Tuesday, December 15, 2015

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Newburgh activists level charges of improprieties against city council members

NEWBURGH – Concerned city residents and local activists stood outside Newburgh City Hall Monday from 5 a.m. until the beginning of the city council meeting at 7 p.m. in an effort to raise awareness for what they believe to continued corruption at City Hall.

Specifically, demonstrators believe the council has committed several offenses including misappropriation of funds, sexual misconduct and inhibiting City Manager Michael Ciaravino’s efforts to rebuild an oppressed city from moving forward.

Leslie Haskin, one of the organizers for the occupation and founder of the non-profit Live Stations Centers of Excellence, explained, in greater detail, the intentions of the occupation outside of City Hall and their support of the city manager’s efforts.

“We believe that a lot of what he’s [Ciaravino] uncovering that will move the city forward, is incriminating to a lot of people and they want to put the ‘Kibosh’ on it,” said Haskin. “So, we’re here tonight, as we were a couple of weeks ago, to actually put a little pressure on the State Attorney General’s Office to step up their investigation and move forward more quickly.”

Haskin said that there is a long list of other grievances that they have with the city, in addition to the aforementioned ones but, she wants people to stay focused on the big picture.

“That big picture is that Newburgh has suffered for years under poor management and mismanagement and bad decisions and personalities over process and poverty and corruption and keeping the city down and all of those things add to one thing and that’s a people that’s oppressed,” Haskin said.

Monday night’s city council meeting was restricted to 99 occupants due to fire safety regulations. No one was turned away but, local activist and former mayoral candidate Omari Shakur said their group was advised not to cause disruption during the meeting under the threat of possible arrest. He said this will not stop them from exercising their civil liberties and speaking out.

“We’ve been told that if we make any interruptions, or anything, we will be removed or arrested and we’re not going to give them that benefit of the doubt; so, right now, we’re going in to see what they’re talking about and then we’ll move from there but, we will be back here again and our plans is this is not over till it’s over,” said Shakur.

Haskin said that the group has already contacted the Office of the State Attorney General and their immediate next step in this process is to meet with a representative next week. 

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