A former North Castle Town Board candidate has urged Councilman John Cronin to resign if he refuses to explain why he used town letterhead to support a local merchant’s application for a full liquor license.
Bob Romano, a Democrat who finished third behind Cronin and outgoing Councilwoman Diane DiDonato-Roth, both Republicans, in the 2009 election, issued the challenge in an op-ed article submitted to The Examiner on Sunday (see page 14). That writing followed questions he posed to Cronin at the Sept. 25 town board meeting questioning the councilman’s ethics.
Romano said he had no issue with the contents of the April 5, 2012, letter to the state Liquor Authority on behalf of Wine Geeks Armonk or that Cronin chose to support a local business. However, use of the letterhead at the top of the stationery with the town’s seal off to the left just above Cronin’s name and title of councilman could make it appear as though the establishment’s application received an endorsement from the full town board.
“I actually thought you would have learned your lesson with the survey, which was the same thing–you used town letterhead for your own personal gain,” Romano said when he confronted Cronin during the citizen comments portion of last week’s meeting. Romano was referring to Cronin’s release of a 2010 parks and recreation survey to the public without first receiving town board approval.
Cronin’s letter to the state Liquor Authority surfaced on Sept. 13 because Romano, an attorney who specializes in liquor law, represented two other Armonk businesses who opposed Wine Geeks’ application. The license has since been granted.
In his op-ed piece, Romano issued an ultimatum for Cronin to come clean about his motivations or immediately resign from office.
“Councilman Cronin and all elected officials in our town should be setting examples of what is right for all of us,” the piece stated in part. “By attempting to dismiss this as a trivial matter, he is doing a disservice to the voters and to our children as well. It is time for him to either explain his actions fully and admit his lack of following the rule of law, or step down from office immediately.”
Cronin, who faces re-election next month, brushed off Romano’s comments last week and again on Monday as election year political gamesmanship. He said he has no intention of stepping down and doesn’t view his action on behalf of a local merchant who asked him to write a letter as inappropriate.
On Monday, Cronin said he asked North Castle Board of Ethics Chairman David Simonds to review the issue, but he said he was confident that since writing the recommendation in his capacity as town councilman use of the letterhead was appropriate.
The councilman added that he had no doubt Romano’s motive was “completely political” a little more than a month before the election. Romano is a town Democratic district leader.
“I beat Bob rather badly in 2009 and he doesn’t seem to have gotten over that,” Cronin said.
At last week’s meeting, Cronin scolded Romano for what he believes was an obvious political ploy. He pressed Romano about how using town letterhead could be construed as personal gain.
“If you think it’s wrong for me to write a letter on behalf of a local merchant that’s fine, but that’s all it was and don’t try to suggest it was anything else and that’s exactly what you did,” Cronin said.
Romano denied any political motivations or that he was still embittered by his 2009 defeat or the fact that his two clients’ objections to the license were thrown out. He also said he has no aspirations for elected office at this time.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/