The Spring Valley Democratic Committee had not met for years, and that was the first thing that made the Presidents Day meeting unusual. But what made it alarming was the way it was conducted, behind closed doors with a significant reorganization voted on by committee members who were nowhere to be seen, not even in the very room where the vote was taken. Also absent was the architect of the takeover. This is not the first time the Ramapo Democratic machine has deployed its network of ghost puppets to extend its control.
The Spring Valley Democratic Committee last met about seven years ago. Party committees are important because, among other things, they select the candidates in election years. Given the turmoil usually churning in Spring Valley, and the fact that the village can be counted on to support democratic candidates, the committee can be an important local force.
Presidents Day Hypocrisy
A little over a week ago, a letter sent to the Democratic Committee members in Spring Valley announced a “Call to Convention,” and it instructed the members: “By order of Committeeman Vilair Fonvil, a Convention and Reorganization of the Spring Valley Democratic Committee is hereby called for Monday, February 20, 2017, 6:00 pm sharp, at the Martin Luther King Multi-Center in SV.”
The authority to call this meeting came from “fifteen percent of the Village Democratic Committee members [who had] signed a letter to Kristen Zebrowski, Chairwoman of the Rockland County Democratic Committee.” These fifteen-percenters also appointed Vilair Fonvil to “perform the ministerial roll (sic) of calling the meeting.”
So, who were these fifteen-percenters, and why did they pick Fonvil? Well, you might say who cares, the wheels were finally turning again for the SV Democratic Committee, and this was all going to be memorialized on Presidents Day—what symbolism!
Little did the recipients of the letter know that 100% of the committee was about to be ground up in the bloody cogs of the Ramapo Democratic Machine.
Six o’clock, Monday evening, Presidents Day, Fonvil calls the small gathering at the MLK Multi-center to order, and he recites the pledge of allegiance.
Then there was a roll call, which didn’t take long. There were fewer than a dozen and a half attending, but there was good reason for that. Next, there were the votes to approve the Revised Bylaws for the Committee and to elect the Officers to the Executive Committee. The candidates were:
First Vice Chairman—Sherry T. McGill
Second Vice Chairman—Moshe Hopstein
Those who know about Spring Valley politics might recognize these names and the narrow vision they possess for the village’s future.
Curiously, on a day celebrating democratic principles, the person to move the question on whether the vote should proceed was none other than the person to be considered for Chairman, Fonvil himself. Sort of like Washington or Lincoln deciding for everyone that they would be the only candidate you could vote for. And then he voted for himself twice.
But it gets worse. The committee members who were voting for the reorganization and officers weren’t even there at the meeting. They sent in their proxy votes, which were carried almost exclusively by people who were not SV Democratic Committee members. Only two, Fonvil and Clerina, were Committee Members. The rules allow for this, but this is the first time we can recall a near unanimous absence of committee members using proxies. The rules do however require that a proxy carrier be a registered Democrat, and not all the proxy carriers were. Here’s the list of those non-Committee members who were there, voting, and the absent committee members who chose not to show up.
KEY: The names in YELLOW are ghost-voters who decided not to attend, but did send their approval of the board and changes by way of those names in GREEN who did show up at this Democratic Committee meeting, even though most of them are not Democratic Committee members.
You might have noticed that four of the five new officers voted in that night (Fonvil, Clerina, McGill, and Williams) all carried proxy votes, for themselves. So, when they cast their own votes, they each got to vote twice for themselves?
Do you know who didn’t get to vote? Those Committee members who weren’t notified in time to make the meeting. And that made this meeting illegal.
The rules require that those who could legally attend must be given five days’ notice of the upcoming meeting. The letter sent out by Vilair Fonvil to announce the Call to Convention is dated February 16, 2017. The actual meeting took place on President’s Day February 20. See the problem?
Here is the postmarked stamp of the notice of the meeting that was sent to Steve White, a Democratic Committee member. The #16 indicates it was received by the Post Office on February 16. Steve received the notice on Tuesday February 21, a day after the meeting had taken place. Not surprising, since on Sunday (Feb 19) and Monday (Feb 20, Presidents Day) there were no mail deliveries. But even if the letter had been delivered the very next day after it was posted, that would be Feb 17, still not in time to meet the required 5-day notice period for a Feb 20 meeting. In fact, White’s notice was received six days late. Do you think this was done intentionally, or do you think the engineers of the coup simply didn’t understand the phrase “five day’s notice”?
Behind the Curtain
For those who might have caught a whiff of the bad air that recently permeates the hallways of Ramapo town Hall, you would not be mistaken. Mona Montal’s fingerprints are all over this debacle. Montal is the titular head of the Ramapo Democratic Committee/Machine, and she has moved up as the political right hand of the currently indicted Supervisor, St. Lawrence.
The Committee members who engineered this takeover were appointed by the Ramapo Town Chair, Mona Montal. In fact, of the 54 current members of the SV Democratic Committee, 25 were appointed, not elected, by her. An overwhelming majority of those are from bloc strongholds. Those appointees who attended or sent in proxies to ensure the takeover include:
Feiga Felberbaum, Yochanan Felberbaum, Vilair Fonvil, Esther Bransdorfer, Juda Bransdorfer, Leonard Chin, Miriam Fleischman, Yochonon Fleischman, Mordechai Gelbman, Mordechai Glatzer, Rivka Glatzer, Moshe Hopstein, Rivky Hopstein, Yisroel Klein, Moshe Glatzer, Raizel Glatzer, Ephraim Eisenberg, and Mindy Eisenberg. These are the 18 proxy votes handed in by those who were present, who themselves were not Committee members so they were not allowed to vote. The two exceptions were Vilair Fonvil and Zach Clarina who each voted twice for themselves.
One Rosalind Smith carried the proxy vote of Moshe Hopstein, who is a former member of the East Ramapo School Board. Hopstein sent in his vote in the hands of a person who was not a SV Democratic Committee member, nor is she even a registered Democrat according to Board of Elections records. That’s actually illegal and it would cancel Moshe’s vote had this been a legal assemblage.
This is not the first time the Ramapo Democratic Committee has engineered this kind of crooked takeover. For those who don’t recall the Ramapo Town attorneys hiding behind curtains throwing out the proxy ballots of the opposition read “Throw them out!” Trying to Steal an Election—Part 3. Or read Mona’s gamble works—Ramapo Democratic Committee maneuvers Rossman on to Town Board.
The disenfranchised members of the Ramapo Democratic Committee have filed a legal complaint with the Rockland Board of Elections, and they expect the Commissioner Kristen Zebrowski to invalidate the vote and the meeting based on the failure to provide five days notice to all members. (You can view the press conference announcing this effort here.)
Isn’t it curious that those attending Vilair’s meeting all got their notices in time to fill out their proxy votes and even arrange to have someone else show up in their place, carrying their votes?