Rye city officials have declined so far to respond to allegations in this very interesting article about a whistleblowing employee who said his superiors made him hide the fact that a Jan. 25 council workshop had been videotaped.
City Manager Scott Pickup told council members during the meeting and afterward that it was not recorded. Andrew Dapolite, an employee for Rye TV, said his superiors deliberately withheld the recording from the public and council — and that when the recording was eventually posted on Rye’s website, the audio levels had been lowered. Thursday’s Rye Sound Shore Review quotes from a letter he sent to the council this week.
Dapolite said he tried to resolve the situation internally with Rye TV Access Coordinator Nicole Levitsky before writing the letter. “It is my understanding that the actions exhibited by Mr. Pickup and Ms. Levitsky, by withholding the recording of the meeting, lying to city officials and members of the public, placing expectations on me that challenge good ethics and morals, is in direct conflict with the code of ethics,” he wrote. (Read the full text below.)
Council members were meeting Jan. 25 on the sensitive issue of Fire Department restructuring. The videotape wasn’t posted until Feb. 7.
Pickup and Levitsky declined to respond to Dapolite’s claims when contacted today. Mayor Doug French called the allegations a personnel matter. Council members Joe Sack, who had a heated public exchange with the mayor recently over French’s property problems, and Catherine Parker, the council’s lone Democrat, said the allegations were serious and need to be investigated. It’s unclear how that will happen.
Rye Corporation Counsel Kristen Wilson said she will advise the council on what steps it may take. As attorney for the city and its boards, her involvement may end there, and she declined to comment. A Journal News request to her to provide a copy of Dapolite’s letter went unanswered Friday afternoon.
Update: Dapolite agreed to release the letter after seeing that it was obtained by another media outlet. The text of the letter is below.
February 13, 2012
Rye City Council
Attention: Mr. Douglas French
Ms. Laura Brett
Mr. Richard Filippi
Mr. Peter Jovanovich
Ms. Suzanna Keith
Ms. Catherine Parker
Mr. Joseph Sack
Dear Rye City Council,
As an employee of the City of Rye, I respectfully request that the City Council, by virtue of
section “C6-3 Investigations” of the City Charter, hear these complaints and investigate the
following chain of events involving City Manager Scott Pickup and the Rye TV Public Access
Coordinator, Nicole Levitsky.
I. RECORDING OF FIRE DEPARTMENT WORKSHOP CONCEALED
On January 25th 2012, during a regular meeting of the Rye City Council, City Manager Scott
Pickup told members of the Council and public that the prior Fire Department Workshop was not
videotaped when in fact it was. I became aware of the video recording through my position as
Rye TV Production Coordinator, having also witnessed the specific act of video recording by
Ms. Levitsky in the City Hall control room at approximately 7:00pm- the start of the workshop.
In the two days that followed, I received phone calls from residents and members of the local
press, as well as volunteer firefighters asking if Rye TV recorded the workshop. Ms. Levitsky
instructed me to respond to such inquires by stating “Rye TV did not record the meeting,” and
she told me specifically not to tell Councilman Joe Sack, who was absent from the meeting, that
a videotape recording existed.
I believe if I were to obey Ms. Levitsky’s request, I would be in conflict with the City of Rye
Code of Ethics 15-10, which forbids employees to conduct themselves in an improper way due to
another’s position or rank. And honestly, I did not want to lie to my friends and the people in my
Obligation to Citizens, section 15-10
“An officer or employee of the city should not by his conduct give reasonable basis for the
impression that any person can unduly influence him or improperly enjoy his favor in the
performance of his official duties or that he is affected by the kinship, rank, position or influence
of any party or person.“ (Obligation to citizens, section 15-10)
Because I was unwilling to go along with Ms. Levitsky’s request asking me to lie regarding the
videotaping of the meeting, I emailed my concerns to her on Friday January 27th, 2012. I
suggested that we notify Mr. Pickup of the recording’s existence as I was, at that time, under the
impression that he was unaware of it (see Jan, 25 City Council meeting).
I was surprised to learn from Ms. Levitsky’s response to my January 27th email, that City
Manager Pickup “knows full well there is a recording”. Ms. Levitsky explained to me later that
day that Mr. Pickup did not want the recording released.
At Ms. Levitsky’s suggestion, I forwarded her email response to Mr. Pickup and asked him to
verify how the situation should be addressed, as I remained uncomfortable lying to public
officials, residents and volunteer firefighters. Mr. Pickup did not answer my email or contact me
in any way (see attached emails) even though, through subsequent conversations with Ms.
Levitsky, it was apparent that she and Mr. Pickup had discussed my concerns.
A week after the Fire Department Workshop, Mr. Pickup still had not released the recording
while phone call inquiries about the recording continued. Since my concerns to Mr. Pickup and
Ms. Levitsky were not addressed, I reached out to Councilman Joe Sack, an elected official I
have come to trust through working on the production of Rye TV programs together. I explained
what had occurred, and my concerns, and the Councilman said he would discuss the matter
privately with City Manager Pickup.
As a result of Councilman Sack’s meeting with the City Manager on Friday, February 3, 2012,
Mr. Pickup requested Ms. Levitsky to post the Fire Department Workshop video recording to the
City of Rye website. This was nine days after the recording was created. Typically, public
meetings and workshops air on the Rye TV Government channel, and are also posted to the City
of Rye website the same night they are recorded.
II. RECORDING MANIPULATED TO DECREASE PRODUCTION VALUE
On Tuesday February 7th 2012, thirteen days after the recording was created, the video was
posted to the City of Rye website. That same day, I began receiving a new set of complaints at
Rye TV. Viewers stated that the audio was low or inaudible, and that they were unable to hear
the participants of the workshop. I acknowledged that this could be attributed to the fact that
when we record workshops on the floor of the Council Chambers (as opposed to a regular
meeting on the dais), we use different microphones, and the proximity of those microphones is
further than those installed on the council dais.
Given the previous set of circumstances, I decided to look further into this matter. I reviewed the
original source file that we used to digitize the workshop before outputting and posting to the
web. The original source file was clearly more audible, with higher recorded levels than that of
the website version posted by Ms. Levitsky. I looked even further into the Final Cut Pro
software’s project file created by Ms. Levitsky and was alarmed to see that the video file had
been deleted from the edit sequence used for output. Typically we leave projects (including the
edit sequences and all other components) intact on our computers for weeks before they are
deleted. I could not understand why the project and the raw video file still existed; yet the output
sequence (which would have indicated whether or not edits were made) was removed.
I ran a search on the computer for what’s called the “autosave vault”. The autosave vault
automatically chronicles a series of edits over time and allows you to access older versions of a
project. I discovered these files on a different external hard drive. The most recent autosaved
project file I referenced was “saved” during the output process and it revealed that edits were
made to the final sequence. It showed that before the Fire Department Workshop video was
exported, the audio levels were actually lowered.
When videos are digitally captured with any kind of hardware, Final Cut Pro interprets the audio
and sets the level to a baseline of zero decibels. The audio levels for the Fireman’s Workshop
were lowered to -7 decibels off the baseline of zero. This could only be achieved through
operator/editor intervention, Ms. Levitsky’s.
A deteriorated, or low production value of the Fire Department Workshop video would support
the claims made by Ms. Levitsky–after she said there was no recording– that there was a
recording but it is “not a proper video recording but a wide shot hardly appropriate for TV,”
meant to serve as a “backup for the clerk’s audio”.
In concert with those statements, City Manager Pickup told The Rye Sound Shore Review, “that’s
why you get what you get” in an article when he was questioned about the poor audio quality,
reaffirming Nicole’s claim that “it is not a proper video recording”.
On Wednesday February 8th, 2012, I told Councilman Sack that the audio of the Fire Department
Workshop posted to the City of Rye website was in fact less audible than the original recorded
On Thursday February 9th, 2012 Ms. Levitsky confronted me at the Rye TV studio. She told me
that Councilman Sack, through Mr. Pickup, had requested that the audio be restored to its
original levels. Ms. Levitsky told me that if the levels were lowered she had done it
unintentionally. She claimed that Rye TV is not supposed to edit meetings of the City Council
therefore the quality of the recording was not enhanced. I argued that improving the quality of
the audio is not editing, we are not changing the content or integrity of the recording- it would be
what we call “production”. In my two and a half years as a Rye TV employee, we have always
used post-production techniques to enhance the quality of our videos and audio, never to
deteriorate or make it more difficult for viewing. I explained that in this case the audio was
actually made worse, and the manipulated file was suspiciously deleted. The raw file was
considerably more audible, and would have served the purpose of educating the public on the
content of the workshop just fine.
Ms. Levitsky made statements that she did not know why the manipulated file was deleted from
the sequence and then eventually admitted to deleting the file. Ms. Levitsky also denied adjusting
the audio levels, then later admitted to “playing with the audio”. She said she feared the
recording would seem “like a production” rather than an “audio backup”, and she admitted that
she was concerned about members of the public and press thinking the video was recorded at
broadcast quality “like a regular meeting” as she had formerly denied the recording existed.
I told Ms. Levitsky it was my belief that she was improperly trying to protect Mr. Pickup from
apparent lies he told the City Council or members of the public. Ms. Levitsky countered that
“part of the job is bullshitting people at Council Meetings”, and that asking me to lie can be
justified: “maybe it is a little bit of covering up for your boss until he figures out what he’s
doing.” I reminded her that nine days had passed since the video recording was created, and Mr.
Pickup did nothing. Ms. Levitsky stated that she was unsure why Mr. Pickup did not want the
Fire Department Workshop video publicly released, feeling that there was a reason “we are not
privy to”. Ms. Levitsky also said of Mr. Pickup’s actions, “Scott put us in a bad position” and
this all could have been avoided.” Ms. Levitsky admitted that Mr. Pickup did nothing when I
brought the original issue to his attention, until Councilman Sack requested that the workshop be
During our conversation, I learned that Mr. Pickup was aware of the Fire Department Workshop
recording on the same night it was recorded. At the City Council Meeting of January 25th, 2012,
in reference to the Fire Department Workshop, Mr. Pickup stated, “we just didn’t have it taped
this evening. We just didn’t have the ability”, as Ms. Levitsky and myself watched the workshop
on video monitors one floor above the Council Chambers as participants were unknowingly
Ms. Levitsky apologized for placing me in an uncomfortable position, acknowledged that she
instructed me to tell people that “we have no recording” and that she specifically told me not to
tell Councilman Sack the recording existed.
III. CITY MANAGER DID NOT WANT WHITBY CASTLE MEETING RECORDED
On January 25th, 2012 City Manager Pickup also informed the City Council that due to
unavailability of staff, the City Council Meeting of Saturday January 28th, 2012 held at Whitby
Castle would not be recorded. Mr. Pickup stated during the televised meeting:
1) “Well, I have a staff of two who’s also been handling special meetings of the School
Board and other meetings and quite frankly I just don’t have the time. I don’t have the
2) “Unfortunately I don’t have any coverage for that date. Again, I only have two people
in the department. They have been working extra hours with the Board of Education
I specifically told Ms. Levitsky that I was willing and able to record the meeting of January 28th,
2012 at Whitby Castle for Rye TV. Ms. Levitsky responded by telling me that Mr. Pickup did
not want the meeting recorded despite the request of the Rye City Council.
While it is true that Ms. Levitsky had been “handling special meetings of the School Board”- or
at least one meeting- Mr. Pickup is aware, as the City Manager, that her responsibility in
covering those meetings is in no way part of her job as a City of Rye employee/Rye TV Access
Coordinator. In fact, Ms. Levitsky was hired to record School Board meetings by the Rye City
School District (I served as an alternate in 2009-2010) and she is compensated separately by the
Rye City School District for those services.
Mr. Pickup failed to mention that, in addition to the two full time employees, Rye TV has five
part time employees as well. Not one member of our part time staff, to my knowledge, was asked
to record the January 28th meeting, and my offer was declined. I think it is important to note that
Council members expressed the desire to have the meeting recorded due to the fact that the
importance of topics to be discussed were beyond that of a typical “Orientation”.
Later in the day on February 9th 2012, Ms. Levitsky instructed me to meet and speak with Mr.
Pickup at Rye City Hall. Ms. Levitsky was also present in the meeting. Mr. Pickup shared with
me an email he received from Councilman Sack requesting that the audio of the Fire Department
Workshop be restored. Mr. Pickup warned me that the “elected officials are a little wound up”,
and that insinuations are being made that deal with people’s intentions, ethics, and their jobs. I
was made aware that the whole situation was generating anxiety and agitation.
I communicated to Mr. Pickup that I did not understand why I was told to lie by Ms. Levitsky
about the Fire Department Workshop video recording when people contacted me at Rye TV- and
also why I was told specifically not to tell Councilman Sack- in light of what happened during
the meeting as so much attention was applied to the fact that the workshop was “not recorded”. I
also explained that I was not sure why the workshop wasn’t released in the days that followed, in
accordance with the resolution passed by the City Council on September 16, 2009, “to televise
all public meetings of the City Council including regular meetings, special meetings and
workshops”, stating: “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, when staff is not available, the meetings
will be audio taped and made available to the public through the same media as video recorded
Mr. Pickup assured me that there was no lying involved nor intent to deceive. He said that he had
told the Council that the workshop was “not recorded for broadcast,” versus “there is no
recording”. If you refer to the video of the January 25th City Council Meeting, this is clearly not
Mr. Pickup further explained that “people are looking for reasons to be angry”, and people have
their own agendas and look to take full advantage of an opportunity to exploit colleagues of
differing opinions. Mr. Pickup claimed that there were misinterpretations on the part of
Councilman Sack, although he did not elaborate.
Mr. Pickup also told me that he had made clear to Councilman Sack during their meeting on
Friday January 27th 2012- prior to the release of the video recording- that the video and audio
will not be Rye TV quality and that it was not recorded for broadcast. This to me explained the
lowered audio levels, missing files and unethical instructions given to me by Ms. Levitsky.
When I asked Mr. Pickup why there was no attempt to have the Saturday meeting of January 28th
recorded despite publicly televised (see January 25th meeting) and/or email requests (see
attached) by Mayor French, Councilman Sack, Councilwoman Keith, Councilwoman Parker,
and Councilwoman Brett.
Mr. Pickup explained that there was an internal disagreement on the Council and the “decision
was to go forward with past practice”, and not tape the meeting. Again, as the videotape of the
January 25th Council meeting will indicate, the City Manager explains that the reason given for
the lack of video coverage was that “there was no staff available” and no one on the Council
publicly stated they did not want the meeting recorded. It was my understanding that the Council
was unified in the desire to have the meeting recorded.
Mr. Pickup continued to explain that for a while there has been a disagreement on the Council
between Mayor French and Councilman Sack with regard to videotaping meetings, ever since
Councilman Sack asked for the Osborn Meeting to be televised and the Mayor said “no”.
Mr. Pickup said explicitly, “the issue of videotaping has been a conflict between the Mayor and
Joe.” In saying so, Mr. Pickup led me to believe that it was the Mayor who did not want to have
the meeting of January 28th recorded.
I would like to make it clear that I was never asked to record the City Council meeting of
Saturday January 28th, and since my offer to do so was refused, I was personally astonished that
the City Manager would make such claims on television. I would like to also remind the Council
of the Annual Square House Meeting, Memorial Day Ceremony, Veteran’s Day Ceremony, and
Inaugurations- all successfully recorded with Rye TV’s portable equipment. The Rye TV promo
video referenced by Cable and Communications Committee Chairman Steve Fairchild at the
January 25th City Council Meeting, further explains the outstanding capabilities of Rye TV to
produce high quality off-site productions with minimal staff.
My initial decision to reach out to Councilman Sack, and now the entire Council, came only after
multiple attempts to address these issues with my immediate supervisor, Ms. Levitsky, as well as
her supervisor, City Manager Pickup.
According to section C6-3 of the City of Rye Charter, “The Council may make investigations
into the affairs of the city and the conduct of any board, commission, department, office or
agency thereof and for this purpose may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony
and require the production of evidence. Any person who fails or refuses to obey a lawful order
issued in the exercise of these powers by the Council shall be guilty of an offense punishable by a
fine of not more than $100, or by imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both, and such
offense shall constitute sufficient cause for suspension without pay for a period not exceeding
two months or removal from office or employment.”
Based on section C6-3 of the City of Rye Charter, I hereby request that the Rye City Council
investigate the conduct of Mr. Pickup and Ms. Levitsky for ethical breaches of the Rye City
Charter and Code in reference to the specific issues I have outlined above. I ask them to call me
as a witness and to take my testimony and any evidence I have to offer in the investigation of
If the Council chooses not to investigate these events, I will request this complaint be sent to the
City of Rye Board of Ethics (in which case I will amend this complaint to include more evidence
and detail as it is my understanding that the Board of Ethics is not an investigative body and only
works with the information/evidence they are given) to determine if Mr. Pickup and Ms.
Levitsky are in fact in violation the following:
1) As declared in the City of Rye Code of Ethics, “The proper operation of the city government
requires that its officers and employees be independent and responsible to the people” (section
15-1 Declaration of policy). It is my understanding that actions exhibited by Mr. Pickup and Ms.
Levitsky by withholding the recording of the meeting, lying to city officials and members of the
public, placing expectations on me that challenge good ethics and morals, and perhaps even the
act of recording itself without the knowledge of those present at the workshop, is in direct
conflict with the City of Rye Code of Ethics.
2) Additionally, I will cite, “that public officers and employees observe in their official acts the
highest standards of morality and discharge faithfully the duties of their office regardless of
personal consideration; and that the public have confidence in the integrity of its government
and the officers and employees thereof.” (section 15-1 Declaration of policy)
3) I also remind you that section 15-10 (b) cites, “An officer or employee of the city should not
by his conduct give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can unduly influence
him or improperly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties or that he is affected
by the kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or person. I believe Ms. Levitsky was
clearly influenced by Mr. Pickup’s position as City Manager, and I believe that she in turn tried
to use her position as my boss to do the same.
I would also ask for any City Council member to broaden this complaint to include any other
possible violations of the Rye City Code by Mr. Pickup and/or Ms. Levitsky that I may not be
aware of, should they see fit.
I fully expect to discuss this matter further and offer more details, documentation, and evidence
to the matter addressed above.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Andrew N. Dapolite