OK, here we go again. With all the misinformation being dispensed over social media, false and alternative versions of the truth being shared, once again it’s time for some REAL TALK!
After reading a recent article in The Journal News/ Lohud titled; Lawsuit: Mount Vernon mayor Richard Thomas retaliated against developer by Ernie Garcia, I was reminded once again, like everything else in Mount Vernon politics, it’s like peeling back layers of an onion. Just when you peel back the next layer and think you have gotten to the truth, there is yet another layer to be pulled back. Once the lohud piece dropped several Mount Vernon City Hall insiders started sharing info with BW. I will attempt to pull back another layer and get us closer to the truth in the era of FAKE NEWS we seem to be living in, locally and nationally.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard W. Thomas retaliated against Peter Fine, CEO of the Atlantic Development Group, La Porte’s developer, who didn’t hire his friend by stalling a major city construction project for months, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday, reported Lohud.
Blue Rio LLC and principal Peter Fine accused the city and the Thomas administration of political retribution, arbitrary building code enforcement and harassment related to the affordable housing complex by Hartley Park that was reported to be 90 percent complete in July 2016 and expected to be accepting applications for a September 2016 occupancy.
The lawsuit alleged that the opening of the 14-story building whose amenities were advertised to include a gym, community room, 36-seat media center and a 4,000-square-foot rooftop terrace offering sweeping views of southern Westchester County and Manhattan, was delayed because the developer would not hire an unnamed consultant who was an adviser and friend of Mayor Thomas. Several sources close to the project and in City Hall tell BW that the unnamed consultant was Frank Fraley, although we have not been able to independently confirm with 100% certainty yet.
The lawsuit claimed that Thomas introduced Fine to his adviser (Fraley) during a private lunch on March 18, 2016. By the summer, the adviser allegedly asked Fine for a consulting job, and after the job was not offered, the city began a campaign of site inspections that led to stop-work orders, the lawsuit alleges.
Lohud reported on Dec. 6, 2016, that four contractors working at an affordable housing site in Mount Vernon face $20,726 in fines for safety violations. Inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration assessed the biggest fine of $14,000 to Standard Waterproofing of the Bronx for three violations related to ladders and training at the La Porte building at 203 Gramatan Ave.
According to the March 20th Lohud article, conducting the inspections was Michael Gianatasio, a safety consultant who is president of Universal Engineering Services. Gianatasio is named in the lawsuit, which accuses him of carrying out a harassment campaign using city employees, including police and fire officials.
Black Westchester has obtained a copy of the Blue Rio complaint and shares it below so you can go through it for yourself.
Now that we are caught up-to-date for those keeping score, this is where things begin to get interesting. The lawsuit alleges that Gianatasio is a relative of Joseph Spiezio, a close Thomas associate who serves as deputy commissioner in the Mount Vernon Police Department.
Blue Rio alleged in its court papers that Spiezio repeatedly sat in his car across the street from the construction site as part of the alleged harassment campaign.
On Monday, Spiezio denied that Gianatasio is his relative, that he’s a director of Universal Engineering Services or that he sat in his car near 203 Gramatan Ave.
“That’s absurd,” said Spiezio, who called Gianatasio talented. “He’s doing a fantastic job and all the department heads have reviewed his work.”
BW has no way to confirm that Spiezio sat in his car across the street from the construction site, without photos or eyewitness accounts which we are told are coming. We also have no proof at all to back the lawsuit’s claim of Gianatasio being a blood relative of Spiezio but have been told Gianatasio is or was married to a close relative of Spiezio (once again we have not independently confirmed this to be true as of yet.)
But as far as Spiezio’s denial that Gianatasio is a director of Spiezio’s Universal Engineering Services, we were able to dig up a few documents that say otherwise (see below).
Could this be a case of a developer crying spilled milk because they didn’t get their way or what they claim, more alleged political retaliation from the Thomas Administration, like in the case of the illegal closures of OK Freddy’s Meat Market and Mega Beverage Redemption Center, the total truth may not be known until it comes out in court, if then? But we hope we peeled a few more layers of the onion so you can make up your own mind what is really going on! Like I said in an earlier editorial, there are over eight million stories in the naked city and yes this is just another one. More to come as further details become available.
As alway I urge you not to take anything written here verbatim, as with any other news outlet, blog, social media post and especially the words coming out of the mouths of any politicians, look it up for yourself, ask the questions, you the people have much more power than you use. Don’t just settle for anything find out for yourself, REAL TALK!!!
AJ is a Father, Author, Writer, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
You can also hear AJ every Thursday morning at 7:20 A.M. on Good Morning Westchester with host Bob Marrone on WVOX