RAMAPO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A war of words was heating up in Ramapo late Thursday, with supporters and opponents battling it out over an embattled town supervisor and fire inspector.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, the moment that indicted town supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence walked into the room for a town meeting on Wednesday evening, his enraged constituents vented their scorn. St. Lawrence has been indicted on charges of municipal bond fraud, but is still presiding.
Many believe he belongs back in handcuffs.
“It’s hard to think that this is the United States of America, and someone who’s indicted is allowed to rule us,” said Catherine Davis of Airmont.
“Enough,” said Ray Williams of Suffern. “He has to leave.”
The embattled head of the largest town in Rockland County has his supporters – mostly members of the so-called bloc vote of Orthodox Jewish villages.
“I believe that he’s a good person,” said Biniyomin Mermelstein of Kaser.
And the business at hand on Wednesday night dealt with an alleged preference to those villages. Fire Inspector Adam Peltz admitted to passing Orthodox Yeshivas without proper inspections – something New York state fire marshals called him on.
Town Attorney Michael Klein announced Peltz’ 30-day suspension and demotion for the phony inspections, but decided to keep him on the payroll as an assistant fire safety inspector.
Protesters in the crowd chanted, “No way!” Many in the area, namely firefighters and their bosses, were incensed.
“The inspector belongs to a brotherhood. The brotherhood was betrayed. He’s risking the lives of children and firefighters by not doing his job,” said Rockland County Executive Ed Day, who added that Peltz should “absolutely” be fired.
“I think that he knows too much,” said protester Mike Casteluccio. “I think that he has been cooperating because other people have persuaded him to cooperate.”
The town supervisor isn’t talking about it, but the town attorney said Peltz wasn’t fired because board determined his lack inspections were matters of simple negligence.
His punishment includes an annual pay cut of almost $10,000 but he’s still on the books at nearly $86,000 a year.