As you may know, there were allegations made on social media by family members of County Executive Ed Day that Rockland County legal business had been inappropriately referred to a White Plains law firm to benefit a female member of that law firm. It was further alleged that Ed Day had a romantic relationship with the female attorney.
While the County Executive requested the District Attorney to investigate the allegations, that investigation would have taken place even if it had not been requested by the County Executive. By way of this statement I now report the results of that investigation.
I assigned two of my best investigators to conduct the investigation. Both individuals are retired FBI agents with decades of experience. Their instructions were to conduct a complete and thorough investigation as to whether any criminal law was violated concerning the dealings between the county and the law firm Wilson, Elser.
The originators of the social media allegations were approached. One was interviewed at length, others refused to speak with the investigators. The managing partner of the law firm was interviewed as was counsel to the firm. A former member of the firm who actually performed the County work in question was interviewed. The records of Rockland County’s Finance Department were reviewed. The County Executive was interviewed as was the female lawyer. Numerous other individuals were interviewed.
Records show the County Executive utilized the White Plains law firm Wilson, Elser for several matters. One of those matters concerned a defamation suit that postdated the departure of the female from the law firm. Consequently, that matter was not relevant to the accusations made on social media. The remaining matter involved legal representation concerning the potential sale and closure of the county hospital at Pomona. Starting in October 2014, the White Plains law firm was on a monthly retainer for this matter. In March 2015, the Law Firm terminated their representation of the county.
In December 2016, the female attorney left the White Plains law firm and joined another law firm. The records of the finance department show no County business was done with that second law firm.
Interview of witnesses and review of records fail to establish that the female attorney shared in or financially benefited from the monies paid by Rockland County to the law firm and no payments were made to the female attorney by the County of Rockland. Further, there is no evidence that any attempt was made to have the female lawyer benefit from the business originating from the County of Rockland.
Therefore, the results of the investigation finds no evidence that any criminal law was violated by the County Executive. – Acting Rockland District Attorney Kevin P. Gilleece
Statement from County Executive Ed Day
“It is with mixed emotion that I express gratitude to the District Attorney for his prompt and thorough investigation in this matter which clearly determined that there was nothing to be found where nothing existed. I consider this matter to now be properly closed by the District Attorney. ”
“Meet Our New Human Rights Commissioner” By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
Without question Rockland County is a “melting pot” of diverse cultures and ethnicities which is exactly why my administration made sure to not rush the process of filling the critical position of Human Rights Commissioner.
We took our time combing through candidates to find the most qualified individual to protect the human rights of our residents.
That search started with an extensive recruitment process through multiple avenues including online job sites, the County of Rockland website, with assistance from the Human Rights Commission, members of the County Legislature, and many other
Once we gathered a list of leading candidates, we had them interviewed by a panel of top human rights advocates, which unanimously recommended that Spencer Chiimbwe move on to the next step of the interview process.
Most recently, Spencer worked for the County of Rockland as a Grants Specialist for our American Rescue Plan Act Department assisting local organizations and communities navigate the sometimes-complicated grant application processes. But as I share more of this Stony Point man’s background it will be easy to see why he is being appointed to this position.
Throughout his career, Spencer worked in an array of positions that solidified his fundamental understanding of government, which is crucial in this role.
He spent several years working at the ACTION Support Center, securing grants from entities like the Ford Foundation.
He spent several years working in the New York State Senate conducting legislative research and drafting policy documents.
He volunteered for Congresswoman Nita Lowey assisting with constituent services and connecting with community stakeholders.
Spencer spent 5 years working with the United African Congress inspiring community engagement and participation around key issues like health care, domestic violence, education, and empowerment.
He also served as Vice President for the When In Need Foundation, a humanitarian and philanthropic nonprofit working with disadvantaged communities.
All that experience is just the tip of the iceberg for Spencer.
I am confident his extensive experience working across cultural lines will aid him in his new role.
We expect our Human Rights Commissioner to be omnipresent, establish trust, and be proactive in helping residents facing discrimination of any kind.
My appointment of Spencer Chiimbwe as our next Commissioner has been submitted to the Rockland County Legislature and I look forward to celebrating his confirmation in the coming weeks.
I remind our residents that no one person, one department, or one group, can get the job done. The collective ownership and responsibility of protecting human rights starts and ends with every one of us.
We must all commit, as a County, to stand united against any form of hate or discrimination that surfaces.
* Column written by Rockland County Executive Ed Day.
Rockland County Announces Senior of the Year Awards
POMONA, NY – County Executive Ed Day and Office for the Aging Director Martha Robles honored two super seniors in Rockland Thursday for their longtime community service to helping others.
Winsome Downie Rainford was named 2022 Senior of the Year for dedicating her life to helping others overcome challenges. Rainford spent 42 years teaching political science while also serving on the Board of Directors of the Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center in Spring Valley. Winsome has also been an active member of the United Methodist Church since 1984, a Helping Hands Homeless Program volunteer, an officer in the Jamaican Civic and Cultural Association of Rockland (JAMCCAR) since its founding 32 years ago, and continues to serve as JAMCCAR’s Parliamentarian and on its Scholarship Committee.
The second honoree Mamta Arya was awarded the 2022 Outstanding Contribution by a Senior Citizen. Arya has called Rockland County home ever since she immigrated here from India in 1976. After earning her master’s degree, she spent 15 years working with people with mental illness, substance abuse, and special needs. With a passion for helping others, she went on to launch her own non-profit “Jeevan Jyoti.” The organization offers free services to seniors including learning new skills or how to take care of their aging body and mind six days a week.
“These recipients are an inspiration to us all,” said County Executive Ed Day. “And a reminder that regardless of where you come from you can make a difference.”