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Yorktown Supervisor Calls Criticism of Wife Working at Town Hall 'Nonsense'

Michael Grace said all laws had been followed and the town's receiver of taxes Elfriede Schmid had requested that his wife work in the office due to a personnel shortage.

Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace is defending the decision made by the receiver of taxes to hire his wife Lisa to a temporary position as a part-time intermediate clerk in the office.

Grace said all laws had been followed and Receiver of Taxes Elfriede Schmid had requested that his wife work in the office due to a personnel shortage. 

He said Schmid needed someone she could trust with handling of the money and called his wife "competent" to do the job. 

"I don't think there was any problem doing it and she was needed at that particular time," Grace said. 

Grace said the receiver of taxes office has been inundated with work—tax bills had to be sent out by Sept. 1—and if needed staff would have worked overtime during the Labor Day weekend to catch up on the work.

But Lisa Grace along with her two daughters and a friend of theirs helped stuff envelopes at the office, Grace said. Because of the extra help no town employees at the office worked overtime. 

Lisa Grace began working at the office in Town Hall in September and at first she had offered to volunteer, as she does at other organizations and groups in town, but Schmid had told her that she should get paid, Grace said.

The criticism has been troubling, he said. 

"If you beat up someone to do the right thing," Grace said of his wife's willingness to help, "there is a chilling effect on them and that's a problem as far as I'm concerned." 

Reacting to "being scrutinized," Grace said it was former town comptroller Joan Goldberg who had the issue with his wife being employed. Goldberg was asked by the town board to resign earlier this year and began her new job as the town administrator in North Castle this week.

"It's unwarranted criticism," Grace said. "It was [Goldberg]'s parting shot. She decided to make an issue out of a non-issue."

Grace said his wife had been doing her job and added there are numerous family members who work in the town in different departments. According to the town's nepotism policy, which was amended on April 5, 2011, immediate family members of a town employee will receive the same consideration as any applicant. Individuals will not be placed in the same department with their family members, with the exception of seasonal and part-time employees.

"It's not a permanent, high-paying job," Grace said of his wife's temporary position. "We needed someone."

Residents who left comments on the topic to this article on Patch had mixed reactions. One person asked why other people weren't interviewed for the job. 

"The job should have been posted and people interviewed. I can't believe she's the only qualified person in Yorktown for the job. I know many parents with school-aged children (myself included) who would love to be considered for a part-time job," Sue Petronis Kelleher wrote.

Another person wrote that it did not matter who was doing the job as long as it was getting done.

"Lisa Grace was requested by the Receiver," Ed Lachterman wrote. "Possibly because she offered to help, but that would actually be a violation of town policy if she was not a paid employee."

"I have no problem using the people and resources I have that I trust," Grace told Patch. "That's what I'm here for–to get things done."

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Martin September 27, 2012 at 11:10 AM
Kudos’s to you Mr. Supervisor, and keep up the good work your administration is doing. The Nay Sayers will always be out there. As for Ms. Goldberg thank goodness she is gone.
Yorktown Town Hall September 27, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Thank you. It's not as if this uptick in tax receipts happens every year and we could have forecast the need for additional help and advertised it to the public. This was a one-time occurrence and we were in a jam.
NorthCountyHound September 27, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Running a town isn't the same as running a family restaurant or deli. Even if this is all on the up and up, it looks bad and shows that this Grace is a person who doesn't understand that perception in politics is everything.
Costco lover September 27, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Just the way he hired his secretary. Hmmm
Ed Lachterman September 27, 2012 at 04:13 PM
@ NorthCountyHound - Maybe more should follow his lead in not being a "politician" but rather someone getting the job done. The carer politicians have been driving up our taxes and making a mockery of our country by trying to change our perceptions. Here is Mr. Grace doing what needs to be done. As Martin says above - Kudos to Mr. Grace and his entire family for caring about the town they live in.
Howard Frank September 27, 2012 at 04:40 PM
There are pleanty of interns that will work for the Town for free. Since this Tax billing goes to the School Districts. They should send in the extra help, and also pay for the accounting of the funds. And mailings. along with the legal costs to handle all tax greavences.
Patrick September 28, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Like what!
Yorktown Town Hall September 28, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Please cease and desist using the phrase "Getting It Done" in reference to any politician other than NYS Senator Greg Ball (R). It's a trademarked phrase, owned solely by Friends of Greg Ball.
NorthCountyHound September 28, 2012 at 05:27 AM
I am happy Grace beat that miserable yenta Siegel whose only good point was her ongoing vendetta vs. the Highway boss, who belongs in Attica. But if Grace wants my rspect, he can't be bringing his kids to relatives to town hall to stuff envelops and "play government". Get some high schoolers as interns. Patronage is gross. Even if the intention is pure, it stinks and makes most people want to puke.
Costco lover September 28, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Ditto
bertie October 01, 2012 at 01:49 PM
I think it's probably legal ... but I think it's also an incredibly stupid thing to do. Leaves a bad taste in the mouth, doesn't it?

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