You should just do your job.  Please don’t tell me you are not an employee either.

By Just wrong on 05/23/2014 at 7:20 pm

To here we are again, you sound like a disgruntled present or past employee.  You sound like you don’t like it didn’t like to be managed.  Perhaps our new Town Administrator or Supervisor will find out that you are nothing more than someone who probably didn’t or is not doing their job.  That would be a good thing. 

 

 

 

By Don't think you are right on 05/23/2014 at 7:50 pm

and don’t tell me you aren’t Rob Greenstein, the guy who claims to dislike anonymous posts but spends his time writing them. Sheesh ... if that’s what you meant by transparency, the voters got it all wrong.

By Just wrong on 05/23/2014 at 11:57 pm

Don’t believe what your favorite staff tell you to your face.  It’s not the same as what they are saying behind your back.

By Warning to Greenstein on 05/24/2014 at 12:54 pm

Ok just for the Records,
I am was an Employee for the Town of New Castle D.P.W. for approx. 14 1/2 years and I can attest to all the claims that were made in the above comment by (By By here we go again on 05/22/2014 at 10:54 pm. I got the proof in documents and Witness’s as well as Taped conversations by were the past TA admitted she knew of the games and inappropriate behavior of one certain Employee to prove it. Maybe you can ask those 5 employees who went to Town Hall at the request of the past Two T.A’s to complain about that certain employee who was bullying them and did not want to work with him what they were told by the Past Two T.A.‘s. How she promised that he would never be able to return to the D.P.W but yet he was right back in there and was her sons personal sort of speak baby sitter as it was put by those that worked there. how about asking How that same employee harassed the past T.A.‘s son and he was than sent back to the Recycling center as supposed punishment. Or how the Past T.A. in a meeting in the Back Lunchroom at the D.P.W said That the now current Commissioner would never return, but yet there he is back in as Commissioner. How about how the Past T.A. forced out certain employees with threats? Would you like me to go on with all the Lies and Deceits and abuse of power that took place? 

So with that Mr. (By Don’t think you are right on 05/23/2014 at 7:50 pm)
in your comment about them being a Disgruntled or past employee. I say to you that you are wrong and I can Prove it and I will at any given place and time. Name it and I will Bring all my stuff as well as a few witness’s to put on the table for all to view and hear.

Thank You,
Jeffrey S.Chiara

By Jeffrey S. Chiara on 05/24/2014 at 1:54 pm

Mr. Chiara did you not lose two lawsuits against the Town and various employees?  Although it is your first amendment right to say anything you want, those that hear you should understand from where it comes. Obviously you are being fed information by current unhappy employees.  I am sure Mr. Greenstein and Ms. Shapiro will follow up on any complaints made by employees to them.

By We don't want to hear it any more on 05/24/2014 at 5:45 pm

Advertise, interview and chose an experienced and seasoned professional.  Jill Shapiro was fine as Town Clerk but she is not who the Town deserves as its Administrator..  The residents deserve someone who knows what to do.  Thank you.

By do the right thing on 05/24/2014 at 9:46 pm

From time to time I check out the newsletter and comments as above.  I don’t know who the people above are that wrote these anonymous comments, but what I do know is that every single comment from Jeffrey Chiara, Here we go again, Robin Murphy and Ani are 100% truths.  What many of you don’t know about your town…is a lot.  Sadly, most people would rather stay in the dark.  I guess if you don’t acknowledge what’s wrong, you don’t have to address it.  Just because Chiara lost, doesn’t mean he isn’t telling the truth. Chiara’s tenacity validates what was said by certain persons that nothing could be done to them because of what they had on their superiors. I am sure many workers still keep the code of silence for fear of losing their jobs.  Remember, if you want to see what’s in front of you, you need to open your eyes.

By Eyes wide shut on 05/24/2014 at 11:24 pm

Mr. Chiara did NOT lose any lawsuits against the town.  Rather, our town continues to request dismissals of the suit.  This is despite that our town acknowledges that there was harassment, which included anti-Semitic statements by DPW worker, Mike Molnar, who is still employed by our town, though he is out on some kind of leave as he does often is.  While our town does not deny that Mr. Molnar, among other things, called Chiara a “Jew lover” and said that “Hitler had the right idea to burn the Jews and make lampshades out of their skins”), our lawyers contend that, although Chiara’s wife is Jewish, Chiara can’t be a victim of anti-Semitic harassment because he isn’t Jewish.

After being turned down for dismissal many times, our Town finally found a judge to agree to dismiss the lawsuit but now Chiara is appealing that and this past December, in the Appellate Courts Second Division, the panel of Judges felt that Chiara is considered to be in the protected class and has the right to claim anti-Semitism.  Also during this hearing, Town of New Castle’s lawyer claimed Chiara had no basis to also claim that he was being harassed and that there was no reason to consider it a “hostile work environment” because there had been only a few incidents.  Apparently, one of the judges asked “our” attorney if he knew of any guidelines of how many times an individual needs to be harassed before it’s considered a hostile work environment. 

The court documents are all public and available and it really is disgraceful that our town refuses take responsibilities for what took place under its watch.

Editor, I hope you will find time to look into this case yourself and write a story about it.

By case watcher on 05/25/2014 at 10:54 pm

If what Court Watcher writes is true, I’m embarrassed for our town. Both that it occurred in the first place and bc our lawyers defend and masked excuses for it. If I’m correct, the town was also sued for antisemitic harassment by a former police officer too.  The fact that we settle with a police officer who falsifies time sheets and received unearned retirement but we defend anti-Semites on our payroll is shocking and sickening.

By Eyes opened on 05/26/2014 at 7:30 am

The Town Board should address the Town Administrator issue immediately.  Let’s see transparency on this issue.  The three that ran on transparency and change from the status quo owe it to us-those who voted for them.

By waiting to see on 05/26/2014 at 11:12 pm

You are brave to put the Town before yourself.  I commend you on reporting the truth and holding our elected official’s to what they promised during the campaign

By Bravo Robin on 05/30/2014 at 7:35 pm


Post a comment:

Display Name*:

Your Display Name will be associated with this comment on NewCastleNOW.org. We encourage commentators to use their real name or initials.

We encourage civil, civic discourse. In other words, be pithy and polite. All comments will be reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.