YORKTOWN, N.Y. – The Yorktown Town Board passed a resolution after a contentious midnight executive session early Wednesday calling for the resignation of longtime Town Comptroller Joan Cavorti Goldberg.
The unexpected personnel upheaval left Goldberg perplexed and "flabbergasted" and triggered charges from one board member of an administration that "does everything in the dark."
"This is getting to be a practice now," said board member Nick Bianco. "It's a night owl board. This just popped up. It came out of nowhere."
Bianco and Dave Paganelli were outvoted by Supervisor Michael Grace and board members Terrence Murphy and Vishnu Patel in trying to block the apparent ouster of Goldberg, a 16-year employee who has worked for five different supervisors in Yorktown.
"I'm at a loss for words. This came right out of leftfield," said Goldberg. "I have no idea what the impetus is for it. This has never happened to me in my career. I'm operating the same way I have for the last 16 years."
Grace, who took office in January, said the board's action "wasn't a big deal" and noted he admired and respected Goldberg. However, he said the board would be advertising and interviewing for a new comptroller and expected Goldberg to be on the list of candidates.
"It's no personal slight to her at all. There's no change being made at this instance," Grace said. "Nobody has a problem with Joan whatsoever. They just want a chance to go in a different direction. It's not coming up at the 11th hour. Every decision has been discussed ad nauseum with the town board."
The resolution involving Goldberg was not listed on the official agenda available to the public. Grace said it came up during other personnel discussions, which included the reappointment of Receiver of Taxes Elfriede Schmid.
"The reason it's done so late is it shouldn't be something that's a political football," Grace said. "There are very good reasons for all of that. It has to do with personnel. I had no real interest in doing it in a televised meeting."
Grace said he had a few concerns about the town comptroller's office, mentioning an audit two years ago that "wasn't very complimentary." Patel went a step further, saying certain procedures had not been implemented in a timely fashion and financial information was not being shared will all board members.
"I'm concerned that everyone should see the same piece of paper," Patel said. "This is a business of the people. This issue is nothing new. It started January 1. Maybe he (supervisor) had some grace period for her."
Bianco said Yorktown is in solid financial shape with the largest surplus in its history. He said he was hopeful Goldberg would be retained.
"I've been satisfied with Joan over the years," said Bianco, whose time on the board has paralleled Goldberg's years in Yorktown. "I think it's a bad financial move for the town. The ship has been steady. When they look out there, hopefully they'll realize they made a mistake."