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East Ramapo reverses position, interviews candidates
East Ramapo School Board President Daniel Schwartz didn't say exactly how officials discovered that they shouldn't be holding interviews for appointments to the School Board behind closed doors, but he did reverse the board's policy Thursday, pre-empting a Newsday story citing critics and a legal opinion questioning the legality of such secrecy.
At 9:32 a.m. Thursday, I emailed Schwartz to question why the district was withholding candidates' names and resumes, citing case law provided by Robert Freeman of the state committee on open government.
I cited a court decision stemming from a challenge to the Village of Monticello in Sullivan County. In that case, a judge said that resumes of those appointed to government jobs can be withheld from the public but that the law does not extend to positions that are normally filled by election.
"Certainly, the matter of replacing elected officials should be subject to public input and scrutiny," the opinion reads.
Schwartz did not answer my questions about why the board was proceeding to keep the candidates secret. He also did not immediately confirm Sunday how he discovered that case law.
What matters is that the board interviewed candidates in front of watchful residents, causing some sun to shine in in East Ramapo. The interviewees were:
-- Glenn Pafumi, of Spring Valley, a former Wall Street invesment banker and financial analyst
-- David Wanounou, of Spring Valley, CEO of Alpha Gas & Electric
-- Nathan Losman, an attorney who said he has a background in litigation
-- Joseph "Yossi" Gestetner, a public relations specialist whose website is Gestetner Updates and has raised the eyebrows of the blogger at Failed Messiah
-- Harry Grossman, who has a background in finance and accounting
Schwartz said that by Monday the resumes of candidates would be made available.
On Tuesday, two final candidates will be interviewed:
-- Angela Cabble, of Spring Valley
-- Bernard Charles, who is a Spring Valley mayoral candidate and whose wife is Ramapo Town Board member Brendel Logan
As a final note: Sunshine Week begins March 10, where media outlets across the nation encourage and lead conversations about open government. In New York, we have a great resource in Robert Freeman and the committee on open goverment, whom any New Yorker can contact for advice.